Guest Post BY VJ Capule:
Thai Airways A340-600
Flying business class throughout my SE Asia trip has been a wonderful experience. I have a better understanding of why many passengers choose to fly business class instead of economy. The service has been wonderful and it was just a nonstop spoilage. Traveling no longer was just sitting on a plane, trying to find any form of distraction and waiting for the plane to land, it has become so much more. I was actually excited for every plane ride and awaited experiencing business class treatment.
I was going on another business class adventure from Bangkok to Singapore. I went through the whole process of getting on the plane without a problem. As I walked into the plane, I looked for my seat and found it to be the first one available. There was something extremely different about this seat from business class, though, it had twice the room and it was a solo passenger seat without another seat next to. My travel partner had a big smile on his face and told me were upgraded to first class seats! I jumped for joy as I was already excited for another business class experience, but never expected to be seated in the First Class area! I made a joke a couple times as I looked back at business class and whispered “look at the commoners behind us!”
The first thing I noticed in 1st Class was the amount of room I had. The person closest to me was in the middle aisle and it felt kind of lonely being in front as I was so used to having a person or two next to me. In front of my seat sat a small foot rest that a travel companion can sit on to face me and share a meal with. I had 3 windows to my disposal that I could use to view outside. I had a large table that folded out with ample amount of space and was double the size of business class table. My chair, once again offered many positions for comfort.
Pre-flight, I was offered a very comfortable blanket that I wanted to take home! I also had a pillow which was larger than I normally received in either economy or business class. The normal goodies were offered: a pre-flight drink, hot towel and newspaper/magazines to keep me entertained. The FA came to confirm my special meal for the flight and also offered me a drink menu and meal menu to make sure I knew what I will be offered, in case I didn’t want my pre-ordered meal.
Once the seat belt light came off, I reclined my seat for comfort and my entertainment system was set up. I noticed this flight offered a few more movies and television shows than my previous Thai Airways flights, but honestly I think they were the same as the flight on Thai Airways from Seoul to Bangkok. The FA came and asked for my drink order, however since I was suffering from a bit of a stomach ache, I was not able to take advantage of the many drinks they offered, so I stuck with water and orange juice. The FA then came by and put a small table cloth on all of the 1st Class passengers but later noticed that it was too small and changed it to a larger table cloth to cover the entire table; which led me to believe that some of the FAs were very detailed oriented. The utensils and napkins came, along with my appetizer. The appetizer was a prawn and scallop dish, Caprese salad, and endives. On the side were crackers accompanied with camembert cheese spread also some butter. Another FA bought around a bread basket offering wheat, white, garlic bread and other sorts of carbohydrate. The appetizer, I must say, was delicious along with the Caprese salad. It was a simple plating but still very pleasant to look at as it offered a lot of color. The main dish was a roasted duck with a side of rice and vegetables. I guess it must be hard to plate a main dish, but the presentation on this one was mediocre. The duck was garnished with parsley which kind of killed the presentation as it just looked awkward. Despite this, I must say though, the dish was quite delicious. The roasted duck’s color was beautiful, perfectly cooked and the taste was phenomenal; so who am I to complain. I was then brought a delicious desert delightfully presented and delicious to the last bite! After the meal, I popped on a movie and closed shop until the plane landed.
Main Dish - preordered PRAWN CHU-CHEE WITH RICE - "A TRADITIONAL THAI DISH COOKED FROM PRAWN, CHILLI PASTE, COCONUT MILK, FISH SAUCE, KAFFIR LIME LEAVES, SERVED WITH STEAMED RICE AND VEGETABLES."
Not everything was perfect on the flight though as I did notice a few mishaps. My water was unfortunately emptied during my appetizer barrage and was not refilled until I had asked for it to be a couple times, and when it finally was refilled I was already eating my desert. The FAs came around after my appetizer to ask if I wanted any hot beverages and I had asked for a cup of hot green tea. I guess the first FA that I spoke to forgot about it and so I asked another FA 15 minutes later for the same beverage. He came back a few minutes later and apologetically said that they were out of green tea and asked if I wanted something else; I opted for black tea instead. As I sipped my black tea, the FA that initially took drink order came by with a cup of green tea, so I’m unsure if they were actually out or just forgot; no big deal. My only other complaint was that I felt some of the FAs that were older barely cracked a smile the entire trip!
