Given that CCU-PNH was booked all on TG, it comes as no surprise that this flight was also on Thai Airways :)
Turns out, the morning ThaiSmile flight used to be on an A330 as well, but I guess was they were put to better use fairly soon anyway. This flight gave us a short 1hr35min layover at BKK - there was pretty much no room for delays. Therefore, regardless of a delay this would be my 5th crucial connection on this trip. The strategy for this one was simple: get a seat as front as possible, not only would this help with a quick disembarkation, but also the lovely sounds of the Trent 700 engines. Thai usually blocks out the entire front section of Economy for the lowest fare bracket - so web check in would be our best bet. It also helped that more often than not this flight would land 10 minutes before time, so it would arrive right on time. Strategy for this one would also be to convince transit security to let us through, just so we make the connection onwards to Kolkata, seeing as lines were horrendously long at BKK.
Web check in granted the first of our two wishes: we found seats on row 36: 36A and 36K! This was the 6th row of Economy class on the A330. Wonderful! Unfortunately we were relegated to the back for BKK-CCU, but it would be a quick & easy 2hr flight anyway.
Bonus : Click here displayhide
Before resuming this trip report, I will pick up from where I left off. After the Bassaka Air flight we went to the Killing Fields next. If the S-21 was bad, this was worse, seeing how exactly the torture happened, the sights, the sounds, the remains of clothes…. chilling. Chilling indeed.
Welp, it was pizza for lunch…
Found a familiar Minnesotan establishment while at PNH…. Hah!
LOOK. AT. THIS. ATR. GO! (Speed)
When beer was cheaper than water, there was only one favorite. I miss this!
We went to the market the final day to purchase last couple of things. Felt pretty nice being in the heart of the bustling lifestyle in Phnom Penh! By some mistake as well, we stumbled upon the Phnom Penh railway station - oh we sure did consider taking the ‘airport express’ train over to the airport! :D
That's one way to sell coconut water.. convenient!
Always an adventure walking on the streets…
Royal Cambodian Railway. Cute!
Tried this out in Hong Kong back in 2010 - was nice to see it here!
Ahhh, it's been real Cambodia. See you around!
We left the apartment about 3.5 hours before departure, and reached the airport curbside for 1834 hours ICT, 2hr41min to departure. I kept a close eye on FlightRadar24 seeing as it would depart at 1845 from BKK.
Check in…was interesting. While quick & efficient, the staff member just seemed a touch rude & flustered, it showed. Quite unlike Cambodian hospitality, to be honest. But anyway - we got ‘Hot Transfer’ tags on the checked stuff seeing as the layover was quite short, but the fact that we had breakable stuff in it the fragile tags meant that we had to take it to a specials screening area. This was one done quick, and (hopefully) bags would turn up at CCU.
Special Baggage screening…
IMMIGRATION & SECURITY - A DELAY BREWING
Immigration & security went by lightening quick. Curbside to airside in 16 minutes. Awesome! Went through duty free but did not purchase anything due to the exorbitant prices. I kept my eyes peeled on FR24 - nothing, still nothing. Most flights were quite delayed anyway, but this was cause for concern.
Airside - some shops, restaurants, and of course duty free..
Unfortunately the smoking room at PNH did not offer the best view of - anything, really. With the Bangkok Airways flight delayed, and TG584 departing with a solid 40 minute delay - I was scared, pretty concerned that we were in with a decent shot of missing the connection over to Kolkata. At the same time, knowing that most Thai flights were delayed out of Bangkok, there was still that chance other connections would be held - seeing as this was the 2nd of the prime hub times for Thai at Bangkok. Fingers crossed.
SHORTEST WIDEBODY FLIGHT, THE A300 PEDIGREE
During the wait, I distracted myself by doing some research about this flight - on a personal record, this would be my shortest flight on a wide body plane - narrowly eclipsing the record from the SriLankan A340-300 flight from back in October 2014 by a minute or two. In addition, this flight was also operated by the A300-600R right up until they were retired; in fact the A330 took over several short hops to international destinations (PNH, SGN, HAN, VTE, RGN, to list a few). HS-TBF is the 2nd newest A330 in TG’s fleet named Sa Kaeo, a province in Thailand. And who knows, with Thai Airways' recent woes these may see ThaiSmile service for the foreseeable future…?
Anyway, HS-TBF made it’s way towards Phnom Penh, making up whatever little time it could on the short flight. We took our spot at Gate 6 - this was one of few jet bridges that could handle wide body airplanes. Not a whole lot of wide bodies at Phnom Penh: just this Thai Airways flight, the Emirates flight to Dubai via Bangkok (used to be via Yangon at the time of this flight) and Qatar Airways to Doha via Saigon being the shorter ones, and ANA’s B787 service direct to Narita being the longest flight out of PNH.
Once HS-TBF did land and dock at the gate the crew wasted no time in turning the A330 around. Props to them. Unfortunately with so few people knowing about the late arrival of the aircraft and TG not officially announcing a delay, several passengers lined up at Gate 6 to board around 2035 hours, the time of boarding printed on the boarding pass.
A boarding call was finally made at 2051 hours - 16 minutes past the original time. Cutting it close, for sure. Another boarding pass check just prior to boarding, I was onboard to a warm welcoming crew at 2103 hours, 12 minutes to departure time.
Waiting in line
There were pillows placed on every seat, blankets on request. I took my seat 36K, while an Australian gentleman was in 36H. My brother took his seat over at 36A, and we did the traditional ‘bro’s on a mission’ head nod as we planned on getting off as soon as we could.
View from 36K
As the plane filled up with several passengers, the mandatory Emirates quota for the trip was fulfilled as the 777-300ER came in from Yangon. Predictably, it parked on the port side of HS-TBE: my brother had a great view of it, but no picture. :(
WHEN WE LEAVING, WHEN WE LEAVING?
