My Pride, My Thai part 21: The new dawn starts right here 

After what appeared to me as two endless weeks at work, it was finally again time to return to my local airport in Norway, near Hell (it's true, Hell is actually the name of the place practically just before you get to the airport of Trondheim, in Stjørdal). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 1: The Preparation (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 2: The flight (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 3: The arrival (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 4: The first morning (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 5: Big C (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 6: Bangkok (opens in a new tab).  

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 7: 200 THB to heaven (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 8: Bangkok - Ubon Ratchathani (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 9: Being a celebrity in Thailand (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 10: From Sisakhet to Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 11: Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new  tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 11-B: Coffee Love at Sakon Nakhon (opens in a new tab).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 12: The long drive to see the King (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 13: Hua Hin Inbox (opens in a new window).

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 14: Returning to Kanchanaburi (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 15: The luxurious resort (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 16: LiT Bangkok Hotel (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 17: Nearing the end (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 18: Departure for Norway (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 19: The two forgotten hotels (opens in a new tab). 

To read: My Pride, My Thai part 21: Back to work again… (opens in a new tab).

As was nothing unusual, my work-shifts ended the night before, so theoretically, I should have had a whole night to rest before my flight back to Thailand. But, as most people preparing for big journeys abroad also know too well, sleeping turned out to be the hardest thing to do. Finding a way to fall asleep without the use of medications normally intended to put a rhino down, was not as easy as it sounded. I know in my heart that most people can relate to this in one way or the other. 

Very early next morning, long before the gathering birds outside my window had let go their first fart, I was already at the airport near Hell. The first flight would take me from Trondheim to Copenhagen, and then directly onwards to Bangkok on a direct Thai flight afterwards. 

For many obvious reasons, I really love flying with Thai Airways, but in the future, I guess it will eventually come down to matters of accumulating frequent flyer points and the best price. Thai Airways does have some very tempting campaigns occasionally, though they normally come with a wealth of limitations and conditions. Still, they are generally a bit more expensive when compared to many of their competitors. Thai Airways is also a member of Star Alliance and you can, in some limited booking classes on Thai, accumulate some points, but the chance to accumulate points with them is much harder than for example Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, which by the way, are also a part of Star Alliance.  For example, very few of the economy class tickets from Oslo sold for less than 10.-11.000 NOK are elligible for points accumulation. Why it is like this, I really have no idea, but I suspect it must have something to do with the distribution of points and internal agreements within the Star Alliance family. Personally, as I said, I prefer Thai, but when it comes to price and points, I see no reason to use them exclusively in the future. 

The feeling you get when stepping on board an aircraft, is really an awesome feeling, a wonderful journey is about to start. A journey hopefully filled with great experiences, new people and new friends, smells, food, and great hospitality.... And most important of all, a journey in the absolutely utmost safety all the way till you set your feet back down on the doorstaep at home. Naturally, not everybody on the plane is going on vacation, some are heading home, and then, there are those that actually travel for work. A tiny, metallic tube in the sky with hopes, dreams and expectations. 

For me, the worst time to board an aircraft is at the other end, when vacation is finish and you are heading back home again. Some people keep telling me that after all, it's always nice to be going home again as well, but for me that is just belony. Not that home is so bad, but it's during travels I do feel I'm alive and learning, becoming a smarter person by widening my horizons. Anyhow, that is a totally different story which I did not want to even think about at that time. 

