To start our adventure to Paris and the USA we headed out on Thai Airways flight 476 in business class. The timing of the flight moved by about 6 hours from our initial booking date hence meant we would now have an 8 hour layover in Bangkok instead of a short 2 hour transit window. As mentioned, these flights were booked using US Airways Dividend Miles whilst they were still part of Star Alliance. This meant we were able to organise a great round the world itinerary for a relatively affordable price (140k miles, which we had purchased during buy and share promotions + approximately $400 in taxes). I had been keeping an eye on our first flight, TG476 from Sydney to Bangkok for a couple of weeks before we left and noticed that Thai had opened up additional award space closer to departure date. Unfortunately, USAirways had joined Oneworld as part of its merger with AmericanAirlines so we were unable to ‘upgrade’ our itinerary. Interestingly the contract counter staff had upgrade costing sheets on their desk, where it appeared an upgrade from business to first was going for between $980 and $1120 depending on which booking class the original ticket had been purchased. A seamless check in, and quick trip through security and immigration thanks to express path, saw us in the departures hall of Sydney Airport. Having spent most of my recent international trips to see Leslie in the States the inclination was to turn left and head off towards the Qantas Lounge and shops that way, however Thai, like Singapore Airlines, has their gates to the right once you head on through. Our check in agent attempted to guide us to use the AirNZ lounge however after some reading on AFF and a previous visit to the First Class side of the SQ lounge we instead headed to the Singapore Lounge to have a look at the business class section. Whilst the front desk lady also attempted to steer us clear and suggest we use the AirNZ lounge we stood our ground and were let through, with a note that there was no food out at present. Pam, the friendly lady from our previous visit to the SQ lounge was again working this morning and we had a nice 10 minute chat during which she brought us over some champagne, unfortunately not the Veuve Cliquot from the first class section, but instead the Caittier they serve in business class. It’s an affordable bottle from our local bottle shop at around $30 however we both decided the money could be better spent on something else! At around 830 the kitchen brought out a small selection including some hot breakfast items, mini pies, and a nice (wet) beef rendang that packed plenty of punch.
WIth the boarding passes suggesting a boarding time of 9am we headed off from the SQ lounge at 850, popping our heads into the AirNZ lounge . My impression is similar to a Qantas Club, with plenty of seating however it all felt a little worn and dated. We decided to head down to Newslink and find some inflight snacks, passing the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team who had lost the previous day in Sydney and were heading back to Auckland – big boys! Boarding was orderly, if a little rigid, and with offloading procedures required we left the gate around 45 minutes past scheduled departure time. A long taxi and line of planes meant we were airborne about an hour late.
Whilst it was disappointing we couldn’t snag availability in first class for this first leg of our trip (I saw it briefly opened up on united.com award seats but didn’t tempt fate by trying to change it), we had selected seats on the upper deck of the 747, a place on where neither of us had previously been seated. Business class on this flight was in an older style seat, Interestingly we boarding through the first class section, seeing the old first class cabin and headed upstairs for our first flight on the upper deck of a 747. First impressions were of the immense space in the cabin as for some reason i thought there were only about 10 seats up here! Palmer & Co champagne was served as a PDB however again, nothing to write home about. The cabin eventually filled, and i was a little surprised to see only 2 toilets to service both the flight deck and about 20 passengers. The toilets seemed similar if not the same as economy bathrooms downstairs.
The seat was definitely showing its age with wear and tear, some quite thin padding and unfortunately no full flat bed.
The amenity kit was disappointing. perhaps they were trying to save some money by pumping out such a putrid colour! (The kit on our first class flight following was also disappointing – containing almost the exact same items)
Once in the air an aperitif was served along with some gyoza (Leslie’s favourite!). Meal service commenced shortly thereafter, and felt a little rushed however still took about an hour and a half to get through.
the starter of roast beef and lobster was quite tasty, particularly as a sandwich in the mini baguettes served! and for those garlic bread enthusiasts out there, Thai could take some notes from Singapore Airlines and slather on some more delicious garlic butter.
Both mains were tasty and moist. I had read previously that they may be similar to the meals served in economy, with the only difference being that the meals had been transferred to a dish for heating rather than the metal containers.
in quick succession followed a cheese plate (sorry no photo, but not much was missed) and the apple macadamia tart. The vanilla anglais was delicious however neither of us finished us the dessert as it was a little plain.
a couple of hours sleep, and a couple of movies (Draft Day – a fun American drama, and Bad Neighbours – a little cringe worthy but didn’t require much thinking) and it was time for the second meal/ snack about 2 hours from touchdown. Being the greedy guts I am, this was demolished, on retrospect i’m not sure why! a glass of piper heidsieck helped washed it down, whilst Leslie had the French chardonnay.
Verdict – this was a solid flight for our first experience with Thai. Ultimately there was plenty of legroom, consistent friendly service, and a tasty main meal. Would we fly Thai business again? Most definitely. Would we choose it over Qantas or Singapore ? Perhaps at the right price (using miles of course!), however only after we had exhausted these other options. what do you value most when travelling in a premium cabin? is it the ability to get some good rest, the food and drinks, or something else? Coming up next – Thai first class lounge and Thai TG930 BKK-CDG A380 First Class