I just had the opportunity to fly Thai Airways’ new first class from Frankfurt to Bangkok, which is a damn near miracle since they have exactly one 747 configured with the new product. Given that Lufthansa had Airbus 380 first class award space to Tokyo, it was the only way I was going to try Thai first, since I tend to think they’re lagging behind on their in-flight product somewhat.

Fortunately I lucked out and got their new first class from Frankfurt to Bangkok yesterday, and on the whole it’s a very nice “hard” product. There are nine suites in first class, and they’re very private. I do wish they’d have doors like on the 777-300ER (which seems like it would be pretty easy to do given that the seat is designed the same way as an enclosed suite.

Some of the suite finishes do feel a bit cheap, but on the whole it’s one of the better seats out there, and a huge step up over their old first class. The biggest improvement, believe it or not, is that they now have a mattress pad for first class passengers, which they didn’t previously have. That makes a huge difference, and it amazes me they didn’t have it before. Here’s to hoping they pick up the speed at which they reconfigure these bad boys.

Here are a few pictures (with lots more coming with the trip report in a few days):

As far as the services goes, well, upfront let me say I really do like Thai Airways. Their ground services in Bangkok are among the best in the world, and more than make up for any shortcomings in-flight. As a first class passenger you have access to their amazing first class lounge and get an hour-long massage in their spa, both of which are awesome before a long flight (though aren’t especially useful if originating in Frankfurt and terminating in Bangkok).

I generally find the service on Thai to be genuine and warm, though they’re the one Asian airline somewhat notorious for having some indifferent senior flight attendants working first class.

And while my crew was friendly(ish), they were extremely unpolished. Admittedly service in first class is the ultimate “first world problem” (which I always have to add as a disclaimer with this kind of stuff), though here are a few examples:

  • The guy seated across from me was served his appetizer and a couple of minutes later he returns it to the flight attendant. What does she do? She turns it around and serves it to me without batting an eyelash.
  • One attention to detail from crew members I love is when you have stuff that obviously needs to be discarded, and they proactively remove it. Not once did they proactively remove anything from near my seat, from the plastic pajama wrapper to used hot towels to empty bottles of water .
  • Not once did the flight attendant primarily serving me use any “polite” words. I always said “please” and “thank you,” and she never responded with “you’re welcome” or “enjoy.”
  • Perhaps part of their turndown service is actually trying your bed, because this is what my bed looked like when they finished turndown service (and not when I woke up from my six hour nap):

Anyway, I’m happy to have tried Thai Airways’ new first class. I think their 777-300ER first class hard product is still a bit better since they feature fully enclosed suites, but then again some of the 777-300ER suites aren’t in great shape anymore. That being said, if you haven’t flown the new 747 first class and have done the 777-300ER first class before, I’d definitely recommend the 747 for the novelty of the new product.

As far as my travels go, I’ll continue to fly Thai Airways intra-Asia as much as possible in first class. You get the same amazing ground services regardless of whether you’re on a shorthaul or longhaul flight, and that’s where Thai shines. I also want to try their new Airbus 380, which looks quite nice.

There are other airlines I’d rather fly longhaul given the option, so pending availability I’d rather fly Asiana, Cathay Pacific, or Lufthansa, just to name a few.

Still a very pleasant flight on the whole, as I got a solid six hours of sleep!

  1. November 9th, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Del said,

    Thanks for the answer! How was the catering too?

  2. November 9th, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Del — It was pretty bad, unfortunately.

  3. November 9th, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    AdamH said,

    TG did a few things to irk me on a flight I had with them in F a few months back, including waking everyone up for the pre arrival meal over two hours before landing. They could have waited at least 30 more minutes, but probably even an hour.

  4. November 9th, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    patrick said,

    Here’s someyhing i’ve always wondered about when I see these layout…

    How do you travel “with” someone with the seats arranged like they are? Not to mention the enclosed nature of the seats.

  5. November 9th, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Steve said,

    A tad off topic but someone asked something like it in the thread you referenced but didn’t get an answer.

    If you arrive BKK in F (say from HKG) but are departing in either Y or B (say to VTE) are you still entitled to use the First Class lounge?

    If not, but you are departing in Y because B is full but the rest of your ticket is F are you at least entitled to use the B lounge.

    Thanks.

  6. November 9th, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Carl said,

    I guess i was fortunate, as i tried their F product LHR-BKK and loved it, great crew , good food, just a wonderful flight.

    But having flown them enough intra Asia, they can be a bit indifferent at times.

  7. November 9th, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Kai said,

    Be warned, TG is infamous for aircraft swaps, and long haul 744 routes are no exception. I wouldn’t recommend booking a particular flight for the sake of trying out this reconfigured aircraft.

