Boarding gate was conveniently located beside the lounge which meant there was no need to leave beforehand. However no boarding announcement was made in the lounge and it was only by checking the departure screen that I knew my flight had started boarding. For my departing flight, it would be from a remote stand and that meant passengers were packed on a bus and because I was late to board, there was no special bus for Business class passengers.
TG940 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi BKK – Milan Malpensa MXP
Airbus A350-900 HS-THD Uthumphon
Gate C2A Seat 19A
Having flown Thai Airways A350 during the return journey of my last ski trip, I knew what to expect. More than half of the sole Business Class section was filled up by the time I boarded. Seats configuration were similar to the 777-300ER with a purple colour theme with wooden and gold accents.
For this flight, I had my seats near the window at the last row, but with all seats having aisle access, it was great for a long haul flight. Onboard the flight, passengers had to request for the coat to be stowed. Though I was welcomed in my seat by Dhun, a very elegant lady serving the cabin today.
A pair of headphones, amenity kit, blanket and pillows were on every seat and there is even a lumbar support bolster for this long haul flight. The bolster was something I have not seen in previous flights.
Champagne was once again offered after I got seated, and after Dhun placed the hot towel on the space beside me.
During this time I checked out the amenity kit which is different as it is supplied by Greyhound, a lifestyle company that operates a famous cafe in Bangkok and several other Asian cities. Another crew came around with offer of newspapers before Dhun came by again to take meal orders.
The menu for the flight was as follow:
Beverage menu was similar to my previous Royal Silk Class (Business Class) flight from Jakarta to Bangkok, which I will re-post here:
Inside the amenity kit, the contents was still similar with several small containers of lotion, lip balm, and mouth wash. Inside there was an eye-shade, ear plug, a dental kit, a comb and a pair of slippers. Missing was a pair of socks that I was able to request from Dhun the stewardess.
Cabin crew went around to spray some antibacterial stuff around the cabin, which I attribute to regulations after the doors are closed. I never got to know what it was but passengers should probably not leave any open food and drinks around the cabin while they spray these stuff.
Boarding was completed around 12:40am but due to arrival airport landing restrictions, departure was delayed by around 30 minutes according to the pilot. It seems the winds are on our side with a faster flight time. Eventually, pullback was at around 12:54am, with the pilot giving an estimated flight time of 11 hours and 40 minutes. To prepare the plane for take off, cabin light was dimmed and the take-off roll was very smooth and fast. As a side note the Business class cabin was about 70% full with Economy class most probably filled near capacity.
On take-off, I was treated to the night lights illuminating the city grid. Departing from a large city is still nice at night as you can see the extent of the street lights even though the buildings and natural landscapes are shrouded in darkness.
During the take-off, I had powered on the inflight entertainment system and Thai Airways has a touch screen controller with high definition monitor that looks sharp. The menu for the system was still a step behind what is offered in Singapore Airlines and Krisflyer but the movie selections was good as it includes classics and some older movies along with films from several Asian cinemas. TV shows was somewhat lacking in that there was only several episodes and the choices are limited. Using the inflight entertainment, I did not experience much lag and it did not crash on me during the flight as I expected it to be for a newer system on a relatively new plane. However I still prefer the button controls to the touch screen as inflight entertainment touch screen controls have not reached the advanced stage of development as our mobile phones and they feel slow and cumbersome.
Once we passed the lights illuminating Bangkok, the crew started to work. Beverage service started with a ramekin of mixed nuts and dried fruits, and even though it was not served warm, I enjoyed this snack more than just plain mixed nuts.
With this being a red-eye flight, the crew seems to be working faster to deliver meals as quickly to passengers to allow them to rest earlier. In fact some passengers would have skipped ‘supper’ to get to sleep. Thus, a short while later the appetizer for my Thai meal was served. The tray did contain a butter plate, but bread was offered by the crew rather than distributed from the basket, which I declined as I was not that hungry.
After that, the whole tray was collected before the main course was served on a new tray. On this tray was a bowl of clear sweet and sour broth, the snapper fillet with a sauce that is similar to hoisin flavour and rice with the cabbage on the side. The soup was a bit plain for a pork neck soup though it has a lot of flavour. The cabbage on the side was actually quite spicy but the dish I actually enjoyed as the fish fillet was thick and a bit dry. While the sauce did save the dish, the taste was a bit off for me and I just nibbled on it.
