Tuesday, 14 August 2012

My Mission: To Fly On Thai Airways Airbus A340-600 Part 2

Introduction




Click here for part 1

The day before my flight, I did a check on my aircraft type for my flight hoping it still remained as A346 (Airbus A340-600) and I was flabbergasted when I saw the A330 once again appeared on the list. Naturally, I wasn't happy at all and I was pretty upset throughout the evening. However, on the brighter side of things, the A330 that I was scheduled to fly was a newer aircraft which is powered with Roll Royce Trent 700 engines.


The morning itself was uneventful, I left the hotel at 0740 and made my way to Chong Nonsi station, headed towards Phaya Thai via Siam station. This whole journey took about 25 mins, not bad considering it was peak hours. From the station, I took the airport train to Suvarnabhumi Airport. By the time I reached, it was about 2 hours later.

In my heart, I kept praying hard that Thai would once again change the aircraft back to A346, but I wasn't too optimistic about it. Anyway, I took some photos of the airport, do enjoy them.


BKK Airport




































Checking-in

The queue was short and I got my ticketing done within minutes. Service was good with the typical Thai's hospitality. So far, I have been nothing but impressed with the service in this country! Looking forward to return to Bangkok in October, that's for sure.

After getting my ticket, I did a check and I realized that my seat number was changed. I had chosen 58A which was near the end of A330 aircraft, but apparently it was changed to 47A, my original seat I chose for the A340-600. At that moment, my hopes was lifted and there was only onc place to head to and that was to the gate!!!






My boarding pass, do you guys collect them? I do. 




Seating configuration for Thai's A330 and A340-600

Thai's old cabin Y class for A330-300 (Row 31 to 70) (333)
Thai's new cabin Y class for A330-300 (Row 31 to 64) (330)
Thai's Y class for A340-600 (Row 31 to 58) (346)

So its easy to tell which aircraft you are flying on, based on the seating configuration.

Going through immigration was a breeze, it took me only 15 minutes to get through security and immigration counter. There were A, B and C gates, I made my way to C7 where my plane would be at. From the immigration counter to the gate C7 took around 15 mins, not too bad.

My first sight of the aircraft was the tail. As you know the A330 and A340 share the same tail design, it wasn't possible to tell what aircraft was that. It was only after seeing the length of the aircraft and the middle emergency window then I realized my aircraft was changed back to the A340-600! I had to look at the gate and the monitor screen twice to double confirm my "happiness"! I know this doesn't sound right, but at that point of time, I was overjoyed! Tears were actually rolling down my cheek, its incredible. I managed to get the A340-600 after all! HS-TNC was to be my ride back home to Singapore! I know some of you must be thinking how insane I am, but that's what aviation enthusiasts go through especially on joy rides.

Bangkok Airport is definitely not photography-friendly for plane spotters and to be honest I am not very impressed with it. This trip was my first experience in this airport and to me, I feel the Thais could have done a lot better to enhance the travelling experience for all. At least, there is the express train which connects the airport to town and it is quite cheap if you ask me, 90 baht for one way.


Here is the proof that I flew on the A346









My ride, Thai Airways's Airbus A340-600, HS-TNC



My routing: BKK-SIN


Carrier: Thai Airways
Flight number: 413
Date: 9th August 2012
Routing: BKK-SIN
Seat number: 47A
Aircraft type: Airbus A340-600
Departure Gate: C7
Arrival Gage: D46 (Terminal 1)
Engine type: 4X Roll Royce Trent 556 engines
My 2nd ride on this aircraft type and the 2nd airline to have flown on.
1st time on HS-TNC
Line number: 689
Plane delivered: 5th October 2005
Configuration: F8C60Y199
Registration: HS-TNC
FL: 370
Flight duration: 2 hours
Schedule departure time: 1115
Actual departure time: 1120
Schedule arrival time: 1415
Actual arrival time: 1413
Load factor for Y class: 85%
Departure runway: 19L
Arrival runway: 20R

Before boarding

Feeling very excited to be flying the A340-600 once again and to know about it at the last minute is really something special. This definitely goes down to the list of memorable flights, a nice surprise from Thai in the end that has definitely made this trip worthwhile!



