Note that the 50% savings is calculated based on the regular price that appears on the site. You already get 15% off award prices when you redeem online, so you’re really saving an incremental 35%. Which is still none too shabby in my opinion.
If you’re planning a beach getaway, here are some destinations that may appeal to you
Other things to note: The discount only applies for saver class availability, so you better hope and pray that Krisflyer finds it in its heart to actually open up some. Oddly enough, the T&C say that any changes are not permitted for bookings made under this promotion, and cancellation is not allowed for partially used tickets. My reading of this is- you can cancel and rebook provided you’ve not flown, but you can’t change a booking which you’ve not flown. Which is weird, but we’ll see.
Although it is old and on the brink of retirement, the 747-400 still holds a special place in my heart, as I mentioned in my review of the Asiana First Class product during my RTW trip. There is something quite special about boarding an aircraft as culturally important as the 747. The recent passing of Joe Sutter, the manager of the design team for the original 747, reminded me how the aircraft single-handedly revolutionized the way we travel. To put things in perspective, the predecessor to the 747 was the 707, which carried 110 passengers to the 747’s 360. The 747’s length is longer than the Wright Brother’s first flight.
Unfortunately the 747 is not long for this world; the 747-8 has sold poorly and more and more airlines will be phasing out their 747-400s in the near future. Cathay Pacific, for example, will be retiring theirs in a matter of weeks. So if you’re a child of the 90s or earlier and want to say a final farewell to this glorious machine, no better time than the present.
My flight to HND was departing from Gate A6 on the far end of BKK airport. We were escorted there by a lounge staff member, which seemed to me to be sort of redundant given that it’s pretty much impossible to get lost in an airport.
Thai Airways has a total of 11 747-400s in its active fleet. 5 of them have the old Royal First and 6 have the new, Suite style product.
Boeing 747-400 (5) | HS-TGO, P, T, W and X | Seat map
Also referred to as: 74R, 7443, Boeing 747-400, «10F»
Royal First (10) | First row: 1-1, second and third row: 1-2-1 | Full flat «pods» | PTV AVOD AC | View
Royal Silk (Main deck: 14, Upper deck: 26) | 2-2 | 1st gen angle flat | PTV AVOD AC | View 1View 2
Economy (325) | 3-4-3 | Standard | PTV AVOD AC | View
This is how the old Royal First looks. The seats are full flat, but don’t have a lot of privacy. The throne style seating sort of reminds me of SQ’s old Skysuite product, without the leather.
The new seats:
Boeing 747-400 (6) | HS-TGA, B, F, G, Y and Z | No seat map available
Also referred to as: 74N, Boeing 747 All series, «9F»
Royal First (9) | First row: 1-1, second row: 1-1-1 and third row: 1-2-1 | Full flat «suites» | PTV AVOD AC USB | View 1View 2
Royal Silk (Main deck: 14, Upper deck: 26) | 2-2 | 2nd gen angle flat | PTV AVOD AC USB |
Economy (325) | 3-4-3 | Standard | PTV AVOD AC USB | View
Although we were booked to fly with the new First Class, Thai is notorious for doing last minute equipment swaps, so I was relieved when I entered the cabin and saw that nothing untowards had happened.
There are a total of 10 suites in Royal First on Thai’s refurbished 747s. I had seat 1A in the nose of the plane.
1A offers a good degree of privacy because of the way the nose is curved. Unless someone is standing right next to you, it’s impossible to look into your suite.
Each suite is spacious, with a ton of leg room to stretch out into
The seat has a good amount of storage area for everything you need. There is a nifty tablet built into the seat that lets you control all the different features. really though, it’s a duplication of the buttons below the tablet so I’m not sure why they felt it necessary to include. Maybe at one point the tablet was supposed to be integrated into the IFE system but they gave up.
Each seat also has its own flower vase just off the side of the TV screen with an orchid in it. Lufthansa has roses, if I remember correctly.
Thai gives out Rimowa amenities kits to First Class passengers. The only other airline I know who does this is Eva (they don’t have First Class, so Business Class passengers get them). I believe Lufthansa used to offer them but on my latest flight I received a different branded one so they might have changed.
There is mouthwash, a comb, Monteil branded facial moisturizer, lip balm, hydration spray, a pair of socks and a cheap toothbrush kit (although to be fair I haven’t seen any airline go all out on the airline toothbrush- why not?)
I read conflicting reports about whether or not Thai offers PJs in First Class. Fortunately they were available on this flight. The PJs are not branded, like Cathay Pacific’s Shanghai Tang, but they were comfortable enough and still better than nothing.
Thai’s headphones are supposedly noise cancelling, but the sound quality was very poor. They don’t offer the same high quality headphones that SQ has (Bose QC15s).
The attendants came around to introduce themselves and serve pre-departure drinks. Dom was offered and accepted.
Menus were distributed and orders taken for dinner. Even though this was First Class, dinner would be a very short affair. I suppose it’s more similar to the supper service on SQ, even though SQ’s abbreviated supper service is still somewhat longer than this.
For comparison’s sake, here’s the SQ menu for a Suites flight (albeit on a longer, 13 hour route)
Here’s the drinks list. The only name you’re really interested in is Dom Perignon 2006
With red eye flights like this maximizing sleep is the name of the game, so I was interested to see how quickly the crew could finish serving a full First Class cabin of 10 people.
Within 30 minutes of taking off the first course was delivered. So far so good. The scallops were nicely done, the cream of fennel soup was passable.
After this was cleared, I waited for the main course to be served.
30 minutes later I asked the stewardess about the main course. She looked completely surprised and said “we serve it before landing, would you like to have it now?”
