Review: Thai Airways First Class Tokyo Narita to Bangkok

Introduction
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Thai Airways First Class Tokyo Narita to Bangkok
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Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge Seoul Incheon
Singapore Airlines First Class Seoul Incheon to San Francisco


Thai 677
Tokyo Narita (NRT) – Bangkok (BKK)
Wednesday, August 14
Depart: 5:25PM
Arrive: 9:55PM
Duration: 6hr30min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 1A (First Class)

I was excited to grab pictures of the A380 first class cabin, so was the first passenger queued up for first class boarding. Once boarding began I followed the signs towards the upper deck jet bridge, where I was welcomed by a friendly crew at the upper deck door.

I immediately asked if it was okay if I snap a few pictures of the cabin (which is basically a polite way of asking them not to escort me to my seat and instead stay the hell out of my way), and they happily obliged. 😉

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Thai A380 first class

The Thai Airways A380 first class cabin consists of a total of 12 seats spread across three rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. That makes it one of the bigger first class cabins on the A380.

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Thai first class cabin

I really liked the colors of the cabin, which I found soothing, if not a bit hospital like.

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Center seats

I was in seat 1A. Each seat has an ottoman and then the table on top of it, which pulls forward when you want to use it.

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My seat, 1A

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Seat 1A

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Seat and pillows

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Seat 1A

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Ottoman and table

To the left of the seat were lockers, similar to what you often see on the upper deck of the 747. They’re not big enough to fit full size carry ons, though big enough for laptop bags, purses, etc. Interestingly the upper deck A380 cabin has overhead bins, but only in the center section. Every other airline I’ve flown in first class on the upper deck doesn’t have any bins at all in first class.

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View across cabin and (lack of) overhead bins

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Storage lockers

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Seat 1A storage

On top of the wood finished surface are the seat controls, which are intuitive.

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Seat controls

At the end of the panel is some sort of black light, or something. I’m not sure what purpose it serves, though perhaps Airbus accidentally installed it on Thai instead of in the Emirates A380 shower rooms?

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Weird lighting

Immediately below that is the entertainment system remote as well as some storage compartments, where the headphones and Rimowa amenity kit were stored. Also near the forward storage compartment were the power adapter and two USB ports.

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Power and USB ports

The headphones were of decent quality. By no means as good as Bose Quiet Comfort headphones, but better than those used by some other airlines.

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Headphones

Naturally I was delighted that the amenity kit was made by Rimowa, as I’m a collector.

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Rimowa amenity kit

The contents of the kit were fairly basic, and consisted of socks, earplugs, eyeshades, a comb, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and some lotion, lip balm, mouth wash, and cologne.

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Contents of amenity kit

In front of my seat was a pair of slippers.

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Slippers

To the right of my seat was another storage compartment as well as some pre-set seating modes.

Before the cabin got too busy I snuck into the forward part of the cabin. To the right is the lounge, which features three seats. It’s a nice space, though I didn’t find the seats to be especially well padded. I think Qantas did a better job with their upstairs lounge.

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Lounge area

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Lounge seating

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Stairs to lower deck

The highlight of the forward part of the cabin was the lavatory to the left. It featured a loveseat of sorts with a vanity mirror right by the entrance.

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Lavatory loveseat

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Lavatory

Then the rest of the lavatory was extremely spacious as well.

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Lavatory

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Toilet

The only downside is that they only have one of those lavatories, while airlines like Emirates and Lufthansa put two impressive lavatories up front on the upper deck.

Fortunately there was another fairly nice lavatory behind the cabin, which was spacious though nowhere as nice or large as the one up front.

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Lavatory

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Sink and vanity

Anyway, the first class cabin filled up quickly, mostly with Japanese and Thai passengers. I quickly came to the realization that I was the only passenger in the cabin without Louis Vuitton luggage.

Once the cabin filled up a bit the pre-departure beverage service started. As I’ve said before service in first class on Thai is generally friendly, though not especially refined. For example, instead of asking what you’d like pre-departure they come around with a bottle of Dom and eight glasses and ask if you’d like one.

Compare that to other airlines where they ask you what you’d like, bring out the bottle of Dom for you to look at, and then pour it into a single glass at your seat. I’m also not a huge fan of Thai’s glassware, which feels a lot more like business class glassware than first class glassware. Yes, that’s probably a #firstworldobservation.

