AUH-BKK-HKT FEB 2017
I took advantage of a fare sale Etihad was running during the UAE National Day holiday to book a return trip to Thailand, hitting up both Bangkok and Phuket on this trip.
Bright and early at 6:15 AM, I caught a cab for the short ride to Abu Dhabi International since the Etihad Chauffeur service was not included in this discounted J ticket price. The porter was right there at curbside for Etihad’s dedicated First & Business class check in at Terminal 3. At this hour, the counter was nearly fully staffed, and there was only one other person at the counter, so my check in process was finished in a very short period of time, probably only 3-4 minutes or so.
AUH has passport control machines where you first first scan your passport, then look up at a camera to take a facial image.
The screening is still done with the typical metal detectors. I have yet to see a full body scanner at that AUH.
The screening area opens into the full-blown duty free shopping area, with a food court upstairs. It was pretty crowded for not even being 7 AM, but from experience, I know a lot of flights arrive in the wee hours of the night. I made a beeline to the T3 Business lounge, where the helpful agent informed me that there is also a lounge in T1, where my flight was leaving.
Terminal 3 Lounge, the one farthest away from my gate…
That mistake is on me for not getting enough sleep, and not being fully aware of my position in the airport. It was a 15-minute walk across the airport to get to the correct terminal, mainly because of the human traffic. People would just stop in the middle of the flow of traffic, no concept of situational awareness until some one inevitably bumped them. The walkway for the T3 gates is on the narrow side, and half of it is taken up by travelators to take passengers out to the farthest gates.
I had enough time to grab a quick bite at the T1 lounge before it was time to head to the gate for the 7:40 boarding.
This particular 773 was configured in the 2-class configuration, with no F seats. I had selected 9A when I bought the ticket to have a window view for photo taking.
This was my first time on an EY 777, and it seemed more cramped that on the previous EY A330s I’ve traveled on. There were two noticeable hard spots on the seat on each side of the cushion. It felt like I sitting down with a phone in both of my back pockets.
I spent a few minutes wiping down all the surfaces around me with some Dettol sanitizing wipes. The FA came around with the pre-take off beverage service of orange juice, water, or bubbly. A hot towel was offered right after the beverages.
The seat amenities had a blanket, throw pillow, headset, and an amenities pouch, along with the menu. The pouch contained foam earplugs, dental pack with a toothbrush & toothpaste, sleep mask and socks, lip balm & face moisturizer.
The table is just a touch larger in area than a 13” laptop, and the power outlet charged it up from 75% to 100% over the course of about two hours (probably less, I didn’t notice exactly when it reached 100%).
Pushback was only 5 minutes behind schedule (right at 9 AM), and we headed to the departure end of 31L which is what I was hoping for since it gives the best angle for capturing images of development of Al Raha Beach, an area I lived in previously.
Feet wet over the Omani coast.
About 20 minutes after TO, beverage and snack service was started. The main meal for the flight was breakfast.
For the purpose of this review, I tried out the supplied headset. It is labeled noise canceling, and to a degree, it is, because it fits over the entire ear, blocking out some of the sound. What it isn’t is active noise canceling like what I’ve used on some other flights with other carriers. The sound quality was “meh” while listening to some “Western Pop & Rock” as a familiar base for comparison. I just put them back in the plastic and put back on my Bose QC25s for the rest of the flight. I also photographed the IFE screens for this review, but I didn’t watch anything.
The food service was complete and dishware removed by the 2:30 hour mark since take off. The FA then handed out the Thai immigration cards. Non-Thai pax have to fill out all three pages, which consist of both sides of the arrival card, and one side of the departure card. This is important, hold on to your departure card. It speeds up the process when you are leaving Thailand.
About this time, almost the window shades were drawn down, and folks typically slept, watched the IFE, or were on their laptops.
Like most of my other journeys, I just left the screen on the flight info/ map page and let it cycle through the different screens.
