Welcome to the first of a series of posts I am calling 'The Royal Tour'. Basically, as a bit of a monarchist I was quite excited to hear about the engagement of HRH Prince William of Wales to Catherine Middleton late last year. I watched with interest as the media hype built up in the months following, and suddenly at about 3am on a nightshift I had a thought, why not get on a plane and be in the crowd!? After all, this was going to be a major moment in history no matter which way you look at it. So, with my mind made up I started planning on ways to get there in comfort, and seeing a few airports I had never seen along the way!
Along with airports I decided to stick with the royal theme and visit as many palaces and castles as I could squeeze in. On the way home I had a family wedding to attend to in Cairns, so that would have to be integrated into the plan as well.
THE FLIGHT PLAN
After a lot of playing around with schedules I came up with an itinerary involving several airlines:
|Fruit and Cheese Plate|
|Dessert with Coffee|
|Rear economy cabin mid flight|
|11A and 11B on Thai B777-300|
|Concourse C Thai shower room - nice!|
AIRLINE: Thai Airways
AIRCRAFT: Airbus A340-600 (HS-TNB) - First time on A340-600!
SCHEDULED TO DEPART: 00.30
ACTUAL DEPARTURE: 00.44 (14 min delay)
SCHEDULED TO ARRIVE: 07.25
ACTUAL ARRIVAL: 07.23
LOAD FACTOR: Economy - 100%, Business - 100%, First - 100%
|Gate C8 - Boarding about to commence for TG970 to Zurich|
I spent the rest of the transit time in the concourse C lounge having a few vodkas and catching up on the news and internet forums I read. Just before midnight I made my way to gate C8 where a queue was forming for boarding. The flight was sold out in all classes so it was fairly busy in the gate area. Eventually First and Business class passengers were given the go ahead to board so I made my way onto my first A340-600 and quickly found seat 12K.
|Special sticker on the entry door for HM The King|
|Leg room 12L|
|View from 12K - First Class can be seen from here|
Unlike Qantas and some other airlines that know something a little more about service, there is no special greetings by name by any of the crew on Thai. You just find your seat and get comfortable, in fact nor I or my seat partner were offered to have our jackets hung in the cupboard. Never mind I just made use of the coat hook in the seat.
|Just confirming - our destination is ZURICH!|
The blankets on the seats were the economy style thin ones, I still don't understand how some routes have proper duvet's but others have these thin blankets. A little bit of consistency would be nice, but then again, this is Thai Airways. No point groaning, I am used to it by now. Amenity kits were also on the seats. Pre takeoff drinks were soon offered to me and my 59 other business class passengers, I took a champagne and got comfortable. The captain came on to the PA advising we would have a slight delay at the gate waiting for a departure slot with many flights departing to Europe at this moment.
At 44 minutes past midnight HS-TNB and her full load of passengers pushed back and we were on our way. The departure was off runway 19R, towards the south. I watched the night lights of Bangkok below us until they disappeared into the distance, it was strange for me to transit through Bangkok without leaving the airport. I would be back here in a bit over a week though, for a few days on my way back to Australia.
|Pre Supper Drinks|
Although it was past 1am, we had a full supper service on this flight. This started with drinks and then went like this:
|Appetiser - 1 prawn, how completely NOT generous!|
|Lamb with mashed potato main|
|Cheese Plate (I ate a couple of grapes before I took this)|
This was the worst meal I have had on Thai in business class. Very ordinary indeed. For a starter we had a SINGLE prawn. Cost cutting gone made, it looks a bit silly in my opinion. I believe it is advertised as a 'King Prawn' but still, its not very big is it? I took the lamb main course and presentation was very ordinary, it was edible although nothing outstanding.
The cheese on the fruit and cheese plate was barely edible. Thai really needs to get some decent cheese although I know it is not something that you can buy as easily in Thailand as the western world, but that is no excuse. The only thing I enjoyed was the dessert which was some kind of apple pastry thing with ice cream. It was quite tasty. I forgot to photograph the menu I'm afraid sorry! Once dinner had been cleaned up it was lights out and after quite a long day so far I was pretty tired and ready to sleep. The seats are a slightly different style to those found on the 777-300 and they seemed a little more flat and comfortable for sleeping. I managed a few hours of broken sleep.
I took a peak out the window and found we were over some scenic mountain ranges and the sun was coming up behind us. You fly over a lot of the 'stan' countries on these S.E Asia - Europe flights, how different life must be for those below us.
I watched a few TV shows on the IFE system, the selection seems to have been extended recently on Thai. There is more episodes of each show than before, very happy with that improvement Thai!
|Flying over some interesting places|
At 1 hour 30 minutes before landing the lights were switched on and breakfast service commenced. We had actually placed our order the night before so there was no need to disturb anyone too early. Breakfast was an improvement on the previous meal, but when will Thai stop serving those ridiculously ugly chicken sausages ex-Bangkok. They are visually disgusting and the taste isn't that much better in my opinion. The cheap yoghurt is not very nice either. I was quite happy with the pastry selection and fruit though!
|Breakfast - fruit starter|
|Breakfast - main course|
|Business Cabin - after breakfast|
There was a steady flow of passengers to the lavatories and soon queues were forming, even in business class. I patiently waited my turn to head for a freshen up - wash the face, brush the teeth and moisturise. Feels so much better!
|IFE System showing our route|
The captain announced our descent into a sunny Zurich, although still quite a chilly morning, about 7 degrees outside. The countryside looked beautiful out my window with lovely green fields and trees... very scenic and I am a Europe newbie so I was glued to my window all the way down! Another smooth landing and we made our way to the terminal.
|Qatar A330 from Doha touches down after us|
|Arriving at parking position E57|
Around 24 hours after departing Melbourne I had landed in Zurich. I was thankful for having several naps along the way, and glad I was flying business class on this trip. On the way out I took a snap of my seat in the daylight:
|12K now vacated by me|
|HS-TNB takes a rest before heading back to Bangkok|
Next up in part 2 is the final 2 flights of this mammoth 4 flight journey, Zurich-Frankfurt-Edinburgh on Lufthansa. Stay tuned!