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Pre-departure champagne

It’s worth noting that throughout the flight I was addressed as “Mr. Benjamin.” Not something I have an issue with, though also something that wouldn’t ever happen on ANA, Cathay Pacific, Singapore, etc.

By around 6PM the captain came on the PA to welcome us aboard and inform us of our flight time of six hours. He apologized for the late departure and further informed us that due to typhoons around Hong Kong we would be rerouting a bit, which further added to our flight time.

As we pushed back (with a totally full first class cabin) the safety video began to play. I hadn’t seen it yet since it was my first time on the Thai A380, though I’m happy to report it features the same epic voiceovers as their other videos.

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View on pushback

As soon as our pushback was complete the ground crew lined up next to the plane and waved, as is standard in Japan. I wonder at what point a bean counter will realize how much five minutes of every ground employee’s time is costing them and end it. Always makes me smile, though.

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Farewell from Narita ground crew

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View on pushback

Our taxi was quick, though once at the runway there was a bit of a queue for takeoff, so it was about 15 minutes before we were airborne. Eventually we were number three behind an ANA 737 and JAL 767, at which point it was our turn for takeoff on runway 16R.

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View on taxi

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Takeoff queue

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Takeoff queue

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Queue behind us

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Retro jet!

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Runway 16R

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Takeoff camera

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Takeoff camera

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Views on climb out

Our takeoff roll wasn’t all that long, and the views of Narita were quite nice on the climb out given that the sun was setting. About 25 minutes after takeoff we had some spectacular views of Mt. Fuji, which the captain was nice enough to point out.

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Views on climb out

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Mt. Fuji

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Airshow after departure

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Airshow after departure

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Airshow after departure

As we continued our flight I browsed the entertainment selection, which was expansive. I eventually decided to watch a couple of episodes of “2 Broke Girls,” which I find to be one of the more entertaining new shows to watch on an airplane.

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Entertainment selection

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My selection

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View

About 30 minutes after takeoff the flight attendant came around with canapés, with which I had a Diet Coke.

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Canapés

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Menu

At that point the meal service began. The menu read as follows:

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And the wine list read as follows:

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The service began with the tray being set up. Maybe it’s just me, but I really feel like they could revamp their silverware and glassware. If my grandmother were in charge of picking silverware for an airline, she’d probably choose the same that Thai has.

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Table setting

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Bread basket

The starter consisted of king crab salad, shrimp, and a scallop, and was… fine.

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Appetizer

Like I said Thai service is consistently friendly though not all that polished, but beyond that I really don’t think they do a great job of personalizing service. The meals aren’t really served at your pace, but rather the cabin’s pace. Basically they clear plates with each course once everyone is finished, and then serve the next course when everyone is ready.

So after not getting much sleep on my ANA flight and being pretty tired I decided just to order dessert and then go to sleep. The dessert consisted of a rum cake with orange sauce. It was, again… fine.

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Dessert

I slept for most of the rest of the way to Bangkok. While I didn’t get turndown service, I managed to sleep well thanks to the two large, firm pillows, as well as the fairly comfortable blanket.

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Pillows and blanket

I woke up about 30 minutes out of Bangkok and turned on the airshow, where I saw what must have been one of the most zig-zag flight paths I’ve ever taken. Thanks Hong Kong typhoon!

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Airshow

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Flightpath

Within a few minutes of waking up the friendly flight attendant asked if I’d like some strawberry ice cream and water. Sure, why not?

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Pre-arrival snack

Our descent into Bangkok was smooth, and about 10 minutes prior to landing the crew came around the cabin to thank each passenger for flying Thai and offered us each an orchid.

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Orchid

After a smooth touchdown and roughly 15 minute taxi we made it to gate C7.

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View on arrival

Upon arrival there were several agents waiting to greet the first class passengers, with different signage based on whether passengers were terminating in Bangkok or connecting. Since I was terminating I took a golf cart with the other three passengers terminating their travel in Bangkok, and we began what must have been a 15 minute golf cart ride to immigration.

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Golf cart

At immigration the agent escorted us to the diplomat queue, which I cleared in a matter of minutes. From there it was off to the Novotel for a quick overnight.