I remembered that my watch had an altimeter and world clock functions, so I recorded the displays for the novelty of it.
Late evening arrival into BKK.
Landing was uneventful, and the premium passengers were handed a priority immigration card.
As the case with my other travels into BKK , we were parked at the butt end of the terminal, which meant a long walk to passport control. Thankfully, the travelators were running towards the interior of the terminal.
An important note here, priority passport control is just past the main passport control point. If you have the brown priority card, don’t enter the first area where you see the majority of people are entering, with the long, winding lines and numerous desks for the immigration officers. Walk past it about 20 feet, and you will see a much smaller area with about 4 immigration desks and about 3-4 short lines of people. Just follow the blue signs. There was a control officer checking to see if you have the brown priority card. I didn’t want to risk attention by taking photos in the immigration area. The wait was about 10 minutes, and I only spent about 90 seconds at the desk before I was cleared through. From there, just check the status board to see which belt your luggage will be on.
I got my bags, walked out the baggage area and down one level to the ground transportation area.
A few days later, I was back at BKK for my flight to Phuket on Thai Airways. Given my hotel checkout time and Bangkok’s notorious traffic, I got to the airport at 11:30-ish for a 1615 departure. BKK has check-in counters in rows designated A-W (that I saw, might of missed X-Z), with THAI being in rows A-C. Royal Silk check in was right at the beginning of row A, and after waiting a few minutes for a disinterested counter agent on the phone, I was checked in. There was only one other passenger checking into F/J, and there were many more people in the B row checking into Thai’s domestic flights for Y pax. The security screening point for domestic departures is also at the end of these rows.
This was my second time at BKK, so I headed for mid-terminal observation deck since I had plenty of time to kill.
There are signs to guide you, and the entrance is at the end of the N-P rows. Being it was near the roof of the terminal, it’s noticeably warmer up there than down on the main floor. I got some pics, watched a few movements on the ramp, & a few departures over a 40-minute period and headed for the cool comfort of the Royal Silk domestic lounge.
I took this photo June 2016, and you can see the extent of the construction area since then.
It’s a little bit of a walk to get there from the Observation deck, through the security screening point, downstairs one level, and a trip on a few travelators, and a left turn at the fork with all the retail shops. Once there, you show your boarding pass at the desk. The food was typical (chicken and rice, Asian standards, pastries, soft and hard drinks, coffee, tea, juice, fruits and salad veggies), computers and magazines were available, and the power socket was in the floor next to your seat. The Wi-Fi had decent speed, and I was able to browse the major news sites without a problem.
As it got close to the 1615 boarding time, I gathered myself up and headed out of the lounge… and made a wrong turn that put me at almost the very end of the wrong wing of the terminal. No worries, had plenty of time to backtrack, even without the aid of the travelators. I don’t recall where I read it, but someone wrote that the Thai flight from BKK to HKT was always delayed, and sure enough, when I got to the gate…
Boarding did start an hour late at about 1715, with the J folks being the first to head down one more level to ground level to get on a bus to the gate. The a/c wasn’t parked at a remote stand, it was parked on the other side of the terminal wing. We got off the bus at the bottom of a jetbridge, and then walked up a set of stairs that were built for passengers to walk up en mass, into the jet bridge itself, and onto the 772.
J looked to be about 75% full once the door was closed, not sure about Y, but there were a lot of folks in the waiting area. Beverage service was water or juice, followed by a hot towel before take off. Pushback was 1741, and the actual take off time was about 1757. The meal service was crawfish, so I passed. The seat was comfortable once the lower footrest was retracted all the way so it wasn’t hitting the back of your shins.
The IFE didn’t have much more than general info and maps, but it was only a 90-minute flight.
Arrival in Phuket came after sunset, and it was full on dark when we pulled into the gate at about 1910 local at the old terminal.
J folks got off first, and then just follow the signs to go downstairs for a short wait at the baggage carousel. I had prearranged ground transportation through the hotel, and the driver was already there.
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