Chasing the Sun: Thai Airways First Class Frankfurt to Bangkok

Introduction
Lufthansa First Class Seattle to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Lounge & Senator Lounge Frankfurt
Thai Airways First Class Frankfurt to Bangkok
InterContinental Bangkok
Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge Bangkok
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific “The Wing” Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific First Class Hong Kong to San Francisco


Thai Airways is notorious for equipment swaps, which is why I was really worried about this flight. They currently have four types of first class seats:

Today we’d be flying their single reconfigured 747, which has the tail number HS-TGY. You can track the tail number here, and as you can see the plane has been all over the place, so we really lucked out with having it on our flight to Frankfurt.

Anyway, we were picked up from the lounge at around 1:45PM and escorted to gate B46, where boarding was underway.

Thai 921
Frankfurt (FRA) – Bangkok (BKK)
Friday, November 9
Depart: 2:10PM
Arrive: 6:20AM (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr10min
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 2A (First Class)

We boarded through door 1L, and once we showed our boarding passes were directed to our seats. My initial impression of the cabin was that it was spacious and nicely decorated. There are just nine seats in the nose of Thai’s new 747s, so there’s plenty of personal space. British Airways crams 14 first class seats into the nose of their 747s, on the other hand.


First class cabin

I was assigned 2A, which was probably the most private seat in the cabin along with 2K.


Seat 2A


Seat 2A

The “suite” was interesting in that it has the same design as most fully enclosed airplane suites, except doesn’t have a door. So it’s kind of only semi-private. The finishes look impressive on the surface (that’s not a pun, by the way), though felt a bit cheap when you actually touched them — not that it’s the end of the world.

The entertainment screen was huge, as was the side console.


Entertainment system

Each suite also featured a closet, though they were really, really small, hardly wide enough to even hang a jacket.


Closet

To the left of the seat was a console containing the entertainment control along with some additional storage for reading glasses, headphones, etc.


Remote control

Row one is great for people traveling together, though if traveling alone I’d definitely choose row two, as the seats in row one are quite close together.


View from my seat


View from my seat

Once half of the first class passengers were settled in the service began. Instead of asking what everyone wanted to drink they just came around with a bottle of Dom and a bunch of glasses, asking “champagne?” Not an especially personalized service for first class, but I guess most passengers drink champagne anyway.


Champagne

I was also offered an amenity kit which was Porsche branded, though I believe it’s actually the business class kit, as Thai currently offers Tumi kits in first class. The contents were fairly basic.


Amenity kit

I was also offered slippers and pajamas, which were soft though a bit oddly colored.


Pajamas


Slippers

Lastly I was offered a menu and drink list.


Menu and drink list

There were also some noise canceling headphones already waiting at the seat.


Noise canceling headphones

At around 2PM the captain came on the PA to welcome us aboard and advise us of our flight time of 9hr50 min, anticipating an on-time arrival in Bangkok. By the time the door closed all nine first class seats were occupied.

We began our long taxi to runway 18, which took about 15 minutes. As usual the traffic on the taxi out was quite exciting, with airlines from all over the world.


Etihad Airbus 340


Lufthansa Airbus 340


Air Berlin Airbus 330 (anyone know which airport Air Berlin serves with an A330 out of FRA?)

Once at the runway we were cleared for takeoff and had a slow climb out. After about 10 minutes the seatbelt sign was turned off, and I changed into my pajamas.


View on takeoff

I started playing around with the seat controls and entertainment system. The seat’s functions can be controlled using a monitor at the side of the seat, similar to the seats on their leased 777s.


Seat controls

About 20 minutes after takeoff the meal service began. The dinner menu read as follows:

And the wine list read as follows:

I ordered a Diet Coke, though was served a Coke Zero, which was served with some mixed nuts.


Coke Zero and mixed nuts

Next there was a selection of canapes. I saw the flight attendant serve the passenger in 1K, and after a few minutes he decided he didn’t want it, so sent it back. What did she do? Plop it down on my tray. I didn’t say anything, but didn’t touch it either.


Canapes

Next the table was set, including a breadbasket with some rolls and garlic bread.


Table setup

The next course was caviar, which I thought was nicely presented.


