Report #32: TG204 - How difficult is it to have a rendezvous with the Queen of the Skies?
This will be my report on flying on Thai Airways economy class from Phuket to Bangkok BKK, a short-haul domestic flight within Thailand on their Boeing 777-200ER. I decided to fly on this route since it was supposed to be flown by one of the last passenger 744 in service in SE Asia since MH, SQ, PR, and lastly GA had retired them, but fate said otherwise. This report may be on the lighter side, but rest assured I worked on to make the report as comprehensive as possible.
Here are the 6 parts of the trip (which magically enough could be crammed into 3 days): KUL - BKK on Malaysia A330-200 business class: Read here DMK - CNX on Thai Lion Air 737 MAX 9 economy class: Read here CNX - DMK on Nok Air 737-800 economy class: Read here DMK - HKT on Thai Lion Air A330-300 premium economy class: Read here HKT - BKK on Thai 777-200ER economy class: You are here BKK - KUL on Malaysia A350-900 business/first class: Read here
To complete the intra-Thailand aviation tour I had first thought of some cheap repositioning flights (or even flying on SL's A333 in economy class), but Kevin (@ItsKevin) proposed the idea of trying TG's 744, which runs almost daily between Bangkok and Phuket. The fare was steep at ฿1937 (US$62) after OTA discount since I had just passed the 30 days advance purchase, but still reasonable for a piece of history.
Cramming 4 flights in the intra-Thailand aviation tour in only 24 hours (this flight's STA was 12.25 while the first flight on SL 7M9's STD was 13.00 -1), while a joy, was also a very arduous one, so after turning to a zombie earlier I decided to laze around. However, Kevin also let me know that the 744 was flying to Phuket and back on TG201/202 so I decided to rush.
Trip to HKT and check-in
After being deprived of sleep, I got notified of the plane change so I quickly made my way to the airport to check if it would be possible to take the earlier flight. I also bought some breakfast along the way, but I was too much in a rush to document it.
As TG operate flights at 10.00 (TG202) and 10.55 (TG204) the queue for economy class was pretty long.
Since there was nobody at the the premium class check-in counter and I needed to ask to shift my flight before the TG202 check-in close I then rushed there and asked: - Whether it is possible for me to move to TG202 (no; she first checked the computer and called somewhere else before letting me know of the outcome), - Whether it is fine to bring two carry-on bags on board (yes; I forgot to ask for the sticker for my bag so she couldn't check the bag for me - must be something to do with me flying from BKK too often).
The boarding pass of the day, which was printed in proper TG stock paper.
I then proceeded to the security check, which started with boarding pass check. I was cleared in 5 minutes.
HKT transit area and departure
Is it that difficult just to fly with TG's 744?
The waiting area consist of an open area with rows of seats. Since some parts of the terminal was under renovation it became very warm inside.
Stores and restaurants are located further away from where most people wait.
As uninspiring as it may seem, I had a more substantial breakfast on Subway, which was also slightly cooler than the waiting area for my flight.
TG202 departing back to BKK.
PG's AT7 arriving.
Afterwards it's TG202's turn, without me in the Queen of the Skies. :(
The boarding gate for my upcoming flight. I also checked the load of the day, which was rather high.
The plane of the morning would be HS-TJS, a 11 years old 772.
After turning right I proceeded to the economy class cabin.
My seat, 51H, was further back so I proceeded to the second economy class cabin.
My home for the next 1 1/2 hours. Also note that they provided a pillow even for such a short hop.
Legroom was acceptable, typical of full-service carriers.
There were quite a selection of musics, however it's worth noting that the IFE they used was still rather archaic and that they didn't provide any headphone for the hop.
Typical of an older IFE system, remote control was still provided.
The seat was also still not the slimline type, which offered sufficient padding.
Contents include safety card and in-flight magazine.
A duty-free and a community-produced goods magazine could be found as well.
Last but not least: airsickness bag.
Selfie test: as the 772 was configured in 9-abreast seating, seat width was sufficient.
The headrest can be also put up quite highly, which is always a good thing.
There was also an AC plug, which I used later on to charge my phone.
