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The world’s longest flight needed new airline seats

Tim Newton

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The world’s longest flight needed new airline seats | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Aviation International News

Imagine sitting for 19 hours in one seat, travelling nearly 17,000 kilometres, from Newark to Singapore. The route, a return to long distances for Singapore Airlines since it canned the same route with the Airbus A340 in November 2013, will now be a lot more comfortable.

The Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 Ultra Long Range service is being relaunched as a daily route in October this year. The new generation plane is being fitted with new generation seats.

The incredibly lengthy routes planned for the ULR aircraft necessitated some updates, including shifting the seat-back pocket higher for improved knee and shin space, redesigning the bottle holders and cocktail table.

The world's longest flight needed new airline seats | News by The Thaiger

Travelers on this premier route will only have a choice of just two premium classes: the 67-seat Business Class cabin, or the 94-seat cabin of Premium Economy, seats so good, say the makers, they could almost pass for Business Class.

Zodiac Aerospace has completely redesigned the idea of an aircraft seat, literally from the bottom, up. Zodiac have extensively trialled the new seats in their factory in Texas, USA and also sent seats to Singapore. Singapore Airlines asked some of their frequent fliers to come and test drive the new seats and even stay at the test facility overnight and report on the sleeping experience.

Zodiac say that every inch has been considered and reconsidered, so that the Premium Economy seats and their 38 inches of legroom include calf and foot rests, a cocktail tray, over-shoulder reading lights, adjustable winged headrests, 13.3-inch screens, and three power points per seat (two USB ports and one universal AC outlet).

The world's longest flight needed new airline seats | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: cnn.com

Fliers on the new ultra long range Airbus will also be able to enjoy noise-canceling headphones, pillows and blankets, 1,400 on-demand entertainment options, amenity kits, full-size bottles of water.

Champagne and complimentary drinks (including Singapore Sling cocktails of course), and the ability to pre-order meals like seafood thermidor or Singaporean nasi lemak from the airline’s previous Business and First Class menu will also be a standard part of the new long-range experience.

Layout for the seating in the main cabin will be 2-4-2 – usually A350 aircraft have a 3-3-3 layout so the seats in the Premium Economy section are not only a little wider but also enjoy some 38 inches of legroom, up from the minimal 31 or 32 inches most of us have to endure in modern economy sections.

No matter how you configure a seat, 19 hours is going to still be a very long time in one place and a recipe for numb-bum. Perhaps an opportunity to binge watch, well, anything.

A return to supersonic flight anyone?



Looking to jettison some items before jetsetting away or chartering a yacht? Look no further than Thaiger Classifieds where you can find and post items, work, property and more for free. Be sure to check out YonderTours for things to do in Thailand and tours across the country.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now CEO and writer for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He presented for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and provides stories for Feature Story News as the south east Asian correspondent.

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Southeast Asia

Bali flights cancelled as Mount Agung stirs again

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Bali flights cancelled as Mount Agung stirs again | The Thaiger

Mount Agung, Bali’s active volcano, has erupted again, spewing ash and hot lava that ran down 3 km from the crater, causing authorities to cancel flights in and out of Denpasar.

Indonesia’s Center of Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG) says the eruption was recorded at 19:30 Central Indonesian Time (WITA) and lasted for 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

The eruption also threw smoldering lava and pieces of stone into the air, fell in areas around 2.5-3 km from the summit. PVMBG say the current alert level on Mount Agung is set at Level III.

Residents, trekkers and tourists are strictly prohibited to be around the red zone areas set at 4 km away around Mount Agung summit.

Bali airport has cancelled all flights following an eruption of the Mount Agung volcano that spread ash over the south of the Indonesian island.

A Mount Agung eruption in November in 2017 also forced the authorities to close down the airport for several days, hampering tourism in Indonesia’s popular island destination.

The volcanic disaster had forced over 43,000 residents in Bali’s eastern regencies to refuge in shelters. Dozens of elder refugees died in the shelters due to the ensuing eruption.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Thai Life

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand

Tim Newton

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Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | The Thaiger

There will be bumps along the way between your visits to the beach, bar and immigration office (sometimes the bumps will be at the beach, bar and immigration office). Expat life is what you make of it here in the Land of Smiles. Moaning about it never helps but accepting the bumps is part of the adventure. Here are our Top Ten Hard Truths for expats in Thailand.

