The airline with the best average rating is Thai Airways with 8.2/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 20 minutes.More information
Welcome to flight 3 of 5 of my short hop around Thailand! Having just arrived on TG111 from Chiang Mai, I was now making my connection at BKK for my onward flight with Thai Airways to Phuket. You can read about my other flights so far here:
As mentioned, the crown jewel of this jaunt to Thailand was to be the two flights aboard Thai's 747-400, of which this flight was supposed to be one. TG being notorious equipment-switchers, upon checking my booking ~1 month before departure I noticed TG221 now displaying as being operated by a 777-300. This was bitterly disappointing, and in the weeks leading up to the flight not a single rotation on this flight was performed by the 747. Perhaps this was due to it being randomly reassigned to the KUL route or aircraft maintenance, but it did seem weird to schedule this late afternoon flight on the jumbo in Thailand's wet season.
Nevertheless, I at least had the minor consolation of logging a new sub-type in the form of the 777-300. Or so I thought…
Exiting my arrival gate, it was annoying to have to walk all the way to the central domestic hall to find a FIDS screen. Passengers to Krabi were met with TG representatives as their flight had been cancelled.
I was informed to proceed to gate A6 for my flight, which I did as soon as I learned there really was nothing of note on the domestic level of Suvarnabhumi. Gate A6 was naturally located right at the far end of the concourse from which I'd just came.
With each gate occupying the space between the main concourse and the windows, there really was very little means of seeing outside. Not that there was much of interest to be seen at this hour.
Approaching gate A6, I was keen to know which of Thai's 777-300s would be operating this flight. Whilst no 747, it is still a fairly rare aircraft with just a handful still flying with Thai, ANA, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific operating them in significant numbers.
I reached the gate and saw the instantly recognisable nose of a 777, only to then check it's registration and curse aloud. It was HS-TJB, a 23-year old Boeing 777-200. The exact type I'd flown twice previously with Thai from Hanoi and back. After the 747 disappointment, this was just taking the mickey.
I have no ill feelings towards the 777-200, but just didn't need to see it right now. Sulking in the gate area, it did become clear why the change had happened however. Even by the time boarding was announced there must've been fewer than 70 passengers at the gate. Nowhere near enough to justify a 777 of any sort, let alone a 747.
I quickly made my way down the jetbridge and onto the old bird. Shout out to Thai's social media team here - I'd asked which seats to avoid misaligned windows on the 777-300 and they promptly replied confirming my selected seat of 39K did have a full window. Good on them having a responsive and informed customer service team on that platform.
I'd hoped for a nice engine view with this seat on the -300, but on the -200 it meant a largely obscured view by the massive wing.
As on my previous flight, this row had "two" windows which meant either a large lean forward or right-angle turn of the neck to get a good look outside. Worth noting that row 42 on these aircraft are the ones to avoid, without a window completely.
Nearly as soon as I'd sat down, boarding was announced as completed and the very light load was confirmed. Almost every passenger, myself included, had a row to themselves or could've if they wanted to. Every cloud…
HS-TJB carried a similar, outdated cabin to the A330 on my last flight. This meant the old, unresponsive AVOD monitors but on the flipside kept the roomy 3-3-3 seating and same great legroom - this time without the mammoth IFE box! Granted, this one was still quite big, but at least there was space either side of it for your feet.
Pushback started at 18:24 and we enjoyed a relatively quick taxi towards runway 19L, where I'd landed a short while previously.
This, of course, wouldn't be complete without one last pass of the parked up 747s.
There was a short pause as a company A330 took off in front of us. Then it was out turn and the monster 777 engines made quick work of the runway, lifting off at 18:24.
I was treated to some stunning views west over Bangkok, which was dotted in extremely localised downpours of rain. It made for a stunning combination with the late evening light.
In fact, all of the summertime cloud formations were beautiful during the climb. Flying in this part of the world certainly has its perks! I made the most of it with my camera in the knowledge that darkness would soon fall outside.
The crew were released at 15,000ft to start the onboard service. This would once again consist of a snack, bottle of water and tea/coffee service. With the early morning starting to catch up with me, I was happy to sit back in my empty row and enjoy this spacious old aircraft. As of 2019, it's nearing a quarter-century-old!
I found the snack on this flight to be much more enjoyable than the last. It was a hot chicken wrap filled with a tasty sauce, served in a handy box that meant you didn't have to burn your hands eating it.
This preceded the tea and coffee service, from which I chose tea this time. Interestingly, on this flight tea was served with fresh milk whereas on TG111 everything was served with coffee creamer. I won't be the first to say it makes a big difference!
I should mention that I've always appreciated Thai's excellent recline in economy class, as many passengers on this flight were. I really hope this hasn't changed on their newer 787 and A350 fleets.
With almost full darkness outside, the captain soon announced our descent into Phuket from a cruising altitude of 36,000ft which started at 19:00 exactly.
It was a smooth descent and ultimately landing, with wheels down at 19:30 concluding a 1:06 flight.
We were on stand almost immediately, with no one in any rush for the luggage bins on such an empty flight. In no time at all I was off the plane and through HKT domestic arrivals, picking up my bag from Chiang Mai at 19:44. HS-TJB would turn immediately back around and return to BKK an hour later.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the last two reports of my trip (hopefully) featuring the Queen of the Skies! Check out TG221's full route below:
Naturally, any trip to Phuket wouldn't be complete without some time spent at the end of the runway at the famous Nai Yang beach. No arrivals over the sand at this time of year due to the prevailing winds from the west, but I'd still recommend it for any avgeek wanting to burn an hour or two (although not literally, as I very much did).
It was a bonus to see HS-TBB, which had taken me back to Hanoi on the way back from Sri Lanka in February.
Another excellent short hop on board Thai's domestic product that puts many around the world to shame, despite the age of the aircraft and outdated cabin. My CNX-BKK-HKT itinerary cost about double what most LCCs charge for the same on direct services between the Chiang Mai and Phuket, but included a checked bag, onboard service and free seat selection on check-in. Competitive? Maybe not on this city pairing. Smooth as silk? Absolutely.