At Copenhagen that day, HS-TKU, a Boeing 777-300ER, waited for me. The aircraft had been bestowed the name “Acharasobhit" when it left the Boeing-factory in December 2013. This time, this particular flight would be packed full: the cargo holds had already been filled to the brim, and every single seat had been reserved and taken. Having this information on beforehand, I knew that this would indeed be a lot more stressful and harder to manage for the crew when compared to the very light load on the Oslo-departure some weeks earlier. As soon as I arrived at the gate holding area, and as I later stepped on board, I could already sense the stress levels of the entire crew: pressured to have everybody in their seats as fast as possible, with all their carry on’s tucked away in overhead bins, as well as making sure that the passenger count matched the manifest. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that they were trying really hard to put on that world famous genuine Thai smile. The warmest smiles this afternoon were given by what appeared to be the youngest part of the crew, which by the way was in sharp contrast to the cabin chief's completely uninterrested eye-contact as if he had just finished a breakfast of lemon and oninons, and that I had inexcusably interrupted his delicious meal. Thankfully, the Air Hostess in charge of the section I was seated, was of the younger caliber. I think she had been given strawberries for breakfast, because her smile was rather increadibly infectious. 

Nevertheless, eventually in my seat, ahead of me there would be something like 11 hours of endless entertainment choices, great food and not to forgetm the stunning views from my own private, tiny window. During long flights half the way across the world, you have a lot of time to spend thinking, and this flight would be no exception. 

During my long flight, I spent some time pondering about the class divides on aircrafts. While the rest of the worlds hospitality by now had more or less completely abolished all sorts of class-divides, they never disappear from the skies of the world. Imagine, wouldn't it be really awesome, and unimaginably creative if an airline actually started rethinking the classes of their aircrafts and provided a whole another level of better service for everyone on board, regardless if you were sitting in row 2 or 76. That being said, a few airlines have already removed the premium cabins and replaced them with an all-economy class configuration, though without doing anything radical new or different with economy comfort. The amount of space, on an aircraft known as legroom, is unchanged whether there are classes or not. I know it's after all, a matter of economics. These modern tubular things in the skies are now way more efficient, but also a lot more technologically advanced than ever before and therefore, more expencive to pruchase and operate. Emirates Airlines for example, are currently advertising with an economy class that is so good it almost feels like an upgrade. Scandinavian Airlines also tried a one-class aircraft: though this aircraft was a business class only aircraft on one particular route between the Norwegian oil capital city and the US. It didn’t last. 

Then, we have the infamous perils of the boarding procedures. People are sometimes (there are always someone) so selfish that they completely ignore their appropriate boarding calls. I think this problem will never cease to amaze me: when they announce boarding of rows 54 and up, only, why do people in for example row 34 gather in front of the gate? Possibly, they don’t understand English, or they just don’t give a crap. I make a vote for latter. 

Each day, all across the globe, there are some 100.000 flights in the air. Aircrafts loaded with essential cargo, passengers and not to froget, the millions of tons of clothes being transported back and forth all over the world every single day. We all bring our suitcase with t-shirts and clothes back and forth: with a 100.000 flights, that is a lot of luggage in the skies! 

Like elsewhere in the hospitality sector, any airline must provide an unparalleled level of service all the way from departure gate to arrival gate, with no compromises on the level of service at any time during the flight. The service must be as caring and thoughtful whether the flight has just started, or whether the flight is about to end, or at the start of the shift versus the last 5 minutes of the shift for a receptionist at a hotel for example. Overcoming this obstacle and understanding the importance of a certain service standard, is what separates the leaders from the copycats and complacent. 

This being the third commute between Asia and Europe within a very short time, this time I noticed that the flight was operated under a totally different level of standard. The first flight some 5 weeks earlier was by far the best, the second was not that good, and this one, was caught somewhere in between. Understandably, to have the exact same standards will always be really hard to achieve, but at least, they should try to get the levels in the same ball park. This time, they were not even playing on the same fields. 

Don't get me wrong: the food and service was still within what I would consider acceptable standards, but with a little twerking and polishing, they could have done so much more. Perhaps even blown me out of the sky. 

Customs border: Through these doors, and there is no way back again. 

Scandinavian to Copenhagen: just trying to avoid Oslo at any cost! 

Acharasobhit fully loaded at Copenhagen, ready to fly back home.

Bangkok: Half a day later, the light feels different. 

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