Tag Archives: thai

Exploring Thai’s latest A350 cabin products

Thai is a confusing airline when it comes to business class because they have so many different seat types across their fleet.

The majority of Thai’s widebody fleet (B747, A330, A340, B772, B773) still has their old business class angled flat product. This is, quite frankly, an awful product to be on for any long haul flight. Angled flat products might have been ok a decade ago, but the gold standard for long haul business class is now full flat 1-2-1. Full flat 2-2-2 is already pushing it, but angled flat 2-2-2….Thai’s fleet renewal can’t come fast enough

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Thai’s A380 aircraft have 1-2-1 full flat seats. I’ve not flown these personally but a friend who has says they’re generally comfortable enough. If you’re travelling by yourself, avoid the honeymoon 2 seats in the centre like the plague because there’s very little privacy from your seatmate. I’m not totally won over by the cabin from an aesthetics point of view though.

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Thai’s B787s have 2-2-2 full flat seats (they’re similar to the ones United Airlines uses in Business Class- see my review of that seat here). I don’t fancy any configuration that doesn’t have all aisle access (because both the aisle passenger and window passenger at the side are inconvenienced by each other), but it sure beats angled flat.

photo: AusBT

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And that brings us to TG’s newest aircraft, the A350. I’m personally very excited about the A350 and am looking forward to flying SQ’s version to Manchester and Houston next year. Thai’s A350 has a 1-2-1 full flat configuration, but I much prefer this to their A380s as I find the finishes more classy (less faux wood and plastic, more privacy for the seats at the side). This is a seat I’d gladly take on any long haul flight.

Thai Airways A350 business class cabin

Thai is currently bedding in their A350s by running them on short haul routes. When they first received the aircraft back in Sept it was common to find the A350s plying routes as short as Bangkok-Chang Mai and Bangkok-Phuket (where one aircraft promptly went on a euphemistically named “runway excursion“). You’d be a fairly lucky man to land a long haul J seat on a 90 minute flight.

Thai has gradually started deploying the A350 on progressively longer routes, as seen below.

Route Departure Arrival Day Flight
Bangkok – Rome 00.01 05.55 SUN, MON, WED, FRI TG944
Rome – Bangkok 13.30 06.05 SUN, MON, WED, FRI TG945
Bangkok – Milan 00.35 07.10 TUE, THU, SAT TG940
Milan – Bangkok 13.05 05.55 TUE, THU, SAT TG941
Bangkok – Singapore 08.00 12.25 Everyday TG403
16.35 19.55 Everyday TG404
Singapore – Bangkok 12.25 13.45 Everyday TG409
21.00 22.20 Everyday TG410

They are still operating the A350 on the relatively short haul SIN-BKK route. I believe that’s in order to give pilots international flying experience with the A350 as the route has sufficient business traffic to warrant the deployment of a widebody premium cabin.  I don’t think this is by any means a permanent arrangement, however, so when I saw on Lifemiles that TG award space from BKK-SIN was wide open, I didn’t think twice about booking it.

I ended up booking the award through Krisflyer for 20,000 miles and $30.40 of taxes (SQ J would have cost 17,000 and $104. Fewer miles, but more cash…) to get home from Bangkok. Having flown the oldest of the old from SIN-BKK, it was now time to try the newest of the new…


My flight was scheduled to depart at 4.30pm. After checking in at BKK and clearing immigration (Thai now has a special lane near Row A for premium cabin travellers that gives dedicated security and immigration clearance), I made a beeline for the Royal Orchid Spa, reserved for Thai J and F customers. I’ve done a detailed review of the first class section of the spa during The Long Way to New York trip report, but this time I’d be doing the business class section.

First and Business class passengers get access to the same spa in BKK. The main difference is the type of treatment they receive. Thai’s airport spa offers business class passengers a 30 minute treatment and first class passengers a 60 minute treatment. As a reminder, here are the options

Touch of Silk (Full Body Oil Massage – 60 minutes for First Class only)

Start your journey with a relaxing Touch of Silk, full-body oil massage. Performed with the unique ‘Thai touch’, this massage will help to prepare your body for your onward flight by increasing blood circulation as well as relieving muscular tension and helping to provide necessary hydration for your skin. On completion of your Touch of Silk massage, you will be left with an overall sense of well-being and total relaxation.

