On board Thai Airways
by Julie Baxter | 24 November 2016
I'm not some kind of avgeek. Really I'm not. Ive never been plane spotting and generally if i notice the aircraft type I'm flying in at all, I've forgotten it by the time I've collected my luggage. But having just stepped off my first Airbus A380, I feel the need to speak!
Bound for Thailand, I admit I was somewhat dreading my flight. Over 11 hours in Economy? Really? Who needs it? But with people to see and places to go and no business excuse for an upgrade, I girded my loins, paid my way and set off more in hope of a painless ride than expectation.
Flying with Thai International Airways I departed Heathrow Terminal 2. How civilised. All the usual nausea was there: check in kiosks, bag drops, security et al but for once it seemed everything worked. All was calm efficiency, well organised and perfectly pleasant. Machines did what they are meant to, people smiled and said hello and the usual stress of negotiating hurdles and hassle from car park to seat just didn't materialise. How weird.
I boarded. My seat in Economy was surrounded by plenty of empty ones which probably helped accentuate the open feel of the spacious, bright and airy A380-800 cabin. Thai's distinctive pink and purple interior branding seemed shockingly bright initially but really ensured a cheerful fresh backdrop to the cabin and the smiley staff made a great first impression.
I had my first gin and tonic within 20 minutes and lunch within an hour. A tasty Thai green curry and the best Economy bread roll I've ever been served as for once it was served from a basket and had been warmed, not the usual bullet hard dough balls that have spent way too long in the chill chain. A simple touch reminiscent of past Business class flights. Nice.
The Seat back monitor had adjustable tilt for a more comfortable viewing position and could be operated by touch screen or a remote, USB charging point and coat hook were useful and accessible , and split fold table meant I could have a half table and feel less penned in when i didn't need space for the full tray set.
Wifi was available, inflight shopping could be done via the screen and there were plenty of good options to keep me entertained.
0f course an Economy seat is a an Economy seat and you do have to sit in a relatively confined space for hours but this experience gave me hope for the future of air travel. I can almost say it was enjoyable!
The A380 was noticeably quieter and the ride seemed smoother. The service was good and in a world where everyone seems to have a complaint and be a scathing critic, it just seems right for once to give some credit where credit is due.
New aircraft come and go, mostly they pass me by. Airport stress and onboard discomfort have seemed to me to have become a sad and inevitable fact of life. I'm a travel journalist but I don't really love flying. It's been a means to an end for me. I like to go places, aircraft get me there. But this journey made me take notice. It showed that when the travel industry gets things right, travellers really can enjoy the journey. When technology and people all do their bit correctly that journey can be completely hassle free.
If this is the future of flying then bring it on. This is what I for one call progress, or perhaps this time I just got lucky!
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