| | Thailand 2014: The worst trip of our lives
We have been travelling to Thailand for almost the best part of 40 years. In every one of the previous trips our holidays went like clockwork due to careful planning. Apart from the odd plane or two departing/arriving late there was nothing that we could look back on as being disastrous.
How different things turned out during our holiday to the Kingdom in 2014. Once again we planned everything carefully, booking return business class airfares on Thai Airways, and using Agoda to book some swish 5* star hotels. In addition to that we had bought a Luxury Escapes voucher for a 10 night stay with full board at The Sands Kathanthani Resort at Khao Lak, about an hours’ drive north of Phuket Airport.
I should have realised that this holiday was going to be like no other to Thailand when we arrived at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport a few hours before the Thai Airways departure to Bangkok at 3.25 pm.
The Thai Airways counter was in darkness with a notice advising that the flight had been cancelled. I immediately rang Thai Airways in Sydney and after an interminable wait I finally got to speak to a human voice.
I asked why we hadn’t been contacted either by phone, mobile phone, or email to advise us of the cancellation. I was offered no reasons why it was cancelled, with the customer relations person informing me that we were booked on the 1 am flight out of Melbourne and she wished us a pleasant journey.
We then had the unpleasant task of hanging around the airport for nearly 8 hours until Thai decided to open their check in counters. I went up to the business class check in and presented our passports and tickets. After a minute or so there was a look of consternation on the clerk’s face and she said “I won’t be a moment, I’ll get my manager”.
A few minutes later a rotund man arrived and started peering into the computer and rubbing his chin whilst doing so. He then said “we have a problem because your flight was cancelled this business class on this flight is over booked so we will have to downgrade you to economy”.
“Like hell you will “, I yelled with a lot of people at the nearby economy check in looking around in astonishment at my outburst.
“Thai cancelled our flight, not us. They didn’t even have the courtesy to inform us of the cancellation. We have been hanging around this poxy airport for eight hours and now you tell me that because of the cancellation by Thai Airways we are going to be downgraded”.
“You will get a refund for the difference between the fare categories”, he said looking at me hopefully.
“I don’t want a refund, I want my business class tickets and I’m not leaving this f***ing counter until I get them”.
By then a lot of people were gawking at us and the manager said he was going to get someone else.
After a wait of 10 minutes he returned with another male, a Thai, who looked into the computer and then said “no problem, these people will be boarded in business class. You will have to bump someone else and I’ll leave it up to you”, he said addressing the other manager.
I thanked this manager for his help and a few minutes later we entered immigration and customs and made our way the Air New Zealand lounge that Thai uses for its business class travellers.
I’ve been in the Air NZ lounge on many occasions and I rate it as the best lounge at the Tullamarine Airport. However, on the other occasions we have always been on either a morning or mid afternoon flight either to NZ or Thailand and the lounge had always been well stocked with food and drink.
On this occasion it became apparent that the staff was anxious to close the lounge for the night, with hardly any hot food apart from some revolting looking pasta and the cold foods consisted of tired and nearly depleted bowls of salad.
There was no chardonnay, or champagne so I had a beer which was barely cold and the Shopper Girl had a gin and lemonade as there was no tonic water.
After about an hour we were called to board and I thought “you beauty, let’s get out of this bloody place”.
The flight left on time, we were presented with flutes of champagne before take-off and shortly afterwards we were given the menus for the main meals before the inevitable lights out.
When the flight attendant came around both my wife’s selection for entree and main courses were not available. So the girl settled for some Thai chicken curry whilst your correspondent who by then was in the foulest of moods told the flight attendant that I didn’t want anything as it might be a great inconvenience to Thai Airways.
A few moments later the purser came down to talk to me and apologised for the earlier flight cancellation, the confrontation at the business check in counter which he had obviously been informed of and for reduced options on the menu. He tried to persuade me to have something to eat, but I just asked him for a Heineken beer. He said “I’m sorry Mr Emdee we only have Singha on this flight”. I told him “I don’t drink that muck”, can I have a chardonnay. He looked very uncomfortable and said “we have NZ Sauvignon Blanc as our white wine on this flight”.
I told him “no thanks, I’ll just try and get some sleep, will that be OK with you”. He looked at me despairingly and once again said “I apologise to you on behalf of Thai Airways for everything that has happened to you and your wife today”.
I pushed the back of my seat into full recline and thought “well, Emdee, you only have another eight-and-a-half hours on this infuriating metal tube and then you can get out and start enjoying your holiday.
If I had only known what lay before us I would have gladly stayed in Melbourne for the duration, for what was about to unfold was going to make this journey the worst holiday of our lifetimes and become a salient lesson for any future holidays.
To be continued . . .
Last edited by Emdee; 25th January 2015 at 11:47 PM.