PG vs. TG – Best way to travel between BKK and Yangon in Y
As Yangon is beginning to open up to foreigners and as many of us are doing RGN runs in the next year or so, I decide to write a trip report comparing these two full service Thai airlines that offer multiple daily flights between these two cities. I have a number of choices but I quickly rule out LCC, as I need to transit through Bangkok and LCC will require me entering Thailand and does not allow interline of check-in luggage. Full fare tickets are pretty expensive but in the end, I select Bangkok Airways, as it is a reputable carrier and my previous flight from Phuket to Bangkok was pretty impressive. The return was on Thai Airways, as it was one of those mistake fares issued by KE, and TG Y was the only choice. The comparison is a little bit unfair as I am sure the check-in experiences will be different between home and out stations, and different between transit and formal check-in counters. However given the similar time length, both flights are sixty to sixty-five minute from takeoff to landing, and their inflight service speaks loud about their products. I have also gotten more Bangkok Airways pictures, as the flight departs in the daytime and there are plenty of trip reports covering TG, and not many reports about PG.
PG 703 BKK-RGN Lv1500 Arr1550 Airbus A320-200 HS-PGV “Krabi”
TG 306 RGN-BKK Lv1945 Arr2140 Airbus A330-300 HS-TEC “Bang Rachan”
Bangkok Airways’ transit counter is located on the east concourse and has two counters handling all international flights. Domestic flights have their own transit counters. It was a very quiet morning, as you saw from the pictures. The sole agent was very friendly and my request for an exit row window seat was honored with a smile. The agent was familiar with the visa on arrival and had no issue with my letter of approval given by the travel agency. The whole experience was pleasant and a good start to an impressive journey.
The entrance experience in Yangon International airport is pretty similar to most developing countries. The entrance area was pretty chaotic but only passengers are allowed into the check-in area. All check-in and carry on bags must go through X-ray and each passenger had to be wand by the security officer. The officers in general are okay to deal with and since I have little luggage, the process was not too bad. The Thai check-in desks are not particularly busy and the economy line is not terribly busy. I was checked in within a few minutes and asked the agent to only check me to Bangkok. My Turkish number was entered (but not yet posted), and the agent was friendly. Sorry for the lack of pictures, as there are lots of security guards around and you never know what you are allowed to do or not to do. Plus the check-in area was as generic as it came. Air Asia and Vietnam Airlines are the only airlines with flights departing near out time. The Vietnam Air counters were very busy with lots of overweight luggage, but Air Asia was reasonably quiet. But one thing I notice is that TG has water cups (those used on airline meals) in a basket at each check-in counter for Y passengers to consume.
I took a picture of the really nice giant painting in the departure area. I am sure they want you to take pictures of this beautiful painting.
Both airlines offer a very pleasant check-in experience, given the fact that I flew economy and did not have any elite status with either airline. (I lost my Star Alliance Gold status due to bmi and only just got my Star Alliance Silver status after the end of my TK trip last week).
I am sure that Bangkok Airways is the one of the few airlines that offers lounges for all economy class passengers. (Porter Airlines, a boutique airline based in Canada, is the only airline that I personally know.) Of course not airports have the lounge service, but Bangkok being PG’s main hub has a lounge in the international concourse. However, we have to understand that the lounge is a nice feature but it is not as nice as most typical business class lounges. The plastic chairs are not typically featured in most airline lounges. There are no alcoholic beverages, and non-alcoholic beverages involve mainly a few juice machine, water cups, tea, and coffee machines. Not even sodas! Snacks are limited to some sandwiches, cakes and Thai desserts. Anyway, it is still nice to have an exclusive lounge to hang out in, and there are no in-house bathrooms. But free wifi is provided and the agent will write each passenger an individual access code on your boarding passes, as you enter the lounge. The wifi is reliable and fast enough to use. There are also a number of computers for other passengers to use.
My favorite part of the lounge – flight information display system with the corresponding gate information and registration number
There is no lounge access for non-status passengers in Yangon, but if you pay $8USD (it is a discount price according to the sign, and the original price is $15), you can use the Myanmar Airlines Sky Smiles Lounge. Since there is really nothing much going on in the airport, I decide to pay $8 for a nice and quiet stay. I definitely find it worthwhile; especially I am the only one there most of the times. Wifi is included in the admission fee and the speed is acceptable and I am also able to use my iphone to check emails and Internet. There are plenty of soft drinks and beers available, along with some alcoholic beverages. The snacks selection is not particularly impressive but they have some sandwiches and finger food available. There are also local, Thai, and Singapore newspapers, along with some Taiwanese magazines and newspapers, since China Airlines uses this lounge. It is quite nice to be able to read some TW magazines during the wait. There is a block off section with sofa and message chairs for business class passengers, but I personally will do it again if the fee remains at $8USD in the future. There is one other airline lounge in RGN for those who are concerned. I like all the antique airplane pictures.
The pictures are courtesy of my iphone, so the quality is not as good.
Flight information display system at RGN
Let just say both airlines boarded late, but due to the light load, they were able to depart on time and arrive only five minutes late. Both airlines have to speed up their turnaround times.
Bangkok Airways uses a bus gate this afternoon for our flight and boarding did not begin till 2:38pm. I was glad that Bangkok Airways put all the passengers in two separate buses, instead of squeezing every one into one bus like some European airlines especially LCC. Our beautiful plane named Krabi was parked at bay 103B this afternoon.
