I usually fly Thai Airways to Bangkok, mainly due to the price factor. Originally I was thinking of separating the 2 reviews. However, on second thought, most of the stuff will be repetitive. The experience in terms of the hardware for both flights will be the same, given that the same type of aircraft was used for both legs of the flight. The differing experience would be the service in flight and the food on offer.
We boarded TG402 at Singapore Changi Airport. As we were early, the queue was rather thin. It is always recommended to check in early at the airport, especially the SIN-BKK route as the destination is rather popular. The staff at the counter was not particularly in the mood for a chat, but more of trying to get her job done as soon as possible. As per standard practice, we got our bags checked in relatively quick and handed our boarding pass. I always like to check in early whenever I get to the airport, catering more time for shopping and exploring around the immigration area. Changi Airport in Singapore is an Airport where one would find even 3 hours is insufficient to spend here. There are tons of duty-free shopping (comparable to the shopping mall that one would find in town), with big brands like Chanel and Gucci for one to shop. There are also tons of activities the airport offers, with amenities like cinema, massage chairs, gardens (there are several gardens in the airport spreading across all 3 terminals). We checked in early to cater time for shopping.
TG402 berthing at Changi Airport
Taking off onboard TG 402
As we were running late on our way to the airport, I whipped out my mobile phone whilst on the cab to the Suvarnabhumi Airport, fearing that we might miss the check-in timing. Checking online first does buy us extra time (usually airlines would stipulate at least 2 hours before the scheduled departure for passengers to check-in). Speaking of which, one should cater 2 hours for the journey from downtown Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi Airport, taking into consideration the notorious traffic jam that Bangkok is so famous for. I would say Thai Airways had a great mobile site that allowed me to do online check-in whilst on our way to the airport. With the online check-in, we only have to be at the airport 1 hour before the scheduled departure.
With online check-in, we headed towards the Thai Airways counter at Suvarnabhumi Airport, located at the mid part of the terminal building to have our luggage checked in. One other advantage of online check-in is that the queue isn’t that long, we only have to wait for 2 mins at most for our turn. This saves one a lot more time to explore the immigration area of Suvarnabhumi Airport. I would strongly recommend that one make use of the online check-in function that airlines provide. The service on ground is pretty much standard, however this time around (as compared to our outbound flight), the staff at the check-in counter seemed more friendly and volunteered directions on where we should head for the immigration area and where our boarding gate will be. As we were already running late, we did not have much time to explore the airport terminal. There are a few shops (mostly selling perfumes, tobacco and alcohol) that we have time to explore before heading towards our gate for boarding.
Sculpture in Suvarnabhumi Airport depicting Thai folklore
Duty-free shops at Suvarnabhumi Airport
Duty-free shops at Suvarnabhumi Airport
We were onboard the B777-200ER on both flights (TG402 and TG401). Thai Airways uses a purple coloured theme in their cabins. The seats are decked out in blue, purple and yellow, which gives the cabin a more vibrant look. The legroom for this configuration of the aircraft is sufficient and does not feel too cramped. The aircraft is configured in 3-3-3 seatings in the economy class, giving each passenger 34″ of space between each seat and 18″ of width on each seat. The seats also reclined 122° which is fairly comfortable for economy class on a 2-hour flight.
Economy flight Cabin onboard TG 402
Economy Cabin onboard Flight TG401
Pursuers going around ensuring passengers are comfortable onboard TG401
The legroom is good onboard TG402
Good leg room onboard TG401
Each seat comes with their individual Audio Visual On Demand (AVOD) TV screen. Each screen measures 9″, keeping passengers occupied throughout the flight. The AVOD system is a touch screen, however, the system seemed to lag and rather insensitive. Passengers are better off using the remote controller, stowed on the sides of each seat to gain faster access to the TV/movie programmes one desires.
