Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) to Beijing, China (PEK)
11:05 am Thai Airways 0614, Boeing 747, First Class, Seats 2J, 2K
Scheduled flight time: 4h 25m
We left the Novotel around 7:45am and took the shuttle over to the airport. Another couple was on the shuttle with us, heading to a domestic destination, so we were both dropped off at the same point – Royal First/Royal Silk checkin comes first, right before domestic.
We got out of the shuttle, had only our carryons, so none of the porters stirred.
We approached the Royal First check-in room and as soon as we entered we were greeted and brought inside to sit down.
We turned over our passports, paid our departure tax (they dispatched a staff member to pay it and brought us our receipts), and gave us our boarding passes. Then they walked us – pulling our carryons for us — through first class immigration (no line, right next to business class immigration, no line). Right on the other side of immigration was a golf cart waiting for us, ready to drive us to the Royal First lounge.
Now, a recent poster on Flyertalk described this part as especially decadent. The drive can’t be more than several hundred meters. They drive you through the business class lounge to get to the first class lounge, where they deliver you to lounge attendants who help you find a place to get comfortable.
Food is on offer. There’s an attended room with the various selections, much of which is made to order. You point at the items you’d like, and they’re brought to you in courses.
After some breakfast (absolutely wonderful shrimp wonton soup, by the way, perhaps my wife’s Taronga Zoo theory at work) we let the lounge attendants know that we’d like to visit the spa. We hadn’t pre-booked anything earlier in the morning, but fortunately that wasn’t a problem. It was 8:45am at this point, 2 ½ hours until our flight, so that was plenty of time for the full spa massage offering. It’s a 60-minute massage, but with a brief wait for the treatment, a shower, and relaxing over a cup of tea afterwards it’s best to leave an hour and a half for it.
After our treatments we returned to the lounge, checked our email, and the staff came over to bring us to our flight. Outside the lounge we were escorted through security, and then a golf cart was again waiting for us to whisk us (and another passenger) to the plane.
I realized that this was the second out of five flights so far this trip that I had never even looked to see what our gate was…
Load for the flight was 4 out of 12 seats in this old-configuration 747. No seat power (again, contra seat guru although I haven’t checked if my prodding has finally caused them to correct this). Old yet comfortable seats. Video isn’t on-demand, and (as I already knew) contra-Seat Guru there’s no seat power.
Still, this was one of the best flights I’ve ever had.
We started with a little pre-departure Dom and hot towels.
I’ve gotten incredibly used to indifferent service from Thai. I know that some people say they’ve had wonderful service on TG and they’re impressed, but with admittedly fewer than a dozen flights over the past couple years in premium classes I had yet to see it.
But this time, we had a true gem of a FA who made the flight absolutely wonderful, and the food was far better than anything I’ve had on Thai before too.
Amenity kits and menus were passed out. The FA knew that I had pre-ordered the Lobster Pad Thai.
The highlight of the meal had to be the cheese course. One cheese was the best I’ve ever tasted, a combination of a triple cream and a center filled with truffle butter. We’re now on a mission to find a cheese like it at our local cheese shops in DC.
Pork and Chicken Satay / Cucumber Salad Thai StyleFirst Course
Balik Salmon, Horseraish Cream in Tomato Cup
Couronne of Leek Stuffed with Pumpkin and Zucchini Salad
Bayonne Ham, Melon Ball
Lobster Medallion Marinated with Basil
Stir-fried Seafood in Soy Sauce
Grilled Veal with Boletus Sauce
Assorted Breads, Crackers, Butter
Arrival in Beijing was on-time.
This was the last day that a large number of airlines would be housed in the old Terminal 2, and the place was even more barren than usual. Just a couple of women hawking local SIM cards on the way to immigration. We were through quickly, though bags took awhile to come out. First and business bags were on the carousel at the start, we walked out the customs hall and over to the taxis for a cab to our hotel.