Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thai 600 ( TG600 ) - Bangkok to Hong Kong Royal First Class Boeing 747-400


AIRLINE: Thai Airways International
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 747-400 HS-TGY (11.5 yrs old at time of review, first flight was 22/6/98)
CLASS:  First Class
ROUTE: BKK-HKG
SEAT: 2A

This is a review of TG600, which at the time, was the only flight of the day to feature first class service to Hong Kong. It leaves at about 8am local time in Bangkok, and gets in to Hong Kong about noon, and then the flight continues on to Taipei under the same flight number. At the time of writing, this flight still exists but the add-on flight to Taipei will no longer operate. Also, Thai will fly a second daily first class service with Boeing 747-400 on the Hong Kong route, making it 5 times daily in total to Hong Kong from Bangkok (the other flights are a mix of 777 and A330).

With an 0800 departure I intended to arrive prior to 0600 so as to enjoy the lovely Thai Airways ground service for First Class passengers in Bangkok. I took a cab and stopped at 'Door 1' at about 0545 , there were no porters standing around as there normally is for first class passengers so I made my own way into the first class checkin area:

First Class Check-In

I walked up to the counter and presented my passport, I also had an onwards itinerary from HKG that night on Singapore Airlines so I gave them the e-ticket and asked for my bags to be interlined. After I gave them this I was told to take a seat on one of the couches nearby...



Waiting for check-in to be completed

As is often discussed on the Thai Airways forum on Flyertalk, for some unknown reason, it takes a VERY long time to be checked in at  the first class counter. In my case today about 8 minutes, but I have heard it can regularly extend out to 15 mins, when really it should be a couple of minutes tops! Well, the reason for this may forever remain a mystery but for this flight I perservered and was eventually presented with my boarding pass to HKG and my bag tag receipt which had been interlined to Singapore Airlines... I was then escorted to fast track passport control and security. There was a woman in front of me at passport control who had overstayed her visa or visa exemption and was being spoken to which delayed me a couple of minutes.  My escort patiently waited on the other side for me to come through, I was then taken downstairs and put on a buggy and whisked into the first class lounge. I ordered a glass of Moet which was brought over, and I was asked if I would be partaking in a massage prior to the flight.



Moet in the Royal First lounge

For First Class passengers a full body massage is available, for Business and First Class passengers a head and shoulder or foot massage is available. I decided to take the full body massage, why not! The staff in the lounge made all the arrangements with the spa and said I should expect to go over there shortly after it opened at 6am. No sooner had I finished my glass of morning champagne than the staff came over again to advise me I should go to the spa, so off I went on the short walk across the hall to the spa entrance. Upon arrival I was offered a wet towel and drink:



Spa Waiting Area

I'd barely managed a sip of my drink before I was invited into one of the rooms provided for first class passengers full body massages and a lovely female masseuse. She offered me a selection of aromatherapy oils to choose from, after I had selected a suitable smell I was asked to take a shower and get changed into some provided disposable type underpants and a dressing gown:



Shower Room

After the shower I went ahead and got the full body massage. It was pretty good and went for almost the full hour. Afterwards I took a nice shower to wash off the oil and prepare for departure!



Massage room and table


There is also a bath/jacuzzi in the massage room

After I had cleaned up it was off to the lounge again for one more glass of Moet...



First Class Lounge

The lounge was fairly empty with only about 8 people in it at this time, and it was about 7.30am when a Thai Airways staff member came over to collect me and the 2 other F passengers going to Hong Kong this morning. We were escorted on foot to the gate, which was relatively near to the lounge so a buggy was not used (for longer journeys you are taken by buggy).



Final Call for Hong Kong - the gate holding area was almost empty as we arrived


HS-TGY preparing to go to Hong Kong and onwards to Taipei

As I was walking down the airbridge the Thai staff member who was escorting us made small talk with me about the low passenger load in First Class on this flight, I said it was lovely to have only 3 passengers but she seemed quite concerned that it was not good business for her employer. I don't think she needs to worry too much, the business class and economy cabins looked very full!

I entered the cabin and turned left and was warmly greeted by the cabin crew and escorted to seat 2A on this 'old configuration' Boeing 747. Thai have 2 configurations on the 747, this one featuring the old style business class seats mostly used only on regional flights and flights to Scandinavia (where these seats are sold as business class) and the ones with the newer first class 'suite' type seats that are used on European services. Yes the seats look a bit dated, but they are very comfortable, particularly for a 2 hour flight, and they do recline into a FULLY FLAT position.



Seat 2A/B

looking across from my seat


leg shot - that is the menu in the seat pocket



looking ahead from 2A

I was immediately asked whether I would like a pre-takeoff drink and I ordered the champagne of course! The champagne on today's flight, and on most of the regional First class flights is Bollinger Grande Annee 1999. This Champagne is also served on long haul when the Dom Perignon runs out (apparently this is a frequent occurrence!)


pre-takeoff Champagne

I was given a top up prior to pushback and the captain came on the PA with the welcome on board. We pushed back just a couple of minutes behind schedule...



pushback


Climbout - From Runway 01L


in the climb over northeast Thailand

After a routine takeoff the cabin crew came out and set up the drinks table in the centre of the first class cabin:




and set the table at my seat....



Here is today's menu:




I went for the omelette for my breakfast, accompanied by continuous top ups of the Bollinger 99. Here is how the meal service went:


Pastries and yoghurt (Cereal was available if you wanted aswell)



followed by a lovely fruit plate

and the main course

The food all tasted pretty nice overall. It might be nice if they had a decent sausage with the main meal though, rather than the 'chicken sausage' they tend to serve in Thailand. However the bacon was quite good, as was the omelette.

With only 3 passengers in the cabin service was fantastic and the entire meal service had been complete just over halfway through the flight. It was time to sit back and relax for the last hour and watch some tv and sip more champagne. These old configuration 747's have several video channels running on a loop, no AVOD here! But it's sufficient for this short sector, and I like to look at the 'AirShow' flight map anyway.






bathroom amenities - there is no individual amenity kit provided on this short flight


view as we commenced descent into Hong Kong

It had become quite cloudy by the time we reached top of descent into Hong Kong, and this short sector in First Class was sadly drawing to a close. Fortunately the lovely crew continued to top up my champagne at all times, even well into the descent when they insisted I drink some more. 

The arrival was in heavy low cloud and rain with some light to moderate turbulence, the final touchdown though was spot on, nice job Captain!



taxi'ing in next to a United Boeing 747

We soon parked, and the arrival was right on schedule, the doors were opened and us first class passengers were first out the door. At the top of the airbridge was some ground crew with my name and the names of the other first class passengers on it, we were whisked away by a buggy to immigration, nice touch!



awaiting the jetway to be connected


buggy to Immigration

Overall I really enjoyed this 4 1/2 hour experience from arriving at the airport to arriving in Hong Kong. The ground service in Bangkok was fabulous and on this flight the inflight service was very good too. Looking forward to my next flight on Thai Royal First class.

For those interested I have video of this flight available through my YouTube channel, the video shows the takeoff and landing and a few bits in between. Thanks for reading!






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