Tag Archives: Thai Airways
Before I get to the new stuff, let me back up for a moment. On this trip I took four different carriers in international F. LH, TG, KE, and SQ. Each carrier has its own personality that permeates not just the F cabin but all levels of service. LH is known for German efficiency, TG is known for Thai Hospitality, KE is known for being an up and coming carrier, and SQ is known for exclusivity. Of those four carriers and really any air carrier I prefer TG. TG bills flights as “Royal Orchid Service” and you’ll hear that at the start of every flight. Just those very words harken back to the days of when flying was romantic and something to look forward to. While today’s flying experience is decidedly something less than romantic, TG I get the feeling really wants you to actually enjoy the flight, even if flying is not that enjoyable.
Anyways on with the show.
This section will have limited pictures, just because there wasn’t really an opportunity to take a lot of pictures.
I arrive in RGN not knowing what to expect. I have no plans for the five hours that I am supposed to be in RGN and no idea really whether or not I am actually going to be allowed into the country. Supposedly, RGN has gone to visa on arrival for all US citizens, not just those arriving from Myanmar Air flights. I did not use a visa service, nor did I attempt to get a visa in advance from the embassy. I had my visa form, $20.00, and a dream. With great surprise and a total lack of bribery, visa on arrival worked like a charm. Within twenty minutes of arrival I was out the door, through customs, and into Myanmar. Now of all the places on my list of places that colpuck wants to go, Myanmar is pretty close to the bottom. However, in the few hours I was there the city charmed me and I kind of want to go back. But I am getting ahead of myself. Before I even left the airport I had to decide what to do with my damn luggage.
Any expedition into the untamed wilds of metro Yangon would be complicated by my inability to speak the local language, the fact that I look like a gringo tourist, and that I had a suitcase as well as a backpack containing a laptop, cannon DSLR, and an iphone. I went over to the tourism desk and began the complex negotiations to hire a car to take me around the city. We settled on a price, destination, and that the tourism desk would hold my luggage. I gave them my luggage with the knowledge that I would probably never see my suitcase again. I figured that is just the cost of doing business in a third-world country. The backpack was coming with me though, they may get my clothes but they were not getting my electronics.
My driver was a guy named Cuddy I think and we set off for Shwedagon Pagoda. He took me out to his car, which was a fairly new Toyota that even came with seatbelts. I went to put mine on and he looked at me like I was crazy. Cuddy didn’t bother with such things as seatbelts. In fact he had a metal buckle with smiley face on it stuck in driver side seat belt clip in order to disable the seatbelt alarm. I just buckled the seat belt behind me, in order to turn off the alarm and respect cultural norms.
I regretted that decision almost immediately. We passed the airport guard armed with an AK-47 again confirming that I was not in Kansas anymore and headed out. Cuddy in addition to being a cab driver was also a philosopher. I knew this because he frequently deep in thought. So deep in thought in fact that he frequently missed red lights, pedestrians, made illegal u-turns, and my personal favorite drove on the sidewalk.
Outback Steakhouse’s motto of “No Rules, just right,” (don’t lie you read that in an Australian accent.) while applicable to the situation was just a little scary. Going down the sidewalk outside of Yangon University (Where President Obama spoke) all I could think about was not dying and this quote.
Eventually, we made it to Shwedagon Pagoda. I had to lose my shoes and socks at the shrine, but it was awesome. The pagoda is the most famous shrine in Burma and the one of the cover of all of the guide books. Cuddy didn’t speak any English, so he just simply pointed and grunted at the various things I should take pictures of. Stationed around the pagoda were water coolers with communal cups. Judging by the amount of people I saw hauling 5 gallon jugs of water around this I assume is the primary method of water distribution. Cuddy offered me a swig from the cup he was using, but thoughts of cholera and mono danced through my head, so I passed.
After the Pagoda, He took me to a coffee house on the main lake in town. We sat in slience having tea and coffee. I wanted a coke but I wasn’t going to say no to his hospitality. He’s a couple views of the lake.
After that, Cuddy brought me back to the airport. RGN is a small but modern airport I think there is eight gates in total. As I was traveling in Y on this segment, there was no lounge access for me. Also, the TA demanded that I weigh my suitcase, which I got back with nothing stolen. Noticing that the bag weighed 11 kilos she demanded that I check it. She offered to check it all the way to LAX, but rather than risk an OZ-KE transfer, I short checked it to ICN. In the RGN airport the gate areas had the now ubiquitous water coolers, here they had disposable cups so I was able to drink my fill without fear of dying from various Oregon Trail diseases.
