Checking out Thai Airways’ A380 first class…

After an awesome flight on ANA from Chicago to Tokyo Narita, I connected to the Thai Airways A380 evening departure from Tokyo Narita to Bangkok.

I’ve flown Thai Airways first class many times, and always make an effort to fly them when departing Bangkok, given that the highlight of the Thai Airways first class experience is their ground handling in Bangkok. As a first class passenger you’re escorted all the way from check-in to the gate, get a semi-private living room in the lounge, and even get a complimentary hour-long massage in their spa.

But I hadn’t actually flown Thai’s A380, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to mark another A380 off my list. While I’ll have a full trip report soon, I figured I’d share my initial thoughts.

The cabin

Thai’s first class is on the upper deck and consists of 12 seats spread across three rows. The colors and design are extremely soothing, in my opinion, though there’s nothing that really stands out about the product. I’ve flown most other airlines’ A380s in first class, and I think Singapore and Emirates beat Thai for privacy, Lufthansa beats Thai for exclusivity (only eight seats vs. twelve), and Malaysia beats Thai for exclusivity and a more spacious cabin (there are just eight seats and it’s on the lower deck, which is a wider cabin). But don’t get me wrong, it’s still a really, really nice cabin.

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Amenities

In the forward part of the cabin Thai has a lounge to the right. It’s quite a nice area, though the seats sure could use a bit more padding, in my opinion.

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Then the bathroom to the left is huge, and even has a comfortable seat in it with a vanity mirror. The only downside is that there’s only one of these lavs (as opposed to Emirates and Lufthansa, which each have two huge lavs), so sometimes you’ll end up using the other lav behind the cabin, which is smaller though still very nice.

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Amenity kit

Thai Airways has Rimowa kits. SWEET!

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Service

I find service in first class on Thai to generally be friendly but not all that polished. They’re not as refined as Singapore flight attendants, not as confident as Lufthansa flight attendants, and not as apologetic as ANA flight attendants. 😉

There’s something about the service that “feels” business class. For example, pre-departure the flight attendant comes by with a tray with maybe eight glasses and inquires whether you’d want some Dom. That’s as opposed to other airlines where they ask what you’d like, then bring the bottle and a single glass to your seat to pour. The same happened with the meal service, where the flight attendant came around with a “suggested” bottle of Rose.

Service is also somewhat like an assembly line in that the pace of the service seems to be tailored around the entire cabin as opposed to each individual passenger.

Don’t get me wrong, service is still very good, but when it comes to comparing service in first class, it’s the little touches that make the difference.

Food

This is probably my biggest complaint about Thai. Their food — in terms of quality, presentation, and variety — feels like what I’d expect in a decent business class product and not a great first class product. It’s funny because I love the food in the Thai lounge in Bangkok, so would almost fly the A380 next time from Bangkok to Frankfurt or Paris on the redeye so I can have dinner in the lounge and go to sleep upon boarding.

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Pilot skills

Our pilot clearly had a bit to drink. Just kidding, of course. 😉

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Overall

This is a product that’s tough to beat for travel within Asia. Ultimately there are a bit over a handful of airlines that I consider to be truly “five star,” and Thai falls just short of that list, but still offers an all around solid product.

Comments

  1. Talking about A380s, when do we get to read an AirFrance a380 F report? Also, I’d love to see what ground service looks like in CDG, I heard it’s pretty nice.

  2. I have to agree with you. The cabin itself is very nice although the seating area is wasted space other than people sitting waiting for the use of the lavatory.

    The food needs improvement, you never know what you’re gonna get because the description of the item is rarely accurate. I ordered a special meal and the FA showed me the chicken breast still in the foil container to ensure that’s what I had ordered.

    I think where Thai excels is at BKK. With the personal buggy ride, excellent F lounge and Spa.

  3. That’s a very strange flight plan! I’ve flown NRT-BKK perhaps 50 times, on UA (mostly), TG, NH, and JL, and every one of the flights has been over Taiwan, then abeam DaNang, and to BKK. I’m wondering if there was a typhoon or other major weather system over the South China Sea that necessitated this routing.

  4. I know I’ll be in the minority here, but I’ve flown Thai’s A380 in F and J… I felt like the service was much better than expected in J – had a 2 hr flight HKG-BKK, and I had a full lunch, and even after dinner drinks.

    That said — really jealous about that Rimowa kit!

  5. i have flown thai in first on a340 and i agree the service and food really does feel like a decent business class… but it really is sub-par compared to other airlines’ first.

  6. Thanks for the recap; We are flying TG to cdg in F on the 380 in November… Good to know what we can expect.

  7. what’s so great about the rimowa? hardcase = takes up more space. and the thing can’t fit a tablet like the AA eames case…

  8. Interesting…you used to enjoy the service and food on Thai. Though it is interesting that Thai and Malaysia both on their 380s have a seat in FC that’s the equivalent of what SQ uses on their non-380 first class planes…

  9. Nail on the head. However, I do enjoy interacting with Thai F/A’s a bit more as they don’t have nearly as much of a character they play. Having said that, their service definitely needs a shoe shine.

  10. Great report Lucky. I have mixed feelings when it comes to TG.

    I’ve never had a awful flight with them, but I’ve had some flights where the meals and service in F were at J level.

    I’ve also had the best crew of my life on a TG flight in F from ZRH-BKK. Consistency is not TG’s strongest points, but when I lower my expectations i’m usually pleasantly surprised.

  11. I too did HKG-BKK last year in the A380, just a few months after it launched. Was quite impressed with the OZ QS-style seats, and the 4 course meal (on a 2.5 hr flight!) was pretty good.

  12. Great, can’t wait for the entire report.

    I have flown that route and thought we flew over water most of the time.

    From what I have flown, read or seen, LH FC A380 and Emirates FC A380 ( never flown) feel like true FC cabins. The rest feel like plastic office cubicles. No appeal and quite claustrophobic. I was expecting Thai to be a leader in food catering. I find Thai cuisine to be the best in Asia (close tie with Malaysian cuisine).

    Not sure why but I don’t like that magenta light in the cabin, not sure who invented that concept but it is not soothing to me. It reminds me of some cheap brothel in Bangkok ! 🙂

  13. Do they give out the rimowa amenity kits in buisness class? Im flying the A380 NRT – BKK in Buisness class in november and i’d love to score one!

  14. @ Kmyle — Should be marking KE and CZ off my A380 list soon, so that leaves just AF first class. That’s the toughest to get into at a reasonable cost.

  15. @ Mike — In Bangkok you get a buggy ride all the way from check-in to the lounge and then from the lounge to the plane, so you have to do virtually no walking.

  16. @ Allen — The funny thing is that I don’t actually like Rimowa luggage, but I’m addicted to collecting the amenity kits. I guess I like that they’re all so similar except the colors and the airline logos. Makes for a fun thing to display in your living room, if you’re as nerdy as I am.

  17. @ JRL — That’s another great point, the crews really are “natural,” so what you see is what you get — it’s not an act.

  18. @ Jorge — The funny thing is that Thai cuisine is probably my favorite in the world, so I really don’t get why Thai can’t serve just “simply” Thai cuisine. I’d be in heaven.

  19. Hi Ben, I have around 240k us airway miles that I would like to use for a trip in first class to North Asia for August of next year. Do you recommend any first class cabins to aim for that might have availability for 2? I was thinking ANA,United,Thai and maybe Asiana.

  20. @ Dan — Well two ANA seats can be very tough to come by, though it shouldn’t be too tough on Thai, United, or Asiana.

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