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Long Thai Airways trip turns out to be delightful |

Long Thai Airways trip turns out to be delightful

kamalaya4.jpgThailand’s Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary — and all of Asia — are within comfortable reach, thanks to several consumer-centric Asian airlines.   I missed the heyday of flying in the 1960s, when it was a glamorous proposition that one dressed for, a time when passengers were cosseted.

But having flown Thai Airways from Los Angeles to Bangkok, I got a glimpse of those glory days — in economy, no less.

I used a travel agent because I didn’t want to deal with the complexities of booking this international trip. I told her cost was my main concern, and she found the best deal (at that time, anyway) on Thai Airways.

I flew United Airlines from Cleveland to Los Angeles, had a seven-hour layover, then flew nonstop to Bangkok. From there, I took Bangkok Airways to the island of Koh Samui. All in all, the trip took 36 hours.

What really gave me pause was the 18-hour leg over the Pacific Ocean. I feared the discomfort and claustrophobia of spending that many hours in an airline seat in coach.

As soon as I walked onto the Thai Airways plane, I relaxed.

First, there was the decor — the seats were classic Thai shades of mango, lilac and orchid. The “hostesses,” as they are still called on this airline, were dressed in a variety of traditional sherbet-hued gowns.

Settling into my roomy seat — with a couple of feet between me and the seat in front of me — was a relief. The seat didn’t just tilt back, it cupped under you for a more comfortable position for sleeping.

I had a window seat, which meant there was only one other passenger between me and the aisle.

We were handed menus of what we were to be served — two full dinners and breakfast, with tea and water and snack cakes in between. I was stunned.

The food — salmon, Thai noodles, steamed vegetables, a mushroom crepe for breakfast — was charmingly presented on white and red dinnerware, with real flatware. Hot and chilled towels were handed out every few hours, and before and after meals.

I settled in with the latest Sue Grafton novel, and my iPad, on which I’d loaded two movies. I watched one movie, slept for eight hours, started and finished the book, and the flight was over.

This is what flying should be, I thought — and what it isn’t anymore on U.S. airlines, except for first-class passengers.

And frankly, I had more legroom in economy here than I’ve had in United’s domestic first class.

I arrived in Bangkok and had a four-hour wait before my Bangkok Airways plane would leave for Koh Samui. When I checked in, I was invited to their lounge, as all passengers are who have a wait of a few hours.

There, we were served tea and coffee, finger sandwiches, a variety of fruit and desserts — and given access to Wi-Fi. Comfy upholstered chairs and ottomans allowed you to stretch your legs.

Bangkok Airways is a rung below Thai Airways when it comes to the plane’s interior decor, but even on its one-hour flight, we were served lunch. Amazing.

I once thought my travel world was limited to Europe, just because that was as long a flight as I could endure. And one extremely uncomfortable eight-hour flight to Milan on a U.S. airline made me rethink even that.

Now, I’ve learned from other travelers that some Asian airlines — Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines, among them — are known for a level of excellence and comfort that Americans no longer experience on domestic flights.

Which means that for me, Bali now is a possibility.

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off
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