Asia’s low cost carriers are increasing their market share. But airlines like THAI prove that full service carriers are usually worth the few extra bucks.
Seat: 47H (aisle)
Journey time: 9 hours
Check-in: Luckily for me, I’ve already checked in for my flight to Sydney (in Krabi), which means no waiting in line at BKK. For others wanting to avoid the rigmarole of a standard check-in, THAI offers an online service for flights departing most destinations. Internet check-in can be made from 2 to 24 hours prior to the scheduled flight departure.
Luggage allowance: THAI’s luggage allowance is based purely on weight, which means passengers can check-in as many bags as they like provided the maximum load of 20kgs is not exceeded. A carry-on allowance of 7kgs applies to all economy class passengers.
Seat comfort: The economy class seat has a generous pitch of 34 inches and width of 17.7 inches. Although the seat itself is comfortable, a steel (entertainment) box under the seat in front (and under all aisle seats) reduces the legroom somewhat. To fully stretch my long legs I therefore need to utilize the space in front of the seat next to me, which is fortunately vacant.
Cabin conditions: THAI operates multiple versions of the 747, with this jet being the most recently updated. The cabin is thus clean and looks resplendent in THAI’s distinct purple-based colour scheme.
Staff service: As I’ve come to expect from THAI, the service on this flight is excellent – and justifies their top ten finish at the recent Skytrax World Airline Awards for Best Cabin Staff. The attendants are patient when serving a lot of “thirsty” passengers and they are quick, but careful, with the meal services. When a small leak appears from the overhead above a nearby passenger, the crew are quick to move the traveller to another seat while keeping an eye on the seepage for the remainder of the flight. Interestingly, THAI’s cabin crew are one of the few in the world to switch uniforms mid-flight, on this occasion changing from a Thai-inspired outfit complete with a lovely sari to a less appealing, looser fitting plain dress.
Onboard catering: Excellent for vegetarians (or vegans). The first meal consists of a vegetable mélange in a tomato-based sauce served with some lightly fried rice. Accompanying the Asian-inspired dish is an artichoke salad with fruit for dessert. The second meal service is a breakfast comprising more vegies in a tomato sauce, croissants and a selection of tropical fruit. It’s all very tasty, and very healthy.
Inflight entertainment: THAI offers audio and visual entertainment by way of a personal back of seat screen. Offering 100 films, 100 television programmes and 500 audio options, THAI’s catalogue is vast. Unfortunately on this flight however, the entertainment system doesn’t come on until at least ten minutes after take-off and shortly thereafter drops out for over an hour. When it eventually rights itself, I watch a rock ‘n’ roll documentary called Sound City, which for some reason was located among the TV shows instead of amongst the films. Afterwards, I check out the very un-rock ‘n’ roll film Guilt Trip.
On-time performance: The flight lands in Sydney five minutes late. Not bad for an 8½ hour journey.
Flight rating: 3.5 planes out of 5. Loses a point for the gremlins in its entertainment system. Gains points for its top notch service and food.
e-Travel Blackboard tip: We’ve all heard of deep vein thrombosis. But it’s worth repeating that on medium to long haul flights you should do some regular stretching. To this end, THAI offers a video, which outlines some of the exercises that can help you avoid DVT.