The “old mates act” or the days when you knew someone at an airline who could get you an upgrade are kaput, over finished and far gone. When you sheepishly pop the question, before you arrive at the airport, at check in or on the plane it just doesn’t happen anymore unless you are prepared to pay by points or cash because business is business to use a hackneyed phrase.
All airlines insist that the cost of passengers who are upgraded for free must come out of a budget, be it Marketing, Sales, PR or Promotions and nobody wants to lose some of their budget for a freeloader who is not going to give anything back to the airline. To sneak up to Business Class and see some empty seats and immediately despise whoever knocked you back is a sign of naivety and a long way from the heart of the ‘upgrade controversy.’
I am at the bustling Suvarnabhumi airport at Bangkok having come back from an International Travel Conference at the Dead Sea in Jordan. On check in at Thai Airways International desk I asked the attendant if I have enough points for a business class seat and he nods in the affirmative gets on the phone to ring someone to see if I am suitable for business class (Joke). They on the other end say “No, he is on a Royal Jordanian ticket and can’t be upgraded on points”. But the good news is I am in 31C an aisle exit row (I know someone who knows someone) so all is not lost. 31C has extended leg room like about 2 meters, is as close as you can get to business class with an economy ticket and if you don’t get caught you can use their toilet facility. The industry talks about seat pitch see: SeatGuru.com for aircraft seat maps, seat reviews, and a color-coded system to identify superior and substandard airline seats. The site also features information about in-flight amenities and airline specific information regarding Check-in, Baggage, Unaccompanied Minors and Traveling with Infants and Pets.
On Thai, the staff sport fashionable uniforms with a national touch and they are all smiling as we enter the cabin. Niyapun or Anne she says her English name is directs me to the seat and tells me she has been working with Thai International for six years. The crew stay in William Street Sydney for two and a half days. Anne says the Boeing 747 400 is not full which gives me hope of finding a ‘flat bed’; four vacant seats down the back but a reccy gives the answer which is an emphatic “No”. You have to be early out of the blocks to snare a four seater to yourself. “It’s better than first class” one attendant told me. Well no I don’t think so!
Clicking myself in for the eight hour flight BKK to SYD I acknowledge my window seat passenger John. He’s been to Pattaya for 10 days and says he’s a Sydney Westie. More good news is we have a vacant seat between us. John was at the airport nearly five hours before scheduled take off and two hours prior to the check in counter opening. The wait was worth an exit row seat and all he asked for was a window.
We are 30 minutes late departing but Suvarnabhumi has one of the runways closed for repairs. I understand there have been no hassles with movements and what’s more important we arrived on time.
The flight was uneventful cruising at 39,000 feet, head wind of 76 mph at a speed of 870 k’s an hour, outside temperate -39 centigrade (they give both metric and imperial measures) G and T was Gordon’s, tasty Thai meals for dinner, Stir fried Chicken or Pan-fried Snapper, breakfast; Potatoes and Leek Omelet or Pancake with Scrambled Eggs. To use the airlines catch cry the flight was a smooth as silk.
Thai flies daily to Bangkok from Sydney and Melbourne and five times a week from Perth and Brisbane They have a fleet of 90 aircraft two of which are new Airbus A 380’s
For more information on Thai International flights, schedules, bookings and services go to www.thaiairways.com.au
Written by : John Savage