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Thursday 11 October 2012

My Thai Airways A380 experience on TG409 (Part 1)

Welcome to Thai Airways A380 Trip Report! 

There are 2 parts in this report.

Part 1 

-How this trip came about
-My Royal Silk lounge and spa experience
-Photos of Economy, Business and First class cabins

Part 2

-My flight experience on J class
-The business class offering which includes in-flight meals, service and entertainment system.
-Window shots of the A380 departure
-My thoughts on Thai's latest offering
-Ratings for this flight

Please enjoy!

         A group of us are ready for the TG's A380 inaugural flight! 

                                      My photos of HS-TUA


My friend and I were interested to fly on Thai's inaugural flight and when the routes were announced on its initial deployment, we had a quick discussion before booking our flights. He was to fly on First Class while I would fly the business class. Our plan was to try out on both products. The flights were BKK-HKG and BKK-SIN. Once we knew about the inaugural flight dates, it was just a matter of booking the tickets. We decided on BKK-HKG, TG600, the inaugural flight for the Thai's A380 and our booking took place in April, quite a number of months before the actual date of departure. The reason was to get the best seat in the respective class. Somehow we knew there might be a chance of the airline bringing forward the date, all depending on when the airline would take delivery of the aircraft.

Thai's website

The airline's website, in my opinion, is pretty poor. It is pretty basic and lack of features that airlines like Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Lufthansa have, such as changing of seats, ability to change your ticket. Since I have covered this in my previous Thai's TG413/414 trip report, I won't elaborate about it. I hope the airline will consider revamping it with a better and more user-friendly website for everyone.

Change of inaugural dates

Thanks to airline routes update, I saw the update on the airline's A380 inaugural date brought forward to the 6th October which was not a surprise, to be honest, however, both Kenny and I were obviously disappointed with the change.

Later on, I found out that the airline has blocked both J and F class on the inaugural flight of BKK-HKG sector which meant that I had no choice but to either cancel the ticket or change the dates to the 7th which was not an option for me. On 6th October, I had some work commitment but luckily for me, I managed to change to the week after which meant I could go on that day, but what were my options then since I didn't want to cancel the ticket. I decided to head down to Thai Office at Cecil Street in Singapore and check whether I could change the ticket to TG409 BKK-SIN flight instead. The nice staff, Katini listened to my dilemma and she went all the way to help me to get the ticket change, that was something I really appreciate. I should head down to thank her personally for making this flight possible. Even though TG409 is not the aircraft's first flight, but at least it was still an inaugural flight.

So, my original booking:

TG600  BKK-HKG (One-way) Business class 28th October was changed to

I find that using TG's iPhone application was easier, but the disappointment was not able to see the aircraft map to change the seats. Even more puzzling was that the aircraft status:'Equipment item not found'! Nevertheless, what is important was that those booked on this flight hopefully would not be "TGed" on the day itself. "TGed" is a term used whenever the airline does a last-minute equipment change or does something silly to piss us off.

On the day itself

I met up with Daniel in the morning for some spotting and breakfast near the hotel.

                    Absolutely delicious Duck and roasted pork rice

This is the place for great Thai's food.

Initially, I was supposed to go with him to the airport at 12 noon, but another aviation enthusiast needed help so he stayed behind. I took the hotel's shuttle to the airport and reached there at about 1220pm. The reason for me to go to the airport early is to check out the Royal Silk Lounge and the Royal Orchid Spa which was my first time experiencing them.

Checking in at the Royal Silk counters was fast and smooth. The lady was polite and told me how much enthusiasm the airline has for this aircraft type. She told me that I wasn't the only one that was after the A380 and also the inaugural flight was full in all classes.

                                    Royal Silk Check-in counters

My boarding pass 

Passing through the immigration and security checks took me only 5 minutes and I made my way to the lounge first which I regretted, I should have done the spa first before heading to the lounge. Oh well, I know what to do the next time.

                                   Sitting area just outside the lounge

                                         Royal Silk Lounge

                                        The internet room

Quite a big lounge I must say, I was quite fortunate to go there with only 1/4 of it being occupied which meant that I could explore around a little bit. As you notice, the lounge seems dated and there is nothing much to shout about, only the basic facilities are there. The ambience is good and it is suitable for one to relax until his flight is ready for boarding.

The food at the lounge is done by TG Catering, average to be honest. The choices are limited and that was kind of disappointing. After that, I headed off to the Spa which is actually just diagonally opposite from the lounge. This lounge has 2 entrances, one is near the immigration and the other entrance is at the other end of the lounge, you will see the Royal first class lounge when you exit the other entrance. 

                                          Royal Orchid Spa 

I was looking forward to some nice massage. There are a few choices of massage, the hand and shoulder and leg massage. I chose the former, as I did experience some ache not too long ago!

The treatment took around 30 minutes and I recommend anyone to come early to enjoy the complimentary massage from Thai Airways, but only applicable to J or F class passengers.

        Photos of the Royal Orchid Spa Lounge after the treatment.

The snacks tasted quite good especially after 30 minutes of enjoyment!  I always like Thai's spa and this one never disappoints! The staff were friendly and we had a fair bit of chat too. They were wondering about my T-shirt and were pleasantly surprised that I came just for the A380 joyride, nevertheless, they wished me a great flight and told me to come back soon. Lovely Thai's hospitality!

