The bus started loading 15 minutes before its midnight departure. We checked our luggage at the gate. We were shown to our reserved seats by a young man in a silver-gray, mandarin-collared jacket. We had roomy places with seat belts, and packaged blankets were provided. Promptly at 12, the bus pulled out. Shortly afterward, the young man went on the mike and spoke (what we thought) were welcoming remarks and an encouragement to ask if anything was needed. The attendant and driver were separated from the passengers by a partition and, at the rear, there was another separating the lavatory; green/red icons in the front indicated lavatory availability. Magazines were on hand. Shortly into the trip, the attendant went to the back, got a tray, and distributed carrot-orange juice boxes and bags of crispy shrimp sticks to the passengers. We had cup holders, tray tables, and emergency exit info in front of us. Later, he distributed cartons of soy milk and sandwiches. He made a third trip handing out chilled bottles of water.
At that, my buddy and I looked at each other in amazement and wondered simultaneously: Are we traveling first-class on a plane? How does the company make a profit? Besides the freebies, there were two paid employees aboard.
The outstanding service and amenities served as a flashback to the way air travel used to be, and it was a stark contrast to how bus service, at least in the United Kingdom and the States, usually isn't. Nakhon Chai Air was doing a lot that many companies never even considered.
Before the pop-music video on the monitor was turned off, an enthusiastic advertisement for the bus company with singing and dancing employees appeared. Then the overhead lights went out, seats were reclined, blankets opened to buffer the air-conditioning, and we completed a comfortable six-hour ride. Just before landing, uh, arriving, at the bus station, the attendant distributed wet wipes, opened the overhead bins, gave passengers their belongings, and made a closing announcement, which I imprecisely translated as "Welcome to Khon Kaen. The time is 6 a.m. Remember, 'You're our first priority.' Thank you for flying the bus!"