Today Japlanning have our latest flight review for you, with our flight to Tokyo via Bangkok with Thai Airways. Thailand’s national airline has been flying since 1960, and has multiple flights per day to Bangkok from Melbourne and onwards to Tokyo. Read on to see our first part of the review, the Melbourne to Bangkok leg on a Boeing 777 aircraft. See what we loved, didn’t care for, and what Thai stood out in.
We just flew to Tokyo from Melbourne, Australia in late August, and decided to try Thai for the first time with a transit through Bangkok before heading onwards to Narita Airport, Tokyo. The 16-hour travel time was a little longer than usual direct flights from Australia, however the chance to go with a full service airline was worth the change. Thai Airways is one of the few airlines that fly out of Melbourne with a stopover with minimal wait before your flight on to Japan. Where many other airlines transit flights through other south-east Asia countries, and can leave you waiting up to 12-hours for your next flight, Thai is a convenient 90 mins between flights.
We got into Melbourne airport the required three hours before our afternoon flight, and saw the never-ending queue for Thai Airways economy already. Thankfully we had been wise and had taken advantage of the 24-hour advance online check in, which meant all we had to do was get in the three person deep queue for bag drop and ticket issuance. Take note: fly Thai, always use online check-in, and skip the crazy economy queues. After the much easier breeze through the ticket process, we headed on through security, which was empty. Absolute bonus. After a little duty free browsing, then the waiting began for the flight to be called.... And then some more waiting, as the flight was delayed with no reason given. We eventually started boarding a bit after the scheduled departure time, and took off about an hour late.
After boarding the plane, it quickly became obvious that this was one of Thai older aircrafts in their fleet. The fabrics on the chairs were worn and faded, and the plane had a staleness to it. The seats were quite cramped with seat width of 47cm and pitch of 82 cm, and entertainment controls in the armrests, it wasn’t that comfortable. The most annoying part we found of the seat set-up was the archaic metal bar foot rest; this bar was too high when fully lowered to be any good as a foot rest, and when raised away impeded your ability to stretch our your legs without the hard metal pole digging into your legs. A great part of the seat configuration was the tray table with curved edge so it sat more comfortably when down, and also a built in cup holder on the back so you didn’t need it all down just to have a drink.
Once in the air and the seatbelt sign was off, the services began quickly. The lovely thai cabin crew came out with drinks almost instantly, and a hot towel for each passenger to refresh, which was a nice touch! The towels were also regularly handed out prior to meal service as well. The drinks range was large, with many high-end spirit choices, they were happy to make just about any cocktail you could think of, all with a smile. They also had a couple of different wines, a few soft drinks, and a couple of teas, as well as your standard airplane coffee.
The first big disappointment was the entertainment unit. Every passenger had their own personal screen with an average choice of current TV shows, movies, both in English and Thai, and some music options, however the entertainment system was not working for the first 2-hours of the flight, making those beginning hours painful for anyone not interested in sleeping and without their own iPad. Another downside was the dated nature of the system; the screen had a terrible resolution, which left the picture washed out and pixilated.
On to the food -- for the longest flight leg, there were two meal services: a lunch, and a light dinner before landing. The first meal, lunch, had two hot options, a Thai dish (Pork pa-naeng rice curry with beans and carrots), and a more western Beef “wattle” (I asked what the heck wattle was, and was told “beef”, so we decided it was “mystery meat”) with mash and vegetables. I took the crazy beef dish, which was accompanied with a coleslaw with ham, cheese and crackers, ginger cake for dessert and some warm bread. The whole meal was surprisingly delicious, everything was fresh, the beef was so tender, and the coleslaw which looked odd with the slice of ham on top was amazing! Once we’d tucked into our meal, the Thai crew came around with a basket containing extra bread for anyone who wanted some, which was a really nice touch. All in all, the meal was great. Well done Thai! With the meal service came drinks and wine, which we were oddly skipped on the offer. Then the attendants cleaned up and disappeared.
Thai did a great job keeping everyone hydrated, with multiple trips every hour down the aisles with trays of water, juices and soft drinks being offered. We had been convinced into buying a concentrated bottle of 1Above in Melbourne Airport, so this was a good opportunity for us to mix it all together and keep our electrolytes up, ready for the busy first day ahead in Tokyo.
The light meal before landing was more simple and less memorable, with a single option only. Again, drinks were offered around. This was a very fast service, starting at about 90 minutes prior to landing, and wrapped up at about 50 minutes prior to landing.
The actual flight was fairly smooth, with nothing out of the ordinary happening. The bathrooms were all clean and well spaced, with nice custom air fresheners; a very nice touch.
We ended up landing about 20-minutes late into Bangkok, where we exited quickly though to transit onto Tokyo.
Bangkok international airport is fairly new, which makes transiting a breeze. It’s a massive airport, which means you’ll usually find your connecting flight on the other side of the airport, although the corridors all have moving walkways for the entire way, and transit security is quite simple, with multiple security screening points that you can go through, you will get there quick and pain free.
Well you’ll have to wait for the conclusion next week, as we detail the Bangkok to Tokyo leg, which is on the newest of their aircraft -- the mammoth Airbus A380. Will the new technologies and comforts of the A380 make up for what was lacking on the first leg? You’ll just have to wait and see.
Have you ever flown with Thai before? How did YOU find them?
Let us know in the comments section below!