Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spending Christmas and New Year in Paradise: Osaka to Bangkok


We were still undecided when we landed if we were just going to stay at the airport or try to see if we can head down to town provided immigration would let us through during our 9 hour layover. Malaysians are required a visa to enter Japan through a Japanese embassy abroad (which we didn't have time to do) but I've been successful in getting a landpass to go through immigration on transit in Tokyo once before.

Once we passed through transit security, we tried to find Thai's transit counter to obtain our onwards boarding passes. We were told by the information desks that Thai does not have any transit counter and we should just proceed to the boarding gate. Guess not many people transit through Osaka to Bangkok on this flight especially not from Frankfurt!

Thai 777
We now noticed that Thai had an earlier flight to Bangkok leaving in the next 3 hours. I'm not sure why I didn't see this option when I originally booked our flights but it would be great to get on this earlier flight instead of just hanging around Osaka. I hopped on to the airport's free Wifi and logged on to the United mobile app and surprisingly found 2 business seats on this earlier flight. After failing to call a United number through googletalk on the Wifi, I made a long distance call to the United call center through international roaming. The call took a quick five minutes and the agent did manage to put us on the earlier flight. After I ended the call I only then realized that I should have double check the changes and realized then that the agent had rebooked us in coach instead of business. After a longer fifteen minute phone call to a different United agent that resulted in several long waits in getting the redemption ticket re-fared and a refund of 60 cents in taxes, he did manage to change our seats to business. We weren't charged any change fees as a Premier Gold. and the phone calls ended up costing us $40 which was totally worth it considering we got to Bangkok way earlier than planned.

By now, we still did not have our boarding passes. We got into the Thai Royal Orchid Lounge by showing the flight confirmation on my iphone where I also inquired about getting our boarding passes and luggage changed to this earlier flight. The outsourced agent didn't seem too bothered on helping us and just told us that agents would be at the departure gate an hour or so before departure to help us. I was worried about whether our luggage would get on this flight at this point!

Every fifteen minutes or so, I would stepped out of the lounge to the nearby departure gate to check if there was an agent who could help us. After a couple of times, I noticed that there was now a different agent manning the lounge entrance and decided to ask again. She was way more helpful than the first agent and took down all details she needed before telling us she would get back to us. Sure enough, another ground agent looked for us in the lounge a nervous fifteen minutes later with our boarding passes before asking for our luggage tags and making sure they would get on the flight. She would come back a second time with new boarding passes since a seat open us allowing us to seat together instead of the initial seats. Now, that's awesome service!

The lounge itself wasn't all too exciting. It was small and narrow but at least it had a wide. There were your usual drinks and snacks on offered. I would not come to the airport early just for this lounge and was happy we had managed to change to an earlier flight.

The ~6 hour flight to Bangkok was thankfully less exciting than our short stay at Osaka airport. Brunch was served and I enjoyed the Thai green curry that made me look forward to more yummy Thai food that was to come in Bangkok. The business class seats were obviously not as private and comfortable as the Lufthansa bed-seat combo but I did get comfortable napping and watching a Thai movie (through subtitles of course!) on the way to Bangkok.

View from our seats

Salad and Appetizer

Thai Green Curry

Japanese Rice and Fish

Dessert and Coffee
Prior to arrival, a selection of ice cream was served and I guess it made sense as mid afternoon snack. We arrived on time but parked at a domestic gate which resulted in being bussed over to the international terminal. The good thing with the bus is they drop you off right by immigration where we quickly made it through thanks to the dedicated Asean passport holders counters (first time we used it). Our luggage did take a while longer than expected to come out and we did get a bit worried whether they did actually make the flight.

Thirty minutes later, we were checking in earlier than expected at Pullman Hotel G in Silom (where we had stayed before when it was still a Sofitel), that we chose for its excellent proximity to cheap eats and massages. Since the room and hotel was still pretty much the same when it was a Sofitel, I'm going to skip a more extensive review. We were upgraded to executive floor room with complimentary cocktail hour and breakfast. In addition, they provided a welcome gift of several pastries and drink vouchers that we used at the hotel bar later that night.

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