Thai Airways in India, Bangkok Airways in Thailand, Airport Surprises and Wheelchair Angels
I arrive at Delhi Indira Ghandi airport three hours before boarding to find a very long line. I stand for a moment, eyes closed, the last person in the line, thinking, I'll just go and get a tea, sit for a while and come back later, when I hear a voice, "Madam, your wheelchair is coming." I open my eyes to a bright young man, saying, "You want a wheelchair, right?" I pause then I hear myself saying, "Yes." A journey of intelligence, kind attention begins as I am whisked to first class, through check-in and taken in an elevator to the food court and the Pure Veg South Indian restaurant by the washroom. I have all I need after he delivers my order to my table, so I ask him to come back in an hour. When he returns with a cheery hello he whells me down on the elevator, alongside the walkways to the lounge, settles me then returns to help me board the plane, and it is a wild fun ride with good conversation down the ramp and into the plane where he assists me with my backpack right to my seat. The four hour flight is restful and I walk off the plane, not even realizing they may have sent someone, but I am fine and enjoy walking and picking up my 17kg suitcase, when I am in the washroom, I look at myself and think, yes, I am not myself, eyes are dark, I look dehydrated as a desert, hair definitely days of Delhi dust. I say farewell to the young man who says, "I am very intelligent. I am going far. I am so happy to have met you." So amazed by this first wheelchair adventure, I did not even think to take photos.
The reason I was not myself or rested was because returning from an intense five day program with my teacher, hardly any sleep, up by 2 am, in a taxi by 5 am for often a nearly 1 hour journey, sitting for hours and having to drink less, not back at home after being with friends, and only a few hours to rest till it was up at 2 am all over again. Delhi was cold all night and the the early morning, the location and drives were dusty, no time to wash my hair, so by the end of the 5 days, yes, I was fatigued, dehydrated, dark circles under my eyes, but also totally together, feeling strong and immensely happy from the time with my teacher and old friends, dressed well and ready to fly in my burgundy silk pants and tunic and earth red beautiful Indian coat and gold mesh shoes. Surprise. I accepted grace.
Adventures were not over yet as the next morning, after a few hours at a hotel, I arrived 6 am for a Bangkok Airways flight to Chiang Mai, earlier than needed, as I wanted to post some of my things to Chiang Mai as postage is inexpensive in comparison to overweight charges. As it was the airline let me travel with 6 extra kilos without charge. After the post office I went to the basement for a vegetarian meal and coconut. When I looked at my ticket, I still had 2 hours so I had a Reflexology. When I went to check in, the lady said, this is yesterday's ticket. Somehow the Thai Airways ticket was in my passport, not the Bangkok ones. I looked at the time and it was nearly 15 minutes past boarding, so I ran, backpack bouncing to the gate and through customs only to find the flight had gone. Then I walked at high speed all the way back and then upstairs to the airline office to book another ticket, price and exchange rate up to around $ 40.00 for a flight in 2 1/2 hours. Relief. Yes, I was huffing and puffing and my eyes were watering. I told him I had run there. Luckily my bags had been taken off. After all arrangements made, ticket paid for and printed, he gave them to me and said, "Go to desk F1 when you check in, and don't miss this flight." So I go downstairs and wait my turn and check in and then the lady says sweetly, "Please sit down, your wheelchair will be here soon." Now I really am amazed and I just go with it. If the master of the universe wants to give me wheelchair experiences, I am going to accept.
This airport angel is another bright young cheery, and sweetly dominating, young man, with excellent English, who takes me through security in a flash, always going to the front of the line, to the lounge where I am delighted to see the traditional vegetarian rice and bean snacks, popcorn and drinks.
Boarding once again becomes an amazing adventure with elevators and hallways and then on the ground level. No bus for us, a special truck drives up and lets down a lift that brings us up so we can enter into a truck, and the truck drives a good long while to the wrong side of the airplane where we can see the outline of another door, and once the lift merges with the door we are unloaded into the plane before other passengers arrive. I am so impressed by the kindness and service, I feel I have been on a grand airline tour of excellence. I had a thought, "Do they like my reviews so much, I now have VIP status?"
Another wonderful young assistant meets me and I surrender happily to the wheelchair, hallways and elevators until we reach arrivals where he takes care of my bag, wheels me to the taxi counter, and delivers me to the taxi who brings his car over to me.
My favorite airlines in Asia have Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways for some years now. When I cancelled my UK Phuket flight in August due to an leg accident in the UK airport, they charged me less than $200 and refunded the rest so quick I was stunned. I love to give them good reviews, like the time I flew to Goa and did not like Arombol. I packed up the second day and went to the airport where they immediately changed my flight for less than $30 and I was on the way to Delhi in a good seat with vegetarian food a short while later. In Delhi at their counter I received a good window seat, vegetarian meals and time in the lounge where I was upgraded, able to take a shower and enjoy full vegetarian meals before the flight to Bangkok.
Bangkok Airways won my heart a few years ago for all my flights in Thailand, Cambodia, when they served Thai vegetarian food (rice and bean wrapped in banana leaves variations, coffee, juices and other options) in a lounge available to all travelers, and of course always the manners and good service. I may pay a little more sometimes to avoid Air Asia where I have to produce return or ongoing flight tickets I feel is not appropriate as they do not inform you of that on their website, as often I do not know ongoing dates. Thai Airways is my go to airline for Delhi - Bangkok returns and London - Bangkok or London - Delhi returns.
Both airways use Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport as their hub which is supremely preferable to Don Muang Airport. In Suvarnabhumi, I am able to enjoy good option of vegan vegetarian foods, fresh coconut, mango sticky rice. products and juices from the Thai Queen's Products in the quiet basement area that offers massage, coffee, internet, lower cost phone and banking options, hotel and shower rooms and more. (just take the elevators if you have a bag).
Travel is a journey, an adventure, sometimes quiet, other times adventures or even challenges. Years of travel has given me the experience to be independent. Though I am not ready for wheelchairs yet, I am delighted to know how well Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways takes such good care of their wheelchair passengers. Thank you most sincerely to Thai and Bangkok Airways, my favorite airlines.