Oh well, looks like Mrs C’s put me on the spot here. Her reporting on all the brilliant bits of the Koh Phangan to Bangkok journey already make me very reminiscent and brimming with an urge to go somewhere really nice again – soon!
Long-haul air travel isn’t – and never has been – one of my favourite pastimes, having spent many years working in places as far afield as Brazil, Sub-Saharan West Africa, Australia and the South Pacific. With the addition of the Czech Republic last month my total has now reached 76 different countries visited. So I do have significant experience with many airlines on many routes.
Yesterday’s experience on our flight home to London from Bangkok was probably one of my more disappointing experiences. It’s a long hop whichever way you look at it, but I tend to zone-out into a sort of ‘acceptance’ mode, knowing it’s going to be a numb-bum and stiff legs by the end of it, but I do have a pretty effective personal strategy built over years of practice. All it takes is one issue though and it tips the balance from ‘acceptable’ to downright irritating and uncomfortable very quickly.
I flew on one of BA’s 777s to Rio de Janeiro back in 1999 and a few times since to and from the USA. Back then, the planes were relatively new, were bright and clean and stuff ‘worked’ on them. I don’t know the flight history of that particular plane, but it could well have been the very same plane for all I know. Except this one now had an overhead bin out of action, foam trim falling off around the lavatory cubicles and clumps of dust clinging to the vents on the ceiling. The seat in front of me seemed to recline significantly more than its adjacent seats, reducing what I consider to be already a ‘challenging’ seat pitch. It was all looking a bit worn, yellowed and a bit sad if I’m honest. Certainly not what I would have expected a few years ago from our national flag carrier. I would even normally have used a comforting G&T to take the edge of my discomfort perhaps, but only 4 hours into the flight they’d run out of all alcoholic drinks, so I gave up on that too.
OK, credit where it’s due, we departed spot on time and even arrived a few minutes early. The staff were all lovely, helpful and very professional throughout, but was it a pleasant flight? Not really! I’ve definitely had better flights over the years. At one point I was travelling to Rio and back 5 times a year and even those older Varig MD11 planes seemed to be more pleasant than my experience yesterday. However, the Terminal 5 arrival experience was very good – smooth and effortless, with no excessive queuing or delay at any point. We were through the terminal and on our Hoppa bus to the Renaissance Hotel in record time.
It’s really not in my nature to whinge. If anything I’m generally much more accepting of little shortcomings than Mrs C, but on this occasion it’s only right for me to share my thoughts, bearing in mind my significantly greater flying experience. Next week we’ll be using Etihad to fly to India for our next adventure. It’ll be interesting to see how they compare.
Back to the Renaissance Hotel… We took advantage of one of the ‘Park, Stay and Fly’ or in this case ‘Park, Fly and Stay’ packages from Holiday Extras, which include a fortnight’s parking. It really does take a lot of the sting out of the process of getting back after a very long day’s travelling and lets you get a bit of quality shut-eye before the drive home. The Renaissance Hotel room was absolutely lovely; clean, well-maintained, quiet, and had a great view out over the main runway. The whole lot including the parking comes to not a lot more than the cost of parking at an airport car park itself, so I think it’s worth every penny. We’ll definitely use them again!
Read more about our Thailand Holiday Here