Last week, I began telling you about my incredible trip to Southeast Asia. My long-haul flights were on British Airways but once in Thailand, we took two round-trip flights on two of the country’s most popular low-cost carriers. The first one was on Thai Airways’ brand new subsidiary called Thai Smile (officially launched July 7, 2012). After our marathon travel day (JFK-LHR-BKK), we had one more flight to take and that was from Bangkok to Chiang Rai. After we cleared Thai immigration, we walked to the departures and checked in with Thai Smile.
I was not surprised to see how friendly their agents were and one of them even taught me how to say thank you “Khob Khun, Krub” (for males) “Khob Khun, Ka” (for females) in Thai. The agents didn’t weigh any of the bags of all the people in our group and they let me bring my two bags on as carry-on. They also didn’t weigh any of them either, which some carriers now do.
Thai Smile uses new Airbus A320-200 aircrafts and by the end of this year, there will be a total of 17 in its fleet and a total of 20 by the end of 2015. And because Thai Smile is part of Thai Airways, which is a Star Alliance partner, you earn United frequent flier miles so don’t forget to put your number in. You’ll earn 415 miles and the flight takes an hour and 10 minutes.
Ask For An Exit Row
What’s also different from the U.S. and other countries is that they greet every passenger with a wai and a smile (Thailand is called the Land of Smiles). They allowed my wife and I to sit in the exit row for no extra charge (you just have to ask). If you don’t ask for a seat, they will put you in a full row even on wide open flights. Always ask if you can get an empty seat next to you or possibly a whole row (I was there during the off-season) FYI: To sit in the exit row, you need to speak English or Thai.
The planes have 172 standard seats with two classes of service. Like all A320s it’s in a 3×3 configuration. There are 16 “Plus Smile” seats, which is their version of first-class but they are just regular coach seats with more legroom and the center seat is blocked for more space. The pitch is 33 inches and seat width is 18 inches. There are 156 standard seats in economy and their pitch varies between 28 and 31 inches and the seat width is also 18 inches. See SeatGuru.com for the seating chart.
Polite and friendly flight attendants
Both my flights to and from Bangkok to Chiang Rai were on time. All of the flight attendants were young, attractive, polite, and efficient. One of them even waited for me to walk down the aisle before she came down with the food cart. That doesn’t happen in the U.S.
During boarding and taxi, they play Top 40 music. It doesn’t turn off until the plane is airborne. What I didn’t like is that they kept the sound on for the overhead movie, which is weird. Why not let passengers choose if they want to listen or not by using headphones.
Seat Belt Sign Goes Off Quickly
On both flights, the seatbelt sign went off within four minutes after takeoff, which is the fasted I’ve ever seen it come off. In America, they usually wait at least 20 minutes—sometimes 40.
They serve free food
Even on their short flights, they give each passenger a snack bag with bottled water, refreshing tissue, and a snack. On our outbound flight, which was a morning flight, it was a blueberry Danish. On the way back in the afternoon, it was a delicious ham and cheese Danish. Both were fresh but they do use a lot of plastic.
Overall, flying Thai Smile was a great experience and I look forward to flying with them again in the future.