First Time in First

Hello friends! Welcome to Miles Ahead.

Before I even get started, may I take a moment to thank Ben @onemileatatime for building a truly awesome blog. Not long after stumbling across it, I was well up to speed on ‘the game’. So, once again, cheers Ben!

All right, so Easter of 2014 was our first trip funded largely by points & miles. One discovery I made soon after beginning to collect points was that collecting points is the easy part. Maximising redemptions is where the expertise comes in. And a lot of patience.

We had a friend doing Peace Corps in NW Thailand so we were fairly set on the location. And we were sticking to the ‘school holidays’, so time was also fixed. All of which requires patience!

We had over 200k Chase UR points that we wanted to burn before the United devaluation kicked in. One way First Class saver awards have since doubled, from 80,000 MileagePlan miles to 115,000. Thai Airways was an obvious choice, since they fly nonstop to Bangkok from many major European airports. Availability was plentiful, but mostly on TG’s A340. We weren’t interested in that. We had our hearts set on either an A380 (the new BIG thing) or a 747 (before it’s too late). Sitting in the nose of a 747 remains one of my biggest ‘geek’ items on the bucket list. With the curvature of the nose, passengers in the front rows by the window can look at a slant and see the runway up ahead. What could be more exciting!?

In any case, between both planes, here is Thai’s route network to Europe:

TG A380 & 747 routemap

We held out and eventually scored 2 seats in F on TG’s A380 flights from Frankfurt to Bangkok. We were sitting in 1F and 1K:

Thai_Airways_Airbus_A380_new 2 Thai_Airways_Airbus_A380_new

For no extra miles, we could have added a segment from Scotland to FRA, but that leg alone raised taxes from ~$25 each to over $300 each.

See here a direct flight from continental Europe:

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Versus a flight originating in the UK:

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Here is the fare breakdown, where you can see a hefty charge for the UK Air Passenger Duty:

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Instead, we redeemed 4,500 Avios each with minimal taxes and caught up with some friends in London en route. Problem solved.

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View from DoubleTree, London Heathrow

We stayed at the DoubleTree, London Heathrow and flew out to Frankfurt early the next morning.

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Senator Lounge, Frankfurt
Senator Lounge Showers
Senator Lounge Showers

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A Thai Airways employee came to the lounge to accompany us to the gate. We climbed up the stairs and got a great view of our ride:

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Upon boarding we were presented with our awesome Rimowa amenity kits 🙂 Used them as a toiletries bag ever since. Sturdy, a good size and weigh practically nothing.

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I was seated in 1K (window) with my wife in 1F. The First Class cabin is upstairs, at the front.

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As we were taxxing, we passed a bus full of people (ground staff) who couldn’t resist a few photos of an A380 up close!

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Lufty 747 in for servicing

After changing into our pyjamas, the meal service began promtly with a delicious starter,

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And ended about 7 courses later…

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Then we took some time to explore the A380’s spacious cabin.

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Bathroom
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Bathroom

The bathroom is located at the front of the cabin to the left of the staircase, and a seating area fills the space to the right.

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First Class Cabin

The beds were comfortable and there is are huge storage bins in the ‘window sill’ so you can keep the area fairly tidy.

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As we crossed through central Asia, I realised that I had never before wanted a flight to keep on going for another 10 hours! Each mile closer to Bangkok seemed bitter sweet. As we drew closer, breakfast was served. We had elected, given our excitement at travelling First Class for the first (real) time, not to sleep a single wink on the journey. So far we were holding up ok but it was only 6am BKK time. Dangerous.

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View from 1K
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View on landing in Bangkok

After deplaning, a stewardess was ready to escort the First passengers by buggy to immigration. It saved us a 25 minute walk and was a TON of fun!

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Original motion blur – #nofilter

We left Bangkok quickly and made the journey to Kanchanaburi with our friend. The scenery is, truly, epic.

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All the staying up enjoying the flight took it’s toll – 16 hours of toll, but was worth every minute!

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Thoughts on Landing

We had a fantastic experience. The cabin crew were awesome and seemed to enjoy our enthusiasm at every facet of the flight. The plane was great, as was the food and I would definitely travel TG again. Our only regret was the direction of travel. As soon as space opened up on this flight we jumped on it, but ideally we would have travelled with TG from Bangkok. As you can easily read online, the main perk of TG First Class is their hour-long massage at the Spa in their First Class lounge. We used our return journey to fulfill an AA PLT challange, so we’ll save the massage for next time!

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