1. Visas can be a pain in the neck

You have plenty of options but the options never quite fit into your line of work or expectations. But between the Non-B visa, ‘Retirement’ visa, Education visa, Tourist visa, Elite visa and Smart visa, along with a few visa runs and trips to your local immigration office, you can usually fernangle a long-term stay in Thailand (yes, we know we used nick names for some of the visas).

One way or the other you will need to keep your paperwork up to date as the fines and penalties for over-stays and visa problems can be quite harsh and difficult to negotiate your way around these days. There’s plenty of good information on the net about visas but, despite what you read, interpretation may be different on the day you visit the local office and depending who you end up speaking too.

At the end of the day, ask yourself how difficult is it for Thai citizens to live in your country…

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

2. You call it corrupt, they call it business

You are a guest in a foreign country. Thailand has a long history of independence and hasn’t been tainted with a lot of western influence. Unlike Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia. Philippines and India (just to list a few countries around Thailand), there has never been western colonisation of the Kingdom. And most Thais will be delighted to remind you of this proud fact. The down-side is that your perception of western efficiencies and customs are going to be challenged whenever you want to do just about anything.

There will be times when you will be asked, or invited, to put your hand in your pocket to get something happening – it could be a building project, a visa, getting your accounting done or getting a signature on a contract.

If you are running a business in Thailand you’ll be invited to ‘contribute’ more often than if you’re just living the single life here. Be shocked, be angry, be determined to point out your issues with corruption – it’s not going to change a system and business culture that’s been in place for generations and unlikely to change much during your time in the Kingdom.

The laws and penalties are changing but the customs will take generations to catch up.

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Speaking of business…

3. Thais love paperwork

Thais and Thai bureaucracy loves paperwork. You will be bewildered by the amount of paperwork generated for the most simple tasks. We’ve decided that there must be a huge building somewhere in Thailand that just holds mountains of paperwork that will never, ever be seen again. Despite computers, modern banking and the concept of the ‘paperless office’, you will see paperwork generated at the expense of perfectly good trees in quantities difficult to imagine.

How about 32 A4 pages of paperwork for changing one brake disc on a 12 year old Honda Jazz? Watch in wonder as the photostat machines and bubble-jet printers churn out paper you probably can’t even read and get placed into files that will likely never be read by anyone else.

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

4. Business can be an adventure and very challenging

Despite a US NGO voting Thailand as one of the best places to start a business in Asia (try and hold back your laughter), starting a business in Thailand can be 1) challenging 2) an adventure 3) bewildering 4) perhaps impossible. Or all four at once.

Free you mind of anything you’ve learned in the west about starting a business, jump onto Google and find a good local administration person or lawyer. Do it all yourself at your peril.

Just because the Thai GF can pour a beer or ‘knows someone’ is no guarantee that things will go smoothly. Running a Thai business never ever goes the way you plan. Ever. Between your visas, business registration, Labour Office, Department of this and that, accountants and your Thai staff, is a wall of red tape, twists, turns and WTFs that will test your resolve.

The effort is usually all worth it but you’ve been warned! Dot your ‘i’s and cross your ’t’s and check everything thoroughly before you sign a document. And then do it again.

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

5. Two-tier pricing

Go to a small local restaurant in any holiday area and there will likely be several versions of the menu – one for locals and one for tourists – you’ve probably never noticed. Of course the menu for the tourists has the same food listed at higher prices.

Then go to any national park in Thailand and the entry price can be as much as 1000% higher for ‘farang’ and tourists. It’s just a fact of life, much-debated, and you probably just need to accept it. If you do confront a two-tier pricing issue from time to time get out your Work Permit or local drivers licence and the higher price is usually waived. But not always. Or start crying, that sometimes works too.

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

6. Bar girls don’t love you

The 20-something bar girl with the short skirt and fetching smile probably doesn’t love you.

Whilst many westerners seem to gravitate to Thailand to indulge in the local pleasures of the flesh, a long term relationship and partner may take more time to cultivate than a round of expensive drinks and some small talk with a bar girl whose vocabulary will likely range between the cost of drinks and routine pleasantries… Ka. You’ll have better luck on Tinder or, heaven forbid, taking a lady out on a date and actually getting to know her.

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

7. But that’s not how I did it last time!

Immigration rules, negotiating with police, business rules, road rule enforcement. The way you tackle some of these day-to-day little ‘impediments’ should be treated as a single adventure and not to be referred to in the future as the-way-things-are-done. Whilst Thailand has well-described rules, regulation and laws relating to just about everything, they are often applied and enforced in a way that may appear unfair or inconsistent.