Caviar

Unfortunately that’s where the decent tasting part of the meal ended. The rest of the meal was what you’d expect in business class on a mediocre airline at best.

The next course consisted of some prawns, beef, potato salad, and smoked trout. They were all fairly dry and tasteless.


Appetizer

I skipped the salad and chose the prawns as my main course. They were also quite tasteless and chewy, and the pasta accompanying it wasn’t very good either.


Main course

For dessert I had the cappuccino cream cake, and ordered some tea along with it. The cake was alright, though nothing special.


Cappuccino cream cake

On the whole the service was pretty “bleh.” There were four flight attendants working the cabin, though they were extremely uncoordinated. They were nice enough though didn’t go out of their way to smile or talk. They simply placed things on the tray table, removed things from the tray table upon request, and provided refills only when specifically asked.

One thing that frustrated me was that they wouldn’t remove any trash from the tray unless specifically asked. For example, I had a bunch of the plastic wrappers from the amenity kit, blankets, etc., and they all stayed on my console until halfway through the flight I specifically asked a flight attendant to toss them out.

After dinner I browsed the entertainment selection, which was extensive. I decided to watch an episode of “Undercover Boss UK,” and followed that up with a show about Costco, entitled “Costco Craze.” Both were interesting.


Cabin view


Location after dinner


Entertainment lineup


Entertainment lineup

After that we had about six hours to go to Thailand, and I decided it was time for some sleep. I was thrilled to see that Thai finally added mattress pads, as they didn’t previously offer them. This is a huge improvement, something I was perhaps overly excited about.

Unfortunately this also means the crew has to do turndown service, which I believe included them testing the bed based on how neatly they made it.


Turndown service


Turndown service

I woke up about 90 minutes out of Bangkok, right as the breakfast service began.


Location upon waking up

The breakfast menu read as follows:

After flying for nearly 24 hours and eating far more than I should I wasn’t especially hungry, so just ordered some cereal, fruit, and yogurt.


Breakfast

About 30 minutes out of Bangkok the captain came on the PA to advise us of our anticipated on-time arrival. I took the opportunity to change out of my PJs, and snapped a quick picture of the cabin.


First class cabin

As I was near the galley I asked one of the flight attendants about getting a landing card. She looked at my like I was crazy and instead handed me a Thai Royal Orchid Plus frequent flyer application. I told her I’m already a member of their partner’s program, and she responded “we better, and I pick out special frequent flyer number for youuuu.” Well, in that case…

About 15 minutes before landing all the crew walked around together to thank each passenger for flying Thai and offered them an orchid.


Parting gift

The sun rise as we descended was beautiful, and we had an uncharacteristically smooth landing (Thai’s landings are one thing that consistently aren’t “smooth as silk,” in my experience).


View on descent


View on descent

After an extremely long taxi we made it to our arrival gate, where there was an army of golf carts waiting for first class passengers. We were driven to immigration where we cleared within minutes.


Our ride to immigration


View from our ride

Thai’s new first class is a huge improvement over their old product. While the seat itself isn’t perfect, it’s extremely private and also comfortable for lounging and sleeping. I still slightly prefer the seats on the 777-300ERs, as those suites are fully enclosed. Then again, some of the 777-300ERs are starting to show their age, so the suites aren’t in great condition.

I’d probably only fly Thai longhaul first class again if it’s departing Bangkok, assuming there are other options. The onboard service can be a hit or miss and the food usually isn’t great. That being said, the ground services in Bangkok are phenomenal, especially for departing flights. But in terms of onboard service and food I think Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Swiss, etc., are in a higher league.

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Comments

  1. Interesting to read about the sloppy service. The one thing that has always been good when I fly TG is their service. I do always pre-book my meal though as I tend to agree that their normal offering can be below par (their massaman curry is outstanding however from the normal menu). Regarding the new F cabin, any idea how many planes they will convert? any ideas on timelines? Air Berlin flies the A330 from Frankfurt to Palma de Mallorca and Abu Dhabi if I am not mistaking. Looking forward to the rest of the trip report!

  2. Ben, you forgot to mention about the other type of First class seat on TG: the one on A380. It’s different from all 4 of them you listed at the beginning of this section of the report.

