Megan and I took a two-week tour of Southeast Asia during our honeymoon in August/September of last year. Now it’s time to wrap up the trip report after a holiday break. Here’s the Trip Report Index:
- Booking the Honeymoon
- Asiana Airlines Business Class (SEA-ICN, HKG-ICN, and ICN-SEA)
- Seoul-Incheon Airport and Singapore Airlines Business Class (ICN-SIN)
- Singapore Zoo
- Singapore Airlines Business Class (SIN-DPS)
- St. Regis Bali – Part 1
- St. Regis Bali – Part 2
- Day Trip to Ubud
- Thai Airways Business Class (DPS-BKK and BKK-HKT)
- St. Regis Bangkok
- Westin Siray Bay Phuket
- Day Trip to Phi Phi Islands
- Thai Airways Business Class (HKT-HKG)
- Conrad Hong Kong
As I did with Asiana Airlines and Singapore Airlines, I’ll try to consolidate three separate flights, but there will still be two reviews. Today’s post covers flights to and from Bangkok, which had an older seating configuration on an Airbus A300. That and the food weren’t very impressive. About the only thing that I consider memorable was the view flying over the Andaman Sea to Phuket. Simply awesome! Our third flight from Phuket to Hong Kong on an Airbus A330 (similar to Asiana) was significantly better even though I was feeling quite ill. I’ll discuss it separately.
Our drive from the St. Regis Bali to the airport, like our arrival, was complimentary and included newspapers and bottled water in our private car. Now that it was daylight we could see things much more clearly than during our arrival late at night. There is an old jet aircraft parked in someone’s backyard, for example (you see this on most trips, as it’s the same road we used on our day trip to Ubud). That sight and some others may be a thing of the past now after opening the new causeway to Nusa Dua and the international terminal. We still enjoyed the old airport.
Why build a new causeway? The airport is built at the narrowest part of the island, with the original highway to one side. There is really no place to widen the road!
The car dropped us off at the curb, and a porter was already waiting for us with a trolley to take our bags through the airport. In fact, he followed us through check-in and at least one layer of security before finally telling us he couldn’t pass the yellow line at passport control.
And this is where we made our mistake. I knew there was one particularly good lounge at DPS, and the other was awful. Thai Airways customers should get access to both the Prada and Premier lounges, but we were provided an invitation to the Prada lounge. It is, quite literally, a pit. You take an escalator down into a dim, windowless room with ratty furniture and a somewhat unpleasant smell. After five minutes Megan begged to go even though we already saw most people in the terminal had to sit on the floor.
The names are so similar I didn’t bother to pester the agent for an invitation to the Premier lounge instead. When we found it, I had to badger my way inside because I didn’t have that paper slip. I was at least smart enough not to admit I had been given one to a different lounge and feigned ignorance, that I hadn’t received one at all. I’m not quite sure what convinced them in the end, but I laid out my Thai business class boarding pass, my United 1K card (with a Star Alliance Gold logo), and a Priority Pass membership card. Any one of them would grant me access according to the stickers on the window. Megan was much happier.
I think there is another Premier Lounge at the new international terminal, and from the few pictures I’ve seen it also looks nice. This lounge is now in what’s called the domestic terminal. It wasn’t bad as long as you weren’t hungry. I got some weak beer, Megan got a soda, and the food selection — what little there was — didn’t look appetizing. Megan stayed inside to read her book while I went out to the patio to watch the planes land.
Eventually it was time for boarding. The line at the gate security check was incredibly long and we were pretty much the last ones to board. Not that it matters much to me, as long as we don’t miss the plane. We can drink in the club or drink on the plane, so I try not to be a gate louse.
The seats were not uncomfortable but neither were they anything to write home about. The reminded me very much of our Singapore Airlines flight to the island, although this time we weren’t quite as drunk. 😀 Plenty of leg room even though there was not much space on the armrest for a drink.
It was a perfectly satisfactory way to make the short hop to Bangkok and nothing more. We even got to use some retro three-pin headsets!
Departing Bangkok, the lounge experience was a step up but not much better in the areas that count. There’s better food, more seating, faster Internet, and plenty of other reasons to enjoy the Royal Silk lounge, and no bar. This has always bothered me about flying through Bangkok.
No matter, we were soon on the plane. Another A300, and at least this flight was shorter. The meal service, however, was very disappointing.
Three pieces of lettuce, two slices of cucumber, three slices of some kind of fish, and a tasteless white pudding. Nothing objectionable (I ate it all), but I’ve had better meals in economy class. At least Thai serves good tea. I wish they had more of it in the lounge.
So I spent most of my time looking outside the window. We had some terrific views, as I said at the beginning. If your only experience with Thailand is Bangkok — as mine was before this trip — then it probably doesn’t strike you as very pretty. It has awesome history and temples, yes, but there is a lot of grit, poverty, and haphazard construction. Bangkok is a very, very busy city. But the Andaman Sea is probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.