On the whole this was a pleasant flight with typical Thai Airways service. On one hand it was friendly and sincere, which is to say the crew genuinely seemed to want to smile and wasn’t putting on an act. At the same time the actual service process wasn’t very polished and felt mechanical. Still, Thai Airways’ ground services in Bangkok are so awesome that I would love to fly the A380 again, though next time departing out of Bangkok.

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Comments

  1. I flew Thai in F on A340 and I agree the service is sub-par… but I did get turn down service… maybe only because I insisted? Ha

  2. Its strange …. this thai first class on the A380 seems almost on par with SQ’s Business on the A380…. of course…. there is no kit for SQ at all on business…

  3. @Lucky

    I can’t remember for sure but I am 90% certain there was one… maybe because it was an 11 hr flight (ZRH-BKK)?

  4. Of course Thais typically refer to everyone by their first name so it’s a cultural thing. I prefer that to overly formal.

    Looks like a nice product. I am excited to be heading back to Asia in a couple of months…which reminds me that I really need to get serious about lodging plans. This time around I am skipping TG altogether which is unusual for me. Just CX, BR and SQ…

  5. I flew Thai Airways last week from BKK – HKG on the A380 and the first cabin was completely full. The service was just ok as others have indicated, the breakfast they served at that time was somewhat disappointing.

    However on our flight they did come around with the Dom and a glass to see if we wanted any champagne. Perhaps they’ve heard this criticism from others too?

    The ground service in BKK was amazing though and now I see why everyone raves about it.

  6. As RakSiam said, “Mr. Benjamin” is the standard way that Thais refer to each other (unless you are family, in which case you get a family title – grandmother, older cousin, etc. – and then your first name. In Thai it would be Khun Benjamin, never just Benjamin…so “Mr.” is the closest way to translate that.

    All my wedding planning correspondence was “Khun Marisa and Mr. Evan.” Hilarious.

  7. [It’s worth noting that throughout the flight I was addressed as “Mr. Benjamin.”]

    That’s true Thai tradition. As Thai family names are usually very long, the most polite way to address someone in Thai is Mr./Ms./Miss/Dr. first-name. In Thai society, “khun” will precede the first name as an honorific for someone you address with higher stature than you or in formal introductions. For a more familiar relationship, “p’first-name” is used, translating to brother- or sister-.

  8. @ Dave D — Don’t know how many inches, but it was plenty big, I didn’t think it had to be any bigger.

  9. We were also offered turndown with mattress pad on FRA-BKK 380 flight. Maybe not for this flight since it’s shorter?

  10. No problem 😉

    On a more serious note, which of these 2 first class seats/suites did u prefer overall as a seat, not taking into account the actual plane itself?

  11. The Mrs. and I had turn down on the A380, BKK-CDG, a couple months back. Went into the bathroom, and they have proactively began without us asking. Found the plane comfortable and colors appealing. Service left a bit to be desired. Largely the same opinions as you.

  12. @ wwk5d — That’s a toughie. The 747 first class is a bit more private, while A380 first class feels a bit more modern and less cheap. I’d probably say I preferred the A380, though I didn’t think it’s a big difference.

  13. speaking only of the ANA crew at LAX as I haven’t flown them from other gateways but if you’re in first or the forward business class cabin and wave to them as they (always three or four gathered at the jetbridge opening) wave/retract the jetbridge they go NUTS and cheer. was adorably cute and a great way to start a flight.

  14. Actually I think worrying that the glass your champagne is being served in is ‘too business class’ probably doesn’t rise to the level of a first world observation– more like a 0th world, or even a -1st world. 🙂

  15. Question about dining in first class. do you order as much as you like? or are you limited to 1 app, one soup, one entree, one dessert, etc? do they serve seconds?

  16. If you want to milk the A380 experience, they fly it as well between BKK and CDG. 11 hours of A380 awesomeness! Flew my wife on the route just last month. They gave out the white Rimowas on that one. 😉

  17. @ bubba — Generally speaking you’re only limited by how much they’ve catered. So if they have the food they’re usually more than happy to serve you as many portions as you’d like. If the cabin is full that may be tough since they might not have extras, but with a less full cabin there’s a better chance they’ll have more extras.

  18. Why Thai fly A380 to Narita but not Heathrow? Isn’t BKK to LHR the real long haul flight and with big money passengers?

