For new readers I should fill in some quick details. My wife and I recently took a sabbattical and put our careers on hold to spend six months in Thailand on holiday. Thus we were departing from BKK-HKG and thought we would try a Skyteam airline on the route which was only slightly more expensive than Air Asia.
Bangkok to Hong Kong
Prior to our flight, I contacted the country manager ahead of my visit to request the ability to take some pictures on the aircraft, at checkin, and of the lounge. With other bloggers being told they could be removed from the aircraft for “security threats” I wanted to make sure I had permission and that they were aware of my presence. Naturally, the country manager would not be there on our Sunday flight but had spoken with the Duty Manager who would see to it that I was able to get my photographs.
Kenya Airways acceptable carry-on, a case of Chang beer.
Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, we found the screen detailing which checkin desk for which to proceed. While we were checked in, I was asked for the credit card we used, to book (fine, some airlines require this for kiosk checkin) but I became alarmed when the booking “accountant” came over and examined my card. I asked what was going on, as we obviously paid for our tickets before we got to the airport, but I never got an answer and it made me very nervous as you might imagine, a simple explanation would have calmed me down, but none was provided.
We got these great bag tags that beat the snot out of paper tags we get in the States – a nice touch.
I asked to speak with the Duty Manager to arrange some pictures of the lounge. He came over, was aware that I would be taking some pictures but would not allow me to enter the lounge as it was an Air France lounge (I later found out I wasn’t missing out). I tried to clarify that I did not want to use the lounge and that his boss had already given me permission, but he was having none of it.
Before departing Thailand, you must pass through departure customs, then security. If you have the chance to experience Suvarnabhumi airport, one of my favorites, I highly suggest you allow yourself some extra time to get a very affordable massage. Though the massages are double what you might pay on the street in BKK, you would still have trouble breaking $30USD for an hour long massage which is about the best way to spend an hour in any airport.
This flight was a through flight, we were on the short leg, Nairobi – Hong Kong, “via” Bangkok. Due to runway repairs on one of the two at BKK, the flight was delayed getting in, then needed to be cleaned pushing back about 40 minutes behind schedule. While the plane was parked at the gate, after the Nairobi – Bangkok passengers departed, and while it was getting cleaned I was to enter the aircraft so that I could take pictures of the business class section and an economy seat before the BKK-HKG passengers filled the plane.
My favorite Duty Manager again missed the boat. I took these pictures as I boarded with anxious passengers pushing my back to get to their seat. The seat pitch (according to the in-flight magazine) is 76” in business class, but I can’t really show you what a great experience you might have because of our friend. The alternative was of course buying a business class ticket, but at $650 for a two hour flight, I wasn’t inclined.
The aircraft was a 767-300, seating was 2x3x2 and the coach seats had an average seat pitch of 32”. It was more than enough for the Sherpa and Sherpstress, but then again we have trouble breaking 5’7” so our comfort level may not be a great yardstick.
Economy pleather was interesting, faux leather in economy and cloth in business class?
You can look forward to this truly terrible IFE experience. Fine for a two hour flight, but what about the Nairobi-Bangkok leg that was flown prior to this? It made me think of Ghetto IFE.
Once we pushed back the experience was what you would expect from a traditional flag carrier. There were a lot of nice touches that are worthwhile mentioning. A cold, refreshing towel was brought to us before service commenced (with the stifling heat this was much more welcome than a hot towel service). At this time there was a menu handed out to each passenger with what would be served of two available choices, the first was fish (never order the fish) and the second was beef. Next, the beverage service began with free alcoholic beverages served in coach.
Though we were some of the first served in coach, they were instantly out of the beef, so we both had the fish. It was an economy meal in coach so the expectations were not sky high, and they were appropriately set. It was a pity because the rest of the service was quite good.
The fresh cucumber salad was excellent!
The above was “lime cheesecake” though it tasted a lot like raspberry – it was very good regardless.
Both the Sherpa and Sherpstress were offered refills on our drinks, our food was promptly picked up, and despite the poor performance on the ground by the Duty Manager, in the air the staff had the drill down. In particular, our flight attendant (FA) Anavin was outstanding.
I have to say I really enjoyed our approach into HKG, squaring in moving west to east with Victoria Harbour on our left, then over the New Territories before landing on Lantau island, Hong Kong to the left and mainland China to the right.
I tried to get a couple of pictures of the plane before being ushered off, but the crew was anxious to turn the aircraft. I asked the crew if I could take a picture of the amenity kit. There were apparently two (brown or red) though I am unsure of the differences as I was only given the brown. I would like to tell you about the quality of the products, my likes and dislikes, but as I was not a paying business class customer this picture was my entire experience with the kit.
On the whole, the outbound service was quite good onboard. As a casual passenger with no need to take photos on the plane or write a review of the lounge, your experience would have likely been better than you might have expected. I asked a select group of readers who indicated that they would otherwise not necessarily book Kenya Airways when presented the choice. Though they are a part of SkyTeam, they do not fly to any US gateways and a general hesitancy prevailed. However, when comparing with a US airline on a 2.5 hour flight, Kenya’s service would embarrass a US carrier, or maybe better put, it was like the US airlines of old. Meal service, drinks, a checked bag, and all at a price that was very competitive.
One particular phenomenon that baffles American travelers like yours truly, is the disregard for crew instructions like, stay seated until we’ve stopped the aircraft for example. Here is 13 seconds of the KQ head start while we were still moving and approaching the gate.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) welcomed us with free internet (the greatest thing ever), customs was quick and easy and there were loads of connections to the city. More of the return flight to come shortly.
Given the choice on the route, I would book Kenya Airways again if they were the cheapest on the route, but I wouldn’t race back.