    It could mean the difference between a suite and prehistoric recliners!

  8. November 9th, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Deniz said,

    You took my spot! I was supposed to be on that flight, but had to cancel. Very sad :(

  9. November 9th, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    lucky said,

    @ patrick — Well in row three there are two seats that are together, so they’re best for those traveling together. The other thing to keep in mind is that many of the most premium first class products nowadays have “buddy seats,” so you can literally have dinner with a dining companion at one table.

    But if you prefer sitting close to your loved one, business class can often be better.

    @ Steve — Yes you are.

    @ Kai — Indeed.

    @ Deniz — Hah, too funny. Sorry you had to cancel, but thanks. :D

  10. November 9th, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Mike S. said,

    Lucky: How can you tell if you will get the new F? Is it random on the FRA-BKK route or were you just ‘lucky’?

  11. November 9th, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Bill said,

    Lucky, the poor service you experienced is inexcusable. I’m aghast. Thai should be humiliated by that performance. Certainly, I and others will seek to avoid Thai whenever possible.

  12. November 9th, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Sandeep said,

    I still can’t get over the “turned down” bed!

  13. November 9th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Hamurabi2008 said,

    Just did
    FRA-ICN on 747 with OZ in F – was alone and had very good inflight service
    ICN-SIN on 773 with SQ in F – full F and well below my expectations in terms of friendlyness (you always refer to robotic – but I think they saw on the manifest that I was flying on a US Air award in their holy F – or the crew was tired…)

    Will fly SIN-HKG on same 773 with SQ in F and don’t expect much difference. But looking fwd to the F departure experience in SIN (incl. book your chef).

    Then – and this is why I post this here – within a week I will do a A380 on TG in F from HKG-BKK. Have no clue what to expect but I really liked the plane during my LH A380 F experience from PEK-FRA half a year back.

    Thereafter I will do the 773 experience with TG in F from BKK to FRA. I heard about the tired product but still… But who knows. Maybe they swap planes again…

    But your post was a nice reminder about what I will experience soon. After the very polished OZ experience in F (and the great hard product in SQ F) I need to lower my expectations somewhat. And schedule this 1h pre-departure massage into my diary!

    Happy travels, Ben!

  14. November 9th, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    beachfan said,

    What did you do when proffered the less than brand new appetizer?

  15. November 9th, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Jorge said,

    Ben

    What mileage program did you use to get LH/TG first class?

  16. November 9th, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Shawn said,

    Had a chance to fly this plane back in early August in 3A (believe it’s tail # HS-TGY), albeit on a much shorter route. Must say I’m surprised they haven’t been able to get any more retrofitted in the last 3 plus months. It is leaps and bounds better than their current F product, but I agree that it did feel as though they left something on the table.

  17. November 9th, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Ozaer N. said,

    Ben–did you use miles for this trip or was this a paid fare?

  18. November 9th, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    wwk5d said,

    The A380 seats on Thai look very similar to the Singapore FC seats.

  19. November 10th, 2012 at 2:22 am

    InFlightOut said,

    Great trip report and what a way to travel – First Class on Thai. But I didn’t expect their service to be that bad. They’re suppose to be one of the best service airliner in the world. Anyway, the seat looks great though judging from the photo, the quality of the finishes does look a bit ‘plasticky’

  20. November 10th, 2012 at 2:52 am

    ande777emt said,

    I just did the new OZ F suites ex-ORD and the OZ soft product with the new seats is the best value for miles IMHO. I didn’t have any issues finding availability with KF.

    Doing the return with a 77W in F on SQ isn’t exciting me after my experience in the new suites.

  21. November 10th, 2012 at 6:00 am

    webrobby said,

    Is that Coke Zero they are serving on the plane in the black can?

  22. November 10th, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Arthur said,

    Lucky– what flight # was this from FRA TO BKK?

  23. November 10th, 2012 at 6:29 am

    BabaBinx said,

    Bullet # 1 is terrible. Did you say anything?

  24. November 10th, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Todd said,

    I’m curious what your strategy is for combating jet lag, especially given this current trip? Have you done an article about that yet?

  25. November 10th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    dmodemd said,

    I guess I didn’t get why flying Thai first is so great compared to others besides the $20 value Bangkok massage you didnt get this time since inbound. Seems like most everything else was fairly negative in the soft service and decent in the hard product.

  26. November 10th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Mike S. — You have to look at the seatmap. If it shows nine seats in first class it’s scheduled to be operated by the new first class, and if it shows ten seats in first class it’s scheduled to be operated by the old first class. That being said, Thai is notorious for aircraft swaps, so you can never really count on it.