The flight to BKK was a brief as the flight to RGN, only now I was in Y and on an A330 as opposed to business on an A300. A meal was served, it was the same as the business class meal I had on the outbound, minus the main course. So, I had a fried fish appetizer and coconut dessert. We landed in BKK and I was already missing the cart service from my F flight that morning. Now, I had to walk BKK and it is no fun, no fun at all. I found my gate and the Business class lounge near there. It was packed, and the internet was atrociously slow. I think TG uses a shared 3G connection for their internet and it is terrible. I grabbed some dim sum and then left the lounge. I tried to get into the Asiana lounge aka the Louis Tavern CIP lounge, but the matron told me to take a hike. I was in OZ business, so I was a little confused about using the lounge. With no improvements to be had, I went to the gate for my flight to ICN.
BKK-ICN at this point was a red-eye. There had been an equipment swap which left me in 2A, I asked for an aisle and was told no. What I didn’t know until I got on the plane was the swap was to the new J configuration. OZ calls it the “Quadra Smartarium” seat, I just call it a derivative of the EK business seat. It’s fully lie flat and I was out like a light. I didn’t eat though I grabbed a copy of the menu on my way out the door in the morning. I was slick enough to grab a couple of shots and here they are. The menu is on the airlines menu page if you want to read it.
Sorry for the blur, I was using my iphone to grab the shots. I promise better ones in the following editions. Tune in for the next exciting adventure of KE F.
The plane landed in FRA on time. It’s dark out and I am exhausted and it is only going to get worse. You remember the gent siting behind me demanding car service? Well he started harassing the first LH rep he saw on the jet bridge. Yeah like I said, he’s not only a jerk but a jerk in multiple time zones. Money doesn’t buy class I guess. Have you been through the wonderfulness that is Fraport? If not count yourself lucky, the airport redefines airport batman show on all levels. So here is the basic rundown on Fraport terminal 1. There are three piers: A, B, C,. C pier is international flights, B pier is divided in half, domestic EU and international 1-19 domestic, 20 and higher international. A Pier is the same as B pier except they have dual use gates; Z gates are international and the A gates are domestic EU. To navigate Fraport successfully you must do three things: one, identify your gate; two, follow the signs; and three, don’t think.
I’m dead freaking serious, do not exercise independent thought when it comes to navigating Fraport.
Ving Rhames in pulp fiction says it best. (NSFW F-bomb)
You know what happens Fraport if you think, you get lost. Period.
Now, back to the story. So I get off the plane and I do the smart move, I follow the signs. But there is a problem, I don’t have a boarding pass for FRA-BKK flight. The LH transfer desk people were less than useless, so I resolved to get as close as I could to the B gates and then reassess. I should back for a second, I arrived in the Z gates and had to change piers to the B gates. I followed the signs and I found myself looking at German immigration; ok I guess I am entering the EU. That dumped me out into the new A pier and I just kept walking. I found the elevator and the underground tunnel to the B gates. I ended up the domestic side of the B-gates, I was so close. I walked to the immigration counter that blocked my way. This immigration officer had some questions for me upon looking at the entry stamp I got moments ago. I had to explain that I was on the flight to BKK and that it left from the B gates. He found that to be an acceptable answer and let me pass.
I got in. Note at no point did I clear transfer security. I cleared immigration twice, but not security. Next stop the B First Class Lounge.
I found the FCL on the second floor of B. The lounge matrons took a few moments to verify my eligibility for the lounge. Lufthansa for reasons best known to themselves has some of the world’s most complicated lounge rules. In fact they are so complicated they had to make a chart. As an arriving first class passenger on LH I was entitled to access the arrivals lounge if FRA was my destination, if I was leaving on an another LH international flight in F I could use the First Class Terminal, If I was leaving on any other flight I could use the First Class Lounges. If I had arrived on an non-LH Star Alliance flight in First I would have been limited to the Senator lounges. My head hurts just typing this.
I don’t have any pictures of the FCL. The lounge is very nice and very quiet. Well quiet except for the Russians who were letting their kids run wild. I had a shower in the First spa. The shower rooms are large and have three foot long shoe horns, clearly so you don’t have to bend over. The only thing I love about the FCL showers is rain showerhead and exfoliator. I like high pressure showers, I think that’s because I am man, maybe not as manly as this guy,
but still a man. I got my girlfriend a duck from the shower attendant who was pleased as punch to get me one. Since I had a five hour layover I signed up for a day room to have a few hours rest. I collapsed in one of the lounge chairs facing the tarmac and took these pictures.
The 744 pictured was my ride in Fraport and would later be headed for BOM. Speaking of whisky I had a JW Blue on the rocks. You know I am not a big fan of scotch whisky but JW Blue was pretty damn smooth. I got some food from the Buffet, passing on the restaurant dining. The catering for LH’s FCLs and FCT is done by Do & Co and it is masterful. I helped myself to some cold cuts and rested while waiting for my day room. At around 9:30 the attendant came and got me for my day room. The room is a bed with some personal space. You can’t turn the lights all the way off and the bed the standard European rock hard twin. That being said I was out like a light. Two hours later, I revived myself grabbed some of the lunch grub and headed for the gate to get my boarding pass.