Royal Thai Massage (Full Body Massage – 60 minutes for First Class only)

Thai massage is perceived as one of the most precious of Thai traditional therapies. Royal Thai Massage helps to stimulate blood circulation, reduces edema caused by travelling and reduces body fatigue. With its unique acupressure techniques, expertly applied to your body, you will find your mind relaxed and muscles relieved, following the stress of your journey.

Neck & Shoulder Massage (30 minutes)

The Neck & Shoulder Massage is a great way to relieve stress which has built up from the rigors of everyday life from working long hours at your computer. Using specific techniques the therapist will work to loosen tight muscles around the neck and shoulders whilst simultaneously assessing how much tension is held in the body and how best to release it. You will board your flight feeling more relaxed and a little lighter around the shoulders.

Foot Massage (30 minutes)

Let’s help prepare you for your onward journey, by taking the weight off your feet and giving them a relaxing massage, which they truly deserve. Foot massage is a well-known relaxation therapy to help take care of tired feet. The gentle touch of the therapists hands and the deeper pressure from their fingers, create a sense of overall relaxation and will help to stimulate your vital organs.

As a J passenger, my options were shoulders or foot. I opted for foot.

The business class spa treatments take place in small semi private cubicles (First Class has their own treatment room- you can see how those look here). Here’s mine.

The treatment actually lasted closer to 20 minutes than 30. But it was just as good as any other foot massage you’d find on the streets of BKK. I can’t really say I’m a connoisseur of foot massages though. I’m the kind of whimp who always says “softer”.

After the treatment you’re ushered back to the waiting area and served tea.

There are some light refreshments laid out in the waiting area but it’s really nothing worth hanging around for. It’s mostly prepackaged snacks and pastries.

Craving real food, I left the spa and walked across the hallway to the business class lounge. By this time there was less than 10 minutes till boarding started so I had to make a very quick pass through.

There are numerous buffet spreads set up within the lounge, but there’s only one central hot food area with maybe 4 or 5 hot items.

The selection was somewhat limited, and TG really isn’t doing legendary Thai food any justice at all. I had a plate of very anemic pad thai (yes, yes, I know pad thai isn’t really pure Thai) and a pork cake, the contents of which I prefer not to know. I mean, how hard would it be for Thai to do a really kickass menu of Thai classics?

There are several satellite buffet displays set up elsewhere in the lounge with coffee, light snacks, fruit and cakes.

I chowed down for 5 minutes and started the walk towards gate G2. The signs said the walking time was 12-15 minutes, but because of my superior physique I did the walk in 6  minutes (form an orderly queue, ladies)

Boarding was just about to start when I reached the gate. I love the design of the A350. The plane is so cool it looks like it’s wearing sunglasses.

When boarding started, I bounded down the jetway to try and snap as many photos as possible before the place got crowded (I had fun reading Lucky’s tips on writing trip reports, and how you need to accept that you’re going to be seen as a bit of a weirdo for running down the jetway just so you can get photos of an empty cabin)

First impressions of the cabin were great. This seat, to me, is a much improved version of its A380 offering. The A380 seat has some very unfortunate design elements like the copious use of plastic and Barney-esque purple upholstery. The A350’s theme is more wood and dark purple, which at least evokes fewer comparisons with everyone’s favourite dinosaur.

You can do a virtual tour of the cabin here if you’re so inclined. Here’s what the seats in the centre look like (if you’re travelling solo and unable to get one of the seats at the side, this should be your next best bet)

The seats at the side, as expected, offer the best privacy. There are two types of seats at the side- those with the table separating the seat from the aisle and those with the seat closer to the aisle. Obviously the former is preferable in terms of privacy.

I know some people have misgivings about seats in this configuration because they’re worried about the amount of foot space they’ll have. I’m pleased to report that Thai’s seat has an ample amount of space for feet in its cubby hole. Either that or I have very small feet. And you know what they say about men with small feet, ladies…

Thai is using the newfangled touchscreen IFE system. I’m still unconvinced about the actual utility of having a touch screen, because in practice (1) it hangs a lot and (2) it increases the chances of accidentally brushing the screen and exiting whatever you’re watching.

