Tried & Tested

Thai Airways A330-300 Economy Class

21 Jan 2010 by AndrewGough
CHECK IN Thai Airways is among 14 airlines using SkyPlaza Terminal 2 (T2) of the Hong Kong International Airport, a helpful detail to remember if you intend to check in at the airport instead of making use of the carrier’s internet check-in service, which is available from two to 24 hours before the flight. The walk between T1 and T2 can be a pain, especially if you are running late and still have not checked in.

If you have been processed at the Central AEL station, and then arrived at the airport via the express train, exit by the left entrance leading to T1 because all aircraft depart from this building anyway. In the early days of T2, back in 2007, I checked in at Central and when I arrived at the airport exited by the right entrance. After clearing immigrations and customs, I hopped on the shuttle train which I thought would deposit me in T2, instead I still ended up in T1. The wiser on a following journey, I proceeded directly to T1 and saved some valuable time.

There are several non-stop flights between Hong Kong and Bangkok during the week, but since I had to leave on a Friday to arrive in Bangkok for a 1500 appointment, there was no choice but to take the first flight out at 0755 (TG609) via Phuket, which is a popular destination for Hong Kong residents, some of whom have holiday homes there.

BOARDING They called us for the flight ten minutes later than specified on my boarding pass. At the door of the aircraft, one of the flight attendants read my seat number and gestured for me to go through the galley and turn right.

THE SEAT On Thai’s A330, Business class is configured 2-2 (AB-EF-JK) while Economy class, which occupies two cabins, is configured 2-4-2 (AB-DEFG-JK). My seat, 46K, was a window seat in the second to last row of the first cabin, just ahead of the bulkhead and the washrooms.

As there were no seatback monitors, the space under the seats was clear of any IFE boxes and I was able to store both my laptop and handbag without any problems.

There were two overhead TV monitors in each of the Economy cabins plus bulkhead screens to show the safety videos and light features shown throughout the flight. Earphones were distributed before takeoff. From 46K, I could see the action well enough without too much neck-craning, but I decided to concentrate on a new novel I had just bought. This fell by the wayside when my seatmate – an agriculture expert – and I struck up a lively conversation that included a slew of topics including the Asian food crisis, good books and some of our personal travel experiences.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Only one row stood between mine and the washroom, and it was in this area that people had a propensity to congregate. I wasn’t too bothered since I was by the window, but perhaps my new friend seated along the aisle was, although he didn’t show it. Any seat along the window is desirable if privacy matters, but I suggest choosing one in the first Economy cabin. And if you have a weak bladder, choose from 42A to 47A or 42K to 47K.

In the second Economy cabin, seats 48AB and 48JK boast the widest legroom but bear in mind that your fellow passengers may use that space to queue for the washroom.

THE FLIGHT The breakfast of scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, croissant and fruit was filling and the serving and clearing up of it efficient. We landed in Phuket, our transit point, at 1110 where those bound for Bangkok like myself still had to disembark and clear immigration. We were then shown to the waiting hall packed with holidaymakers returning to the Thai capital. There were adequate F&B facilities and some shopping.

After about 40 minutes we were called to board the same aircraft we had arrived on, for the final leg of our journey.

ARRIVAL Flight time to Bangkok was about one hour and 20 minutes. We landed with a thud at Suvarnabhumi International Airport but with no harm done. Having originated from Hong Kong, I had to claim my suitcase from a specially designated carousel, while those from Phuket were assigned another one. This took an inordinate amount of time, and I had to sit down to ease my aching back. To make matters worse, my suitcase was the last to appear.

VERDICT Thai’s onboard service was as usual pleasant and efficient. The transfer process in Phuket though orderly was still a pain but it couldn’t be helped because of scheduling. I found the 30-minute wait for the baggage from Hong Kong to be unacceptable.

PRICE Web return fares for a late January departure start from HK$2,934 (US$377).


Margie T Logarta

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