My fellow companions for this flight, it seems quite a number of tourists are visiting Singapore.

About this aircraft, A340-600. It consists of 3 classes: First, Business and Economy class.

Only Business and economy class tickets are sold, the first class on this aircraft type will not be used. The reason why the A340-600 is being used on BKK-SIN sector, as it has a long layover at the airport, about 12-20 hours before its next flight. Instead of letting it rest for such a long period, the company deployed it instead on this route to make more money instead. Great for us!

Anyway, once boarding was announced. It was within 5 minutes, I made my way to the beautiful aircraft. My mission was accomplished as I had just added another A340-600 ride to my flight logbook. Entering the cabin of the A340-600, this time round the service was much better, friendlier set of smiling crews were seen and I felt at home immediately. I was even led by a crew to my seat, that's a surprise, normally only J class and above would receive this service.

Anyway, the interior is similar to the A330-300, only thing different is the presence of IFE (In-flight entertainment system). Here are some photos of the cabin.





















Personally, I feel that the seats to be more comfortable than the A330,HS-TEG and the legroom space is adequate for long haul. The colours of the seats are pleasing to one's eyes and the 2-4-2 configuration is definitely my favourite. I did a bit of exploring on board, the cabin noise of the A346 is amazing quiet especially comparing to the B777-300ER. I love both aircraft to be honest and if you asked me to choose, I would have to go for this aircraft, purely for passenger's comfort.

Business class seats

Took these photos in a hurry while disembarking the aircraft. No crew was there, so I took as many as I like. It was a pity I didn't manage to visit the F class. Well, personally I like what I saw, I must have I have to try the J class on TG one day.













In-flight entertainment

Honestly speaking, I hardly used it as I was enjoying every minute of flying on this aircraft. The window was my entertainment for this flight. So I won't give any rating for this.


In-flight meal




Egg omelette fried rice was my meal. It tasted quite bland but it was alright, nothing to shout about.

In-flight service

The service on board this flight was great, it was what I expected of from this airline. There was a junior who was guided by a senior, can tell how new she was, but I thought she did well. I asked the crews about the A380, but unfortunately they knew nothing about it. Quite surprised about that, but anyway what matters is how well they took care of the passengers.
I would give them a rating of 8/10.

In-flight experience

The flight at times was bumpy, but not as bad as my outbound flight to BKK. The Airbus A340-600 flies smoothly and even though its not as powerful as the 77W, it still does its job. The 2 hours duration was too short for my liking and before I knew it, the plane started its descend and circled around Singapore once before landing at runway 20R. My mission is completed! I may have missed the Airbus A340-500, at least I got hold of this aircraft. Flying with Thai Airways can certainly be stress for aviation enthusiasts, not knowing what equipment will be used at the last minute! If this flight wasn't operated by A340-600, I might considered doing it again, but thanks goodness this option is definitely out of my plans now. The next flight I do with Thai will be on the A380's inaugural flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong and probably after that, the B777-300ER.


Window shots from BKK Airport to SIN Airport










































Conclusion

Definitely the better flight between the two. I have to thank Thai Airways for making my day by operating the A340-600, its definitely a mission accomplished! I can now looking forward to other targets. I did mentioned to a couple of crews how significant this flight was because of the aircraft type, but I think they didn't really understand. Nevertheless, I thanked them for the experience and for those who wants to fly the A340-600 of TG, you can try TG413/414. Be prepared for any last minute equipment change,as its all down to one's luck.

Ratings

Service : 8/10
Food: 6/10
Aircraft: 10/10
Cleanliness : 10/10
Punctuality: 10/10
Comfort: 7/10

Overall: 51/60

Videos of take-off and landing






Overall rating

43/60 and 51/60 = 94/120

Thai Airways

Personally, I feel that the airline should start standardizing its fleet and retiring the older aircraft. Looking at the different configurations of some of the model, its confusing for traveller and I am pretty sure maintenance is costing the company quite a fair bit of money, so if they can work on that, I am pretty sure that will help lower the operation cost.

Do I recommend this airline? Yes especially for the aviation enthusiasts. Catch the A300 and A340-600 while they are still around. According to them, both aircraft will be phrased out in due course.


Thank you very much for reading my trip report.



Cheers,
Charles 

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