Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
I recently enjoyed a phenomenal holiday in Singapore & Thailand. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Swiss Boeing 777 Business Class from Zürich to Singapore
- Review: Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore
- Review: Six Senses Duxton & Maxwell, Singapore
- Review: Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class from Singapore to Phuket
- Review: Keemala Resort Phuket, Thailand
- Review: Rosewood Phuket, Thailand
- Review: Thai Airways Boeing 747 First Class from Phuket to Bangkok (today)
- Review: The Siam Hotel Bangkok, Thailand
- Review: Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand
- Review: AMAZING Soneva Kiri, Thailand
- Review: Asia’s largest holiday villa at Soneva Kiri, Thailand
- Review: Eva Air Boeing 777 Business Class from Bangkok to London
Today (March 4, 2020): Review of Thai Airways’ B747 First Class – Phuket to Bangkok.
I recently flew onboard a Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 from the island of Phuket to the Thai capital Bangkok. Thai Airways operates multiple flights a day between Phuket and Bangkok, some of them operated by jumbo jets. I had booked a Business Class seat, but during the online check-in process, I was randomly upgraded at no extra cost to a First Class seat (Thai Airways sells its Boeing 747 First Class seats as Business Class on domestic routes). I am not sure how I got upgraded, but I assume it has to do with the fact that I checked-in immediately after check-in opened (and I guess Thai Airways fills its planes from the front – where First Class is located – to the back, so first come, first serve). And while the cabin and seat were dated and old-fashioned, it’s always a treat to fly in the nose of a Boeing 747, even on such a short route.
Have you ever flown with Thai Airways? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment below.
- Trip: Phuket (HKT) to Bangkok (BKK)
- Airline: Thai Airways
- Aircraft type: Boeing 747-400
- Aircraft registration number: HS-TGO (delivered to Thai Airways in 1993)
- Flight number: TG202
- Date: November 2, 2019
- On time departure: Yes (10.30 am)
- On time arrival: Yes (11.30 am)
- Miles: 430
- Flight time: one hour
- Seat: 2K
- Class: First Class
In this review (more information & photos below my YouTube clip):
- Cost of my ticket
- Thai Airways domestic Business Class lounge at Phuket Airport
- First Class cabin
- First Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences (crew, lavatory & views)
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
I paid $150 USD for a one way Business Class ticket from Phuket to Bangkok. Flights between Phuket and Bangkok are super cheap, since several airlines compete on this route (e.g. Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, etc …). Fyi, I would never fly Premium Class on such a short route, if it wasn’t for my travel blog and YouTube channel.
2. THAI AIRWAYS DOMESTIC BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE AT PHUKET AIRPORT
Thai Airways operates a lounge – called Thai Royal Orchid Lounge – inside Phuket Airport’s domestic terminal. The lounge, which is located one floor above the check-in area (before the security checkpoint), is very small and probably the tiniest lounge I have ever seen. The space seats only around 45 passengers (maximum capacity). A buffet is on display in the corner, offering sandwiches, fruits, salads, Danish pastries, cereals, soup, and a hot rice dish. Fyi, this lounge is not to be confused with the much larger and more attractive Thai Royal Orchid Lounge inside Phuket’s international terminal.
3. FIRST CLASS CABIN
First Class in Thai Airways’ Boeing 747s is located on the lower deck in the plane’s nose. The carrier operates two versions of First Class on its small B747 subfleet:
- The ‘old’ First Class cabin configuration features 10 seats, with 3 seats on each side and two pairs of seats in the center (row 2 & 3). This flight was operated by a Boeing 747 with the old cabin.
- The ‘new’ First Class cabin configuration features 9 seats, with 3 seats on each side as well as one single seat (row 2) and one pair of seats in the middle (row 3). I have previously published a trip report onboard Thai Airways’ Boeing 747 new First Class, which you can read here.
