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Eva Air

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Eva Air has been popular with travellers between Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and London Heathrow for several years now. Their low fares and new planes attracted business away from the likes of Thai Airways with its aging fleet and increasing fares. My only complaint was the uncomfortable seats that have me bracing my feet on the seat legs in front of me and easing my behind off the cushion to relieve the aching that came not long after take off.

I flew Eva Air last month and was disappointed. The fare was cheap after discarding offers from airlines that I won't even consider. Something has changed and I think that it can be summed up as lack of customer care on board. These are the things that I noticed:

1. Never a word from the Captain on the outward journey to his passengers until I commented on that to the Cabin Director. I was told that it wasn't deemed necessary because I could find flight information on my personal interactive screen. On the return journey we heard nothing at all from him.

2. Most passengers know that a meal is served about two hours before landing and more than a few like to freshen up in the toilets before it arrives. I waited outside one for about fifteen minutes and then walked up the plane to wait outside another. Watching the first one, I saw a stewardess emerge, freshened up and in a change of uniform. Then another came out of the second toilet. I was third in the queue and returned to the first, only to be beaten to it by yet another stewardess. It was thirty minutes before I got into a toilet. Them first and passengers last!

3. The cabin crew were generally inattentive and unfriendly. They forgot drinks orders, poured tea when coffee was requested. Don't have the tea, it's awful. They asked which meal I wanted and served the alternative. There was no second run of the drinks trolley - just an offer of more tea and coffee. And boy you had to be quick to respond otherwise the pots were way up the aisle.

4. The planes are already showing their age or lack of care in that minor faults are not corrected in the cabin. On the return flight, my reading light was blinding the lady across the aisle and I had to lean out of my seat to catch the beam on my book.

5. On both flights there was rubbish still stuffed in my seat pocket.

I don't expect perfection and, individually, these are not major problems but, together, they suggest that Eva Air doesn't care about its passengers once they are on board. I'll be looking for alternatives the next time I make this journey.



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Flights to Bangkok, Thailand

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Bangkok, Thailand, is a popular flight destination for travellers from around the world. Suvarnabhumi Airport can rightly claim to be a major 'hub', as the linguistically fashionable might put it. But which airline would you choose? My flights to and from Bangkok usually have Heathrow, London at the other end and I have by no means sampled all of the flight offerings on that route. I always fly economy because the fares for the other classes are too high for just a few hours' extra comfort.

Here are my experiences so far in case they help someone choose:

1. Thai Airways, Thailand's national airline, seems to have lost its way. I used them so often that I built up useful points with Star Alliance but they never appear in the low fare range now. The aircraft are old and the legroom is not the best on offer. I hear that they still manage to fill the seats with passengers but I don't know anyone who uses them nowadays.

2. EVA offers newer aircraft than Thai and are much cheaper. This is one of the most popular airlines on this route. Each seat has its own dvd screen from which you can make your own choice of movie or watch the flight's progress on a map. The food is quite acceptable too. The legroom is better than on Thai. One drawback of EVA is that flights from Bangkok start from Taiwan and so even an early check in might fail to get you your favourite seat.

3. Qatar Airways' flights are also cheap. There's a short stop-over at Doha which some passengers might find welcome. It's a small airport but you can buy a coffee and snack or pick up some duty frees. The aircraft are, like EVA's, quite new and passenger have individual dvd screens.The food is acceptable but Arabic food is not my favourite and airlines do like to offer versions of their national cuisine, don't they?

4. Emirates has been suggested to me for some time as an excellent airline and, having now used them, I can agree. The fares are low, the food, though Arabic, is good and the cutlery is metal (in economy!). Legroom is good. The aircraft are newer than those of the other fleets and they look it. There's a stop-over in Dubai, a new and comfortable airport.

The cabin crew on all of these flights are satisfactory but not perfect. There seems to be not quite enough of them on a full flight and service can be slow.

Good luck with your own flights!

Suvarnabhumi Airport Scams

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Two organised scams are being practised at Thailand's main airport near to Bangkok.

