TG660 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi BKK – Tokyo Haneda HND
Boeing 747-400 HS-TGR “Sirwattana”
Gate C9 Seat 2A
I asked the taxi driver to drop me off at the First/Business class check-in area though there was no porter in front waiting for me. As I head into the First class reception area, I was assisted and directed to a seat as the attendants waited on my bags and requested for my flight details and passport. There was even an escort who brought me to the VAT refund counter which was unfortunately at the other end of the terminal and he even brought me past security check, immigration, to the refund counter in the airside and eventually into the Thai Airways Royal Orchid lounge.
Since we passed by the Royal Orchid Spa on the way to the lounge, that was where we went to first and the escort dropped me off there as I asked for a one hour massage.
As I waited for the therapist, I grabbed some dried strawberries and almond crepe to snack on while a lounge staff came by and brought a cup of cold herbal tea and towels.
After probably a 5 minute wait, a therapist came over and directed me to a beautiful treatment room with a huge tub and a spacious changing area. It is the size of a hotel suite with a huge bathtub and changing rooms with showers and toilets. Better than even the spa in some 5-star resorts. I was even provided with silk robes and disposable undergarments for the massage.
The treatment lasted probably 45 minute since there was not enough time before I need to proceed for boarding. However the therapist was excellent and she just knew where to press and release the tension, thus I did give her a nice tip for the work. Initially she thought I wanted a massage with oil but made the changes when I said ‘no oil please’.
After a nice massage, I was escorted back to the lounge and wanted to grab a bottle of iced tea but instead the bar counter made me a fresh honey lemon since I did not have much time left before boarding. The escort waited for another first class passenger before walking us to the boarding gate. Slightly disappointed that there was no buggy service to the gate since it was at the end of the C concourse. Another disappointment at the boarding area as I spot the plane registration and noticed the 747 has the older First class cabin.
The First class cabin itself was filled up and it was a full flight in F today. There was a Japanese gentleman that was escorted to the plane with me and we were both the last passengers to board the cabin.
On boarding there were magazines displayed in the front parlour while the cabin was also occupied by a family of 5 with a toddler along with another young guy behind me and a mother and daughter pair in the back middle section. This was going to be a noisy flight I thought. First impression of the cabin was the lack of privacy as it was really open with a lack of divider to the business class cabin as well.
Overhead compartments was also quite old while the leather on the footrest looks quite worn. Cabin crew was busy hanging jackets and giving out hot towels, while the family of 5 was deciding on where to sit and having some changes in the cabin. After most of the passengers settled down, the crew came around with welcome drinks but there was only water and orange juice. Along the way it seems many passengers asked for iced tea, me included. There was also an orchid that came with the iced tea which gave the old cabin a splash of colour.
The inflight manager then introduced herself and passed me only the food menu. I also asked for a change of colour for the Rimowa kit that was on the seat compartment and the crew came back with a golden coloured kit which was nice for my collection!
There was a queue to take off and thus our departure was slightly behind schedule. Again the flight experience was just different onboard the 747 and it felt nice being back in the front nose-cone of a plane! Before the take off I had to ask for the drinks menu as another cabin crew came around to take my drinks order. The photos of the menu for this flight are shown below:
After take-off, I had a cup of coffee which was slightly over-roasted in my opinion and a small plate of nuts was served along with it. Amongst airline coffees I have tasted thus far, Singapore Airlines seems to have the smoothest blend and just the right roast for me.
As we cruised north of Thailand, the savoury pre-dinner snack was served. It was a traditional hot savoury of chicken in pandan leaf, which was very tasty. For the inflight entertainment, I started with the ‘After Dinner Mysteries’ that I didn’t manage to complete watching at my last flight. It was an average Japanese crime mystery movie, that seems lacking compared to others that I have watched before.
All during this while, I was more or less entranced by the scenery outside the window. The open layout of the First class cabin made it easier to look out of the window and gaze in wonder as the view changed from a clear weather to clouds covering most of the border around northeastern Thailand and Vietnam.
A while later, the crew came around and set the tables up for dinner service by placing table cloth, cutleries, butter plate, glasses with salt and pepper shakers. They also laid out a whole bread basket instead of letting passengers choose. Being my second time on this route onboard Thai First Class, this is a pretty standard routine for Thai and sets for a neat meal service.
Then they offered me drinks and I asked for the butterfly pea drink along with some champagne. The champagne served onboard was Dom but the crew never showed me the bottle or anything. Next up was appetizer that didn’t look that tasty but it actually was good and palatable.
For the soup, it was a lobster bisque that had chunks of dry lobster, and while I kind of liked it, I think I had better soups before. While the soup was served, the crew also asked if I would like ground black pepper with the soup.
For the main course, I had expected a Royal Thai set meal but apparently Thai’s book-the-cook service conducted online was not very clear. Thus I was only served with the grilled pork neck main course. This was a cold dish and the meat was a bit tough with a tangy sauce at the bottom of the bowl. The meal also came with rice and stir-fried sweet peas. This was a basic business class meal at best and I would probably not order this meal again. But since I was not feeling hungry anyway, I did not bother asking for other main courses.
A fruit course was served after that and it came with rose apple, grapes, pomelo, pineapple and watermelon. The crew asked passengers to choose and since I do like fruits a lot, I picked all of them. The pomelo and rose apple was great and the pineapple was cored out in the middle which is nice.
I had half expected to end the meal then but apparently there was still dessert. Being a Christmas flight, there was a Christmas tart and an additional plate of Thai dessert that was served. The Thai dessert was definitely the better of the two, IMHO.
Freshened up after the meal and headed to one of the 2 lavatories at the back of the cabin. Both lavatories were decked with L’Occitane lotion and Bvlgari cologne. Seems that Thai Airways does use L’Occitane a lot since their amenity kits are stocked with them, and so does their spa treatment room in the Royal Orchid Spa at BKK.
The clean lavatory shows that Thai does maintain the aircraft well for such an old plane. Being an old plane, it was also odd to see the galley that stretched out on the right side of the plane beside the lavatories and this meant the lavatories opened out to the First class cabin so the middle back seats are not that desirable.
As I returned to my seat, there was some turbulence off the coast of northern Taiwan. I converted my seat to a bed when the turbulence subsided and started to watch ‘Elysium’. But before I could even go through the movie, I fell asleep due to fatigue, and had a nice nap until the cabin crew prepared the cabin for landing.
During the descent, the cabin crew came around once again to hand out a small gift of a business/card holder in Thai silk. I thought this was a nice touch since I knew it did not happen on my last flight. But then again it could be just due to this flight falling on Christmas and the airline is in a ‘sharing’ mood.
The descent into Tokyo Haneda at night was a fitting finale to the whole flight as one can truly appreciate how spread out Tokyo truly is with the extent of lights around the metropolis. And upon landing and disembarkation it was surprising to get a remote stand.
This gave me the chance to take some photos of the 747 since they are getting rarer by the day as airlines start to scrap or sell them off. There was no separate bus for First class passengers which was a bit disappointing so when we reached the terminal, there was some queue in the immigration. I took about 20-25 minutes to clear immigration before collecting my luggage. One thing leads to another and I missed the last airport bus that stops directly at Hyatt Regency Shinjuku. Instead I had to take the last bus to Shinjuku station and proceed on a taxi to the Hyatt Regency which costs 700 Yen (~US$7) more in fees.
While the flight was not perfect, it ranks as one of the memorable flights I had and the small touches onboard Thai Airways First class was adequate to make me consider flying with them again in the future!