A Quick Trip Around Asia Part 2 : Thai Airways First Class Sydney to Bangkok Boeing 747-400
After arriving from Melbourne on QF400 I collected my luggage (Qantas won't interline to non alliance partners on separate tickets anymore), and took the train between terminals. They charge $5.70 for this 2 minute journey, which other airports in the world charge to transfer between terminals I wonder? Qantas does offer an inter-terminal transfer but I couldn't use this as it is airside and I had to go landside to get my luggage.
Fortunately the luggage didn't take too long and I was over at the Thai check-in counters by 8am. Here are the details of todays flight:
Thai Airways International
Sydney to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
10.00 (Scheduled) / 10.02 (Actual)
15.25 (Scheduled) / 15.44 (Actual)
9 hours 12 minutes airborne
Boeing 747-400 HS-TGO
|Check-in for Royal First, Royal Silk and Economy|
I arrived at check-in and headed for the 'Royal First' queue, and I was checked in immediately. My bags were tagged with Royal First tags through to Tokyo Haneda and boarding passes printed for both this sector and the next one to Tokyo. I had pre-selected seat 2A when I booked the flight, this is my preferred seat on the 747. The seats in row 1 are a little too close together which is good for a couple but if flying solo row 2 is preferred.
Having tracked the incoming flight from Bangkok I was already aware that the flight today would be on HS-TGO, a 23 year old Boeing 747-400 which unfortunately had the older first class product, and not the newly installed suites. As of December 2014 Thai operate 12 Boeing 747-400's, 6 of them in older configuration (used a lot on Asian routes and the non-premium Europe routes like Milan) and the other 6 in suites (used on longer haul premium Europe routes). For Sydney with the current schedule it is a mix of both old and new product in First Class. The business and economy product is essentially the same on all of the jumbos.
So, whilst I was a little disappointed, it wasn't the end of the world. In fact it was only a year or two ago where this was the best product that everyone was hoping to get!
Having been given express passes for security and passport control it was only a few minutes before I was navigating through the duty free shops and onwards to the Singapore Airlines first class lounge. Thai usually use the Air New Zealand lounge but at the time of my flight it was closed for renovations. Regardless, any Star Alliance first class passenger is entitled to use the Singapore First class lounge.... even if the lounge attendants may try and point you towards NZ.
|Head up this escalator to get to the lounge|
|Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge Sydney|
|HS-TGO awaits its passengers|
"Sawat Dee Ka! - Welcome on board sir!" - I was greeted with a wai and a big smile. Upon seeing my first class boarding pass I was escorted to the left and into the nose section of the Boeing 747. Definitely my favourite cabin of any aircraft, it's so secluded from the rest of the aircraft. Here are some cabin shots:
|The older pod style First Class seats|
|It's an older style of first class but it's still comfortable and theres loads of space|
|The view from 2A|
|Yes - a projector and a screen! So retro|
The fairly senior female crew member serving me seemed very relaxed and friendly. I could tell she was going to provide a good service on board. She offered to take my photo with my phone so I could show off on facebook and instagram, which I did of course. It's always nice to show off when flying First Class right? Well maybe not, some people might get a bit jealous.
I was pleased to see the Rimowa hard case amenity kit was already provided next to the seat. Today's colour was dark brown. I was also offered a pair of pyjamas in a powder blue colour. I would make use of those later on when I needed a nap.
Soon enough boarding was complete, just 5 First Class passengers today out of 10 seats. At 2 minutes past 10am, we pushed back from the gate and the 4 General Electric CF6 engines sprung to life. The takeoff was towards the north on runway 34L, and the views were great from the nose section, with so many windows available!
|About to turn onto runway 34L|
|On climb over western Sydney|
|Small AVOD screen|
Here is the menu for today:
|First Serving (also known as LUNCH!)|
|Second Serving (Light Meal)|
The table was then set up, Thai have recently updated their serving ware for long haul business and first class, now featuring a silver trimmed circular plate.