    I believe they’re keeping it on the Frankfurt route now for the most part, and Munich should be the next destination. Though they seem to keep changing their minds, as it has also been in Sydney and Tokyo the past few days.

  27. November 10th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Hamurabi2008 — Asiana is funny in that it’s basically the exact opposite of Thai — Asiana has a not-so-great hard product but AMAZING soft product, while Thai is the opposite with their new product. Hopefully you’ll have a great crew and catering will be good. I’d still go with Thai for comparison purposes.

    @ beachfan — I took a picture and sent it back, saying I wasn’t hungry. Blessing in disguise given how much I had already eaten that day.

    @ Jorge — MileagePlus miles transferred from Ultimate Rewards.

    @ Ozaer N. — I used miles.

    @ ande777emt — Dying to try the new Asiana Suite!

    @ webrobby — Yep.

    @ Arthur — It was TG921.

    @ BabaBinx — I didn’t.

  28. November 10th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Todd — Traveling to Asia is especially tough, since all my work is on US time, while everything I want to do in Asia is during the day, so they kind of counter each other.

    I usually end up just sleeping when I’m tired for short trips. If that means I get up at 4AM and go to bed at 8PM it works for me, as it allows me to catch up on work in the morning, do some sightseeing in the morning before it’s hot, get some more work done in the early afternoon, and then go out again. For longer trips it’s tougher…

  29. November 10th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    RakSiam said,

    Whenever I have flown TG the service has been great. So I suppose it is hit and miss like most other airlines. I always am a bit uncomfortable by the over-the-top thanks from the whole crew kneeling next to my seat. I know it’s a Thai thing, but it’s not like I’m Thai Royalty.

  30. November 11th, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Steven said,

    Lucky – thanks for the informative posting. I will be on TG911 from London to Bangkok in a couple of weeks.

    This flight has been operated as a A346 fairly consistently.

    Will I be experiencing the new “F”

    Best

  31. November 11th, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Steven — Unfortunately none of the A340-600 aircraft have the new first class yet. I’m sure you’ll have a great flight nonetheless. Enjoy!

  32. November 11th, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Dax said,

    Todd said,

    “I’m curious what your strategy is for combating jet lag, especially given this current trip? Have you done an article about that yet?”

    In my experience the key to preventing conventional jet lag is to get on your destination’s time well before you land. I haven’t had to worry about jet lag in many trips over many years after figuring this out. On my trip to Thailand last month I made sure to set my clock for my primary destination the day before I left. I also made careful use of caffeine, melatonin, and diphenhydramine to nudge my body into the new schedule. Flight arrived at 5:30AM and I was at my hotel by 6:30AM or so. I got cleaned up and headed out for a day of random exploring without any issues. On the return trip I followed the same process in reverse and arrived back home around 7:30PM on a Sunday night. I fell asleep around 10:00PM and was back to work at 8:00AM on Monday without so much as a hint of jet lag.

    Now, as for Lucky’s crazy hot potato trips I have no idea what to do about that kind of jet lag as it seems like he’s constantly moving around and never really staying in any one place long enough to allow his body to sync up with anything. Seems like a jarring way to travel but I guess everyone has their own preference and some folks prefer the act of traveling to spending time at their destination. As for me I prefer to stop traveling and stick around for a few days and feel like I have a home base of sorts. Constantly being on the move doesn’t really interest me that much and after a few days of near constant travel I eventually get sick of it.

  33. November 21st, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Steven said,

    Lucky – thanks for the reply. I am looking forward to the trip. To clarify a question asked earlier, I am arriving BKK in F and have a 3 1/2 hour layover before traveling onto CAN in J

    Can I use the F lounges/services and more importantly, what would you recommend I do is there more than 1 lounge, can I get a massage, etc..)

    Many thanks!

  34. November 21st, 2012 at 11:00 am

    lucky said,

    @ Steven — Yes, you can use the first class lounge, though by the rules would only get the business class massage, which is 30 minutes. You can choose between a neck and foot massage, I believe. Enjoy the lounge!

  35. March 4th, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Levi Flight said,

    Pretty excited to be tying out the first class product in a few months. Will be stopping of in Thailand for a few days on the way to SYD.

  36. April 6th, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Jaso said,

    @Lucky “Not once did the flight attendant primarily serving me use any “polite” words. I always said “please” and “thank you,” and she never responded with “you’re welcome” or “enjoy.””
    Oh boy. What a dumb complaint. Another monolingual European/white American/Caucasian. How would you know? Do you speak Thai? Another language? I’m sure they said it, but you were not educated enough to understand them.

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