This was my first trip to Laos. I had always had the sneaking suspicion that I would love it, and it’s always nice when a place lives up to or exceeds your expectations.
I had booked a Thai Airways Economy Class ticket back to Bangkok and had managed to snag the exit row, which according to many reviews on the internet was superior to the TG 737-400 Business Class seats. As I had previously experienced TG’s cramped short haul business seat on the BKK-USM flight, I was definitely open to the possibility that the added leg room of an exit row would make for a superior flight.
I took my boarding pass and went to the cafe/kiosk to buy a pack of gum. As I turned to exit the area and go upstairs, I saw an Israeli guy I had been playing Beirut with (Yes, it is called beirut, not beerpong) in Vang Vieng about a week ago. He was nursing a large BeerLao and asked me to join him for a drink. I wasn’t in the mood, so I told him my flight was leaving soon. He was headed to Hanoi and then parts unknown. Travelers in Asia just kind of float around and get lost, it’s a strange, but fun way to live.
I said goodbye to my new friend and went upstairs to see if VTE had a lounge as my Priority Pass booklet claimed it did.
Much to my surprise, there was indeed a lounge. Food was on offer, TV’s showing the news, wifi and of course the ubiquitous BeerLao. I pulled out my laptop, messed around a bit on fbook and gchat and had one final BeerLao before it was time to head back to Thailand.
Boarding for our short VTE-BKK flight was delayed (when is Thai boarding on time?). There was no apparent rhyme or reason to the boarding process, be it ROP Gold, Star Gold, Business or the great unwashed, everyone massed at the gate and pushed their way on board as quickly as they could. When I got to my lovely, spacious exit row seat, I mentally thanked the internet flight review gods, as this seat was in fact leaps and bounds better than TG J on the 737-400. I stretched my legs, took out a book and zoned out until the meal service began…yup, even in coach on a 1 hour an change flight we got a snack box. Like most Thai shorthaul food it was pretty inedible, but it’s the effort that counts.
After touchdown at BKK, I wanted to avoid the lengthy general immigration line for economy passengers, so I kept walked to the fast track business and first class immigration check point. There are no signs telling you it exists, and no one ever checks your boarding pass, so I figured i’d slide through there and get back into the Kingdom quickly.
As I had no checked bags, I was out to the taxi stand minutes after clearing the boarder and on my way back to Sukhumvit Soi 11 in short order.