Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I plan to share a series of flights that came into focus with two objectives, figure out a way to ride in the new Singapore Airlines A380 Suites and take advantage of a soon to be devalued sweet spot in the United Airlines Mileageplus award chart. Let's talk about the Suites first. Singapore Airlines introduced "Suites" class ten years ago when the A380 entered service and it was quite revolutionary and remains a top First Class product. The airline is in the process of returning their initial A380 frames to the lessor and receiving new built frames from Airbus. They took this opportunity to remodel their Suites class and introduce a new product. In July 2017 the word on the internet was SQ would deploy these Suites initially on a SIN-SYD-SIN turn, namely SQ 231/SQ232. With this information I started searching for a saver award on either segment. I located a seat on SQ 232 for May 4th, 2018 and set out to build a trip around this segment. This was the SYD-SIN segment so I started building from SYD back home, ideally staying with Krisflyer as the currency and a single ticket to limit the cost. There was no space on SQ12 (SIN-NRT-LAX) or SQ8 (SIN-ICN-LAX) so I looked to Star Alliance partners for help. In the end I found SQ SIN-HND and NH NRT-LAX. I called Krisflyer and had the ticket booked quickly for 127,500 krisflyer miles and $183.90 SGD in fees. This was before the most recent SQ award chart devaluation. At his point the new A380 had not gone into service so the seating chart was showing the old product. I selected seat 1A as a place holder until more information was divulged about the new Suites configuration.
The second objective involved the excellent redemption value using United Airlines Mileageplus in Thai Airways First Class between HKG and SYD via BKK. Tickled that I finally had a reason to book one of these awesome deals to Sydney I checked the date I needed and the space was there. For 40,000 miles it was too good to be true and they "fixed" the award chart not long after I booked.
If you're keeping score I now have an itinerary that looks like this: HKG-BKK-SYD-SIN-HND; NRT-LAX all in Suites/First for a very reasonable sum of points. The final hole is LAX-HKG. If I have to be in Hong Kong I naturally think of Cathay Pacific as the preferred way of getting there and this case was no different. With low expectations I pulled up the BA Avios search page (a good way to search for Oneworld award availability) and searched LAX-HKG for the exact day I required to meet up this the rest of this trip and by some divine action the space was there. I had some of the Avios needed and transferred the remaining points from AMEX and even took advantage of one of those 40% bonuses that is offered from time to time. I would normally use Alaska Airlines to book CX but my orphan Avios balance, the transfer bonus, and lack of AS miles (or Starpoints to convert) I decided to use BA and pay the outlandish 150k redemption. Feeling quite smug, and with the entire trip booked, all I had to do was wait the excruciating 8+ months until it was time to travel.
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
I went over to the Royal Orchid Lounge to obtain my boarding pass for the flight. This was a bit of a process but thankfully ended well with boarding pass in hand a a few minutes before the scheduled boarding time to spend in the lounge. I don't believe recorded history has an instance of Thai Airways operating a flight on time so there should never have been a rush.
The lounge still has a First Class section even though Thai have no flights scheduled with F cabins. It simply remains roped off. Of course when i booked this ticket I was ticketed in F on the 747-400 but about 3 months before travel i was TG'd to the 777-300ER J class. Ahh Thai, I still love you for some reason.
A look around the lounge's colorful seating. It never became crowded. Do people use the United Club? The SQ lounge is a good hike from here. It might be a little bit better in food but I'm not sure.
Food selection. There was a nice element of Thai dishes including a nice looking larb style salad and lettuce cups. There was also a nice looking Taiwanese style braised pork noodle soup.
The views from the lounge are interesting in that you can see out both sides of the terminal but neither really well as the lounge is set back some way from the terminal windows.
TG601 - HKG-BKK
Our delay was announced in the lounge so that was nice in that we were able to wait out most of it there. Boarding was eventually called and I made the 5 min. walk to gate 64, spotting htis sexy bird on the way.
I boarded through L2 knowing that 19A was in the second J cabin. I was greeted at the door and quickly offered a cold towel on a silver tray.
The seat is perfectly fine for a two hour flight but I would be searching for other options for a long haul. I have to disclose that this opinion comes with the twinge of disappointment as I was expecting to fly First Class in the nose of a 747 so any seat that replaces that one is going to come up short.
Thai serves Veuve Clicquot Champagne in J on the ground and in the air and I enjoyed a couple of glasses prior to departure.
The lavatories are on the small side but well stocked.
A peek into the forward J cabin.
We pushed with a 45 minute delay. Traffic on taxi to 25L.
This is why I selected 19A.
Serivce started quickly after takeoff with some Veuve and packaged almonds.
My apologies, I didn't snap the menu. There was a proper food and separate beverage menu placed at the seat. I opted for the Thai curry and it was quite good. Tender meat and load of flavor. The fish sauce and chilies make it wonderful. I didn't try the fruit or cheese.
Dessert was a small cheesecake and it was also quite good.
I napped as much as possible on this short flight and soon we approaching Suvarnabhumi.
It's always puzzling to me to pass a host of empty gates and to park at a remote stand. It was that way again today even though intellectually I can understand why. I spotted the van that would likely carry me and other F passengers to the terminal.
Turns out it was only me.
Thai Royal Orchid
Hong Kong - HKG
Bangkok - BKK
The Ground Service: I was quite pelased with the lounge staff. They are contracted from the Plaza Premium Lounge next door and they were helpful in getting Thai Airways to assist me.
The Lounge:The Thai Airways lounge is perfectly nice for an outstation business class lounge. It's closer to the experience of a contract lounge then it is to the hub carrier's business class lounges.
The Cabin: The cabin and seat are a bit dated. Controls for both seat and IFE are also dated and inconveniently positioned. I also found the seat to be lacking padding.
The Crew: Quite above average and expectation. It's a busy flight serving drinks and hot meals in less than 2 hours but everything was spot on. My Champagne was topped up more than it should have been actually ;).
The Food and Beverage: Thai has it easy here. A basic Thai curry is going to be lovely, aromatic, and flavorful so just offer that. I enjoyed the items I sampled a great deal. The Champagne was fine and plentiful.
Overall: The equipment swap and downgrade to J is a bummer but it's a part of flying Thai. The crew and equipment we did have met or exceeded my expectations, so that's something.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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