I was completely taken aback. I mean, I had never encountered a situation where an airline split one meal into two parts, and I certainly wasn’t told about it when ordering. I suppose if you look at the menu you might be able to tell that it’s split into two, after all it’s a bit weird to serve yogurt and cereal for supper. But still, I was quite annoyed that I had basically waited another 30 minutes for nothing, which on a short overnight flight makes a difference to quality rest.
The main took another 15 minutes to arrive and was decidedly mediocre. There were exactly three pieces of Sanma fish, the accompaniments of deep-fried fishcake ball, simmered prawn and konnyaku were soggy and stone cold. The best part was really the steamed Japanese rice.
I do regret not trying the rice vermicelli noodle soup with pork balls, something that sounds a lot more Thai and should have come out better but by now I just wanted to sleep.
I ate as quickly as I could and asked the crew to turn down the bed so I could get some rest.
The bed is actually really comfortable. There is a special mattress pad they put on the seat and a softer blanket is provided (not the scratchy woolen one you find at the seat). With earplugs I managed to sleep about 3 hours in total. I ended up sleeping through the breakfast service (but in any case already had my “breakfast” the night before.
I think that TG’s First Class hard product is solid, although the older 747 invariably has issues of its own with engine noise, toilet quality and the disconcerting tendency for everything on the aircraft to creak when it banks. Soft product wise, the crew definitely don’t speak to non-Thai passengers as much as they interact with Thais, I’m going to put that down to a lack of confidence in English ability. But they were always available for requests.
Although TG is definitely not in the same league as the Star Alliance’s MVPs of NH and SQ (possibly a strong case to be made for BR too), it’s pleasant enough to take for short flights. I’ve never experienced long haul TG on their newer aircraft and that might be a good route to review in the future if Lifemiles availability shows up.
We landed on time in HND. I now had about 4 hours to get to NRT.
About a month ago The Milelion broke the story about mileage brokers and how they were providing easy ways to buy Krisflyer miles, while potentially controlling multiple fraudulent accounts at the same time. What this means for legitimate Krisflyer members is less award space and potentially having to shell out higher amounts for standard awards.
Using a dummy account with the name Niole Lim, I successfully managed to get 2 transactions of 1,000 miles each past Krisflyer’s verification process. After I had finished the article on Aug 11, I turned myself in to Krisflyer membership services, telling them about the research I’d been doing and the implications for their program.
One day later, Aug 12, I got this reply from Krisflyer
Dear Ms Lim
We are writing in follow-up to our earliest response to you.
Firstly, we would like to thank you again for highlighting the matter to us.
We would appreciate it if you could provide us more information on the online mileage brokerage site. This will aid us in our investigation and take the matter up to the mileage broker to cease their activities which have contravened the Terms and Conditions of KrisFlyer membership programme.
May we also request you to provide us with the American Express credit card account used in performing these transactions? Please also advise us if the mileage broker effected the transaction into your American Express credit card first, which was later transferred into the KrisFlyer membership account or was it directly transferred from the mileage broker’s American Express credit card?
We note that you were able to perform two separate transactions into the KrisFlyer account 8XXXXXXX under your name, Niole Lim. In this instance, it was not possible for us to flag out the transactions as no discrepancies were detected.
As for KrisFlyer members, who are found to have contravened our programme guidelines, their accounts will be placed on audit and no further transactions can be made through the account.
Any flight tickets redeemed through the same account will also be suspended from use. Singapore Airlines will not honour the KrisFlyer awards, be it flights or upgrades, or any other benefits which have been redeemed with mileage that have contravened our programme rules.
We look forward to your response on the above for us to further look into the matter.
Ms Lim, thank you for writing to us.
Ok, I thought. So I assume they’ll investigate this and act accordingly. So I provided them with a full account of my activities with the mileage brokers, together with a link to the article I’d written. Then I sat back and waited for them to confiscate the miles and deactivate my account.
Aug 24 came and there was still no reply from Krisflyer. It had been 13 days since I outright told them I had defrauded their system, and Niole Lim’s account was still alive and well.
Determined to be punished for my indiscretions, I wrote to them again on Aug 24 asking them whether they had any updates. And got a response 10 days later.
Dear Miss Lim
Thank you for your email of 25 August 2016. The purchase of miles from online mileage brokers has been raised to the relevant departments for follow up. Singapore Airlines takes a serious view of any breach of the terms and conditions under the KrisFlyer programme, and reserves the right to suspend or terminate such accounts.
You have confirmed that all KrisFlyer miles in your account 8XXXXXXXXX (2,000 KrisFlyer miles) were purchased from online mileage brokers. In view that this contravenes the KrisFlyer programme rules, we regret to inform you that your KrisFlyer account has been suspended pending audit checks and the miles will be forfeited.
Miss Lim, thank you once again for your feedback.
KrisFlyer Membership Services
Ok, so that is and it isn’t an answer. They’re taking away the miles and closing the account, which is fair enough. I knew that US$50 or so I spent on this was going to be a writeoff. But they’re not addressing the underlying problem. What about their security measures? What about the multiple fraudulent Krisflyer accounts the mileage brokers control?
And it gets better. Despite what they said, as of today, 7th September, I can still log into Niole’s account and transact as per normal!
I mean, if I’ve been so brazen about this and no action has been taken, can you imagine if someone were trying to do this on the quiet?
Mileage brokers are not a problem that is unique to SQ. Their claim to be able to transact in pretty much any major airline currency implies that this is a problem that affects the industry as a whole. But airlines owe it to their members to take active steps to protect the integrity of their programs.