    As I Thai person, I can say one thing about the food on TG. It’s good (or really good) if you opt for Thai food on flights departing Thai airport (BKK,HKT,CNX), otherwise it’s like what you said. The service in F is hit and miss, better in J and Y.

  3. Thanks for the report! Another great read. Did they serve any chocolate thingies (pralines, etc) at the end your meal?
    Looking forward to your CX J and F experience.

  4. @ concorde02 — You’re absolutely right, whoops! Guess I have to give that a try as well.

    @ Claire — Frankly wasn’t especially hungry and there was a bit of a communication barrier, so didn’t bother.

    @ wctl — Nope, no chocolatey things!

  5. Lucky, I’ve seen the pics of the seats on other trip reports, it’s like SQ’s first class seat, but no wood finishing.

    One thing I’ve always wondered after reading this trip reports about Thai’s food…are the appetizers served via trolly, and you pick what you want, or is all pre-plated and served that way?

  6. You might want to find some alternatives for the phrase, “that being said,” which you used twice in the last paragraph. Nevertheless, that being said, it was a great report with much useful information.

  7. Thanks for the report I flew the new first on NRT-BKK and drew the same conclusion as you, the food was also bad, service so-so and seat was good but not the best.
    @JetAway: Great comment really helpful…we all read this blog to better our english.

  8. Thanks Lucky, a very informative and useful trip report leg.

    It seems like the best aspect of Thai is on the ground. I got a short haul award from Chiang Rai to Penang for only 17.5k United miles in First Class, only 5k more than coach (it is about a $350 ticket in coach). I get a half hour massage in the lounge during my layover for the 5k difference!

    The wine list is a little better than Lufthansa’s leg. White’s are more my style, in the $25-$30 range, with the red’s also my style in the $35-$40 range (although I can’t quite tell the maker of the burgundy, maybe it’s a cooperative).

  9. “The configuration they have on their wet leased 777-300ERs”

    I’m pretty sure the arrangement with Jet Airways is for a dry lease, no?

    The term wet lease originally meant ‘including fuel’ even (fuel = wet) but has come to mean that it includes some crew, maintenance etc.

    As opposed to a dry lease (‘aircraft only’) where the airline operates the plane under its own operating certificate, with its own crews, etc.

  10. @ wwk5d — With the exception of the caviar, everything is plated in the galley.

    @ JetAway — Good point, thanks. Fixed.

    @ Tao — I should have clarified that they have yet another first class product on their Airbus 380, which is slightly different than the configuration I flew on.

    @ BR — That’s what I get for writing the report late on a Saturday night. Grrr.

    @ Gary — Fixed, thanks.

  11. @ Ryan — Good to know! Didn’t realize that Air Berlin operated A330s out of FRA, let alone to longhaul destinations. Thought everything was out of DUS/TXL.

  12. Can’t believe how stressful this trip must have been. You booked first class and wasted the time to record each and every detail? Poor soul…… Next time, lean back,relax and enjoy… 🙂

  13. Didn’t realize they only had 1 747 converted…we just got da*n lucky then as we had it on both HKT-BKK and BKK-FRA. The one annoyance i had was that the touchscreen seat control would randomly turn on, and i couldnt figure out how to put it into the seat (it appears that it goes down, but no button that i found would make it do so). As detailed above, it’s quite good and a vast improvement over the old F on TG. Makes the LH F flight on the old 747 that we are about to get on seem almost disappointing (but not quite).

  14. I recently took the new A380 F from HKG to BKK and took some pictures (are on Flickr – trying to link it to the post, if this does not work just search for my name on Flickr).

    Currently TG only has one of these birds but they expect more soon. They put marketing for BKK-SIN BKK-NRT and BKK-FRA on billboards in BBK.

  15. Hi Lucky
    Fantastic report and very good for me, as I have just booked TG F class SYD-BKK_FCO & CDG-BKK-SYD with UA miles. We have the CDG-BKK on the A380. Currently I am holding 1A and 2A (myself and my daughter). Was wondering if you think its better for us to both have row 1 and if it will still be private?
    Thanks for your help.
    Cheers
    DG 🙂

  16. @ Downunder girl — Sounds like fun! There’s no right or wrong answer though I’d probably sit together in the center section so you can talk the whole flight if you’d like, as it should still be extremely private.

