Wednesday, April 19
Narita – Bangkok
Thai Airways International Flight 677
First Class, Boeing 747
We checked out of the Hilton Tokyo using the temporary lounge on the 30th floor. I used my remaining yen to pay the hotel bill, which was just some room service coffee and the transfers back to Narita. I asked when the executive lounge would reopen and was told summertime, June or July. “It will be much larger, we are very excited.”
Then went downstairs to the front of the hotel for the 12:10pm Airport Limousine Bus. Turns out this was a bit of a mistake, there was no traffic whatsoever and I we could easily have taken the 1:10pm departure. Instead we’re at Narita around 1:40pm. After the perfunctory passport check upon the bus entering the airport, we’re at terminal 2 moments later – a full three hours before our departure, and also before the Thai checkin counters open.
We take a seat and at 2:15pm we get up as we watch a long line form to screen baggage before entering the checkin area. We’re behind scores of people, but a Thai representative takes business and first class passengers out of line. Security screens our bags first and we’re taken to the checkin counter. Our bags are checked and boarding passes and lounge invitations are issued. The Thai representative walks us to security – scratch that, through security – first class passengers use the crew line which has no one in it. We were announced as first class and screened, and then the service director walked us to the immigration line.
She asked us whether we were being met at Bangkok or if we’d need complimentary limousine service. I declined, as we’re being met by the Sheraton Pattaya’s BMW, and alas I understand that Thai only offers this service to downtown Bangkok and not outside the city. Meanwhile, remembering a recent trip report where the Sheraton failed to pick up as scheduled, I was wondering whether I made a mistake in not having Thai at least assist in arranging a transfer. Oh well, fingers crossed. (This same woman came onboard to make sure she didn’t miss asking anyone about a limousine transfer on arrival.)
Once through immigration we walked downstairs to the shuttle waiting to take us to the satellite terminal, our flight would be leaving from gate 86. Just to the right of the shuttle exit is both the JAL and ANA first class lounges.
We give our lounge invites to the ANA greeter and we’re shown to some nice window seats. Another woman comes to take our drink order and gives us hot towels and packaged snacks. There are also some assorted sushi offerings. There’s a smoking section and another section with two comfortable recliner chairs and restrooms behind an automatic sliding glass door. Nice service aside, the lounge is physically unimpressive (this is, after all, Narita).
The plane, unfortunately, wasn’t equipped with the new long-haul first class, unsurprising for the Tokyo-Bangkok route. The seats had fairly limited pitch, it’s first class and you still would have to climb over your seatmate if they were reclined in order to get to the lavatory. The seats were even an uncomfortable, itchy velvet. Fine for 6 hours, for sure, and better than anything you’d get from a U.S. domestic carrier. But ANA, Singapore, or Cathay Pacific this is clearly not.
The plane didn’t feature video on demand, just video channels playing on a loop. The overhead bins were small, but there was underseat storage using a bin underneath the seat in front of you and storage behind seat your seat that was usable when not reclining.
The old first class seats
Here’s the uncomfortable-looking business class cabin
Pajamas — slippers and tops, but not pants — were distributed. The men’s pajamas were Guy LaRoche. The amenity kits are Bvlgari, as are the toileteries in the lavatory.
Meal service began shortly after takeoff.
Caviar and ’95 Grande Dame
Caviar was served without a proper caviar spoon. It’s one of the little things that Thai seems to get wrong, in spite of a clear financial investment in their product. What’s the point of good caviar that you’re supposed to eat with a metal spoon?
Saffron Shrimp, Japanese Mackerel, Egg Stuffed with Eel, and Beef Pastrami
Shrimp Wonton Soup
Salmon in Yellow Curry
We sat next to the rudest American couple. Perhaps in their 60s, they had flown in from Houston and were no doubt tired and irritated. They snapped at the lounge attendant. They snapped at the flight attendant upon boarding and then when being offered drinks. And they mocked a business class passenger trying to board (as they attempted to cut him in line). And then the husband snored loudly through much of the flight.
Fortunately the snoring didn’t bother me as I slept for three of the six hours of the flight. And while the seat wasn’t as comfortable as ANA’s long-haul, the pillow was extremely comfortable. I woke up with only an hour left in the flight.
When I woke up a flight attendant brought me a mini-Haagan Daaz carton. I expected Sundae I guess, especially since it was announced at the beginning of the flight that coach would get ice cream before landing as well. I expected the first class offering to be more elaborate, but still it hit the spot.
Where Thai really shines is in their ground service. On check-in we were taken through security. But the nicest offering is their first class arrivals service.
Flight attendants pass our a card to first class passengers prior to arrival which will identify them to ground staff.
Thai Airways staff are standing in the jetway and once you’re identified as a first class passenger they lead you through the terminal to immigration and take you to a special desk. Instead of waiting in line you sit down at a desk while they handle your paperwork with immigration officials (and stand over the bureaucrats while they key in information).
Moments later you’re taken to baggage claim, where you’re identified to porters who assist you with your bags. Our were taken from baggage claim directly to our driver from the Sheraton Pattaya Resort, and off we went!
Onboard menu after the jump…
The menu from this flight was as follows:
Thai Airways International takes great pleasure in welcoming you on board. Our legendary Royal Orchid Service will make your journey Smooth as Silk. Our dedicated chefs choose the finest ingredients and add Thai herbs to Thai dishes that are being served as in-flight meals. Also, only the finest wines from the best vineyards have been selected to accompany your meal.
Oscietra Caviar with Garnitures
Japanese Mackerel, Egg Stuffud with Eel
Shrimp Wonton Soup
Australian Beef Stew Japanese Style “Toboni”
Steamed Japanese Rice, Mixed Vegetables
Fillet of Salmon in Yellow Curry Thai Style
Steamed Thai Hom Mali Rice, Fried Sweet Dried Fish
Deep-fried Breaded Chicken, Coleslaw
Washoku-Shokado Bento (Japanese Box Meal)
Assorted breads, butter
Cheese and Fresh Fruits
Green Tea Cake