Not only does Thai Airways have a very uncompetitive business class product aboard its 747-400, it also has one of the oddest seating configurations. My flight from Tokyo Haneda (HND) to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) was not one of my best flights.
A bit of backgounrd first. I flew into Tokyo Narita on ANA in first class and was originally booked from Tokyo Narita to Bangkok the next day. The original plan was to skip that flight and take a same-day flight to Guangzhou after arrival. Unfortunately, I missed the flight. Rather than wait overnight for the flight to Bangkok the following afternoon, I traveled from Narita to Haneda and asked to standby on the redeye to Bangkok. My request was obliged. More details on that here. Please note this flight was in 2016.
> Read More: Co-Terminal Standby on Award Travel
As a result of my late addition to the flight, I was offered a seat downstairs: upstairs was filled. Boarding pass in hand, I visited the ANA lounge for a few minutes, but it was so crowded I could not even find a seat.
Boarding began at 11:40p, though I opted to board last instead of first since my wife Heidi wanted to speak on the phone after a 13hr flight without internet. Consequently, you will not see unobstructed cabin shots. But don’t worry, the business class product is hardly worthwhile…I hope my pictures still make that clear below.
When I reached the boarding area, boarding was halfway done. Surprisingly, for Tokyo at least, the lines not particularly well-organized. Eventually I made it to the boarding door and was warmly welcomed by a smiling FA.
Thai Airways 661
Tokyo (HND) – Bangkok (BKK)
Friday, June 17
Depart: 12:20 AM
Arrive: 04:50 AM
Duration: 06hr, 30min
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 25F (Business Class)
Thai Airways 747 Business Class Service
Let’s start with the positive. I have never had a bad Thai Airways crew. Generally, crews are far more senior than most of their Asian counterparts. In that sense, it feels like flying on a U.S. or Canadian airlines. But these FAs are not just going through the motions. I appreciated the warm hospitality and (at least what appeared to be) genuine smiles and caring service.
Service was not polished, yet it was far better than my fiasco of a flight on Singapore Airlines. It was business class on a relatively short overnight flight. Service in first class is far more polished, as it should be.
Thai Airways 747 Business Class Seat
Ok, about the seating. Can you say odd? Take a look at the lower deck seat map for this aircraft:
That’s right, business class is 2-2 on a Boeing 747-400 lower-deck, with the other half of the cabin taken by a large galley. It’s not that the configuration was horrible, but it was just odd sitting against a wall in the middle of the cabin.
The seat, however, was uncompetitive compared to what you’d receive on ANA or JAL flying from Tokyo to Bangkok. The angled seat was not lie-flat nor was it particularly comfortable. Bedding wasn’t great either…just a thin blanket and pillow. I drifted in and out of sleep for the four hour period between meals.
Thai Airways 747 Business Class Dining
Menus were distributed prior to takeoff:
After takeoff, a light snack of sushi was offered to all business class passengers. No choice. I called this meal my worst business class meal yet. While I admit that such an opinion is 100% subjective, I stand by that assessment. I wish I would have eaten in the lounge…
> Read More: My Worst Business Class Meal Yet…
90 minutes prior to landing, the lights were turned up and breakfast was served. I was quite hungry by this time and happily accepted the cheese omelet. I’m not sure whether it was amazing or I was just hungry, but I quickly consumed it. The two-course breakfast began with a fruit plate and yogurt.
Thai Airways 747 Business Class IFE
My IFE system was broken. Some black and white movie mysteriously played without my nudging, then froze when I tried to turn the screen off. I wanted to sleep anyway…
We landed on time in Bangkok. A few other notes: first, a small amenity kit was distributed, featuring an eye mask, toothbrush, earplugs, and socks. Second, I was boxed in and did not up get up once during the flight, so I cannot comment on the state of the lavatories. Third, slippers were offered.
I’m sure you can sense my disappointment. Every time I fly with Thai in business class I sense so much missed potential. The bottom line is this: on the 747-400 (and most 777s), the business class product is simply not competitive. It beats economy class any time, of course, but there are far better options for your cash or points on other airlines.