After the table was set up the bread basket was offered and I took some garlic bread. The caviar service then commenced. The crew come around with a trolley and serve caviar with garniatures. Frozen vodka is also offered if you so desire:
Caviar.... it's fancy and all, but I don't understand the fascination with it. I mean, its ok but is it really that amazing that it's worth the price its sold at? I think Thai continue to offer it because they know their overall product is a little below the likes of Emirates,Cathay and Singapore Airlines, so they try to compensate by continuing with the old tradition of caviar. I'm sure there are plenty of big fans of it but I could take it or leave it.
I was relieved to see a starter that did not feature salmon today, I am so sick of salmon on Thai flights. You may have read my complaints on salmon on other reviews of Thai business class previously. This one was grilled scallops with duck liver terrine. Both of which I like so I was happy:
Despite the fact that I enjoyed this starter, I do think Thai need to offer a choice of at least 2 options. Not everybody likes seafood, or duck liver terrine. In first class the customer should be able to create a menu that is perfectly suited to them. With no choice of dessert or starter Thai loses points. On Emirates, Qantas, and most other first rate carriers there is a choice of 2 to 3 starters at least.
Next on the menu was the salad course, it was pretty basic but tasty none the less:
Let's take a brief break from the food photos and see how the cabin was looking at this point in the meal:
As you can see Thai use this centre storage area as a bar. You can help yourself if you wish. The Dom Perignon is in the ice bucket closest to the camera. Passenger in 2K has chosen to close his blinds already, but for me I like to watch the passing changing landscape as we head into the 'red centre' of Australia.
Now we have the main course, and to be honest, presentation was pretty poor. This is the Chicken Piccata dish, served with pasta and some vegetables. This dish was not particularly tasty, the chicken and pasta were both dry. A bit of a let down unfortunately:
With the main course proving disappointing, it was on to the fruit and cheese trolley. Have a look at the trolley (and consider this is for just 5 of us):
I was already getting a little full, but I chose some watermelon, strawberries, cheddar cheese, fruit cheese and some crackers. The cheese is cut to order by the crew on the trolley and plated beside your seat according to your specifications, which is rather nice:
Yes, there is still more food to come. There is no way you will go hungry on Thai. The dessert was a chocolate mousse cake and I ordered a peppermint tea to go along with it. A nice hot towel was also provided to freshen up (probably the 4th hot towel on the flight so far).
The chocolate mousse cake was ok, not too fancy and probably pretty cheap really. But it was fine. I don't think I managed to finish it, as I was simply too full. Considering I had been up all night working and had no sleep I was extremely tired at this point. I asked the crew to set up my bed and then I went and got into my pyjamas for a 4 hour nap. A mattress is placed on the seat to smooth it out, and it's quite comfortable really, the only drawback being the lack of privacy when compared to the more modern 'suite' concept in first class.
|It's time for bed (note the power outlet location)|
When I got back it was time for the second meal and my table was prepared once again. The first course was a Sichuan Soup:
|Typical cloud buildups in south east Asia|
And finally, the Chocolate Tart to finish. That was pretty nice, but basic and probably no different to what was being served in business class. At least the Dom Perignon was still free flowing. I was the only one drinking it.
|More cloud shots|
|Thai Royal First Seat 2E - Boeing 747-400 (10F configuration)|
Here we have seat 1K which was vacant on this sector. It's a good seat although a little close to seat 1A. For couples flying in this cabin 1A and 1K is recommended.
|Seat 1A - from this angle the seat pitch looks short - it isnt though, just the camera playing tricks|
|Here is 2A - my seat after 8 hours flying|
|Helping myself to a top up of the Dom|
Well that pretty much was the end of the flight, only a short time before descent commenced into Bangkok. I did spend about 10 minutes in the side galley chatting with the crew who were all very friendly. We took a few photos together and talked about the Jumbo Jet. The flight attendants seem to love it, in fact the one I spoke to said she only ever works on Boeing 747 flights, has never been near an A380. Quite interesting.
|On descent into Bangkok|
|Approaching a grey and stormy Bangkok|
|Turning into gate C10|
Overall one of the best flights I've been on with Thai. The cabin crew really stood out on this sector, very warm and friendly at all times. And I did not feel rushed with my meal service, which has been a problem for me on previous sectors.
Next up in part 3 is the red eye first class sector to Tokyo Haneda, stay tuned!