One involves arresting foreign passengers on suspicion of stealing from the duty free shop. They are threatened with imprisonment, kept in a nearby hotel and forced to pay a huge 'fine' for their release.

The second scam is this. Arriving passengers, couples and groups presumably, leaving their planes are advised to put their duty free purchases in one bag. After the customs check, they are stopped and their bags opened. They are told that they have too much in duty free goods. The goods are confiscated and they are fined.

This is an evil scam aimed at vulnerable tourists and transit passengers who have no idea about the law in Thailand and no idea where to seek help. It's a disgrace that it has taken foreign news reporters to expose this and force a response from the government. Don't be reassured, by the way, that this will be stopped any time soon.

My advice is that travellers should stay out of the airport shops. If you are bringing in duty free goods from another country, make sure that you are not over the limit and keep your purchases separate from those of other people, even your companion's.

Here's some more information:

BBC

Andrew Drummond
Chay-Ka-Restaurant.jpg
Chay Ka is a new restaurant and entertainment complex just 2 kilometres from Bangkok's  Suvarnabhumi International Airport. It's right next door to Valentine Resort and just the place for an evening out before or after your flight.

Chay Ka is a typical upmarket food and entertainment spot. The Thai food menu suits the Western palate as well as Thai and there's live music as the evening progresses.

A thoughtful feature for smokers is the air conditioned smoking room. Instead of standing outside, you just leave your table, enjoy your smoke in a private room and return.

Chay Ka is where King Kaew Road meets On Noot Road. As you leave the airport, keep left and follow the King Kaew signs. To the left you will see upturned boat hulls around the building, distinguishing it from surrounding buildings.
Valentine Resort, situated close to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, this is a very convenient place to stay for those with an early departing flight or who are too tired to travel on after landing. Rooms are simple and basic but clean and include air conditioning, television and a fridge.

The standard room rate is THB900 and you might be able to negotiate this down to around THB600. Breakfast is basic and at extra cost. Next to the building, in the parking area, is a Thai restaurant for breakfast, a minimart and an ATM.

For an evening meal, turn right from Valentine and walk about 100 metres or so to enjoy a Thai evening with live music at the huge Chay Ka restaurant.

There is no website at present. You will find the resort where King Kaew Road meets On Noot Road 2 kilometres from the airport exit. The simplest way to find it is by leaving the airport keeping left and following King Kaew Road signs.

The 'Valentine' sign is not easily seen so look for three buildings with the word 'Mansion' in the names. Valentine Resort is in the middle building named 'PA Mansion'.

Contact details: 02 175 1686/1687        081 458 7232

For an English speaker, call Peter 081 485 1949

The address is: 51/18 m.7 King Kaew Road, Bangplee, Samutprakan, Bangkok.
Korat-Airport.jpg

You will see the Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) Airport mentioned on hotel brochures, websites and road signs. However, it was closed to scheduled flights in 2004!

From time to time, their are rumours that it will open again but it seems unlikely. The travelling time from Bangkok to Korat is between 3 and 4 hours and that is probably quicker than the time, door to door, by air. Journeys to more distant places, such as Chiang Mai, would be quicker but the volume of traffic may be too low to make such an operation viable. In any case, you will see more of real Thailand from the road!

Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

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Suvarnabhumi-Airport-1.jpg Suvarnhabhumi International Airport airport is to the east of Bangkok close to Highway 9, the Eastern Bypass. Road communication is good but the overhead rain link is incomplete and few long distance coaches serve it at present.

If you want to take a cab, ignore the taxi touts and head for the taxi-meter rank outside. Taxis are cheap but make sure that the meter is turned on. A ride into town should cost around THB250.

The inside appearance of the terminal building is stunning at first site but the greyness and long walks soon take over from the initial impression. Let's face it, this airport is not everyone's cup of tea. There have been complaints about the shortage services and the high prices in the rather few restaurants. However, it functions well and there is no shortage of helpful staff.

Use this official Airports of Thailand website for more information about this and other Thai airports: 

                    http://www2.airportthai.co.th/airportnew/sun/index.asp


The English version charmingly and typically refuses to translate itself fully but I guess they'll get there in the end.

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