The one good thing though was during a massive turbulence, most of the black my tea that I didn’t drink spilled around the cup holder. I was going to wait after the plane was stable to ask for a rag but as soon as the turbulence stopped, the FA came by and cleaned it all up. Clearly this FA was paying attention!
Over-all, this First Class seating experience was pretty nice. I managed to have a good and comfortable flight but I didn’t feel the whole First Class experience. I also must say that my other Business Class experience were a lot better: my drinks were never empty and never had to ask an FA to fill up my water, the drinks I asked for were delivered in a timely manner and the FAs had a friendlier demeanor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still so thankful I was upgraded to 1st Class, but I wanted to be more observant of the differences between airlines and service.
Now that VJ has written up his experience I am going to add to it:
First, know that although we were “upgraded” to first class. On the route we were flying (BKK-SIN) Thai Airways does not offer a true first class. The plane has a first class cabin, however the service is exactly the same as business class, so this would not be consider a true first class experience. The flight was overall nice, however the only issue is the boarding process. Thai Airways doesn’t actually enforce who boards the plane when. Boarding passes are collected when first entering the gate area and then once boarding begins, everyone rushes the gates. There are agents that hold up signs that read who they are supposedly boarding, however the masses rush the gates, leaving it to a be a true free for all.
Seat: The seat offers a 78 inch pitch and is 22.5 inches wide. It has almost twice the pitch of the 36 inches offered in Business class and 5.5 inches wider! The seat goes 100% flat offering a true bead like experience, unlike the seats in business, furthermore the seat offers an interval massage function which is fantastic when resting! The seat has ample storage room, offering places to store, books, ipads, computers, phones, wallets and more. A number of the storage compartments open and close, making it easier to store your wallet and passport or phone out of sight. The highlight of the seat is the foot rest, which doubles as a seat for your companion, and the oversize table, which is honestly almost as large as my dining room table at home. There is more than enough space for two people to share a meal! The TV is also decent size, I’d guess around 15 inches, and retracts into the seat. The only problem with this is you cannot watch it during takeoff or landing.
The seat in a number of positions
IFE: Speaking of the large TV, the in-flight entertainment is good on most international flights on Thai Airways. There is a large selection of movies (both Asian and American) along with TV shows, games, information, duty free shopping, and more. The large TVs do retract and have to be stored for takeoff and landing, taking away from your viewable time, yet for me this is not a major issue.
Food & Beverage: The food and beverage for a two hour flight was again top notch. On all flights out of Bangkok, meals in business class and first can be pre-booked. Although the options are not as extensive as the book the cook option on Singapore airline, there are plenty of options that will satisfy everyone’s pallet. And of course, if you don’t like your pre-booked meal option, there’s always the standard option on the plane. I quickly glanced at the inflight menu and I was shocked that there were 4 different options! This seemed like a lot of options, especially since Delta only offers 4 options on 10 hours flights from LAX-NRT! Beverages options were also great, offering the same wines and bevarge selection and the Thai Airways flight from Seoul.
Main Dish - pre-ordered "BBQ. DUCK WITH GRAVY AND RICE - CHINESE ROAST DUCK THIS IS A CHINESE DISH OF DUCK, ROASTED CHINESE STYLE, SERVED WITH OWN GRAVY, STEAMED RICE, CHINESE BROCCOLI (KALE) AND SOY SAUCE WITH SLICED CHILLI."
Dessert & Brandy
Service: The Service on this flight was below the standard for most Thai airways flight and it just proves that your crew can really make or break a flight. The crew seemed flustered and disoriented at times. Although they were always friendly, they were slow when it came to refilling beverages. If this was my only flight on Thai Airways I would not have been impressed, however since I know how great they can be, I understand that there are good days and bad days.
Overall, our flight on Thai Airways was pleasant. The flight was just over 2 hours and I did not get to fully enjoy my lay flat 1st class seat, but it was nice to at least experience Thai’s First class Hard project. I did get to lay flat for about 30 minutes, but did not get an actual nap in. The blankets and pillows were nicer on this route than any other route I flew with Thai and were similar to Delta’s offerings on Transpacific routes. I definitely will fly Thai Airways again and would recommend them to anyone flying through South East Asia. I mean after all, it’s not every day you get to have a free massage on a layover and then get spoiled at 38K feet!
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