Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Winter in China: Bangkok to Beijing on TG

Our flight from Penang parked at a domestic gate so we had to be bused to the international terminal. It took an annoying 15 minutes for the bus ride and the walk through security rescreening and the transit area before we were in the Thai Royal Spa lounge for our 30 minute neck and shoulder massage. My back was killing me the entire week and the massage did wonders even though it was cut short by about 5 minutes so we would make our flight to Beijing. We only had an hour plus layover in Beijing.

As we made our way to the departure gate which was one of the last ones in C-gate, I tried to set the expectation to Lydia that the seats and IFE were not going to be that good since we were probably going to be on the old 744 especially since we’ve tried the F cabin before previously. I caught a glimpse of our plane from a far and noticed the 2 engines on each wing so we probably didn’t get “TGed” and our flight was still going to be a 744. I was pleasantly surprised that when we reached the gate to see that yes the plane did have 2 engines on each wing but it didn’t have the 744 upper deck hump. We got “TGed” to an Airbus 346 which had better seats and IFE in all cabins. The only downside was that I didn’t bother double checking our seats when we checked in at Penang assuming we had our pre-booked upper deck seats. We ended up with middle seats and would have preferred window seats for the view.

Our ride to Beijing
Business class was pretty much full on this flight with only a couple of empty seats. Pillows, blankets, headphones, menus and amenity kit were waiting for us in the seats when we got to our seats. 

Drinks Menu

Lunch Menu
The service started on the ground with pre-departure drinks where I enjoyed a refreshing glass of champagne and ice-tea. Soon after take-off, hot towels were first distributed followed by a drink and nut service where I got some more champange. Lunch was offered on this flight. I went with the fried rice and lemon chicken where as Lydia went with the sweet & sour shrimp. The food was just mediocre at best. Throughout lunch and the rest of the flight, the flight attendants constantly came around topping up drinks. 

I spent the rest of the flight watching two Thai movies (with English subtitles) since it wasn't every day I had access to Thai movies. The captain came on the PA just as I was finishing the 2nd movie and soon after we started our descent into a smoggy Beijing. I switched over to an empty window seat for landing.

We noticed that there were some ground staff escorting the first class passengers but they were not provided any buggy service. We actually ended beating them to immigration where there were no lines as it looked like we were the only international flight arriving at that time. We were done with immigration and collected our bags in just under 20 minutes. 

We were about to head out to grab a cab where we noticed one of our bags was slightly torn in the front of the bag. We headed to the baggage counter where a Air China staff looked at the bag and offered us a brand new bag as a replacement. The bag that was offered was a cheap one (not that ours was a super expensive one) and we took it. In hindsight, we should have just tried to negotiated for cash. Both of us were not thinking straight after one too many drinks and just wanted to get to the hotel at this point.

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