Giant Buddha overlooking Thimphu. Donated by a number of Singaporeans.
Bhutanese food that we had.
On the way back to Paro Airport. Tashi Delek (Good luck and well wishes).
Winding mountain roads.
Reaching Paro Airport soon.
Within the airport perimeter and heading towards the terminal building. The runway is just behind the fence.
The terminal seemed rather busy with lots of vehicles alighting and picking up passengers.
It was the peak period at the airport with a grand total of 3 departures! Our flight would be the last departure for the day! The earlier KB126 was also bound for Bangkok, with a stopover in Dhaka.
Proceeding through security screening prior to entering the check-in area.
Drukair check-in counters.
However today, I would be flying Business Class! Guess I would be one of the very few who had experienced Drukair Business Class! Only one counter was designated for Business Class check-in. Surprisingly, our luggage could be tagged by Drukair onto our connecting SQ flight in BKK. No need to pick up our bags in BKK and re-check in again! I was not aware that Drukair could check-through our bags to SIN as KB does not have any inter-line agreement with SQ.
Postcards of Bhutan were also available on the Business Class check-in counters. Not sure if they were available at economy counters.
My Drukair Business Class boarding pass, before it got torn prior to boarding.
Drukair operates a lounge for Business Class passengers.
However, our hosts led us to a VIP room and got pastries from the lounge for us.
A5-RGI, the plane I flew into Paro on, was being catered for the flight to Dhaka and Bangkok.
A5-RGF preparing for flight to Delhi.
Drukair's sole ATR42 being towed to the hangar after completing its rotations for the day.
Our flight would be operated by A5-RGG, parked at the far end of the tarmac.
Passengers boarding the flight to BKK via Dhaka.
A5-RGI departing for Dhaka.
Soon it was time for boarding. There was a holding area after immigration, with a duty free shop.
Very rare Bhutan endorsements.
After security, there is another holding area.
The Kings of Bhutan.
Handicraft shopping at the holding area.
We were the last to board. Boarding pass scanned and torn, and proceeded onto the tarmac, with the 2nd last departure flight of the day being pushed back onto the runway.
Walking towards our A319, A5-RGG, which is Drukair's 2nd A319 aircraft.
18 April 2013 Drukair KB 128 Paro (PBH) - Bangkok (BKK) A319 A5-RGG Business Class
Climbing up the steps.
Entering the aircraft.
Greeted at the door by a crew. For the return, I decided to plant myself at the window seat 2A. The Drukair newly refurbished leather Business Class seats are just rather basic seats, probably similar to US airlines domestic first class seats. However they are comfortable enough for a 3hr flight to BKK.
Seat pitch is not really that fantastic. Probably 38-40 pitch?
A pillow was already placed at the seat, with blankets distributed by the crew. There would be 2 crew working in Business Class today, and 3 crew in Economy.
We were the only plane left on the tarmac.
Pull-out cocktail tray. Hot towels were given out by the crew.
Followed by welcome drinks, with a selection of water or juices. Being thirsty, I just had some water.
Doors closed and stairs being driven away. Flight time was estimated to be 2h40m.
We started our pushback, with the automated welcome announcement being broadcasted in the local Bhutanese language, Dzongka, and English.
This was followed by a manual safety demo with automated briefing.
We were push backed directly onto the runway as there were no taxiways in Paro. Engines startup and we started to backtrack down the runway.
Another welcome announcement, this time made by the cabin crew.
Made a U-turn right at the end and had a exhilarating takeoff from Rwy15, bound for Bangkok!
Making turns beside mountains.
Still climbing out of the valley.
Clearing the mountains.
Above the clouds.
View of the cabin again. 15 out of 16 seats in Business Class today were occupied. Really good load! Limited newspapers and magazines were available in the magazine rack in front.
Shortly after the seat belt signs were turned off, a crew around and distributed the menus.
3 choices of mains offered.
After distribution of menus, another crew came around and lay our tray tables with linens.
All the magazines, safety card and menu. The safety card accidentally dropped into my bag again towards the end of the flight.
Meal orders were then taken. Unfortunately, the crew removed our menus after they had taken our orders. Thus we only had the menu for a total of less than 10mins! This was followed by a beverage service using a bar cart.
For the bar service, a pack of peanuts was distributed, which I had a mango juice to go along with.
This was followed by distributing of meal trays. The meal trays came with the starter, yoghurt and dessert (note that the starter was different from what was stated in the menu and presented in an Economy side dish). However, these were cling-wrapped, which seemed quite un-Business Class like. Croissants or rolls were also offered. I chose a croissant.
The pasta salad starter, yoghurt and chocolate eclair dessert.
Main courses were served from a trolley. I had the beef with noodles.
Stir-fried beef in oyster sauce with crispy noodles. However, the noodles were nowhere near crispy! More of a rice noodle variety. Taste fine though.
My colleague had the Rolled sushi with shrimp sesame dressing. It was served cold with the cling-wrap still in place. However the taste was rather good.
Coffee or a selection of tea was offered after. For the teas, the crew would present a box of variety of teabags for you to choose from, and then pour hot water into the tea cup. I had a jasmine green tea.
After the trays were cleared, we were already somewhere over Myanmar.
Went to the lavatory, which was stocked with cloth towels, soap and moisturizer.
While visiting the lavatory, I noticed the cockpit door opened, and casually asked the pilots if I could take a photo. The very friendly Drukair pilots motioned me to get into the cockpit and take a photo. I also had a photo taken with the pilots! My first every visit to the cockpit while in-flight! Really made my day!
On the way back to my seat, I grabbed a magazine from the magazine rack. The magazine was binded to a Drukair cover to prevent anyone from removing it from the aircraft.
Rest of the flight was spent mainly gazing out of the windows due to the lack of inflight entertainment. Not even the flight map was available on this aircraft.
Approaching some rough weather during the start of our descend into BKK. We deviated around the clouds.
Getting lower. During the descend, crew provided another round of hot towels and offered sweets.
Somewhere over the northern outskirts of Bangkok.
Descending into Bangkok with recorded arrival announcement. Seat belt signs only came on less than 10min before touchdown.
Flaps and gears down. Final approach from the north.
Landing on Rwy19L 10 minutes early, with recorded and crew announcements, followed by a long taxi to the parking stand.
TG's A380 spotted!
More TG jumbos.
Parked at a remote stand again. Guess this was due to the plane night-stopping in BKK.
Shot of the cabin while waiting for disembarkation.
Down the stair and into the waiting bus to ferry us to the passenger terminal. This bus would only be ferrying Business Class passengers. Economy Class passengers would have to wait for later buses.
Bidding farewell to my probably last ride on Drukair.
Paro - PBH
Bangkok - BKK
Drukair Business Class is definitely not anywhere near the best out there. Service by the crew was not as well-polished (though they were not unfriendly or rude) and the hard product pales in comparison to most other major carriers. However it is still acceptable on short-haul sectors, probably in the same league of regional carriers such as Silkair or Dragonair. However, only paying SGD100 to upgrade this sector from Economy to Business is definitely a steal! So no complaints from me!
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