After that, I did some exploring and did some plane spotting at the departure hall. Unfortunately, this airport is photography unfriendly which means it is not possible to take a clean shot of any aircraft at all.

That's the best we can do. Lots of nice traffic coming in at that time, aviation enthusiasts can only watch them taxiing pass or at the gate, admiring them.

                       Here are some of the photos of the airport

I didn't meet up with the rest of the aviation enthusiasts until boarding time. Before that, I went to the gate C3 to see whether there are any decorations for the A380's inaugural flights. Here are some of the photos:

Feeling very excited about the flight, as you can see from the above picture. Looking at the crowd, I think at least 1/4 of the total number of passengers are aviation enthusiasts from all over the world! There are even some that flew on the previous 2 sectors (BKK-HKG) and (HKG-BKK), and this shows how much passion we all have for our unique hobby. Kudos to them for that!

       Some of the passengers waiting eagerly to get on board the A380.

Anyway, not before long, the gate was filled with passengers and the time of boarding drew closer. This was the part which I disliked about the ground staff, very much unimpressed with them.

Announcements were made, however the business class passengers, handicap passengers or family with children were not allowed to board first, instead passengers on the Upper deck Y class were allowed first which was a big surprise.  I decided to test the system and joined in and I was stunned when I was rejected, it is amazing that J class passengers were not allowed to board first, it was my first time that this ever happened! Not a big deal, but still a premium passenger not allowed to board first was not acceptable.

Flight details

Carrier: Thai Airways
Flight number: 409
Date: 6th October 2012
Routing: BKK-SIN
Seat number: 19K, later changed to 21A
Aircraft type: Airbus A380-800
Engine type: 4X RR Trent 970 engines
Configuration: F12C60Y435
My 6th ride on this aircraft type and 3rd airline to have flown on
1st time on HS-TUA
Line number: 87
Plane delivered: 27th September 2012
Registration: HS-TUA
Flight duration: 2 hours
Departure Gate: C3
Arrival Gate: D46 
Schedule departure time: 1705
Actual departure time: 1703
Schedule arrival time: 2015
Actual arrival time: 2013
Load factor for J class: 100%
Departure runway: 01R
Arrival runway: 20R

                            TG409's details on the monitor screen

                          Boarding gate display in both English and Thai.

                                             Boarding time!

The feeling of walking down the aero-bridge is absolutely exhilarating! Entering the aircraft for the first time was overwhelming! The new smell of the aircraft hit me instantly and the friendly Thai crews welcoming me with open arms! They had no problem with photography at all and in fact, one of the crews offered to take a photo of me at my seat.

                                              My seat, 19K 

My first impression of my seat was cramp. The business cabin of the A380 is in 1-2-1 configuration but the arrangement of the seats makes the aisle narrow, hence feeling quite cramp, but after a while, I got used to it.
       The first thing I did after settling down was to take a photo of this.

Reclined mode

                                       Take-off and landing mode

The business class seating configuration is shocking, to be honest, I felt cramp immediately when I stepped into the cabin. That's how I felt even after settling down, the only good thing about this type of configuration is that everyone has direct access to the aisle. About the seat, no problem with the button that configures what kind of position your seat you want it to be in. I tried the sleeping mode and it was pretty cramped, not very comfortable for the long haul, I reckon. The legroom space was tiny and when the bed is in full recline mode, that is probably worse! Anyway, on the seat itself, it is comfortable, no complaints about that but then what is more important to business class travellers is space and comfort which is very much lacking. For this, I have to give a low score for it. Apart from that,  there are compartments on the side where you can put your smaller stuff in them. Each seat will have 2, but the bad thing about the compartment is if you rest your arm on it, you will tend to open it which can be annoying.

Notice the no-electronic device sign instead of the no-smoking. 

                                       The first cabin of J class

                                      The second cabin of J class

As you can see how cramp it is with the staggered configuration, which may not be pleasing for some who prefer more privacy. Personally, I feel that TG should reduce the number of seats and make it more spacious for the J class passengers to enjoy.

Later on during the flight, I had to change seat because my PTV at seat 19K was not working, the nice crew came and escorted me to my new seat, 21A. As you see in the photo below, the PTV hanged halfway, I guessed it was my fingers that probably caused both sets of PTVs to fail. I gave up then, just enjoyed my meal and the bad turbulence that followed!

J class toilet

                                           First-class cabin 

I find the F class nothing spectacular.

I was able to access the First-class during the flight without any problem, the cabin crew were nice to let us take lots of photos! During this flight sector, this section cabin was closed which was a great thing, I went for a camera clicking spree during this time.

                                         The First Class lounge

It is nice to be in an empty First class cabin during the flight right?  Personally, I like how Thai did the first-class cabin on this A380, now I just need to hear from others how the first-class experience is like.

              Economy class cabin (Both Upper deck and lower deck)

 I like the colours of the seats, great combination and I tried the seat itself, got to say, very impressed with the seats. Legroom space is ample and the Personal TV set is impressive! I didn't try out the PTV as there wasn't much time to do so.

The ambience of the Economy class has definitely attracted me, and probably when more A380s are delivered, I will try the Y class to either Paris or Sydney (Subject to local approval).

That's all for Part 1.
Do check out my part 2.



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