I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Heathrow to Suvarnabhumi

Went to the gate as soon as it was announced. As with the rest of T3, it was a zoo, this time full of teenagers or young twentysomethings all off to, as far as I could tell, Thailand. Not really surprising I guess, given the airline and destination: Thai Airways flight TG917 London Heathrow to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi.

The best thing, in fact the only good thing, about getting to the gate early, is that they did early boarding for Royal First, Royal Silk, and people with gold cards. Business class is Royal Silk, and that's what I was booked in, thanks to having forked out ~£500 and half the miles I'd spent the best part of 3 years accruing with BMI. I always feel privileged and lucky to fly in such comfort, but yesterday this feeling was topped up with a significantly high amount of snobbish fuck-me-glad-I'm-not-in-the-same-cabin-as-those-fuckers. Early boarding gave me the opportunity to stride past them with a huge sense of superiority (or, OK, shuffle past them, a little put out by all the "why's he going up when they've called the posh people only?" stares I was getting). Either way: win.

Upstairs on a 747 is so cosy. Every time I've been there (once with Cathay Pacific, a few times with BA, and now once with Thai) I've loved it. It's kind of better than business class because it's such a private cabin, in which you never see anyone else. I felt out of place. Not in a I-don't-belong-here kind of way -- I got over that ages ago -- but more in an "oh, everyone else is Thai, and the staff are speaking Thai, and in fact the staff and the punters all seem to recognise one another" kind of way. I think there were only 2 non-Thais, me included, amongst the 26 passengers. Eek! So there's no reason why this should really have surprised me at all, it just felt more ... foreign, than, say, Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific.

I certainly didn't see what was so funny about the guy dishing out champagne having a Chinese name, but it caused semi-uproar among some passengers.

My bag didn't fit in the overhead compartment. I blame Jeremy Kyle. In fact it almost didn't fit in the one between the seat and the window either, and JK had to come out so I could squash it in. In the compartment behind that one I spotted 3 huge Boeing 747 Schematics manuals. Ace.

Aircon was either off or broken. It was sweltering. I had a couple of orange juices and a very cold hot towel (which also happened at the end of the flight) and settled down to check out the entertainment magazine. Unfortunately mine only had the cover, not the actual pages. Oh well.

The entertainment system -- including the giant projector screen at the front of the cabin -- was stuck in soothing music and map display mode while everyone boarded. Much better map than on BA, including the 3D pilot view of win (though, sadly, not an actual camera out from the cockpit). And while I had to make sure my seat remained upright with my footrest folded yadda yadda yadda for take-off, I availed myself of the in-seat massage button. It lasted AGES. I'm sure someone else I flew with in 2006 has a similar thing. Cathay? Qantas? Someone in that part of the world.

The headphones Thai give out are SHIT. Really really bad. I had to have the volume at maximum to have any chance of hearing all the dialogue in Frost/Nixon; after half hour or so I gave up and plugged my own in, and the difference was astonishing. It's only a pair of £30 noise-isolating JBL things, but bloody hell. I turned the volume down to almost the minimum from then on!

Frost/Nixon itself was preceded by a short video about wellbeing in the air. All that stretch your legs, roll your neck, draw circles with your ankles, etc etc stuff. Presented by a wacky cartoon character called STAN THE EXERCISE MAN. A real "what the fuck?" moment, that -- but not as bad as the laughable dubbing in the film itself, where Kevin Bacon clearly says "fuck" or some other disgraceful curse. What I heard was someone completely different, about an octave higher, say "If you cheat us on the 60 per-cent" before KB took over the rest of the sentence. AWFUL.

Didn't see all the film. Fell asleep. Saw the ending, not sure how much I missed though, I think about half hour. A combination of being really tired, not having had much Diet Coke, and the Thai business class seat being preposterously comfortable meant I actually, for the first time ever, didn't see a complete film on a long-haul flight. I tried to watch Anchorman -- which the system said is 191 minutes long, really!? -- and fell asleep half hour in, waking up as it was finishing... so I started it again, and did exactly the same thing. FAIL. Or alternatively, win, since sleep is actually what you're meant to do.

Ah yes, the seat. It goes flat, but not 180 degrees, so there's a real sliding-forwards danger. I avoided that. It also felt comfortably wider than BA's business class seat. I could look up the actual seat pitch etc, but instead I'm going to go "yay, I'm smaller than I used to be!", or something.

At about 7am UK time, I felt a buzzing in my pocket. It was my phone's alarm going off. Oops. By "my phone", I mean the second handset I've brought with me, having bought a Vodafone SIM just before so I can do texts and calls in Australia for a pittance. At home it had been sitting on the side with its battery out, but now that it's back in it remembered there was an alarm set... and it wasn't on silent mode. Thankfully I caught it before, as far as I could tell, anyone else noticed. Though they may have noticed the fat western bloke flinching like crazy and playing with a mobile phone. The upside of this incident was that, well, it woke me up, around 5 minutes before the crew were going to anyway: it was time to serve the pre-descending-into-Bangkok meal.

I've turned the alarm off now.

The cabin crew were wearing different uniforms when serving breakfast. What the hell? Seems like a lot of effort to go to. Sure you might want to change into something fresh, but something actually different? Nice touch I guess.

When the staff were making an announcement, the monitor said PA IN PROGRESS. Without much of a gap between PA and IN. My leg's fine, ta.

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