Thai’s earphones are nose cancelling but look and feel very flimsy. Definitely not in the same league as SQ’s Phitek or ANA’s Sony-branded sets.

Each seat has 2x USB ports for charging. It’s a minor annoyance, really, but due to the setup of the seat and positioning of the side table, if you’re plugging in a USB cable and resting your device on the side table, you’re going to get tangled up when exiting the seat. It’s a small issue, again, but just goes to show how far some intelligent user experience design can go. It wouldn’t have been very difficult to put the USB charging ports on the table, or in an otherwise unobstructed place.

Even the A350 lights are cool. They’re behind clear glass and are activated by a small button over your head.

The crew came around to serve pre-departure drinks. A general point about the TG crew is that they were competent but not really personable. It’s not a criticism unique to TG, I realise that on regional flights SQ crew are more functional than friendly, but don’t expect any additional touches like being addressed by name or small talk. I certainly didn’t feel any warmth from this crew.

All drinks in TG J were served in these really tiny glasses. If you were uncharitable you could call this a cost saving initiative, as those glasses couldn’t have held more than 100ml of champagne. FYI, the champagne on offer was Duval Leroy. It’s not terrible, but not exactly what I’d call an aspirational brand either.

Having had a bit too much champagne before takeoff, a visit to the loo was in order. The A350’s loos have all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a 21st century aircraft. Automatic taps are an expected feature by now…

But I was particularly pleased by the no-touch bins. Just wave your hand over it and it opens up.

The next feature I want on my aircraft is no touch door opening, because the hypochondriac in me hates washing my hands then having to touch the door latch to get out.

TG has Borghese toiletries in the loo for its regional flights.

Pushback was delayed by about 20 minutes, but the captain finally got on the PA and announced the flight details and timings.

We were stuck in a bit of a queue to take off, but I spotted this relic of the TG fleet…

We got airborne before long and were treated to some really nice sunset views  

Linner was served after takeoff. Here’s the food and drinks menu.

I was a bit surprised there was no Western option on this flight, given that most carriers practice having both an Asian and a Western choice on this route. That said, all 3 Asian options sounded equally good.

I wasn’t too impressed by the quality of the meal. It seemed more like an economy class meal plated on business class plates. SQ’s regional catering is definitely superior to TG’s, given that you can order pretty much whatever you want from the BTC menu.

That said, there was a very nice chocolate mousse that came with the meal. The crew came by to serve almonds with the post take off drinks, almost as if by afterthought.

After the meal I tried to test out the bed function of the seat. The seat goes full flat, but as I’ve said before I’m weird in a way that I prefer adjusting the seat to 160-170 degrees because I find a 180 degree sleeping angle a bit uncomfortable on the lower back

This was just a short haul flight so I can’t say whether the long haul experience is any different- I would have liked to get a mattress pad plus a bigger blanket, but the base seat in itself was comfortable enough for a quick nap. My main concern about the seat is that it’s quite firm. Some people may prefer a firmer bed however.

My overall feelings on the Thai A350 product is that it’s definitely a solid enough hard product, one I’d not hesitate to select on a long haul route. Can it compare to top tier airlines like ANA, SQ and EVA? No way. But this is an important step forward for TG and hopefully they’ll be able to raise their soft product to match it as well.

The First Class Premium on Other Airlines

The First Class Premium

Part 1: Tracing the evolution of First and Business Class on Singapore Airlines
Part 2: How does First and Business Class compare on Singapore Airlines?
Part 3: Number crunching First vs Business Class on Singapore Airlines
Part 4: How does First and Business Class compare on other airlines?


Now that we’ve seen how First and Business Class compare on Singapore Airlines and how you decide whether you want to shell out the premium, let’s finish off this mini-series by looking at how First and Business class compare on other airlines.

It’s relevant to consider this question even if your primary currency is Krisflyer miles, because of the several sweet spots we’ve discussed on the Star Alliance award chart.  Also, if you’re a Lifemiles buyer, you might be in a position to choose between First and Business Class on the airlines below (and at 78,000 for a one-way business class ticket from Singapore to the States versus 99,000 for first class, it’s not always a simple choice!)

Here are some airlines where I’ve flown both First and Business Class and my observations on whether First Class is worth the premium.