  17. Hi Flying Team , Just preorder the lobster and enjoy the Dom Perignon and feel really lucky. If service is a little slow just give big smile and ask for better 🙂

  18. Thanks Lucky! We usually park ourselves in 1A and 1K if we are lucky enough to be flying F on 747s etc. We generally dont talk that much when we fly as we dont like to disturb other passengers 😀 We read, watch movies, eat and SLEEP…a lot usually since we have to fly at least 12-14 hours to get anywhere and with Europe its like more than 24 hours. And yes I will be enjoying the Lobster and Dom too! Mini DG cant drink on the way over, but on the way home she will be legal drinking age and will no doubt try some Dom as well.
    On the A380 TG, is there a small lounge near 1K? I had a feeling there might be so that was one of the reasons I went for 1A and 2A (on the quiet side), but if there are no noise issues from the lounge area, then I might move one of us over to 1K. Thoughts?

    Thanks,
    DG

  19. @ Downunder girl — There does seem to be a small lounge, though I can’t imagine it generates much of a noise level, so I really wouldn’t factor it in, especially as most people will probably be sleeping.

    That being said I’d probably still do 1A and 2A over 1A and 1K. You’ll have to go all the way around the other aisle to talk to one another in 1A and 1K, so I’d much rather have the proximity of being seated behind one another.

    Just my two cents, and enjoy the trip!

  20. Thanks, Lucky. Will take that advice and stick with what we have in 1A and 2A on the A380. We have 1A and 1K on the TG 747 which is quite adequate as there is space across the aisle to get up and walk over to each other (we have done this on UA 747 and it was great).

    Yes, its going to be an amazing trip. We are also doing a 2 week cruise around Italy and the Adriatic sea area visiting Greece, Croatia, and Sicily too. Lots of great new experiences to look forward to.I have joined Cruise Critic so I can get up to speed on cruising 😀
    Cant wait for November to roll around.
    Take care,
    DG.

  21. Not incl… Cathay pacific, Emirate air or Lufthansa.

    Thai Airlines is my number one choice. I flew JFK-FRA-BKK (unfortunately thai air only flies out of LAX now )

    The private Suite cabin is enclosed and service is top notch.
    Best First class lounge I’ve seen with showers and private rooms with hand and foot service.
    Private check in desk with tea and cold towel waiting, private golf cart straight to first class lounge and plane.
    Thank you Thai air….. Thank YOU!!!!!

  22. What is the best TG F cabin?
    380, 747, 747-400 and 340-600
    If there are multiple versions with in a kind of aircraft how to make sure we get thest best hard product?

  23. @ Sam — A380 hands down. Second choice would be 777-300ER, followed by the reconfigured 747-400, followed by the “old 747-400, followed by the A340-600.

  24. Hey lucky was able to rebook my flights that were impacted by the strike and now flying tg f out of MUC. Given that both the front row and back row seats are taken , what would you suggest for a couple traveling together? 2a and 2e? Or 2a and 3a? Or maybe even 2a 2k? It seems like that middle seat isn’t really next to 2a so that’s why I’m a bit indecisive. Thanks!

  25. @lucky
    question please.. im flying award LH business USA to FRA. then award TG business FRA-BKK.
    -do i have access to any lounges in FRA? does TG have a biz class lounge in FRA?
    -according to *A’s website regarding business class lounge access: “Customers must be a revenue customer”..no award ticket customers?!
    http://www.staralliance.com/en/benefits/lounge-access-policy/
    -also, is there a ground side lounge in BKK?
    thanks!

  26. @ Mr. Cool — You can use the Lufthansa Business Lounge in Frankfurt and will have access (revenue customers means no non-revs, like people on staff travel). There’s not an arrivals lounge in Bangkok.

  27. i see. thanks! i met an LH employee in biz class once. he said they always fly biz for free (obviously), but dont earn mileage

  28. Hi lucky, I am travelling with one child and I am not sure which seat to select, the two back seats are unavailable. The seats available are 2K, 2E, 1K, 3A, although if I push, I reckon I could get a few other seats available except the two back ones as apparently someone very important is travelling on them ( Thai politician ) – I’d really like to be able to see my son when travelling so would you mind recommending the best seats for us. Thanks so much. Cheers Mil

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