Since it was a 9 hour red-eye from Bangkok to Melbourne, we decided to cash in some United miles for a Business class ticket on Thai Airways. I hadn’t flown this airline before, so here’s a full review of the experience for those of you who geek out on these kinds of things.
Check-in was unexpectedly pleasant. They basically escort you to a line-free counter where you take a seat as they process your documents and tag your luggage:
They have a special security screening area just for First and Business class passengers on Thai Airways. Suffice to say there was no line – the staff sprung into action as we headed their way, turning on all the machines and helping load our bags onto the conveyor. The immigration area was similarly empty… there were 3 counters for only the 2 of us.
We reclaimed our VAT and then I spent the rest of our baht on duty-free nail polish before we headed to the lounge. Sadly, there was no champagne but an otherwise stocked bar, a vast selection of hot & cold food, fast wifi, and a spa.
Because we were flying Business (aka Royal Silk) class, we were each entitled to a 30 minute complimentary neck and shoulder or foot massage. I definitely took advanatge of that, even though I already had a 90 minute massage earlier that day. It was a decent massage in a peaceful setting, followed by tea and cakes. I suppose I can overlook the lack of champagne since the complimentary massage was such a great experience.
For some reason, they made everyone get rid of all their liquids at the gate… this seemed odd since we cleared security ages ago. I basically had to dumb a bottle’s worth of water into a trash can.
The plane was a Boeing 777-300, with a great arrangement of seats: 1-2-1. The middle seats alternated between cozied up againast each other (for couples traveling together)
Or separated by the middle console, for people traveling individually. This is a great design – everyone gets an aisle and you don’t have to feel awkward about sleeping next to a stranger if you are traveling alone.
The seats has crossbody seatbelts (like in a car)… would these actually be better for you in a plane crash? If so, is it really fair to make safety a premium service on a flight?
The seats lie completely flat, and even my 6’2 companion was able to get comfortable (though it was a little tight for him). They also have a built-in massage function, which I can only describe as “subtly gropey”.
While there was no champagne in the lounge, they had proper champagne on board which they served prior to take-off (and during the flight) in glass flutes:
The entertainment system was the usual UI disaster – tough to use with either your finger or a remote, the type was too small, and there were gratuitous animations that just made the UI seem sluggish. They had an adequate selection of films to watch, but no exterior cameras as part of the flight info. It was a red-eye flight so we didn’t use it for very long.
The service was hit or miss. The German had very attentive staff on his side of the aisle – welcoming him, checking if he needed anything, bringing biscuits with his tea, etc. My side was very slow and sometimes forgot I had requested more water or a cup of tea.
The food was an absolute disaster – some of the worst I’ve had on any airline in any class. The bread was stale, dry and cold. Even the pineapple was mostly mealy and the English Breakfast tea was horrible. (And I’m not a tea snob! I really don’t know how they managed to make it taste so awful.) There wasn’t a single vegetarian option for any course. (We bought our tickets via United who rarely has my requested vegetarian meal on their flights, so I’m not at all surprised they didn’t have one for me on Thai Air.)
So all in all, a bit of a mixed bag… it was certainly nice to be able to nap, though we still arrived discombobulated and very hungry.