After a great trip to Phuket and Bangkok, we then headed to Hong Kong for a few days. Part of maximizing the Star Alliance First Class award was to take advantage of a stopover. I had been to Hong Kong in the past, but only for a short time by myself. I thought this might be a good way for my wife to see a piece of China as well, without the visa requirements and in a much more approachable way than the madness of Beijing or Shanghai. I had to be a bit creative to find a flight on Thai Airways that uses 3 class planes and was within the ticketing rules since we wanted a few days in Hong Kong, we could spend less than 24 hours in BKK, making it a layover. Luckily there was a morning flight on a 747 from BKK-HKG.
Thai ground services for premium passengers is rather noteworthy, they escort passengers through the airport usually via golf cart. This includes passengers arriving on other Star Alliance airlines in first class. A free one hour massage at their Royal First Spa is a unique benefit, but only for those departing in Thai Airways first class. Our experience started early. For the morning flight, we were the only passengers at the special check in area for first class passengers. The processed our check in quickly, and sent us on our way through security. After a quick check, there was a car waiting to drive us to the Royal First Lounge. We were shown to our own private ‘living room’. Despite there being 2 of us, we were put in a room with a couch, several chairs, plus a TV. They provided a menu for our food and drink options.
We started with some pineapple juice and water, which were presented with cool towels.
Next I had some tea
Then some yogurt.
I could have ordered a full meal, but with a massage coming up, I didn’t want to eat too much, plus I knew there would be a full meal on the plane. So, for the massage, if I wasn’t aware of it, I may not have taken advantage of the opportunity. I asked at the reception desk for an appointment. They had a few options available in the morning, so both my wife and I signed up for hour massages. First class passengers are granted hour-long full body massages in the Royal First Spa. Business class passengers can choose between a neck and shoulder massage or a foot massage, both are 30 minutes.
Once in the treatment room, there is a changing room where you are provided a robe and slippers and a strange mostly see-through pair of disposable briefs which are odd to say the least. I guess it is so people aren’t nude, but I probably would have been more comfortable with wearing nothing than that. Oh well.
There is also a shower room adjacent to the changing room.
After a relaxing massage, we were back to the lounge for a little bit longer. Eventually one of our hosts asked us to join them, and we were directed to another cart for the ride to our gate. We were on a 747 for the flight to HKG. It was their old configuration, but still very comfortable for the short flight. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of the seats but this link shows the old purple velvet seats on the 747.
Despite the short flight, there was a menu offered for the meal service.
Already having had a little food in the lounge, I still ordered breakfast
Fruit plate and muesli
Main course, the short ribs.
A nice flight overall, and a good preview of Royal First service which I would like to try on a long haul segment.
Upon arrival in Hong Kong, one more signature feature of the Thai ground experience, a cart to immigration.
Overall the experience with Thai airways was quite good. On future trips Star Alliance award trips, I would make the effort to route via BKK simply for the ground experience, particularly if in first class.
Note: This trip was taken in late 2010, well before I had planned on blogging about it, so I apologize for the inconsistent photos.