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First class flights

Old 12th Feb 2018, 18:24
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Confoederatio Helvetica
Age: 64
Posts: 2,847
PA had, at one time, F meals served in the bubble. The upper deck of the -100s. F seats on main deck. I had a lovely meal with a handful of US travel agent ladies. No revenue pax in F that day. This dining area replaced the piano and lounge.
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Old 13th Feb 2018, 07:49
  #22 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: UK
Posts: 841
On a good day BA First is hard to beat. However it is difficult to know when it is a good day!

Also remember that it is not just about the on board experience there are a whole lot of extras that come with a Cirst Class ticket.
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 22:02
  #23 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Cambridge UK
Posts: 499
Thanks for all the replies chaps. Flights have now been booked (not without some hassle) for departure later this month.

Stand by for a report on my return.
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Old 14th Mar 2018, 22:32
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Glasgow
Posts: 195
Thanks for that olympus, looking forward to the debriefing. Meanwhile, do have an overall 'first class' trip!
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Old 12th Apr 2018, 19:54
  #25 (permalink)  
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: Cambridge UK
Posts: 499
Well, I've now returned from my first class round trip so here are a few comments...

In the end I decided to book my flights on Thai as I thought this gave the best combination of destination (who doesn't like Bangkok?), reputation and price, and on an A380.

I booked the flights on Opodo after searching on Skyscanner. Opodo weren't quite the cheapest but I thought it made sense to book with a company I'd heard of. Big mistake. The actual online booking process was seamless. ie they took my money promptly and confirmed the flights within minutes.

No problem so far. The problems arose when Thai altered the schedules and put a B777 (C & Y only, no F) on the midday flight (which I had booked), with an A380 now operating the evening service (normally a B777). Opodo informed me of this by sending me an email copy of the Amadeus booking but without any explanation or mention of any fare adjustment because of C instead of F or offer of a change of flight. This meant phoning Opodo to seek clarification. Initial contact was promising-a well-modulated female voice assured me that my call was important to them and press 1 for this, 2 for that etc. At this point things started to go pear-shaped. The agent I finally got through to was in Hyderabad or somewhere similar and seemed barely to understand English and certainly couldn't grasp what my call was about. When he finally got the gist of the problem and put me through to the right department their system crashed and I was told to call back. Several attempts later I finally got through to someone who understood the problem but whose advice was to 'call Thai, they will help'! This I thought would lead to a roundabout of calls with neither taking responsibility. Thankfully, I was mistaken and I ended up speaking to a most helpful agent at Thai who changed my booking to the later 380 flight, offered me a choice of meals and confirmed my preferred seat (2K as recommended by SeatGuru). As an aside, Opodo stiffed me for two fees to select seats on both legs. Not much in the scheme of things but Thai would have allocated the seats without further charge, so won't be using Opodo again.

Thai flights depart from a shopping centre near Hounslow aka Terminal 2. My recollection of T2 is of the old Queens Building but this new T2 is nothing like it. For me an architectural nightmare which you enter via a series of crowded elevators and consisting of two separate buildings. The TG flights, needless to say, departing from the furthest building.

Thai is apparently part of Star Alliance and the check-in and passenger handling is dealt with by Star Alliance-uniformed personnel. My check-in was with a morose Eastern European woman who seemed determined to ensure that my first class experience didn't start with her. In fact, the whole Heathrow experience was rather disappointing; a fact that I put down to poor staffing levels as much as anything. For instance the buggy which should have conveyed me to the departure lounge (I was using the SQ lounge) was nowhere to be seen. The SQ buggy with driver was there but 'sorry not Singapore, you Thai' meant I had to walk. It is a LONG way! There are travelators but there is also a sign saying something like '17 minutes to departure gates'. A further observation - I didn't speak to a native English speaker (other than a fellow passenger) from arriving at T2 to boarding the aircraft.

The SQ first class lounge was excellent with a generous menu of hot food available (didn't partake) plus the usual snacks and choice of drinks but it wasn't until boarding the A380 that the first class experience really started. Greeted by name from the outset, nothing was too much trouble for the two dedicated F class cabin attendants. The menu was great (I really enjoyed the caviar), vast choice of movies on the entertainment system and a comfortable, secluded seat with all amenities close to hand so no need to talk to your fellow pax unless you (and they) want to. (There are a number of videos on Youtube showing the accommodation and menus etc). There are twelve F seats on a Thai A380 and they were all occupied on both legs of my trip. Once fed, watered and entertained, the cabin staff offer a pack of 'leisure wear' (pyjamas) and make up the seat into a bed whilst you change in the extremely spacious forward loo. If I'm honest, I found the bed rather hard and 'under-pillowed' but it is a genuine 'lie-flat' and full length. I'm 6' 2" and fitted in with room to spare. I did manage to sleep and the 11 hour flight passed very quickly.

The first class experience continued on the ground at Suvarnabhumi with ground staff meeting disembarking F passengers and conveying them on buggies to the fast-track immigration counters (and it's a long way!). Once through immigration more ground staff are waiting to accompany you to the baggage claim and push the trolley with one's bags through customs to the waiting driver. (The driver was from my local contacts, not provided by Thai). OAT on arrival in BKK was 36 degrees C!