  19. @ Shannon — Probably because you can fly the roundtrip to Narita daily with a single A380, while the Heathrow service would take two A380s. I’m sure it’ll happen eventually, but for what it’s worth I think Narita to Bangkok is actually a pretty high yield market.

  20. @Lucky — Did you get pajamas? I don’t see them on photos but your flight was ovet 6 hours so you should’ve gotten them per Thai’s site:

    “On intercontinental flights lasting six hours or more, comfort wear and slippers are provided. On flights four hours or more, a beautiful tailored travel kit is offered.”

    P.S. Based on their site’s tour of 1st class seat, the “weird light” is probably a TV screen that has been superseded.

  21. @Ivan Y – last time I took the same Thai plane, there were no PJs provided…

    1.) Flight time is actually less than 6 hrs.
    2.) Japan and Thailand can be considered on the same continent…

    Unless something changes

  22. @Steve — that’s strange. Not that PJs are a big deal but they cost a fraction of FC ticket (revenue tickets are $3K+ RT).

    1) Thai quotes 6:30 (->BKK) and 6:10 (BKK->)flight times so that’s what I was going by. Do airlines typically use in-air time for those rules?

    2) Hmm… Very lawyer-ish 😛 Eurasia is a single continent so Thai’s flights to, say, Denmark would not be intercontinental.

  23. @ Ivan Y — Nope, no PJs sadly. And I guess since they’re both in Asia it’s not technically an interncontinental flight, as Steve points out. That being said, have definitely received them in first class on this route a few years back.

  24. I flew on thai A380 from Bangkok to Hong Kong this month, and I feel the same way about the services. The in ground services in Bangkok is awesome. In flight Services and foods is pretty disappointing.

  25. I will be flying this exact route and equipment on Thai Airways in November in Business class. does anyone know if I will receive one of those spiffy amenity kits?

    thanks

  26. @Lucky

    I’m booked on a return award ticket via UA miles from LHR-BKK. I’m flying out on the 13th of Sept in F on the A380 via Frankfurt. You’ve hyped up Lufthansa F so much that I’m hoping some seats might open tomorrow, which will be 14 days ahead. Do you think it would be worth switching from Thai F on the A380 to Lufthansa F on the 747-400? If so, crossing my fingers. Looks like 6 seats are currently available, not sure if they will open up to award space though…

  27. @ Greg — That’s a real toughie. Assuming you can get a sizable layover in Frankfurt and experience the First Class Terminal then I do think it’s worth the switch. Conversely, departing Bangkok I’d fly Thai Airways for the ground experience they offer.

  28. @ Lucky

    Thanks. I would either have a 2.5 or 1.5 hr layover in Frankfurt. I am flying back on Thai F direct to LHR so I’ll get that lounge experience and the new first class on the Thai 747. On board would you say Lufthansa F on the 747-400 is a better product than the Thai F A380? I’m a foodie and you seem to have mixed views on the food in Thai F.

  29. @ Greg — I don’t love the food on either carrier, but I do think you’re more likely to be disappointed with the food on Thai, so I’d go with Lufthansa probably.

  30. Hey Lucky,

    Would I be permitted into TG’s first class lounge in Bangkok with the following itinerary?

    KIX-BKK (TG first class)
    BKK-SIN (SQ biz class)

    I’d like to think they would grant access based on my inbound TG first class ticket, but I can’t find anything online to support this.

    Thanks much

  31. @ Michael — My understanding is that if you were continuing in Thai business class you’d have access, but if continuing in Star Alliance business class you wouldn’t.

  32. Hey Lucky,

    Seems like award availability on this route is pretty tough. Do they only release close in? I’m seeing 9+ F available for Jan 2015 and no award seats at all.

    Thanks!

  33. for those of you asking about the PJs, i flew nrt to bkk and bkk to kix in dec 2013. no pjs on the nrt to bkk flight as it was a late afternoon/early evening flight, but i did get pjs and also rimowa kit on the bkk to kix red eye flight even though the flight was blocked for under 5 hrs (and the kix flight was in old F)

  34. @ acs — Not by policy, necessarily, but on tougher routes they may hold off releasing space until they have a better idea of loads.

  35. If traveling on this plane with someone, can you sit across from each other during the meal service? Looks like there may be room, but I don’t think I see a seat belt on the ottoman. Thanks!

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