Thai Airways uses its own ground agents at RGN, as they offer three daily flights now. There is now a midday Airbus A300 flight now, and they are possibly the only airline that offers daily widebody flights from Yangon. Gate 1 is possibly the only widebody gate with two jetbridges, which is a good feature and helps to reduce boarding time. The inbound flight landed late at 6:50pm and boarding did not begin till 7:32pm.
Both airlines feature friendly F/As and they are all very engaging in helping other passengers to store baggage, and it is nice to get a sincere greeting.
As both flights were running late, both airlines’ crews were rushing to close as soon as possible and interestingly, PG F/As closed the galley curtain, as they were preparing the galley for the service on this short flight. One F/A was stationed in the front, while another one in the exit row, as well as a fourth F/A in the aft galley. After everyone was boarded, PG F/As immediately passed out packaged refreshing towels and immigration entry forms.
Thai Airways has a newspaper trolley in the jetway, as well as a F/A passing out immigration forms in the jetway as well. Each seat has a pillow (a real one too) and F/As also passes out packaged blankets to passengers requesting them.
Door was closed at 3:03pm and we pushed back ten minutes later. Thankfully Bangkok was not too busy at time of the day and we took off from R/W19L at 3:23pm. Flying time was an hour to be exact and our cruising attitude of 34,000feet.
TG’s flight was running a bit late. Door was closed at 7:47pm, as our flight was not completely full. We pushed back at 7:57pm. We took off from R/W03 at 8:05pm. Flying time was an hour and eight minutes with a cruising attitude of 35,000feet.
Cabin and seats:
Both airlines offer a decent economy class product and of course it is nice to have a widebody flight. I also have an empty seat next to me, so it makes a big different. I can’t complain much. A320 is still my favorite narrowbody aircraft and the extra inch of width makes it nicer. Thai Airways uses an older A330-300 on this short flight but is kept in reasonable condition.
Bangkok Airways magazines
PG A320 safety card
Here is where Bangkok Airways shines and Thai Airways under-delivers.
Bangkok Airways offer this hot meal
Teacup like a boat
… while Thai Airways offers this “meal” box
Bangkok Airways offers a hot meal featuring an entrée of Sweet Chili fish pieces tossed with noodles and kailan, a starter of Thai green papaya salad with baby shrimps, and a dessert of Raspberry mousse cake with orange coulis. I gave credit for PG offering a hot meal on this short flight. The fish entrée is pretty nice, as well as the starter, but the raspberry mousse cake is a bit too sweet.
Thai Airways on the other hand offers a cold plate featuring fried shrimps with mayonnaise, and a Thai coconut pumpkin dessert, along with a water cup and a mixed fruit juice cup, which is packed with sugar. It is just plain sad. Not sure why anyone thinks serving cold fried food is a good idea! They should stick with sandwiches or cold deli plate or pastries.
I was most surprised by the beverage offerings of Bangkok Airways. You get a full bar service offering various fruit juices, sodas, beers, red and white wines, as well as tea and coffee. I honestly don’t expect any alcohol service but I appreciate this full beverage offering more than the hot meal. Thai Airways on the other hand offers only tea, coffee, and water, plus the beverages on your box. I don’t expect a full beverage service but honestly think that they can offer some cold beverages. Regardless Bangkok Airways just surpasses any airline in terms of catering and I will fly PG just based on this fact.
Let be frank and most Asian F/As especially Thai F/As are very friendly and nice. They are also well staffed, unlike in other parts of the world, where most airlines go minimal. Flight attendants are still well respected in Asia and the moral is high. However, I really give PG huge credits, as it is obvious that their F/As will go that extra step to make your experiences as pleasant as possible. One impressive thing is that when you order a beverage, they do not just hand you the cup. They place the glass/cup on a tray and then pass them to you. They pretty worked through the flight and the trolley just went up and down the aisle with beverage refills. For Thai, they threw the box at you, poured you tea and coffee, and then collected the box and disappeared. The contrast is obvious.
Both aircraft I flew had overhead monitor and main screen entertainment. Bangkok Airways played a “Just for Laughs: Gag video, and then Sky Show for the rest of the flight. Of course I found the sound and dance number in the beginning of the flight more entertaining. They have a theme song and have their F/As perform a song and dance routine. It is like watching a music video featuring PG F/As. No headsets were handed out for both airlines. Although there are audio programs available, the flights are really too short for anyone to enjoy anything. Thai Airways does not even keep the Air show on.
Descent began at 3:27pm Yangon time (Yangon is half an hour behind Bangkok), and we landed on R/W21 at 3:53pm and parked at gate 4 two minutes later. The arrival experience was pretty straightforward in Yangon and since I needed Visa on arrival, I had to stop by the VOA offices first. Immigration was then pretty speedy, as there seemed to be more local residents than foreigners.
For Thai Airways, descent began 9:10pm and things were pretty busy at BKK, and it was raining throughout the evening. We finally landed on R/W19L at 9:43pm and parked at gate C1 at 9:50pm. I had no check-in luggage so could not report on the baggage delivery time.
In conclusion, Bangkok Airways is my choice of carrier, despite that I really want to give Myanmar Airlines a try in the future. Bangkok Airways surpasses my expectation and will be my choice of carrier in the future. Thai Airways only matters if you are a Star Alliance elite member, need Star Alliance miles, and offers business class on the RGN flights. (Thai Airways seems to carry a good amount of premium traffic on my RGN to BKK flights, and of course, they have lots of connecting passengers heading to North Asia like Korea & Japan, as well as Europe as well. Bangkok Airways should consider offering business class cabin in the near future.)
Thanks for reading the report and I am working on the KE A380 trip report next!