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Orchid, Elephant, Turtle: Thai Airways Business Class USM-BKK-SIN


So it was when flying back from Ko Samui to Singapore that I started regretting doing the entire journey on Thai Airways – since Ko Samui is located pretty much between Bangkok and Singapore, having to transit at Bangkok effectively quadrupled the travel time required.

Still, an interesting experience, even if one I’m unlikely to repeat in the future, and I’ve captured some highlights below.

Samui Airport

Being rather used to flying through air-conditioned city airports, Samui Airport was a bit of an eye-opener for me. There’s something quaint and charming about an airport that decides to place aquariums in the toilet to entertain you while you… go.

Most of the airport was very much open, with not an air-conditioner in sight. There’s something about walking within the airport towards your departure gate without a roof over your head.

I’d hate to be there when it’s raining, though.

When you finally get to the gate, there are some trams to bring you to the plane. Since we had some time to kill, we decided to check out the lounge first.

Blue Ribbon Club (Bangkok Airways Lounge) USM

The Thai Airways business ticket granted me access to the Blue Ribbon Club, which appeared to be the only lounge(s) in the airport (according to an old FlyerTalk thread, there’re an international and domestic one, and I’d visited the rather lacklustre international lounge).

It’s essentially just a small room with a rather limited range of items you can order off the menu.

There’s also a bunch of snacks – nothing particularly appealing, really.

I did enjoy being able to get a whole coconut while in the lounge.

All in all, a rather skippable experience. Think I’d rather have spent more time walking around the airport!

USM-BKK (Boeing 737)

The flight back to Bangkok was on the same Boeing 737 hardware that I took from BKK.

Again, no in-flight menu was provided for the domestic trip, though the meal looked rather less offensive/bewildering to non-Asians.

Royal Silk Lounge BKK

Unfortunately, due to lack of foresight, the 1h transit time in BKK did not really offer much time in the lounge, other than to snap some quick pictures before running off to the departure gate.

All in all, it seemed like a rather serviceable place. Wish I’d had more time to stay there!



BKK-SIN (Boeing 777)

The flight back was on a Boeing 777. Though not the swanky A350, as an international (albeit short-haul) flight the hardware was pretty decent, with a good amount of legroom.


There were in-flight menus again! After the regional flights I was getting used to life without them. I ordered the green curry with fishballs – it was tasty enough, though nothing fantastic.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, while I enjoyed the A350 experience, the bulk of Thai’s hardware for short-haul flights fails to impress. Unless you’re flying long-haul on newer hardware, I’d suggest saving your miles/money for better usage!

Orchid, Elephant, Turtle: Thai Airways Business Class BKK-USM


Royal Silk Lounge at Concourse A (Domestic)

Since we were flying domestically, there was only one lounge we could enter using our tickets. I thought the experience was a relative non-event – I think the international lounges are way nicer, though I guess this still beats the typical contract lounge.

 

The Hardware

The flight was on a Boeing 737, which is perfectly fine for a short 1h journey. Much like US domestic flights, these are pretty much glorified flying buses. ;)

That said, it’s nice to know that these “bus seats” offer generous legroom, even if furnishings are rather dated.

The Food

I didn’t expect too much from a short domestic flight, but was rather surprised to find out that they were serving porridge for the in-flight meal (no menu was provided), with no alternatives available. There was at least one westerner on board who looked at the food and declined the meal altogether.

Interestingly enough, a plastic container of condensed milk was provided (at the bottom left). I asked a flight attendant if it was condensed milk (I wanted to mix it into my tea) and she looked horrified – apparently, it’s meant to be paired with the youtiao (Pa Thong Ko / Chinese crullers).

I still proceeded to make my Singapore-style cup of teh, of course.

The View

Something I really enjoyed about the flight was the view on the way in. I’m so used to flying into cities that it’s nice seeing something a little less developed and more scenic prior to landing.

The airport was a little more basic (and charming in its own way – more on that in a future post) – no jet bridges were provided, and upon landing we were herded into little mini-buses that brought us into the terminal.

It was time for the highlight of the trip – heading to Conrad Koh Samui!

Orchid, Elephant, Turtle: Thai Airways Business Class SIN-BKK


Since Thai Airways was operating the A350 on some flights between SIN-BKK, I made sure that I was able to get onboard one of them for my outbound flight.

I don’t know about you, but when flying on business class around lunchtime I try to make it a point to get to the airport earlier for some bites at the airline’s lounges, which tend to serve better food than the contract lounges that Priority Pass gets you into.

Changi Airport Terminal 1 Thai Airways Royal Silk Business Class Lounge

So, immediately after checking in, I headed straight for the Thai business lounge in T1.

Since (if I’m not mistaken) Thai Airways is the only Star Alliance airline operating in T1, and there are only a handful of flights to Bangkok daily, the lounge doesn’t seem to get all that crowded – a good thing, in my book.

I was actually pretty impressed by the offerings at the lounge – the drink selection was a bit more limited than I’d have liked, but the food spread worked well as a quick bite before boarding the plane.

   

 

After stuffing my face on snacks in the lounge, I proceeded towards the plane in the hope of continuing to stuff my face on in-flight food. The new(ish) A350 was clearly visible from the boarding area.

The Hardware

You can tell how new the plane is from the state of its interior.

The seat was pretty comfortable, with more than adequate legroom.

Other than the large screen in front of the seat, there was a touchscreen to the side of the seat. The seatbelt resembles the type you find in cars (fastened diagonally) – while I’m sure this is more secure, I did find it more uncomfortable. I usually keep the seatbelt on when flying, but found myself unbuckling whenever possible during this flight.

The dining table is stowed away in plain sight pretty much in front of you, to be unfolded diagonally when food is served. A rather elegant approach, I thought.

The Food

The fare was pretty good, but nothing earth-shattering. I opted for the Squid Ink Spaghetti for myself. It was… okay, but not all that memorable.


Towards the end of the flight they started giving out orchids for the ladies on board. A clearly sexist move, Griffles ended up a happy beneficiary when The Wife opted to pin it on him instead on in her hair.

All in all, a pleasant flight – I left the plane feeling rather pleased that I’d opted to fly Thai business for this trip. That said, for a quick 2h flight it’s not really that big a deal – I didn’t even manage to try switching the seat to flat bed mode!

Orchid, Elephant, Turtle: Touring the Thai Conrads


When the (short-lived) Visa/Conrad promotion went live last year, I’d obsessed over how I could make the most of the deal. Having never been to Conrad Koh Samui (often mentioned as one of the aspirational properties in the Hilton Portfolio), I decided that March 2017 would be as good a time as any to check it out, swinging by Bangkok on the way while enjoying another 50% discounted Conrad stay there.

 

Thai Airways seemed like the logical option to get from SIN to USM with a BKK stopover; I enjoyed the experience (especially flying on the new A350) but looking back I kinda wish I had saved on the air ticket and got “a la carte” direct flights instead. For such short trips, flying business class is really rather unnecessary – especially if the hardware for regional flights is not particularly great.

Still, an enjoyable experience all in all – certainly worthy of cataloguing. Shall be doing so in the days ahead!