Time passed by - it felt like forever, but it was barely 14 or 15 minutes: out of the blue the landing light came on, while the #2 Trent 700 was fired up. Pretty bizarre, and I was taken aback: what was going on?!
Guess everyone was interested in getting this flight going! In fact, doors were armed at 2118 hours - so officially just 3 minutes late for departure. More than 200 passengers boarded in less than 18 minutes, outstanding! Nice nice, a lot of time recovered, and all of a sudden I was confident the connection would be made..
JetStar to Singapore, away it goes
….that was until a JetStar A320 was pushed back: the Singapore bound plane would be right in the way of an elegant wing clipping incident had the A330 been pushed back as well. The safety video played as we waited for another 5 minutes with the #2 engine running: pushed back at 2123 hours, 8 minutes behind schedule, the #1 Trent 700 was fired up as well. Bizarrely, during this time the IFE system failed, so the safety demonstration had to be done manually. Flaps set, we commenced taxi to runway 23.
The Emirates 777
Followed by the other traffic
And while it really was a short taxi in terms of distance, it took really long. Starting off with the fact that PNH does not have a parallel taxiway to the end of the runway ( I mentioned this on the WE582 TR, and how it came back to bite me!), there was the JetStar A320 taking off, and another airplane landing. This cost us another 10 or 12 minutes! I was not in a very comfortable spot. Meanwhile, the welcome announcements were done: a 55 minute flight over to Bangkok, and codesharing with Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines! Safety video worked again… this reminded me of AF191 BLR-CDG a few years when the safety video played, manual demo started but the safety video worked again.
It wasn’t too long of a back-taxi, but of course it felt like forever! Lined up with the runway, and throttles advanced forward, the Trent 700s made beautiful sounds at 2140 hours, 25 minutes behind schedule and 17 minutes since pushback. We were off the ground at 2141 hours, as I bid the city of Phnom Penh a fond farewell.
A quick back to the North/Northwest, there was less than 2 hours till the departure of TG313 to Kolkata. Climbed up to 28000 feet pretty quick. I checked out the IFE real quick as we waited on service. Bothered me a little bit the person next to me kept coughing, and didn’t make much of an effort to cover his face which…ick.
Lights were flicked back on and service started almost immediately. About 8 or 9 minutes in to the flight. Special meals were handed out first, followed by the regular meals.
They also did a beverage round right with the meals itself: the snack was a smoked chicken sliced & egg egg cheese calzone, an organ cake, and bottle of water. Perfectly sufficient for a flight of this length. Following days of Angkor Beer, it was back to the Kimi Raikkonen beer for me: Singha! This had Thai Airways branding on it. The meal was fairly decent, no issues.
The crew, while not exactly the smiling or warm kind, got their jobs done efficiently: with the food, followed by alcohol/soft drink/juice run, and then a tea/coffee run before finally securing the cabin for arrival, all within an hour for a plane full of more than 250 passengers. Not bad at all. Captain made announcement - just apologizing for 15 minute delay, but that was about it, really.
And once again, to kill time (or for whatever was left of the flight) i took a look at the magazine seeing as I was pretty sleepy on the CCU-BKK flight. Pretty cool - like any other hub carrier there was information about BKK airport, schedules printed in the magazine which was fun to read, and of course, fleet details! :)
BKK - home of TG!
Schedules - August 2018
DESCENT & ARRIVAL
Started our descent, but looking at the time I was worried that we were still at 26000 feet (and descending), when we really should’ve been on the ground already! Anyway, we joined the downwind for arrival on to runway 19R.
A smooth touchdown on runway 19R at 2237 hours after 57 minutes in flight, my hopes were pinned on a relatively short taxi to the gate, followed by a quick disembarkation and making a run for the next gate: I would not have been made if we got HS-TBF back to CCU again, seeing as it would’ve been a delayed flight.
While we taxied for another 5 or 6 minutes, I slowly realized that we were coming in to a remote bay parking: great, a long taxi, and no jet bridges available! This was not going to be a fun one, unfortunately. 2240 hours, 20 minutes late. While not a very significant delay, this was pretty much make or break for the two of us. Parked beside a Thai A380, engines out, seatbelt signs off and I was ready to pounce at the first given opportunity.
Unfortunately, I had to be one of those guys and get up ASAP :(
While disembarking there were placards for various flight to Australia and Japan, but none for Kolkata - when I enquired about this one of the ground staff people mocked me and chuckled - while not appreciated at the time, I guess I can see why this happened seeing as my fellow countrymen are not known to have the best of reputation, at all. Eep.
Anyway, I missed the first coach full of people, and while waiting for the next one I at least got some pictures of the A380…. this was a blessing in disguise. Get in the coach first, since the doors opened on the other side anyway, get off the coach first. Of course, we did have to wait for it to get filled up! The coach pulled away with 52 minutes to departure, and one really long security line to deal with, which would take another 45 minutes at least.
Lovely Trent 700
This was quite the race against time, as soon as the doors opened by brother and I bolted in to the arrivals/transfer area while several others were around as well. Here, we, go!
Phnom Penh - PNH
Bangkok - BKK
My shortest flight onboard a wide body plane - but also definitely one of the most anxiety inducing. It ended up being just a 20 minute delay, but that’s 20 minutes out of 1hr25min gone. Our fate was in the hands of the lines in security: a busy time in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi with the short leg Asian & domestic flights coming in, and the rest of the European long hauls on their way out this was looking a bit sketchy. The flight itself went fine, barring the minor delay of course. Crew were fine, meal was great for the sector, and seats were comfortable for this very short haul. Roll on the layover!
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