• Saturday, October 21, 2006

    Return to Bangkok and Dodgy Airlines

    [www.gretra.com]

    Well, after my month-long spell in the UK I have returned to Bangkok. Oddly enough it feels nice to be back. I mean of course it's great being with my wife and daugther again but I actually feel happy to have 'returned' to Bangkok for a change. Normally I return here feeling wretched for a few days. Maybe I've just had a lucky first two days.

    The military coup seems to have rapidly become a thing of the past. As far as I can tell the military presence has gone from the streets and normality has been returned. Or as normal as can be with a militarily appointed ex-general at the helm of the good-ship Thailand. Still no sign of old tax-dodger Taksin on these shores yet. I just hope he's forced to do a f###ing visa run to France every few months from the UK.

    I flew back with Etihad. This was my first trip with Etihad (not sure if I mentioned this before). Normally I have loyalty to another airline that I consider to be the best, and no that isn't Thai Airways, but decided to try the airline that all have been raving about. Not too impressed to be honest. Reasons:

    • Customer service from the Bangkok office is shit - rude and incompetent staff.
    • When I got to the UK I discovered they had nicely taken for my flight TWICE!
    • Staff in UAE offices are rude and made no attempt to help me recover the money thay had liberated from my card;
    • Tried to change the return flight day and was told the flight was packed - it wasn't. In fact it was more like half capacity.
    • Entertainment system was great, but only when it worked.
    • Male staff and half of the female staff were rude and un-helpful on the return leg.
    • Despite having pre-booked vegetarian meals for all legs of the trip they still managed to give me regular on one leg.
    • Food is just not up to scratch and is limited in choice and quantity.

    On the good side the staff in their London office were great and a girl there managed to get my money returned very quick and apologised, which no one in either Bangkok or the UAE bothered to do. The seat back TVs are large and there is a great system but, as mentioned above, it only seemed to work when it felt like it. The ground staff in the UK weren't much to write home about either, in terms of customer service.

    Despite ther reputation for being a cheap airline they aren't always the cheapest and some of their flights come out quite high. If they've got a good deal on offer take it but don't pay over the odds for this lot. And don't trust their online booking system, it can be expensive.

    The daugther is on half-term break next week so I have a week of child entertainment to look forward to. thinking of maybe heading up country for a few days to get some air. Though I'm not sure that rural Thailand has much to offer a three year old so it could end up being a beach.

    There is serious talk now of us returning to the UK or settling in another country. Looks like next year could see us pulling up the roots and moving off these sandy shores in search of seomwhere to live. We, make that I, have been looking at various options, including France, Laos, Cambodia and even Vietnam but I would say the highest probability would be a move back to the UK. I've got mixed feelings about all this. It needs some serious thought. The romantic, idyllic option would be any of the above mentioned countries but the head says the UK - more money, good education and easy for all of us to live there with proper status (resident status).

    Anyway, a lot to think about so I'm going to sit outside with a beer and listen to frogs/toads and crickets make a noise.

    Return to Bangkok and Dodgy Airlines

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