Thai

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Thai is a confusing one because it has 3 different types of Business Class products across its widebody fleet. If you’re on their A380s or 77Ws, you get a 1-2-1 full flat configuration. These are good enough seats in and of themselves, but because of the layout of the cabin you will have 2 couples seats every other row (see the second photo below) which can be super awkward if you don’t know your seatmate.

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If you’re on the 747, A330, A340, 772 or 773, you get the old angled flat seat. This seat is definitely not worth redeeming your hard earned miles for.  It is very open with little privacy, and you can just feel yourself sliding off it in the second photo…

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If you’re on their newest 787 Dreamliner, you get a 2-2-2 full flat configuration. These aircraft do not offer First Class.

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photo credit: 2madames

This is the same seat I reviewed previously on my IAH-GRU flight on United. I thought it was a comfortable enough seat but it scores no points for the loss of privacy from having a seatmate even at the sides. It’s definitely a step up from the angled flat product, and I would think long and hard about whether I’d spend my miles on this if it were my only option (and try to get one of the centre 2 seats so I’d have unobstructed aisle access)

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Now, Thai only offers First Class on its A380, 747 and A340 aircraft (which, as per my understanding, are not flying anymore)

If you’re on the A380, you’ll get this

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photo credit: svenluckermans.com

On the 747, you will either get the new First Class product (which, to add to confusion, is not the same as the First Class product on the A380) with 9 seats in the cabin. This is the product I reviewed recently on my journey to New York.

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Or you will be suay and get the old “pod” version with 10 seats in the cabin. If it’s any consolation these are mainly operated on domestic routes- I’ve flown HKT-BKK on a 747-400 before.

Photo of HS-TGX Boeing 747-4D7 by Patrick Teubner
photo credit: jetphotos.net

Therefore, if you’re on any aircraft other than the A380, it’s a straightforward decision to go for First Class over Business if you want a flat seat. If you’re on the A380 you’ll need to decide whether you value the additional privacy and service of a Suite over the 1-2-1 business flat configuration.

As for other parts of the inflight experience- I thought the F&B experience in F was very mediocre. On an overnight flight to Tokyo this was the sum total of the dining experience. It is as every bit as appetizing as it looks. At least they served Dom…

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Service wise I didn’t sense much of a difference between First and Business. It was perfectly functional, if not lacking the same warmth you find in Asian crews (it could have been the language barrier)

Of course it’s also relevant to consider the ground experience. Thai’s Royal Orchid Spa in BKK is split into 2 sections where J passengers get a choice of a 30 min back or foot massage, and F passengers get a choice of a 1 hour full body massage. Some people feel this is worth the one time splurge. I think it’s certainly novel to get a spa treatment in an airport, but if you’re in Bangkok anyway…

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I like Thai on the whole, but I think their product just doesn’t have the same aura or premium feel that other Asian Airlines (SQ, NH, BR) has. If I had to choose between First and Business on Thai, I’d still try and spring for First, but I would ideally try and see if other airines with award space plied the route as well.

Lufthansa

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Lufthansa recently finished installing full flat seating in First and Business across the entirety of their fleet.

The new business class seat is a welcome step up from the old angled flat one, which I had the misfortune of encountering on a long haul flight from MUC-GRU.

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It kind of reminds me of Thai’s old business class in a way.

The new seat, on the other hand, is a marked improvement over the old one.

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However, as much of an improvement as the new business class seat is, it’s hardly industry leading. It’s in a 2-2-2 configuration, without all-aisle access. To make matters worse, the way the seats are designed make it inevitable that at some point you’re going to be playing footsie with your neighbour. If you’re in the window seat, it’s difficult to access the loo without waking up the person in the aisle.

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photo credit: onemileatatime

Lufthansa is planning to launch a new Business Class product in 2020 which will be common across Austrian, Lufthansa and Swiss (all of which are owned by Lufthansa), and hopefully this should see them going with a 1-2-1 configuration

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Swiss Business Class on 77W

So even though Business is full flat, I still feel there’s a case to be made for splurging on First when it comes to Lufthansa.

