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Flying in Asia is fun if only for the ability to try out a new airline or two. Well, we just hopped on a few new airlines (new to us) this week in SE Asia, and the first one we will talk about is Thai Airways.
The airline has a lot to brag about right now, after recently taking the delivery of new A380s, but our flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok didn't call for a superjumbo. Even though we weren't on the A380, the Boeing 777 on our route wasn't anything to sniff at.
Airline News / LCCs / LCC / Thai Smile / Thai Airways / BKK / Bangkok Travel / CNX / Chang Mai Travel / HKT / Phuket Travel / → All Tags
Back in March we were excited to talk about the news of a new budget airline coming to Thailand. Our excitement was then justified as Thai Smile took to the skies in August. Now, the little Thai LCC has already overhauled its service model.
Going from a modern offering of mostly economy with a few EconomyPlus-type seats flying domestic routes and key regional international routes, the airline has now moved to a full-service airline similar to its parent company, Thai Airways. The reason for the change? Thai Smile cites "poor reception" from flyers for the Thai Smile layout.
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If you're anything like us, you probably think that the in-flight duty-free shopping catalog can eat up a good chunk of time on long-haul international flights and provide a few giggles or unique gift ideas. This week, we'll dive into the pages of some favorite airline shopping magazines and highlight our picks for the just-can't-live-without items.
Next time your are on an international flight, don't forget about the littlest frequent flyers on your souvenir list. Most duty-free trollies have enough plush animals and plane toys to stock a Toys-R-Us. Long live the days when children were happy with with a set of plastic wings and a visit to the cockpit. Here's some of our favorite options:
Last time we spoke about Thai Airways' newest little budget carrier, THAI Smile, it was little more than a twinkle in their eye. Well, the time has come to welcome these new airplanes to the skies with, well, a smile.
The LCC has been doing it's thing since the beginning of July, flying between Bangkok and Macau. Thai Smile Airbus A320s take off and land twice daily so there are a few options if you are traveling between the cities. A typical roundtrip flight will put you back around $224, with the option for Smile Plus, business class, at around $425.
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We have a little secret, and it involved airplanes, seafood, blue waters and, if you've got 'em, binoculars. It's the secret to what is probably the best place to plane spot on the exotic Indonesia island of Bali: the south seafood warungs of Jimbaran Bay.
Finding it was a total fluke. We weren't even trying to plane spot, we swear! We were hungry. We heard the Jimbaran seafood warungs (super casual, mostly outdoor cafes) were good. We heard the ones on the southern end of the big beach were great. Now what makes them excellent: a perfect viewing angle for watching all variety of airplanes take off from Bali-Denpasar Airport's runway that juts out in the ocean.
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Alright, Asia is now the unofficial mecca for new airlines. Not only is the region responsible for the majority of new tails showing up in airports around the world, but the continent is home to a significant number of budget carriers. It's all about the new, new, new; new carriers mean new reasons to hop on an airplane with the "new plane smell," heading off to new destinations.
Starting in July, Thailand will be the battleground for LCCs with the incarnation of THAI Smile. The cheerily named airline is a subsidiary of the national premium carrier, Thai Airways and both plan to mix up the aviation industry both domestically and, eventually, international short-haul. We talked about it last year, but now we have lots more info on the baby airline.
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It seems that a good number of airlines have decided to use this brand-spanking new year to freshen up their cabins and revamp service offerings. With a few recent announcements from various global carriers such as Cathay Pacific, Brussels Airlines and Virgin Australia, 2012 will be the year to make air travel look snappy and smell fresh...again. Here's who's doing what:
As the second largest German air carrier and a member of Oneworld, Air Berlin will be upgrading the entire long-haul fleet of Airbus 330s. New business class seats that recline to just about flat and thinner, more user friendly economy seats will be aboard their planes. The new interiors will be ready for the summer travel season.
· British Airways:
With all our hoopla from recent BA flights, it seems that the airline is not only upgrading service. Starting at the front of the plane a few years ago, overhauls have finally made it to World Traveler Plus and World Traveler. That's premium economy and economy for the uninitiated.
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In our Prime Plane Spotting series, we've discovered quite a slew of odd places to get right up near the big jets; there've been coffee shops, a pool, Venetian water taxis and even an IKEA, but never before have we found a golf course.
At Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport, an entire 18-hole, par 72 golf course sits between the two runways. It's called Kantarat. Seeing it is believing it, and even better is crossing from hole to hole in a golf cart, waiting for a red light to change so you can drive across the tarmac for your next shot.
Weíre not sure exactly what it is, but thereís definitely something in the water coolers at major airlines across the globe. It seems that nobody is happy with just having one airline, as it's been a trend to launch low-cost carrier versions of their existing brands. Air Canada and Japan Airlines are just a couple of the ones cooking up some new possibilities, but the latest carrier looking to spread its branding is Thai Airways.
The airline board has already approved the move forward, but things wonít exactly be totally low cost for everyone. The new airline is like more of a regional option, for places where their bigger jets really canít do their thing or at least canít pack the back full of paying passengers. Unfortunately that probably means no really cheap from the USA to Asia.
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A few weeks ago we saw the first ever entrance of an LCC into a major airline alliance with Air Berlin joined Oneworld, and now Asia is getting an entirely new carrier. Launching a new airline might seem kind of reckless given the punishing business environment, but we long ago learned that LCCs can thrive in bad economic times even while everyone else is taking a beating.
Thai Airways is revamping their in-flight menu, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the food. The airline is actually adding carbon footprint information to their menus, so that travelers will know exactly what comes with that Chicken Mussaman Curry. Thereís nothing like a side of guilt to go along with the vegetables.
The airline is participating in the Carbon Footprint Technical Cooperation Project for Thai Products. Here, Thai companies are sharing carbon footprint information in hopes of lowering energy usage while letting the world know that they mean business when it comes to green goods. Just so you're aware, if you decide to go with the Green Curry with steamed Thai Hom Mali Rice on your next flight it will set you back 13.9 kg CO2 e per 250g serving.
When we fly weíre just happy that we still have flight attendants, and if they toss us a drink and a bag of pretzels thatís all the better. However, there are some airlines that take their flight attendants pretty seriously. Thai Airways isnít exactly creating reality show stars with their staff, but they are looking to ensure that they have the youngest flight attendants in the industry. They are doing this by asking older workers to take an early retirement.
Flight attendants over age 45 are being offered voluntary retirement packages. Technically leaving is just an option, but Thai Airways is making offers that workers canít refuse. Crewmembers that have worked up in the sky for at least 15 years and agree to leave are being offered payments of up to 30 times their monthly salary. Itís obviously a pretty difficult decision not to take the airline up on the deal that theyíve named a mutual separation plan.