The way police negotiate who was responsible at an accident may be different every time. It used to be folk lore that if if there’s any issue to be sorted out between a Thai and a foreigner, the Thai will always come out ahead.

From personal experience I would say that’s no longer the case but always be prepared to ‘wing it’ in any given situation. If there are going to be police or the law involved best to get someone speaking Thai, the local Tourist Police or someone in-the-know to help you wade through potential problems.

The 24 hour phone number for Tourist Police around Thailand is 1155.

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

8. Don’t lose your cool

Stamp your feet, raise your voice, point at the absurdity of the situation over and over. I can guarantee it will make absolutely no change to the final outcome. Losing your cool will simply not help any situation and will likely inflame it further, to your detriment.

Ask for the manager, describe your point-of-view in exquisite detail on a sheet of paper, get out the finger puppets or turn to Google Translate – go for it. But do it quietly, with a smile.

Never lose your temper and try not to raise your voice because it’s just not the Thai way.

1) They will smile in silence whilst you point out that their website said something completely different

2) They will go and discuss the matter with other staff and come back to you with precisely the same answer they gave you in the first place

3) They will listen to your rant and think you are completely insane without actually saying so

4) They will simply walk away whilst you are just getting warmed up

5) They will get angry… you NEVER want that to happen, you’ll come off second best every time.

Jai yen.

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

9. The road toll in Thailand is appalling

Despite their generally affable nature, great food and endless smiles, Thais don’t do the driving thing well. And it’s dangerous. Thailand has been listed as the most dangerous place in the world to drive. Currently Number 4 as reported by the WHO, 2019.

If you are in a car your chances improve a lot. If you’re older or female, the odds improve further in your favour. If you are on a motorbike but wear a helmet, you’ve also improved your chances of surviving Thailand’s roads.

Christmas/New Year and Songkran (Thai new year in the middle of April) are the times of the year when Thais wipe themselves off their roads in astonishing numbers and all the police checkpoints, Government media releases and changes to laws do little to curb the carnage.

The biggest contributor to this national disgrace is drunk driving with speeding coming a close second. Despite almost draconian laws on alcohol advertising the message about drink driving simply isn’t sinking in. Attitudes and a commitment to enforcement is slowly changing but it’s a long-tough road ahead for the people of Thailand to tackle their shameful road toll.

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

10. Queues (or ‘lines’ if you’re American)

Queues and waiting in line are just a part of modern Thai life. Whether it’s waiting in the Immigration queue at the airport or your local office, at the local convenience store or at a public hospital, your wait is just a function of all the other systems that lead to inefficiencies and delays.

It might be well argued that it’s not only Thailand where queues have become a part of life but in Thailand many situations seem quit easy to fix, at least to the person waiting in line (who usually has plenty of time to contemplate solutions).

Even thought Immigration queues have improved over the past 12 months, you can still be waiting for an hour to get through immigration at any Thai airport if you arrive just after 5 Chinese or Russian charter flights. But it’s all managed with a smile once you get your moment in front of the camera for your photo and fingerprint ID.

Top 10 hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

So what can you do with many of these challenges? In most cases, keep smiling, take a deep breath and remember why you came to live in Thailand in the first place. Despite the thousand and one little annoyances and inconsistencies it’s still a wonderful place to live.

A few days on the ThaiVisa forum would make you think that all expats ever do is whinge and complain about life in the Land of Smiles. It’s a bad example of expat life and most of us find our way through these challenges with a bit of patience, grace, a good book or a smartphone with a full charge.

We are, after all, guests in the Kingdom of Thailand and it’s up to us to find a way around THEIR systems, as best we can.

There is an airport nearby, in most cases, with multiple flights out of the country if you’re truly aggrieved by any situation. Get some good local friends around you, do some research before you embark on any new task and keep an eye on your rear-view mirror.

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Thailand

Tourist arrivals up, but Chinese down. April 2019 tourist numbers.

The Thaiger

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Tourist arrivals up, but Chinese down. April 2019 tourist numbers. | The Thaiger

The Thai sports and tourism ministry reports that Thailand saw a 3.31% rise in total tourist arrivals in April compared to a year earlier, after a 0.69% decline in March.

3.2 million tourists in April spent about 164 billion baht ($5.15 billion), which is up 3.9% from the month of April in 2018.

But visitors from China, Thailand’s biggest feeder market for tourists, dropped 8.89% in April from a year earlier. This, after falling 1.87% in March.

Foreign tourist receipts account for about 12% of Thailand’s gross domestic product.

SOURCE: Reuters

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