Thai Airways B747-400 (Config. 3) Royal First ClassBack to Forum
Anonymous3 May 2014
CHECK-IN: I managed to get online check in completed 23 hours before the flight and was able to get seats 1A and 1K (I had already allocated 1K and 2K beforehand but 1A was released for check in). Because we were transiting through Bangkok and onto Hanoi we had to get our boarding passes at LHR as our visas had to be checked. We arrived at the Royal First class desk where there was already one couple being served. After what seemed like a difficult time for the check in staff with those customers, we were processed in a most efficient and friendly manner, with time being taken to check our passports, visas and labels being attached to the luggage; I was pleased to see this as our last experience through T3 was not good, with British Airways losing one of our bags. We were issued with our boarding passes for both legs or our journey and on our way within 10 minutes.
THE LOUNGE: when you are flying Thai Airways Royal First Class you are told that you can use the SAS London Lounge which is the general Star Alliance lounge in T3. In fact you are also able to use the Singapore Airlines First Class lounge which, if you time it right with their flights, is actually a much nicer lounge and much quieter, with a champagne bar overlooking the apron. We tried both and can vouch that the Singapore Airlines lounge is a better option if it’s quiet. There are no announcements in the lounge so you have to be a bit vigilant with the time for boarding, especially if your gate is a walk away.
BOARDING: We knew from our experience in the London Lounge that our gate was 23, so we set off from the Singapore Airlines lounge in time for the boarding at 11:50. We arrived at the gate just as boarding had started and after a short wait first and business class passengers were called and we were ushered down a separate boarding way into door 1L. We were the first passengers into first class and once we had showed our boarding cards to the cabin crew on entry, we made our way straight to the front for our seats 1A and 1K. Within a matter of minutes the cabin service director came and welcomed us on board and once all passengers were in the cabin he came round with a tray of glasses and a bottle of champagne in hand.
THE SEAT: The ambience of the new first class cabin is noticeable with its hues of cream purple and wood. The mini suites (without doors) are spacious, the seats wide and comfortable and comes with plenty of storage space to the side, under the windows and under the ottoman. To the front sits the massive 23” screen with the ubiquitous Thai orchid in pride of place and on the aisle side is a small closet with hanging space. To the window side of the seat, starting at the front is the magazine rack, storage for the headphones and a multi pin power socket, then the large and heavy wooden table which lifts out of the housing, followed by a small touch screen which controls the seat positions and then a further storage area where the entertainment handset, 2 x USB ports and a further cubby hole can be found.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?: For couples travelling together seats 1A and 1K are definitely the ones to go for if you want a window view, otherwise seats 3E and 3F which are two seated together in the middle at the rear of the cabin. If you are travelling alone, any of the other widow seats or 2E will be suitable.
THE FLIGHT: We pushed back on time and were airborne within 15 minutes. There was very little communication from the flight deck throughout the flight, something which those of us who fly UK, European or US airlines may find a little strange, but it kept the flight quiet and peaceful especially during the night hours. The only communication was when we reached our initial cruising altitude and a summary of the flight ahead was provided, and later in the flight when some rather severe turbulence was experienced.
The food service on Thai is exceptional and started almost immediately after the aircraft reached 10000ft. First came the drinks service and warm nuts; I decided to stick with the exceptionally good champagne right through until my main course. The drinks service was followed by the canapés of Padang Chicken and sauce. Once this was finished the large table was opened out, the table laid out with cutlery, salt & pepper, bread basket and cold towel, and the service really began. The starter was a mixture of various roulades and pates of salmon served with a side salad. We had pre-ordered the Lobster Thermador online via our booking, as all Royal First and Royal Silk passengers can do and it did not disappoint; the portion was huge and came accompanied with swirls of potato, half tomatoes, peas and chopped carrot. At this point I chose to change to the Chablis, which was excellent also. By this time I had eaten so much I couldn’t handle anymore so skipped the dessert and headed straight for an Oolong tea to aid my digestion.
Once I had finished watching a film, I wandered to one of the 2 x toilets catering first class and changed into my pyjamas. I asked the crew to make up my bed and by the time I returned to my seat my bed was made. I slept for about 4-5 hours before the lights were switched on for the breakfast service, which again I avoided due to still being full from the excellent dinner a few hours beforehand. I did however enjoy a very well made cup of tea before changing back into my clothes and by the time I got back to my seat, my bedding had been packed away and the seat was reinstated.
The scheduled flight time was 11hrs 35mins, but they managed to knock this down to 10hrs 15mins, which helped us greatly as we were making a connection to another Thai flight onwards to Hanoi (see separate flight review for that). Before we started to make our descent into Bangkok the first class crew came round to each individual passenger to thank them for flying with Thai and handed out an orchid; a lovely touch.
VERDICT: I can’t comment on the value for money aspect as we were flying on miles, but having experienced a number of business and first class flights in recent years this has to top them all. This particular crew were friendly, chatty and attentive without being annoying. The food and drink service was exceptional and the pre-ordered dish was very good. The new cabin is comfortable, airy and the mini suites cocoon you from your fellow passengers; I like the relaxed feel of the cabin with only 9 seats compared to British Airways first cabin of 14.3 May 2014