Friday, April 16, 2010

Flight to Bangkok

My flight left from Gate 109 in Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX. Well, sort of. It seems that Gate 109 is a virtual gate. At Gate 109 the passengers are loaded into a bus-like vehicle and driven out on the field for what seems like halfway to the final destination. For those of you familiar with LAX, you know that it has a southern and northern set of runways with the passenger terminals in the middle in a double row with TBIT at the western end joining the two rows of terminals. Gate 109 is at the southern end of TBIT. Our bus took us west along the southern service roads until it passed all the maintenance hangers west of TBIT. It then turned north past the west end of the hangers and went along a service road north of the northern set of runways to a remote terminal. We then walked up three ramps to a level that had a hall that finally led to our aircraft. I have probably taken planes from LAX several hundred times in my life and have never had such a convoluted boarding exercise.

Once we reached our seats things were pretty normal. We were about 20 minutes late taking off, which resulted in our being 20 minutes late to land in Bangkok, such is the precision of aircraft routing these days.

There was a man in the window seat next to me and after a while we fell to talking. There were three meals served while we were in flight and these were the principal times we conversed. In the two eight hour periods in between the meals we slept, or I think in that later one just rested. He had an interesting story. While he lived in Los Angeles, I detected a foreign accent to his speech and mentioned it to find out where he came from. It turns out that he was originally Polish and left Poland just two weeks before the government imposed martial law to prevent people from leaving in 1981. He felt that those two weeks had made all the difference in his life. He mentioned a friend who had left ahead of his wife and children; they had not made it out in time and it was four years before he saw them again. We discussed the recent tragic air crash in Poland, and he felt (as I do) that the President had insisted the pilot try to land in spite of the tower's insistence that he divert to another field. He said that the President had done that at least once in the past, but in that instance, the pilot had refused. His action was probably career limiting, but at least not life limiting.

When we landed, we parted ways, he to go to Puket with a friend for two weeks.

I was very happy with my choice of Thai Airlines for the flight to Bangkok. The business class seats recline almost flat ( they are not as flat as Singapore Air), so you can have a reasonable chance to sleep, and the meals are not bad. The reason I took it was that it is the only non-stop from LA to Bangkok, and that makes all the difference. You don't have to get off the plane in Tokyo to either change planes, or sit in a transit area while the plane is being serviced. In the case of Singapore, there is a non-stop which is more expensive than the one stop, but that's a non-stop to Singapore, where you have to go and then change planes to Bangkok.

Well the plane landed, my baggage was there and I got to my hotel, just shortly later than the 8:00 I had predicted, so the trip was starting off pretty well.
I had intended to add my first day in Bangkok, but this was pretty long, so that comes next, with pictures.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you made it safely to your destination. Looking forward to seeing some pictures.