On The Ground
Thai Airways departs from Terminal 1 of Singapore Changi Airport. The check-in counters are located in row 4 of the terminal, mainly serving passengers flying in Economy Class. Business Class passengers are invited to check-in in the SATS Premium Lounge located at the end of row 4. There are mainly two queues for Thai Airways at row 4, one shorter queue for passengers who have completed web check-in and another long queue for Economy Class passengers. As I was early at the time of my checking-in, the queue was not long. However, the counter does not seem to be ready to check-in passengers for the next flight as we waited for quite a while before being called for check-in. The check-in process was swift with the ground staff seems disinterested in engaging passengers other than quickly check us in. She did not even tell us which gate the flight will depart and what the boarding time was. TG408 was originally supposed to depart from C18 but was changed to gate C24 about 1 hour prior to boarding time. The departure gate is a far walk from the immigration counters.
Thai Airways uses A330-300 to service this sector of the flight. The aircraft shows signs of ageing and extended usage.
The Economy Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A330-300 has a total of 263 seats spread out in two sections. As I entered the Economy Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A330-300, I am greeted by a sea of vibrant colours that Thai Airways use to upholster the seats in this cabin as with other types of aircraft in their fleet. The use of bright and cheerful colours of yellow, purple and blue gives one a feel of holidaying. The widebody twin-aisle cabin has its seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.
There are a few lavatories scattered across the two sections of Economy Class cabins. The lavatories are rather small and do show signs of the ageing aircraft. Unlike those on board some of the newer Thai Airways aircraft, there are no sensor activated taps on board the A330-300 aircraft. Instead, these taps utilise press buttons for both hot and cold water. Despite the ageing feel to the lavatory, the equipment is functioning well. Hand soap and cologne are the only amenities available in the Economy Class lavatory, which is slightly better than some other airlines which only supplies hand soap. Hand soap is available from the soap dispenser next to the tap.
Seats in the A330-300 Economy Class cabin onboard Thai Airways has a 32″ pitch and measures 18″ wide. These seats are capable of providing a 122° recline. The seat that I was in also showed signs of ageing. The seat back feels loose and wobbly, when pressed the seat recline button, it falls back almost immediately. When I tried to set the seat back upright for meals and landing, the seat back would have to be assisted by pulling to get it set up right. Nonetheless, the seat is still comfortable for the flight from Singapore to Bangkok. The legroom in the Economy Class seats on board the Thai Airways A330-300 is rather generous, I had a fair bit amount of space from the seat in front of me. Due to the placement of the IFE system underneath the seat, I was not able to place my bag under the seat in front of me. There is a small cup holder on the back of the tray table which does not serve any purpose as it is too big to hold cans of drink or the plastic cup that Thai Airways uses.
The seat pocket in the Economy Class cabin has three tiers with the biggest pocket used to contain in-flight materials such as the aircraft safety card, in-flight catalogue and magazines. This pocket is large enough to put mobile phones and passports in, however, I would think these small items are meant to be placed in the middle seat pocket. I do find the smallest seat pocket to be a tad redundant as it is not able to contain my mobile phone. The seat pocket also showed signs of ageing as the main seat pocket has one side almost falling apart.
The tray table in the Economy Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A330-300 is rather large. The single fold tray table is able to hold the meal tray with space available to put a can of drink and the cup without cramping the entire tray table. I tend to find the tray tables, especially those that have bi-fold functions, on the newer aircraft to be a little tight on space as compared to the one on board the Thai Airways A330-300. Coat hooks are available in the Economy Class seats, which are located on the side of the seat in front of me. The placement of these hooks is a little odd as I cannot think of a way of hooking coats without disturbing the passenger in front of me. As in the Economy Class cabins onboard all other airlines, the reading light is located on the ceiling above the seat. However, there are no air vents on the ceiling. When boarding, pillows and headphones are placed in the seat, blankets can be requested from the flight attendants who are very happy to bring me one when requested for.
The In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system in the Economy Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A330-300 is another sign of the ageing aircraft. Each Economy Class seat is decked with a 10.5″ personal TV screen, which has no touch screen function. The TV screen looks a little blurry compared to that on board my return flight on Thai Airways A350-900 which looks a lot sharper. Selection of entertainment options would have to be done through the IFE controller which is stowed on the same armrest as the headphone jack. The IFE controller also feels a little old school, despite having a lot of redundant buttons, which the IFE system does not even use, the controller still does its job in allowing me to select the movies that I wanted to watch throughout the flight. The IFE system onboard Thai Airways A330-300 seems to lag a fair bit, as the response does not seem to be instantaneous. The standard Thai Airways Economy Class headphones are available in the seat pocket when I boarded the aircraft. The sound system on the A330-300 via these headphones does not sound as sharp as those on board the A350-900. This is perhaps due to the age of the aircraft after all the A330-300 has been in the Thai Airways fleet for almost 10 years. The IFE has no lack of entertainment options from the latest Hollywood movies to sitcoms as well as a dedicated menu for Thai movies. The IFE menu was well organised and very initiative to use. I spent my flight time watching movies from the IFE system.
Meal service commenced about 45 mins after taking off. On this flight, we were given the chicken and the fish options. The chicken option is the Fried Rice with pepper chicken. My friend took this option and commented the chicken tasted bland and dry. I took the fish option, which has steamed rice with Fish in Spicy sauce. I thought the fish is a little tough and dry as well, but the flavourful spicy sauce makes up for the dryness in the fish. I only had a mouth of the yam moose cake dessert as I did not fancy the taste of yam. All meals come served with a bottle of water. A little after meal service is completed, the flight attendants went around the cabin serving tea and coffee to complete the meal.
The flight attendants on this flight portrayed the Thai hospitality that is famous worldwide. They are seen smiling and serving the passengers with pride and certainly made us feel welcome on board this flight. The exemplary service starts when we were greeted with warm smiles and the Thai gesture of “wai” as soon as passengers were boarding the aircraft. The smiles extended throughout the aircraft with flight attendants scattering throughout the cabin welcoming passengers. They even helped passengers stow their carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment. During meal time, we were informed that only chicken option is available, however, I highlighted to the attendant that I am unable to consume the chicken meal due to allergies, she immediately helped me sourced the fish option promptly so that I can enjoy the meal. During beverage service, the flight attendants gladly gave me and my friend a can of coke each when requested for it. The flight attendants were seen patrolling the cabin to ensure the safety and comfort of the passengers. They were seen diligently conducting their safety inspections prior to landing. Smiles were seen on the faces of the flight attendants throughout the entire flight.
The A330-300 that was deployed for this journey by Thai Airways shows signs of ageing from the seats to the IFE to the lavatories. However, the flight was comfortable and I was kept entertained by the extensive entertainment options on the IFE system. The meal was mediocre but still able to fill my stomach during dinner service. The service rendered by the flight attendants on board this flight were excellent. They were seen servicing the passengers with smiles across their face, displaying the warm Thai hospitality. What makes for the lack in hardware is balanced by the heartware displayed by the flight attendants.