The new First Class cabin layout offers a much better experience compared to the old product, since the new seats are semi-enclosed suites with plenty of privacy, contrary to the old seats which don’t feature any privacy shelfs. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to know in advance which product you’ll get as last-minute airplane substitutions are a frequent occurrence with Thai Airways.
The old First Class cabin’s look feels totally outdated and old school, although the vintage ambiance may appeal to some travelers and aviation geeks. The color scheme is tropical with mahagony wooden panels, dark, purple seat fabrics, and brown leather arm- and footrests. Bright yellow pillows and headrests make for a remarkable and colorful contrast (although I am not a huge fan of bright colors on a plane as I prefer understated, minimalist elegance).
The cabin narrows towards the nose, with a small display of magazines and newspapers present in front of the second seat row in the plane’s center. Two rather small lavatories for exclusive use of First Class passengers are located in the back of the cabin. A narrow, long galley is located besides the lavatories,
Remarkably, no seat map of the new First Class cabin can be found online (Seatguru’s seat map of Thai Airways’ B747 is not correct).
4. FIRST CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
The old First Class seat onboard Thai Airways’ Boeing 747 has a width of 23 inch (58 cm) and a pitch of 203 cm (80 inch). While the paddling is excellent, the seat itself is totally exposed and lacks privacy since there is no shelf. Several storage cabinets are located in the seat’s side console, with one of them holding the massive foldout tray table. The small entertainment screen is also hidden in this console; it is released by pushing on its edge, after which it can be turned towards the seat. The side console also features a panel for the seat controls and a wired controller for the inflight entertainment
Across the seat is a leather ottoman, with some additional storage space below. The ottoman can double as a second seat when you want to dine with a companion. At the push of a button, the seat automatically reclines into a flat bed which is – together with the ottoman – 86 inches (218 cm) long.
What are the best First Class seats on Thai Airways’ B747?
- Solo travelers should go for the window seats, while companions should choose the two middle seats.
What are the worst First Class seats on Thai Airways’ B747?
- The two seats in the first row are the worst because the cabin is quite narrow here, placing passengers in close proximity to one another.
Thai Airways passengers traveling in premium class on one of the carrier’s domestic routes receive the following onboard amenities:
- A (purple) blanket and (yellow) pillow, to enhance the inflight comfort.
- Noise canceling headphones, to block the noise from the engines and cabin.
Amenity kits are not provided on domestic flights.
A welcome drink and a hot towel were offered after boarding was complete. A light lunch – Pad Thai noodles with shrimps – was served shortly after takeoff (it tasted quite good).
The TV screen onboard the old First Class cabin is very small & the video quality is not excellent. The entertainment selection can be navigated by directly touching the screen or by a remote controller, although it loads very slowly. The entertainment selection is extensive though, with over 1,000 hours of movies, short films, games, music, news and information. Thai Airways’ newer planes (e.g. A350, B787) are equipped with a much better entertainment system.
8. ONBOARD INTERNET
Thai Airways in-flight Wi-Fi internet service is available on the Airbus A380-800, A350-900, selected A330-330 and Boeing 787, but not on the B747.
9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: I’ve always enjoyed terrific service onboard Thai Airways’ flights – in line with Thailand’s warm and legendary hospitality – and it was no different on this Boeing 747 flight. Two crew members took care of the fully booked First Class cabin and they did a wonderful job.
# TOILET: Two rather small lavatories for exclusive use of First Class passengers are located in the back of the cabin.
# VIEWS: The flight path took us over Phang Nga Bay, which is famous for limestone rock formations jutting out of the emerald green sea. Phang Nga Bay prominently features in the James Bond movie “The Man With the Golden Gun”.
10. MY VERDICT
- Domestic Business Class lounge at Phuket: 3/10
- Cabin design: 5/10
- Seat comfort (upright position): 9/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 8/10
- Food (quality): 7/10
- Food (quantity): 7/10
- Inflight entertainment : 5/10
- WiFi: not available
- Service: 9/10
- Overall experience: mediocre: 6/10
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