The return trip (a midday departure) was pretty much the same but in reverse; dedicated F check-in where one sits in an armchair with a drink whilst a ground staff member checks in for you, buggy to the Thai F lounge (splendid), superb personal service on board, another set of pyjamas and another snooze meant the 12 hour flight passed quickly. Once at Heathrow one is dealt a dose of depressing British reality. Sure, there was a buggy meeting F passengers but only one (a five seater) so this meant a wait while this one buggy took its first load to immigration and then returned to pick up those of us who didn't fancy the very long walk to arrivals. Thai's responsibility I know, but typically British poor service.

We were all given cards directing us to the fast-track immigration; unfortunately so were the F and C pax from the Eva Air flight (also from BKK), the ET flight from ADD, an AI flight from the sub-continent and several others) so there was a very long queue. Bags were already waiting on arrival at the carousel so through customs and into the British evening with a temperature of 6 degrees.

All-in-all an enjoyable experience; would I do it again? Yes, definitely if I had the spare cash available

ExXB thought it would be very expensive:-

You realise that you are looking at 7,000 each way.
In fact it cost me less than half that for the round trip.

Last edited by olympus; 17th Apr 2018 at 12:00.
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Old 12th Apr 2018, 21:28
  #26 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Glasgow
Posts: 195
Thanks for that Olympus, your very comprehensive follow-up was worth my patient wait! Amongst various other airlines and routings, many years ago I used to fly Thai (F/C/Y) to the Far East and Australia quite frequently, from their DC-8 days, then onto DC-10s and latterly 747s. (A memorable but unplanned trip on a LOT-Polish IL-62 BKK/DXB/WAW - detained overnight - and then WAW/LHR the next day is another story!)

Needless to say, on most airlines onboard service in F & C has generally become more opulent since then, and it's good to note that Thai are maintaining their excellent standards - and inflation considered, probably at a lower cost than previously!

As you describe, things have now obviously changed - except of course, the down-to-Earth realities of the inimitable ''Heathrow ambience'', as one transits LHR!

Meanwhile, I'm still getting my head round long-haul flights from T2! Olympus, thanks again for your superb ''voyage report'', much appreciated.
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Old 13th Apr 2018, 08:35
  #27 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Darkest Lincs
Posts: 454
Can I ask why you booked through Opodo and not direct with Thai?
AFAIK there is no benefit in booking through a third party, with lots of downsides and hidden costs if flights are altered, as you found to your cost
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Old 13th Apr 2018, 10:33
  #28 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: London
Posts: 7,086
Sometimes you get it cheaper but if you are looking at the experience of a life time I would stick with the airlines
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Old 13th Apr 2018, 11:47
  #29 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Cambridge UK
Posts: 499
wowzz and HH

With hindsight I tend to agree with you but there was a difference of some 250 between Opodo and Thai direct (and a slightly greater difference between the cheapest quote and the Thai price).
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Old 13th Apr 2018, 15:20
  #30 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: London
Posts: 7,086
I've done well with Trip Advisor & a couple of the others on shorthaul but long haul is too big an investment in cash and TIME to add to the risks TBH

By the way thanks for reporting back - sad that the UK is now like the USA - places were however good the airline the surface experience is so awful it detracts from the whole trip.........

When you compare it with Dubai, Changi, Hong Kong etc etc it is so depressing............
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Old 13th Apr 2018, 16:53
  #31 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Beyond the Blue Horizon
Age: 58
Posts: 667
Olympus/ Heathrow Harry
Have to agree with you about the ground services but not just LHR it seems to have seeped into all British airports. Came into MAN this morning and we were back in the world of none working lifts etc and surly staff. I sometimes wonder why I bother coming back to UK especially with the lousy weather we have suffered with this long winter. Olympus I am so glad you had a good trip and enjoyed the First Class and 380 experience. I get to fly on EK 380,s a lot, and the poor plane takes a lot of stick on the Mid East web site if you look, but it is very popular with those that fly in it, rather than fly it or count the beans.

Kind regards
Mr Mac
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Old 13th Apr 2018, 19:22
  #32 (permalink)  
Son of Slot
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: London
Posts: 723
Thanks Olympus, most helpful. We used to have a lot of trip reports here but not now. So a good run down is great.
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Old 13th Apr 2018, 22:01
  #33 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Ireland
Posts: 253
Originally Posted by olympus View Post
I didn't speak to a native English speaker (other than a fellow passenger) from arriving at T2 to boarding the aircraft.
Brexit will have that sorted soon enough
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Old 14th Apr 2018, 05:13
  #34 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Beyond the Blue Horizon
Age: 58
Posts: 667
Many trip reports may have moved to You Tube. I came across a gentleman 18 months ago doing a video of service on Lufthansa . He was not in my cabin, so I spoke to cabin crew who said they had also noted this before, so maybe that is where these things are now posted.

Kind regards
Mr Mac
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