Here’s the First Class seat for comparison

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Lufthansa’s First Class seat is amazing- it has a full range of lounging positions and deploys into one of the most comfortable beds I’ve had in the sky (second only to the SQ Suites bed in my opinion)

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F&B wise, in Business Class you’ll get hearty if unspectacular food. Here are some of the items I had from BOM-MUC and MUC-GRU.

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That said, the culinary options in First Class are, in my opinion, only a marginal step up from Business. For instance, you’ll get Taittinger vintage champagne

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And a full caviar service, with all the traditional garnishes

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But the rest of the meal was very mediocre and unappetizing. Lufthansa could learn a thing or two about plating.

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On the ground, Lufthansa First also has the most amazing First Class Terminal experience if you’re departing out of FRA. You should definitely read the full report but here are some highlights.

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So I think that I’d only spring for Lufthansa F if it were departing out of FRA, just to get the FCT experience. That’s purely a once off thing, though. Subsequently, I think I’d be ok with Business if I were able to get one of the two seats in the centre or if I were flying with a companion.

ANA

ANA is one my absolute favourite airlines for travel in any class. And presents to me a rare conundrum- both the business class and first class are such great products that I could easily justify going for either.

Here is ANA’s business class (you can read full reviews here and here) seat.

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The seat is extremely comfortable and private. It extends into a full flat bed. Every seat has aisle access. If your goal is to get there with a good rest, this product is good enough.

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The catering in ANA business class is not to be sniffed at either. On my flight from Bombay to Tokyo the menu was designed by the Taj.

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The champagne on offer is Canard-Duchene, but they also have a great selection of other drinks including premium Japanese sakes.

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Service wise ANA is excellent in all cabin classes and I’d be hard pressed to say that First is necessarily much better than Business.

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ANA First Class offers a sleeper suit, Krug champagne and caviar service at meals (albeit as condiment and not a proper course in and of itself, like on Lufthansa. Or maybe that was just the flight I was on)

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Your meals will be multi-course Japanese wonders. To be honest I didn’t care for most of the items but that’s because I’m a philistine. I’m sure a true gourmand would appreciate them. Frankly I was happy enough with the simpler meals in Business.

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Ground services wise is where there isn’t much of a difference. I don’t think ANA’s First Class lounge is a big improvement over their Business. They’re both perfectly alright but they’re not worth arriving early for. The photos below are the First Class lounge.

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And these are the business class lounge photos. It’s pretty much the same, sans champagne.

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For me, I’m happy enough with ANA’s J product to grab it immediately when I see availability on Lifemiles. I would splurge on F if it were a special occasion, but as good as that product is it’s really more like icing on the cake.

Conclusion

Let’s be honest- picking between First and Business Class is probably the biggest first world problem there is. But still, you’ve worked hard to earn those miles, so you might as well stretch them.

This is but a small sample of the products out there, but I hope it gives you a better idea on what the gap is between First and Business class on other airlines.

The Long Way to New York: Thai Airways First Class BKK-HND

Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class SIN-BKK
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa, BKK
Thai Airways First Class BKK-HND
Getting from HND to NRT
ANA First Class Lounge, NRT
ANA First Class NRT-ORD
United Club ORD
United Economy ORD-EWR
Visiting the US Open
Sheraton New York Times Square
Hilton New York Midtown
Wingtips Lounge JFK & Delta to DC
Exploring Washington DC
Element New York Times Square West
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, JFK
Singapore Airlines Suites JFK-FRA
Lufthansa Senator Lounge FRA
Singapore Airlines Suites FRA-SIN


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.

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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.

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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.

Helpful information from this FT thread

The old seats:

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 1 View 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.

Photo of HS-TGX Boeing 747-4D7 by Patrick Teubner
photo credit: jetphotos.net

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 1 View 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

Photo of HS-TGY Boeing 747-4D7 by Pawarin Prapukdee
photo credit: jetphotos.net

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.

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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.

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Each suite is spacious, with a ton of leg room to stretch out into

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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The attendants came around to introduce themselves and serve pre-departure drinks. Dom was offered and accepted.

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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.

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For comparison’s sake, here’s the SQ menu for a Suites flight (albeit on a longer, 13 hour route)

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Here’s the drinks list. The only name you’re really interested in is Dom Perignon 2006

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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.

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After this was cleared, I waited for the main course to be served.

And waited

And waited

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.

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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.

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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.