The moving map for the flight.
We soon pushed back and a safety video was screened.
After the safety video it was a short taxi to the runway.
We soon climbed over Phuket island.
After the seatbelt sign was switched off the crew rushed to do the in-flight service, starting from the food. Service started from door 4L/R and 2L/R towards door 3L/3R.
There was no choice offered and a salad with a bottle of water arrived at the table.
The food when opened.
The snack service of the day consisted of: Main course: Quail egg salad with dressing Drink (default): Mineral water Drink (second service): Coffee / tea / orange juice (on request)
In many other countries serving a salad for such a short trip would be an overkill, but this is Thailand where PG served hot meals on all mainline flights so this is appropriate. The salad itself was acceptable and the quail egg represented a positive change from what would be an ordinary salad. On overall, a decent snack service.
A separate drink service then commenced, with everybody asked, "Coffee or tea?" I then asked for tea with milk and afterwards also orange juice, which the flight attendant took from inside the trolley (I doubt many would specifically ask for it, but I overheard people on the next row asked for orange juice as well).
The tea was presented in a paper glass while the orange juice in a plastic one, both sporting the TG logo.
Laptop test: I tried to put my laptop and work on it for a few minutes. There wasn't much space for the 15.6" laptop, but for economy class it's as good as you can get.
I then checked out the lavatory, which was clean enough.
How about the cabin from behind as well?
View during cruise. An elderly Thai couple sat on the window and middle seats, hence rendering it impossible to get good views.
Also note the domestic network, which is very Bangkok-centric. Among those routes, TG only flies to USM, CNX, HKT, and KBV, while the rest is operated by WE.
I could barely get a view of the descent and final approach.
After taxiing for a while we arrived at our gate, beside WE's A320.
Before disembarking I took a photo of the Y cabin from the centre, which already looked rather messy after the flight.
A sneak peek of the J cabin featuring angled lie flat seats, which I was glad not paying for.
I then bid farewell to the flight attendant and went off from the plane.
There was a queue just to get out of the plane, which was strange.
In fact, I was the last passenger to deplane that I could see the cleaner coming in.
It took a few minutes of waiting in the warm aerobridge, which wasn't good.
Arrival at BKK and post-arrival trip
We weren't directed to the terminal itself.
CI's 333 and TG's 772 side by side.
Since the plane arrived at the international gates it was another bus ride to the domestic arrival.
The crew took their own bus.
A way better view of CI's 333 just before the bus door closed.
AT's 777 could be seen, albeit not well-photographed.
After 5 minutes of ride I reached the domestic arrival area.
From the bus gate it was an upward escalator ride to the arrival floor, unlike at, for example, CNX or HKT.
I directly proceeded to the luggage claim area.
As expected of BKK the luggage area was also pretty crowded, but since I didn't have any checked luggage I just went through.
Some banners located adjacent to the exit.
I made my way to the public area in no time.
I previously wondered how would the observation deck look like, which was rather disappointing due to the not spotter-friendly area.
As I was tired and upon seeing the others take a rest at the observation deck, I slept for a full hour while waiting for my next flight's check-in.
Phuket - HKT
Bangkok - BKK
It's indeed pretty sad that TG changed the plane from 744 to 772 at such a short notice, but for such a short hop both the hard and soft product offered were quite solid (except the lack of headphone). HKT was pretty much a mess during the renovation (let's see what they have to offer afterwards), while BKK was still as usual quite crowded yet manageable (got to hate the bus gates, though it's inevitable since the plane was more for international flights).
I would still fly with them for domestic flights in a heartbeat, but at the same time I wouldn't expect too much in terms of chasing any specific plane type.
Some thing done well for the trip: + Mid/long-haul plane + Well-spaced seats + Well-adjustable headrest + Dining offering + Clean lavatory
Things that can be improved: - Expensive price (฿1937 (US$62) one-way) - Last-minute plane change - Long economy class check-in queue - Warm waiting area at HKT - Lack of headphone - Lack of individual air nozzles (at least they managed to keep the cabin cool) - Crowd at arrivals area in BKK
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