9″ TV screen
Front camera live feed to the AVOD
Options on the AVOD
AVOD located above the tray table
Standard controller for AVOD
Safety Card onboard Thai Airways
Inflight magazine available in each seat pocket
Pillows and fleeced blankets together with headphones are distributed by the flight crew before departure, which keeps passengers comfortable and entertained throughout the flight. These days such amenities (at least blankets and pillows) are seldom being distributed, even on full-fledged airliners. The lavatory onboard both flights are rather cramped, however, sufficient for one to manoeuvre around in. Each lavatory comes with the hand soap, sanitary napkins and hand soap. There are also extra puke bags that can be found in these lavatories.
Basic lavatory amenities
Meal and Service
The service onboard differs on both flights. I shall cover both food and service in this section of the review.
There are 2 food options on this flight – Omelette and chicken porridge. Both options taste equally bad and blend and there seems to be an obvious note of mass production with very lousy ingredients for both options. The food proportions are small and not good enough to serve as a meal. As a precursor to the meal, the portions seemed sufficient. Other than the 2 options, Thai Airways also included a small croissant and some cut fruits (3 slices to be exact) as part of the meal. Coffee and tea along with other drink options such as Coke, spirits and alcohol, and fruit juice are available onboard.
Omelette onboard TG402
Chicken porridge onboard TG402
Orange juice – my only drink onboard TG402
The service onboard this flight is very bad. Throughout the flight, there do not seem to have any service for drinks. Flight attendants are only seen before departure, at meal service and before landing. There are no runs for fluids onboard and one would have to call for the attendant to have some drinks served up. The crew onboard this flight do not seem to be very friendly either. The atmosphere on board seemed to be very gloomy as I hardly see any smiles on the faces of the crew. There is this particular crew that has a very sour face, as though she just fought with her boyfriend before the flight. I witnessed an instance where another passenger requested for some drinks from her, she just showed him her palm and only return some 30 mins later despite she was with a cart. The said crew even gave the passenger a very hostile stare when serving up his drink. Throughout the flight, there isn’t any hint of any smiles that the Thais are famous for. Foodservice is very slow and slag and passengers are rushed into finishing their meal.
As with most airliners, TG401 also gave passengers 2 options when coming to food. There are chicken fried rice and baked fish for passengers to choose from. The food on this flight is decent. At least there is more taste to them compared to TG402 I flew in from. As with most economy class food, the food is sufficient to sustain one from hunger pains throughout the flight, but insufficient to fully satisfy one’s stomach. I had the chicken fried rice, which also comes with an omelette. It tasted decent, but can be a little on the bland side. There are also sides such as buns, salad and moose served alongside the meal. As with the previous flight, drink options such as coffee, tea, Coke, juices and alcohol are also available.
Chicken Fried rice onboard TG401
The service onboard this flight is way better than TG402. The crew on board seemed to enjoy their work and smiles were kept on their face most if not all the time. The crew spread their joy to the passengers, which made the flight lively and enjoyable. Meal service was prompt and the crew distributed the food at a good speed, collecting the trays at a later time, giving passengers more time to consume their food. Drinks service is seen throughout the flight. I requested for a can of Coke to be shared with my friend when the attendant came around to collect the empty can (he was merely passing by my seat), he offered another can so that we can keep ourselves hydrated. My friend also requested for Children activity pack so she can give it to her children who were not flying with her. The attendant took the efforts to look for the activity packs and did so with a smile that the Thais are famous for. Attendants are very visible throughout the flight ensuring that passengers are well taken care of and their requests are being met.
The level of service onboard Thai Airways seemed to vary with the crew and the time of the flight. I have noticed (with my experience onboard Thai Airways) that the service level on the first flight is usually the worst, no matter if one is travelling on Business Class or Economy Class, whilst that of the last flight would usually be better. The airlines have a few misses and hits and the greatest of all misses is the service that one would get onboard. The hits gotta be the little amenities such as pillows and blankets that most of us take it for granted that are still available onboard. Nonetheless, for a short flight to Bangkok from Singapore (and back), I would still choose Thai Airways provided the price is right.