Off we go to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam for our flight to Bangkok. Funnily enough, check-in and passport control went very easy, even though there had been time issues a few days earlier; meaning queues of people waiting far too long at passport control.
So in our case, everything had gone well. You now put your own bags in a machine where it is weighed, you scan your passport, the destination comes up, you confirm this; out pops the tag, put it through the handle and ‘Bob’s your uncle’ or so you hope. I'll come back to this later..!
Schiphol Airport is going through a major reconstruction at the moment. While remaining open you have to keep an open mind as to what it’s going to be because now it's just a mess. Though the sun was barely over the yardarm it was time for a nice cold glass of white wine but all signs pointed us in the wrong direction; obviously, they were fine before the renovations begun, but now rendered useless. At last there was wine at the end of the tunnel. Still an hour to go before boarding.
I am never interested in shopping at airports; you can normally find the same things elsewhere for the same price if not cheaper. So we slowly sip our small but o so expensive glass of wine, then decide to take a slow walk to the departure gate.
It looks like the flight must be almost full as the lounge is forcing the majority of passengers to stand but eventually the dulcet tones over the PA system ask ‘would people travelling with young children like to make their way onboard’. I always dread this moment and count how many screaming kids are going on, meanwhile keeping my fingers crossed that none are within screaming distance of us. Boarding took ages for some reason; it didn't seem very well organised. KLM ground staff were quite happy having a chat behind their desks and it seemed to us that their eye had definitely been taken off the ball until someone with four small gold stripes on her jacket got the show on the road.
So here we are, row 16 seat A and B. And oh the joy, doors close and the usual announcements are made, seat belts all the usual except time to destination nine long hours and forty minutes; what I'll be dead before that, the seats on this Boeing 777 are as comfortable as a park bench, numb bum in minutes.
The crew made an odd announcement, saying that drinks would only be served if you’re in the seat you were allocated, and also one drink at a time. Never heard this before. Cost-cutting measures?
I found myself wandering around the cabin aimlessly trying to avoid sitting down again for as long as I could, ended up at the galley at the back of the plane where the crew go down stairs to sleep and just stared out the window watching the white fluffy clouds slowly pass by. But what next? So decided to have a chat with the crew and having worked for KLM we had colleagues in common and this chat passed a good half an hour… only seven more to go. It was time to be fed again, but this time, whatever they gave us, defied description. Mine went back as it came minus the juice and water. “If it's not sealed don't eat it, if it is, think twice”.. A good rule of thumb.
After another arduous six hours we finally arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. Now, getting back to check-in in Amsterdam, which is as I said self service, which is fine except the KLM crew announce that if you are on a forwarding flight - as we are - your bags will be automatically forwarded. But how, we ask, nobody asked us at Schiphol, so how can our bags be forwarded? The crew didn't have an answer to this and advised us to pick up our bags for the flight to Phuket, and then check-in again. Cutting down on check-in staff doesn't always give the paying passengers the service they require.
So one and a half hours to kill in Bangkok airport, but to be quite honest it's not a bad airport. I prefer this to Singapore’s Changi Airport with that smelly humid carpet. So we wonder around aimlessly for a while and decide to head to the gate for our Bangkok Airways flight to Phuket.
Luckily, it's quiet and very few people. I stare out of the window at the comings and goings of incoming and departing aircraft and eventually ours arrives on the stand. We hope it's a quick turnaround. I was surprised how busy the incoming flight was. Being low season, I expected a lot less but it looked to be almost full for all of a sudden our lounge filled up so it was going to be the same heading to Phuket.
We were sat just at the beginning of the wing on this Airbus and we were hoping that the middle seat wasn't taken so I plonked in the window seat, my partner in the aisle seat. Unfortunately, a first time flyer armed with a camera and his iPad had the window seat; he was desperate to sit there, which became all the more obvious as we were taxiing from the terminal. He was taking photos and was filming everything that moved, started filming with his iPad the moment we got to the end of the runway ready for take-off and didn't stop until we only had minutes till we arrived in Phuket. Poor people who will be invited to watch his holiday films. The flight went quite smoothly. It felt just like a flying taxi ride but with food and drink thrown in which I flung back.
The plane taxied to within spitting distance of the terminal building of Phuket International Airport, but still we had to go by coach to the building. Finally heading to the band where our bags would be arriving. Waited and waited, the only thing on it was a bag with a tag for Sydney Australia and the date was three days previous, so some poor soul looked unlikely to ever get his bag back and we are beginning to feel the same as the minutes were ticking away; still nothing. Eventually, one lucky soul got his bag and fled through the nothing-to-declare exit and their holiday had begun. Ours took a good ten more minutes, but both arrived safe and sound.
Born in Chiswick West London, grew up in Royal Berkshire, currently living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands