Thai Airways, Business Class – Boeing B 787-8: Bangkok to Perth

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Transfer in Bangkok

It’s just coming up to six in the morning and I feel like the lead villain from Zombie Apocalypse – assuming, of course, that the lead villain of such a movie would himself be a zombie. I’m bleary eyed, my tongue feels like it needs a shave and my body obviously didn’t get the memo that we’re in a different time zone. Get with the programme, brain!

I still have forty minutes to go before boarding is called for my flight to Perth, so I figure I might as well go scavenging for coffee. The Royal Silk lounge is the very exotic and elegant sounding name of the not so exotic and certainly not at all elegant Thai Airways Business Class lounge at Suvarnabhumi airport. By the time I get there, the place is crawling with likeminded travellers, all of which look as though they might be befallen with the curse of the undead. And what a cursed hovel it is, too. I mean, yuk! The seats are so worn and filthy they’re sticky…I think I’ll just grab a quick Coke Zero, and then I’m out of here.

Boarding

Boarding for the flight to Perth starts at 0640. The flight is departing from gate E3. To access the lounge, I have to undergo a further check to ensure that all liquids are properly stowed in a sealable plastic bag and do not exceed 100ml. Apparently, this is a requirement imposed by the Australian government.

Our aircraft is parked on a remote stand, so we’ll be boarding via bus. My spirits temporarily revive at the prospect of getting up close and personal with the big shiny aeroplanes. But no such luck. The B 787 is simply too big. Or rather, I would have to stand further away. But the ground crew are not having any of that, because they don’t want passengers milling about on the apron – and my midnight oil is well and truly spent for me to want to argue with them.

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The Cabin

How many different cabin layouts does Thai Airways have anyway? Their Boeing B 787-8 has a capacity of 240 seats in Economy Class and 24 seats in Business Class. The seat width in Business Class is 20 inches, the pitch is 60 inches and when extended into a bed, the seat has a length of 78 inches.

The seats are configured in a rather traditional 2 + 2 + 2 set-up. I’m guessing this is the regional Business Class configuration. After all, the flight time to Perth is only 6 hours and 15 minutes. The seat pairs on the port side of the cabin are turned slightly towards the windows. The middle row of two and the row on the starboard side are turned towards that side of the aircraft. Furthermore, the two seats on a pair are slightly staggered and there is a small separator between the seats. Even as I write this up, I’m still trying to figure out what the point is of having such a seat design and cabin layout.

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In the bed positon, the seat is comfortable enough. My only complaint is that there isn’t enough space for my feet. I wear a size 46/11, which I don’t think is exceptionally big, and it’s a tight fit to find a position in which my tootsies aren’t being squashed.

The Crew

As on the previous flight, menus, a pillow, a blanket, the amenity kit, and ear phones have already been placed at the seat. The cabin attendant brings me a warm towel and a glass of sparkling mineral water. When she comes to take my food order, I tell her that I’m on the verge of passing out and will, therefore, not be eating.

Amenities

The design of the amenity kit itself is different to the one on the previous flight. The content however, is pretty much the same.

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The Meal

As soon as the wheels leave the ground, I extend my seat into a bed and go off to Noddy land for a few hours. Once I awake hours later, one of the cabin crew immediately comes to ask me if I’d like to eat. Figuring it might revive the spirits, and yes I do so enjoy my food, I agree. Again, as on the previous flight, I take the Thai option which consists of

  1. steamed rice with steamed spinach with chili and garlic,
  2. a soup of chicken meatballs and tofu,
  3. some cold chicken salad with chili, and
  4. a beef green curry.

For dessert I have custard with fresh fruit and a mango and passion fruit salsa. Again, the quality of the meal is very good. The tastes are nicely balanced and there’s touch of spice in the curry.

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There is only one meal service on this flight.

Arrival

We arrive in Perth just after 15h, slightly ahead of schedule. The airport is not very busy and I am through immigration and customs fairly quickly.

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Getting into Town

In Perth I’m staying at the Aloft Hotel, which is easily accessible from Terminal 1 via bus line 380. The journey will take about 15 minutes and costs AUD4.70.

Conclusion

So what’s the final verdict? What I definitely liked about my Thai Airways experience is that you can make the journey from Europe to Perth in just 19 hours. The food on both flights was really very good and of a high quality, I thought. On the downside, I found the whole experience rather bland, quite as though they weren’t even trying to make an impression. And the lounge in Bangkok was just a dive. That place is in serious need of an overhaul!

Thai Airways, Business Class – Airbus A 350-900: Milan Malpensa to Bangkok

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Introduction

Today I am travelling from Milan’s Malpensa airport to Bangkok. The flight is operated by an Airbus A 350-900. I must say, I’m quite taken by the A 350 – it’s width gives it a very spacious feel and it just comes across as being a lot more solid, or less flimsy, than the Boeing 787, which I always find has the look and feel of a narrow-body.

Check-in

I check out of the Sheraton at around 09h45 and make my way to Terminal 1. Thai Airways checks in on row 16, which they share with Qatar Airways. Check-in opens three hours prior to departure. There are two Business Class counters, both of which have thick and rather grubby looking carpets laid out before them.

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Both counters are attending to passengers when I arrive, but I figure it won’t be long before it’s my turn. Or maybe not. The lady working the check-in counter on the left is obviously related to Little Miss Chatterbox. Oh hell…’veramente, senza occhiali…niente…bla bla bla…ieri sera, nel treno aveva ritardo…bla bla bla…’.

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Eventually, the lady on the other counter takes pity on me and figures I probably do actually want to take the flight, considering that I’ve bothered to make the schlep out to the airport this morning. So she issues my boarding passes to Bangkok and my final destination, tags my hand luggage and sends me on my way.

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Oh yeah, in case you’re wondering – no online check-in is available for Thai Airways ex Milan.

The Lounge

There is a dedicated fast track for First and Business Class passengers. But the lines for passport control can get rather long when the airport is busy.

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Thai Airways uses the Pergolesi lounge in Malpensa, which is a contractor lounge operated by the Milan airport authority if I’m not mistaken. The lounge is located behind passport control. To be honest, it’s really not much to write home about, so you may want to skip this one. First of all, and I know others may have different priorities for a lounge, there are no windows – it’s basically just one big, gloomy room. The food and drinks selection is limited to things like fruit salad, sandwiches, focaccia and cake.

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Wifi is complimentary, but be warned that electricity plugs are in short supply in the lounge.

Boarding

Boarding starts at 12h35, thirty minutes before departure. First, passengers with children are invited on board, followed by Business Class passengers. The airbridge is attached to the L2 door, which means that Business Class passengers turn left as they step aboard, while Economy Class passengers take a right.

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The Cabin

The Business Class cabin is located between the L1 and L2 doors. I’m seated on 14B, which is an aisle seat on the port side.

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Thai Airways operates the A 350 in a two-class configuration with 289 seats in Economy Class and 32 seats in Business Class. The seat is fully lie-flat and horizontal; it has a width of 20 inches and a pitch of 44 inches in the seated position. In the lying position, the seat has a length of 73.5 inches.

The Business Class cabin is laid out in a 1 + 2 + 1 configuration, so that every passenger has direct access to the aisle.

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When I made the booking for this trip, only aisle seats were available – which are the B and J seats on even numbered rows and the D and G seats on uneven numbered rows. Before the flight, I was concerned that I might feel a bit exposed, especially with the seat extended into a bed. But turned out not to be an issue. First of all, the seats are staggered, with the seat on the other side of the aisle slightly further back to give you a bit more privacy. Secondly, the shell of the seat curves around the side of the seat, so that when you extend the seat into a bed, you’re partly shielded from the aisle.

A pillow, a blanket, a thin mattress, the amenity kit, earphones and the menus are already at my seat when I arrive. Soon after, I am brought a lightly scented hot towel and my choice of drink.

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Amenities

The amenity kit is by FURLA and comes with the usual complement of items for which I have no use, except perhaps for the ear plugs and eye shades. In addition, and I think Thai Airways deserve some serious brownie points for this, they also provide slippers in Business Class.

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The Meal

The meal service begins with a drinks round. I have a Coke Zero, which is served with a bowl of mixed nuts.

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Thai Airways offers Western and Thai menus. For both menus there are two options for the main dish. Although strangely enough though, there are no vegetarian options. I decide to go with the Thai menu.

The First Course

The first course is smoked salmon in a yuzu ponsu dressing, with avocado and crème fraîche. The starter is identical for both menus and is really very tasty, with the avocado blending nicely with the salty smoked salmon.

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The Main Course

The main course consists of a range of dishes:

  1. a green pork curry
  2. steamed rice with pak choi
  3. a clear soup with shitake mushrooms and a cucumber filled with minced pork
  4. a small bowl with a spicy chili sauce

These dishes are also very good. The curry is flavourful and spicy and actually tastes like authentic Thai food.

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The Cheese

After the hot meal comes the cheese course, which is served with grapes, dried fruit and crackers.

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Dessert

And then finally, for dessert, I have the taro in coconut milk, which is just weird and rather bland.

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The Inflight Snack

A few hours after the first meal service, I start to feel peckish again. So I order the noodle soup from the menu. Now this dish has some serious umpf – God it’s spicy! The noodles are served with boiled egg, crispy onion flakes and bits of minced pork.

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The Second Service

The second service starts just over two hours out of Bangkok. A flight attendant brings me a hot towel and takes my order for a coffee and orange juice.

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Shortly after, the tray is delivered. I’m quite surprised by how extensive this second service is. The tray contains

  1. a bowl of fruit,
  2. a yoghurt with müsli,
  3. a bowl with bread and pastries and
  4. the hot meal – which consists of a large portion of scrambled eggs, a pork sausage, bacon and cherry tomatoes.
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Arrival

We land at 05h10 local time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bangkok airport looking so deserted and quiet. Eventually, our aircraft comes to a standstill on a remote stand. But unfortunately it’s still too dark for me to be able to take any decent pictures.

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The bus spits us out at international arrivals, which is located more or less in the middle of the D concourse. From here I head two floors up to security and then from there to the Thai Airways Business Class lounge. I now have slightly more than one hour to make my connection. The transfer in Bangkok is fairly painless, but it’s not very well signposted.

Conclusion

Thai Airways provided a solid product on this flight. The seat was comfortable, the crew were friendly and attentive and the food was actually very good. All in all though, I don’t think that my flight in Thai Airways Business Class on this flight was anything outstanding. I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly with them again but I certainly wouldn’t avoid them either. I just don’t think they can keep up with the likes of Cathay Pacific or Qatar Airways, both of which, in my view, clearly have a superior product in terms of hardware and software.

Thai Airways, Business Class – B 777-300: Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur

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Airline: Thai Airways
Aircraft:
Boeing B 777-300
Cabin:
Business Class
Seat:
12G, aisle
From:
Bangkok
To:
Kuala Lumpur
Date:
24. August 2013
Departure:
16:40
Arrival:
19:50

BSLKUL

Transfer in Bangkok

The transfer in Bangkok is a swift and efficient affair. The Thai Airways First Class pick up ejects me by the escalators leading one floor up to the security checkpoint and the transit area.

The Thai Airways First Class Lounge

From security I am escorted to the Thai Airways First Class lounge, where I receive a refreshing towel and a welcome drink. My stay here will not be long, so I just order a lemon ice tea and check my mails before it’s time to leave again. The lounge is very quiet at this time of day.

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Boarding

About twenty minutes before departure, one of the lounge attendants comes to inform me that my flight will be departing shortly and I should make my way to gate C5. I am one of the last Business Class passengers to board. Unfortunately I only manage to take one picture of the aircraft taking me to Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

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The Cabin

The aircraft operating today’s flight is an ex Jet Airways bird in the herringbone configuration in Business Class. I always thought that this would be the same seat as what Air Canada and Cathay Pacific used to have. To be honest I’m still not quite sure if it is or not. Somehow this seat feels a lot more spacious, more roomy. It also strikes me that you’re a lot more exposed in this configuration and you have the passenger on the aisle seat in full view – and vice versa.

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Regrettably, Thai Airways has not been a very careful surrogate to this plane. There are traces of neglect and damage throughout the cabin. During the take-off roll my IFE screen – which apparently should be locked for take-off and landing – comes undone from the acceleration and won’t close anymore. I have to hold on to it to stop it from swinging about. Judging by all the clicking noises in the cabin, I am not the only one with this problem.

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Service is efficient. On the ground we receive, in sequence, a welcome drink, hot towel and the menu.

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The Meal

The meal is served on a tray from a trolley. The first and main course arrive at the same time, which is hardly surprising given the flight is only 90 minutes. For a starter we have crab meat in a smoked salmon parcel, which is quite good. There are three choices for the main. I go with the shrimps and scallops with pomme duchesse and vegetables. And for dessert there is some toffee and banana cake on a biscuit base, which is okay.

Drinks are not served from a trolley. Instead, the crew come round with a tray of different drinks for passengers. Other drinks are however available on demand.

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Arrival

As we begin our descent, the crew pass through the cabin distributing priority lane cards for immigration. We arrive at the satellite, from where it is just a short trip by shuttle to the main building. I have arrived back in Kuala Lumpur.

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