The B pier seems to have been recently renovated because I do not remember it looking the way it did the last time I was there. I made my way to the TG gate just in time for the gate to open. At the gate I checked in not only for BKK flight but also for my RGN flight. The agent again looking through TIMATIC wanted to know where my RGN visa was. Well I didn’t have an RGN visa. A lot of people got their RGN visa in advance, me no way. I could have used a service but again I am not going to pay double for a service that will charge double the visa cost. I went hardcore straight visa on arrival. I got the form from the RGN US Embassy website and kept it in my passport. The agent looked at the form a minute, asked someone else and cleared me. I have no idea if this was going to work in RGN, but I didn’t care, I just needed the boarding pass to BKK which I got.
I had sometime before boarding, so I went to the Senator lounge close to the gate. I could have gone back to the FCL but it was a 10 minute walk and I decided it wasn’t worth it. I passed the BOM flight where I noticed D-ABVK pushing for departure. TG F passengers get to use the Senator lounge, I would have got in anyways as a star gold card holder, and arriving LH F passenger. The lounge was a zoo. There were a couple of Air Canada flights prepping for departure and the place was packed. The food was pretty good, I had a curry and bread pudding. I didn’t take any pictures because it was packed, but I took some of the ramp.
The money shot didn’t come from the photos but from a gentleman at the food counter. He was helping himself to German sausage and asked the attendant for a couple of “hot dog buns.” The poor attendant who probably was not German looked like he was hit on the head and said they didn’t have any. I don’t think the attendant knew what a hot dog bun is much less that Germans do not eat sausage in a bun.
Well when boarding came an attendant came and escorted us to the gate and onto the plane.
Thai decided to put F on the second deck. This is different from most A380 carriers I think and certainly different from KE and SQ.
You can’t see it in these pictures, but the cream colors TG chose for the seats was a bad idea I think. The white scuffs to easy and despite only being in service what three months now, the seats were already showing wear and tear. These are seats that have to last 10 years and they are already looking damaged.
Also due to the fact that they were on the upper deck they were a little narrower than the KE F seat which is very similar in design to this seat. Service was a best muddled. You know how when you go to a restaurant just after it opens and service is genuine but rough, that perfectly describes this flight. There was just no order to the service. F shared galley space with business class and I think the higher demand of business service negatively impacted F service. Both KE and SQ share a galley with economy.
So food porn time.
The food was very good, and I am sorry about lacking a picture of the salad and the main course it was the duck and it was amazing.
Appetizers, notice the nicely plated terrine of duck.
Breakfast which was ok.
What I regret most about this flight was not getting a shot of the bars in business class and the first class lav. The first class lav had a changing space a little vanity area so you could change into and out of your PJs without being near the toilet. Seriously, who hasn’t thought changing on the toilet is gross. I passed on getting the Thai aircraft model from the duty free because I wanted to save space. I ended up running out of space later in the trip so maybe I should have sucked it up. We landed on-time and went into the E gates I think. BKK is not the biggest airport, but it sprawls like nothing else. It is quite easy to find yourself a kilometer or more away from your gate or lounge. TG provides golf carts for F passengers. However, TG didn’t really think it out. My golf cart had four passengers and one driver. I guess that works if the passengers are fun sized, but we were three burly Germans and me. One of the Germans had to wait for another cart. We sped through the terminal trying not to hit anyone, but still people were jumping out in front of the car GTA style. We made it to transfer security and were escorted into the Royal First Lounge.
Royal First Lounge
People rave about how amazing this place is. I don’t see it, I guess they rave because they get access to the spa and the services there are free. I don’t do strange people rubbing on me, I just don’t. The lounge is all table service, there is a buffet but it is only for you to look at then order from the server. Here are my pictures from the lounge.
Service was slow, the servers rarely made rounds and I had to flag them down several times. I had some fruit (including one redish orange colored piece that tasted like cheese) and a bowl of Thai soup with rice which was quite spicy. I did have a shower which was ok it wasn’t anything memorable. In fact the whole lounge except for the food was meh. They had day rooms, but I didn’t know about them so I didn’t use them. Eventually after a few hours it was time to go; rather than take a golf cart to my gate, I walked. I needed the exercise.
Here is the view from the gate area including my A300 bound for RGN.
BKK-RGN, A300, C
I was inordinately excited about this flight. I would be my first flight on an A300, filling in a gap in my flight memory. The flight was full in C and this is important because the attendants did a full service on an hour long flight. In the US the flight attendants can barely be bother to get out of their jump seats on an hour long flight, these people did a full service with multiple drink runs. Lunch was boiled chicken Singapore style with rice noodles, an appetizer of fried and marinated fish, and a coconut cake dessert. It was all served on a single tray and very tasty. The plane was wired for overhead IFE, but they just kept the flight map up the entire flight. While the A300 appealed to my aviation nutter-self, at the end of the day it was just a short flight in C to Rangoon. The man sitting next to me was Thai but apparently he went to Notre Dame as was unhappy with the turnout of the national championship.
Next up RGN, and my trip to ICN.