Got to the check-in area, and the agents refused to let me stand at the counter while they checked me in. So I had to go have a seat, have some water, and wait while they do the check-in formalities. Bottled water, with a straw, on a tray, for the two minutes it takes to check you in for your flight.
View of the check-in desk….with purple parasols in case the non-existent indoor rain or sun get to the agents…
After being checked in, I was introduced to my personal porter. He insisted on wheeling my bags to the security counter, and from security to immigration. While completely unnecessary, it does make you feel like an ultra VIP.
Post-immigration it was to the escalator to the lounge….where he leaned over the side and said something I assumed translated as “get the buggy ready, Mr. Jason is coming!”
My buggy to the lounge. Why a buggy if we were already in the lounge? Well, that’s because they drive you the entire length of the business class lounge so that everyone in there can see just how important you are…then out the door on the far side of the lounge, down the hall, and to the first class lounge!
My lounge experience today, however, felt a bit off. After being checked in I was basically pointed into the lounge and that was it. No offer to take my drink order, no offer of spa services, anything. I finally found a lounge attendant, whose English skills were a bit of a struggle, and was able to confirm I would like a massage.
Eventually, it was all sorted, and there was no wait for a massage today, so a spa representative came and got me and escorted me to the lounge. They suggested I leave my bags right where they were (in the lounge? all alone?) and I agreed…figuring anyone who could be in the first class lounge wasn’t likely to steal from me.
Massage therapist was great, except for the fact she tried to hand me size medium pajamas for the massage. She insisted that was the only size they had, so who was I to question. I did manage to get them on despite being 6’4, and that’s when she realized how ridiculous I looked like a giant thai sausage. She did manage to then find a size large, which while still small was quite a bit better.
I went for the Thai massage over the oil massage, and I have to say it was quite a treat getting a full hour long massage in the lounge. She asked several times about the pressure, and although it was one of the more painful massages I’ve ever had it was amazingly therapeutic. She found some seriously nasty knots in my back and calves, and went to town stretching and working them out. It was amazing. Although it feels a bit awkward tipping on a complementary massage, as hard as she went to down she really put a lot of work into it, so I definitely felt like I should reward her with my remaining Baht.
When I got back to my little room in the Thai lounge, I was a bit hungry, so asked for some spicy pad thai and champagne. Seriously delicious.
Unfortunately no mango and sticky rice today, but some Thai sweets were suggested instead. They were SUPER sweet.
After eating I was told it was time to head for the plane, and I thought I would be getting another buggy ride or something. No, just an agent to walk me to the next gate while wheeling my bag for me.
Thai tries super hard with their ground service, but unless you’re the type who likes being fawned over and not having to lift a finger I feel it comes across as a bit awkward. It’s all very well-meaning, but a bit over the top. I feel like investing a bit in communication skills and understanding how to meet guest expectations would go a long way.
That said, I can’t imagine that would be easy. These are not highly-skilled workers in a knowledge economy, Thailand is still a developing country in many aspects, and I’m certain many of the lounge employees cannot fathom the world many of their customers live in with frequent international travel. No fault of the employees at all, who are all fantastic and friendly, merely an observation of what might take it to the next level.
Thai flight 606
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Thailand (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
Depart 16:00, Arrive 19:45 next day, Flight Time: 2:45
Boeing 747-400, Registration HS-TGY, Manufactured 1998, Seat 1K
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 10,824
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,375,225
Warm welcome onboard, and a very quick offer of champagne. No mention of the brand this time, but pouring “the good stuff’ on the ground is great. I’m always puzzled by airlines too cheap to pay a few dollars of duty who pour much cheaper stuff on the ground.
Macadamia nuts. Yum.
Started with the same salad as the previous flight…which I didn’t mind a bit as it was once again seriously delicious.
I let the awkward skewered prawn alone.
“Chinese Fish Maw Soup” – it was more mushrooms than anything, and I thought a bit flavourless. Points for originality though!
Absolutely phenomenal “braised beef shank in green curry” – although it could have used a bit more chili. Also, I don’t know what was with the roti instead of rice. Odd.
Terrible cheese plate. Felt like the $1.99 special from WalMart.
More super-sweet Thai deserts. I had a tiny taste of each, but wasn’t a fan. But, offered gold leaf for the second time today, I had to make sure to eat it…
Overall, a solid product and flight. Thai is definitely a notch up from United and American, but they just lack the polish to complete with the world’s best. The flight attendants and ground service are great, but it’s the little things that are just missing. I don’t think it would take all that much for Thai to truly become world class, but it would require executives with vision who understand their customers. They don’t have to settle for “cheap luxury” – they could be truly world class if they want!
Next up, time for two nights in Hong Kong.