CHECK IN THAI Airways is among 14 airlines using SkyPlaza Terminal 2 of the Hongkong International Airport, a helpful detail to remember if you intend to check in at the airport. The airport has two terminals and for the uninitiated, the walk between T2 and T1 can be a pain, especially if you are running late and have not checked in. However, to avoid the hassle, make use of the carrier’s internet check-in service, which is available from 24 to two hours before the flight.
If you have been processed at the downtown Central Airport Express station, and arrived at the airport via the express train, exit by the left door leading to T1 because all aircraft depart from this building anyway.
(In the early days of T2’s opening in 2007, I checked in at Central, and when I arrived at the airport exited by the right door to T2. 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 succeeding journey, I proceeded directly to T1 and saved some valuable time.)
There are several non-stop flights between Hongkong and Bangkok during the week, but since I had to leave on a Friday and arrive in Bangkok to make a 3pm appointment, there was no choice but to take the first flight at 7.55am. Flight TG609 goes via Phuket, which is a popular destination for Hongkong residents, some of whom have holidays homes there.
BOARDING We were called to line up for the flight 10 minutes later than what was printed on my boarding pass. At the door of the aircraft, one of the flight attendants saw my seat number and gestured for me to go through the galley and turn right.
THE SEAT On THAI’s Airbus A330, Business Class – also called Royal Silk Class – is configured 2-2-2/AB-EF-JK, while Economy Class, which occupies two cabins, is configured 2-4-2/AB-DEFG-JK. My 46K was a window seat in the second last row of the first cabin, followed by the bulkhead and the washrooms. As there were no seatback personal monitors, the space under the seats was clear of any IFE boxes and I was able to store together my laptop and handbag without any problem.
In each of the Economy cabins, there were two overhead TV monitors with bulkhead screens to show the safety videos and light features throughout the flight. Earphones were distributed before take off. From 46K, I could adequately view the action without too much neck craning, however, I decided to concentrate on a new novel I had just purchased. This resolution fell by the wayside when my seatmate – an agriculture expert – and I struck up a lively conversation that included a slew of topics like 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 window seat is desirable if privacy matters, but I suggest selecting one in the first Economy cabin. And if you have a weak bladder, choose seats B, D, G and J from rows 42 to 47.
In the second Economy cabin, seats 48AB and 48JK boast the widest legroom but mind you, your fellow passengers are going to use the space to wait in line to wash up.
THE FLIGHT The breakfast of scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, croissant and fruit was filling and the serving and clean up precise.
We landed in our transit point Phuket at 11.10am, 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 enough F&B facilities and some shopping, although the stalls carried pretty much the same stuff.
After about 40 minutes, we were called to board the same aircraft we had arrived in and departed for our final destination.
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 come from Hongkong, I had to claim my suitcase from a specially designated carousel, while those from Phuket were assigned another one. This took an inordinately amount of time that I had to take a seat to ease my aching back. To make matters worse, my suitcase was the last to appear.
VERDICT THAI’s onboard service was 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 Hongkong to be unacceptable.
CONFIGURATION 2-2-2 in Royal Silk Class and 2-4-2 in Economy Class
SEAT PITCH 81.28cm/32in
SEAT RECLINE 32-40º
PRICE Web return fares for a mid-March departure started from HK$2,393 (US$307) including taxes
Margie T Logarta