Thai Airways is the flag carrier airline for a well-known South East Asian kingdom of tropical beaches and bloodless coups. Thai Airways started as a joint venture with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) in 1960. Today, Thai Airways is a publicly traded company that is 51% owned by the Thai government and flies to 78 destinations in 35 countries.
I’ve flown Thai a few times in the last 10 years and they’ve always been on par with the Cathays and the Singapores and the Etihads of the world. I flew Thai again in June from Bangkok to Tokyo and was not disappointed.
Check In and Boarding
My Thai Airways flight was part of a longer itinerary booked through Air Canada so I wasn’t able to check in online for the Bangkok-Tokyo leg. No big deal, as counter check in at Suvarnabhumi International was fast and friendly.
Boarding began 30 minutes late but the flight was only half full so we still pushed off from the gate five minutes ahead of schedule.
Thai Airways uses the bright purples and pinks from their orchid logo in their uniforms and plane interiors. The colour palette works very well for the traditional Thai silk dresses worn by the female flight attendants. Note that you’ll only see these traditional dresses in advertising materials and inside the aircraft; female cabin crew must wear a more Western style purple skirt suit uniform outside of the cabin.
Inflight service was prompt and professional. I swear I heard beverage cart wheels start rolling before the light bulb behind the seatbelt sign indicator had fully faded.
The chicken crepe they served me for the breakfast meal was well above airplane food quality and came with a whole tray of tasty sides. Sandwiches and cookies were served three hours later, before the end of the six hour flight. My sandwich had celery in it so I politely refused, explaining that I was allergic. A few minutes later the flight attendant returned with a large tray holding several plastic containers with different types of fruits, all for me. So what if they were probably the untouched remains from upper class food trays!? I got service. Unrequested service! And one last serving of juicy Thai pineapple.
The inflight entertainment system had an impressive selection of movies. I flipped through some recent indie-ish mainstream films like Her and The Grand Budapest Hotel, as well as some older winners like Lost In Translation and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I caught up on some Orange Is The New Black and watched an interesting documentary on World Cup preparations in Brazil. The seat pocket card advertised ThaiSky Connect internet service but I didn’t try it. I also didn’t see any electrical outlets in economy.
I caught a flight attendant walking by and asked for an eye mask as I had left mine on a previous flight. I was pretty much expecting him to rifle through some overhead compartment in business class and return empty-handed. Instead he smiled, pulled a new pink silk eye mask out of his inner breast pocket, and handed it to me, like a flying fairy godmother.
Landing and Luggage
We arrived in Tokyo on schedule, just 20 minutes before my connecting flight to Vancouver was supposed to start boarding. I generally like a bit more time for international connections so I can explore the airport and so my luggage has a fighting chance of making the connection with me. I figured the latter was impossible so I spent my short layover buying green tea and cherry blossom Kit Kats and smiling at posters of Bill Murray hawking high end whiskey.
I came back to earth when I heard them paging me. Well actually they were paging Mr. Mayna Van-Kerry but he was also going to Vancouver, on the same flight as I was, so I had a feeling…
Turns out that in Japan, 10 minutes is plenty long enough to find a backpack in the bowels of a jumbo jet, unload it, screen it, and find a NON-PERMISSIBLE lighter buried deep in a first aid kit. I followed security personnel and my offending pack into a glass room where I was made to watch them confiscate the offending piece of fire making equipment. Once the threat was neutralized, the solemn mood changed and it was all bows and smiles as my bag and I got on our connecting flight with minutes to spare. I say to all the F1 teams out there: get the Japanese on your pit crew.