Reply To: On Board an A330 with Thai Royalty

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One of the more interesting flights I took this year was between Bangkok BKK and Hong Kong HKG.

On entering the terminal I checked in at the First Class check in courtesy of my Star Alliance Gold, and was informed that a member of the Thai Royal Family would be travelling on my flight.

Not really certain what this would entail, I was told all I had to to was ensure I was at the gate at least 30 minutes prior to departure, and warned that we would be using one of the more distant gates for security reasons.

As I was in Business Class, I wasn’t really expecting to see much of this, assuming they would switch in a 3 class aircraft for this flight, as surely Business would not be enough for this personage.

I was given a Gold circular stick-on badge to ease identification, and this did seem to help ease my path through security as I was plucked from the melee and whisked through faster than usual.

Went for possibly the most painful massage ever in the Thai Royal Orchid lounge, and then walked seemingly miles to the gate.

It was only a two class plane, and an old one at that (so no new seats, just rather 80s-style Business seats, tatty, and not at all ideal had I needed to sleep).

On boarding, my colleague and I were informed Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn would be on board. In broad terms, Princess Sirindhorn is roughly equivalent to Princess Anne, but given the turmoil which was enveloping Thailand at the time of my flight, it was an especially big deal to be on a plane with her, as her father the King has been very ill for a long time now, and although she is not formally the heir, the Crown Prince is not well liked, so she certainly holds considerable influence.

I was surprise to find myself seated in row 3, with the Princess in row 1 with her entourage taking up the forward two rows.

The stewardess informed us not to move forward during the flight, and to use the rear lavatory if necessary.

Most odd when the Princess boarded, as all her contingent (including several esteemed looking admiral types) boarded literally crawling on their knees (it is not permitted to be at a height higher than Royalty).

The crawling continued throughout the flight, even when serving the in flight food. We departed the gate and took off within five minutes; an exceptionally short taxi for a commercial flight, and were straight into HKG with no circling.

The Princess herself seemed jolly and chatty, very informal and relaxed reading the papers (as it was her birthday there was a full two page eulogy of her, as well as commentary on the unrest developing in Bangkok).

The rest of the cabin was quite full with regular travellers such as myself, and security didn’t seem to be especially obvious.

The Princess generously shared a slice of her birthday cake with everyone in the cabin, which was most generous.

A most remarkable flight, and one of those weird experiences (especially all the crawling) I doubt will ever happen again.

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