Both desserts were offered to me since most passengers skip on them for this supper service. Again I just had the Thai dessert and it was a very colourful presentation that was light and tasty, so the ending was a sweet finish. It was past 2:15 am when I finished supper and I requested for water to brush my teeth and head to sleep.
Flying with a new aircraft is always nice as you get better designed lavatories and the one onboard the A350 seems to be more spacious as it offers more countertop space which makes it easier to brush your teeth. It also feels more spacious making it more comfortable.
Back on the seat, I switched it to a lie-flat mode and began to fall asleep slowly. Cabin temperature was set warm enough that I did not need the blanket, allowing me to create a mini mattress pad using the comforter so that certainly made it more comfortable. However located on the last seat meant the sounds from the galley interrupted my sleep occasionally. In addition, seat 19A is also below the crew overhead compartment and it would result in occasional storage of equipment and amenities overhead by the crew so light sleepers should generally avoid this seat at all costs.
I retired to my seat just as we flew into the Indian subcontinent and woke up as we flew past Afghanistan so that was an average of 4 hours or so of interrupted nap. However I felt sufficiently rested that I did not head back to sleep and instead settled on a comfortable position on the seat to enjoy the rest of the flight.
When Dhun saw me awake, she asked if I wanted coffee or juice and I requested for both as I figured that should help me with the day on arrival. They were both brought to me to refresh me before breakfast would be served.
At exactly 2 hours before arrival, the cabin lights were turned on to enable the crew to serve breakfast. Hot towels were once again distributed to passengers that were awake and I get the sense that the crew was trying to be as quiet as possible to avoid waking up those who preferred to sleep all the way through.
Thai chooses to illuminate the cabin with hues of purple and orange, both colours of the airline and makes the cabin looks like it is bathed in a tropical sunset.
For breakfast, the tray containing fresh fruits and yogurt was laid out on the table. In it there was a ramekin of butter, a small jar of jam while warm croissants are distributed from the basket. The yogurt was a berry flavoured one topped with dried prunes and some nuts.
At this time, my camera battery ran out and thus the photo of the main course for breakfast is not of optimal quality but it was enjoyable too. For breakfast I do enjoy Asian style porridge or congee especially on long haul flights and onboard Thai, there was boiled rice with pork meatballs. While not thick and creamy like those on Chinese airlines, this sufficed and I enjoyed it with the omelet once again. In fact I do enjoy this breakfast service more so than the dishes served during my dinner/supper.
The conclusion of the breakfast service meant the flight was all but coming to an end. Nearly every time I wished the flight would be longer but at the same time I cannot wait to go down and start exploring more mountains on my skis. It was nice then that the flight actually flew past Austria and the South Tyrol region of Italy where I would be skiing for the week. The direct routing from there forward meant it was a fast approach to the airport as we landed earlier than scheduled before docking in the terminal.
However upon coming to a standstill, the connection of the jet bridge took a while with some confusion before Business Class passengers were allowed to disembark first. As we landed after the Singapore Airlines and Air China flight, there was a long queue at immigration and that negated the early disembarkation since I waited for the immigration for about 20 minutes or so. Even after the long wait for passport control, the luggage is not out yet on the baggage claim with the area teeming with noise and crowds. It was only around 7:35am, or about an hour after our landing that my luggage was out on the belt and then I had to go to the odd-baggage claim area to collect my snowboard.
The flights on Thai Airways was good as usual, and the service by the friendly stewardess Dhun made it a pleasant flight. Lie-flat beds was great to sleep in and there was plenty of amenities to make it comfortable for the long journey. The food was average but I did not go hungry though I did notice they cut down on the inflight snack but it seems to be less of an issue since most passengers were sleeping. While Thai Airways was great all around, Milan was not exactly the premium airport in Europe and I do find arrivals experience in Frankfurt and Zurich to be much better so the arrival airport was perhaps the disappointment here. All in all, I would still take this flight again for access to Milan and its surrounds as it offers decent value and has a schedule that fits me if departing from South-East Asia!