November 29, 2007

LAX to Bangkok, Thai Air, Premium Economy, Seat 32D

Departure time, 9:30PM

We arrive at the airport around 7:15 after fighting the usual rush hour traffic. The hours before leaving the house are the usual flurry of "what am I forgetting?", last minute downloads, and panic.

In the process, I decide not to take the borrowed DSLR and replace it with my much smaller and dependable Nikon. I'm just not ready to take on the task of learning a new camera on this trip.

At the airport, Bradley International Terminal is surprisingly quiet. We get into the "Royal Silk" class line because my mother has Business class tickets. I have Premium Economy tickets, and there's even a separate line for that, but they take us together. My mother gets a pass to the Star Alliance Lounge and we're told, "sorry, no guests". What?? We ask nicely, and the girl behind the counter frowns, looks left and right, and then gives me a pass too. When we get to the lounge, we discover my mother could have had me as a guest anyway with her United Premium status.

The Star Alliance Lounge is way nicer than any of the United domestic lounges. There are al sorts of food offered (sandwiches, cheese, noodles, soup, sushi), tons of beverages (coffee machine, 8 different types of beer, juices, sodas, and wine) and free WiFi with a password they give you at the front desk. We spend a pleasant hour in there.

The plane is an Airbus 340-500. It seems fairly new and I like it because the overhead bins are high, meaning people can actually stand up under them.

I am on the aisle in the middle section and luck is with me, the middle seat is empty! Someone was supposed to be there, but they did not show.

My mother's business class seat is quite nice, though the seats do not lay flat. She and her seat mate opt to change seats after the small children seated behind then begin coughing loud, wet, coughs.

Premium Economy Seats; the good and the bad.

The Good: Excellent video system. Seat back, 8" touch screens with video on demand, pause, fast forward, etc. Each seat has a power point with 110 outlet (which allows me to write this on the plane as my laptop has no battery life). Seats are 19" wide with a 42" pitch. The seats recline into a shell so the person in front of you is not in your lap. Video screens tilt. There is a leg rest. Food is served on china with silverware and the main course is exactly the same as what's served in Business (don't know if it's the same as economy). There are bottles of water and a big pillow and blanket at every seat.

The Bad: There is no foot rest and thus nothing for short people to brace against when reclined. My feet do not touch the floor. The under seat storage is very low and I had to rearrange things in my bag to get it to fit. The recline is 122 degrees, no better than regular economy. I cannot sleep sitting up. The armrests are stationary which prevents one from laying down across seats if the one next to you is empty.

Even with the bad, I'd still rather be sitting here. The economy seats, while having a "generous" 36" pitch look narrow and cramped.

For the first 8 hours of the flight, after the meal, the lights are out and most people sleep. I watch a couple of TV shows about Thai food and then try to sleep myself. It does not happen for more than 10 minutes at a stretch.

The second meal is a choice of breakfast omelet or stir fried pork. I opt for the Pork and it's not bad. The meals come with more silverware than used at a Presidential dinner. There is a tiny purple packet which has very unique toothpicks in it.



The third meal is Chinese style Duck with rice. Who knew my first duck rice dish of the trip would be on the plane?

And yes, I took a photo, but here 's the problem. It's on my camera. In the internal memory. I left the card in the computer and I don't know how to get the photo out of the main camera memory. I watch Live Free or Die Hard before we land. John McClain is my hero.

Arrival is easy. We are through immigration, have our bags, search for a working ATM, and are in a taxi within 35 minutes of landing. The taxi costs 365 baht including tolls, airport surcharge, and 20 baht tip.


Overheard at the baggage carousel:

"See this box? It's filled with Halloween candy for my girlfriend and her sisters. I'm going to be a hero when I bring it"

"Can't they get candy here?"

"Oh, they like American candy"

"Must have been expensive"

"Nah, I waited until the day after Halloween to buy it"

Wow, he's a charmer, huh?


Thailand and Cambodia Intro
Thai Air LAX to BKK
Bangkok Day 1
Bangkok Day 2-Tour with Tong
Bangkok Day 3-Markets
Siem Reap-Day 1
Siem Reap-Day 2
Siem Reap-Day 3
Siem Reap-Koh Ker School
Bangkok Day 4
Bangkok Day 5











Cool toothpicks


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