Thai Airways B777-300ER Royal First ClassBack to Forum
Anonymous14 Jun 2012
The fast Narita Express train (NEX) brought me from Tokyo’s Shinjuku station directly to Narita airport to catch my 1100 departure on TG641 to Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi. Check-in at the dedicated first class counter was quick and so was security check and immigration.
Soon after, I found myself at the ANA Suite Lounge which is situated at terminal 1, next to gate 45. NH’s signature lounge appears with typical Japanese understatement. Chairs are comfortable, the spacious room looks clean, the views on the tarmac are fascinating, and the service is top-notch. But something is missing. Is it the personal touch? I don’t know.
Food-wise I was a bit disappointed, I must say. There was not much more on offer than Udon (noodle soups) and a small assortment of – you got it – sushi. Maybe the food offerings were limited because it was only 9am?
For research reasons I also wanted to check out the other lounge option – the United Red Carpet Club, which meanwhile has been renamed as United Global First Lounge. The interior with its “old-schoolish” upholstered armchairs reminded me of the late 70’s.
Nevertheless, the lounge somehow has a very unique charm. My culinary needs were catered with some snacks, nuts, and – you got it again – sushi. Not that I don’t like Japanese cuisine, don’t get me wrong. It just gets a bit boring after a while. Sushi here, sushi there, sushi everywhere.
The dedicated first and business class line and a separate jet bridge to door 1L allowed for a fast boarding without any waiting. Once aboard I was greeted by the purser and escorted to my seat.
Thai’s Boeing 777-300ERs are dry-leased from Jet Airways and will operate until 2013. The configuration is F8 – C30 – Y274, which sums in a total of 312 seats.
The first class cabin comes with a total of 8 suites in two rows with a 1-2-1 configuration (A-DG-K). Obviously, all of those have direct access to the aisle. The seat is 22 inches (56cm) wide, 83 inches (211cm) long and reclines a full 180 degrees to make for a cozy bed. For full privacy you can close the sliding door – a nice feature.
The IFE is quite modern (TG doesn’t use its own IFE on the leased jets) and offers a wide range of movies, series and music. The screen is huge (23 inch/58cm) and the state-of-the-art headphones reduce any bothersome noise.
Another nice feature of the suite is the ottoman in front of the seat which allows a fellow passenger to dine or work vis-à-vis.
Business class is comes with a 1-2-1 fully-flat bed herringbone arrangement (A-DG-K), economy with a standard 3-3-3 (ABC-DEG-HJK).
-Which Seat to choose-
Since I was travelling alone I chose suite 1K for myself. Couples are better off with seats in the middle (D, G) as the divider between the seats is removable and allows togetherness.
When departing from Tokyo towards southern direction I would definitely want to be seated on the right hand side in order to see the summit of the majestic Mount Fuji. What a magnificent view! For best observation one would be well advised to sit in row 1, since the first row has 4 windows, whereas the second row only has 3.
In general, the first class cabin seems a bit worn down already. The wooden interior is covered with scratches and stains. Rubber seals from the sliding doors fall off. I assume TG doesn’t want to invest too much money in a leased aircraft. Fair enough.
With no boarding delay and not too much traffic at Narita airport, the triple 7 rotated on-time shortly after 1100. After a smooth climb up above the clouds the catering began with yakitori (skewered chicken), a curry puff, and the mandatory campari orange. Note that TG doesn’t serve caviar on regional routes! Soon after, I was handed out the lunch and wine menu.
First course included a king crab salad, shrimps and grilled scallops with cocktail sauce followed by a chestnut soup with duck liver mouse (don’t be bedazzled by those fancy ingredients, bottom line is, the food was nothing special…).
In the meantime, the purser advised me of grabbing my camera since we were about to fly over Mount Fuji. The view of this unique mountain is simply spectacular…
Back to the culinary spectacles: main courses were steamed sea bass with yuzu citrus sauce and Japanese veggies, pork curry “pa-naeng” with fried white fungus and minced prawns, or stewed duck leg in braised sauce with truffle and dried tomato mashed potato. I chose the curry which was okay. Desserts included the compulsory selection of cheese (I passed) and rum savarin with orange sauce. If I recall correctly, the wine list offered both 3 selection of whites and reds.
I then decided to get a rest. To my surprise TG doesn’t offer a pajama on their flights to or from Tokyo. Even though they state on their homepage that every flight exceeding 6h a pj is offered in first class, they actually don’t. Fair enough.
At least I was given one of those really cool rimova amenity kits which look like a small suite case. It consists of a comb, tooth brush and tooth paste, mouth spray, lip balm, hand lotion, and a facial spray (la maxima).
I closed the sliding door to my suite, pushed the “do not disturb”-button and had a deep sleep for a couple of hours.
I woke up prior to landing in Bangkok and was given a juice and a warm towel to freshen up. After a smooth descent we arrived at the gate on time and the cabin crew bid farewell.
A TG ground staff was waiting for me at the end of the jet bridge. She greeted me and invited me to hop on the cute TG golf cart which made my way through immigration to the baggage reclaim area fast, easy and hassle-free.
After picking up my bags (which were the first on the belt) the ground staff escorted me through customs to the car which was waiting for me outside the terminal building. The whole arrival procedure was very quick.
Overall service of Thai Airways was good, especially the ground staff at Bangkok airport. I love the private suites which look elegant and are pretty comfortable.
Food-wise though, I expect more from TG. They just can’t keep up with the culinary highlights of let’s say Swiss International Air Lines or so. Even business class meals of Singapore Airlines or United surpass Thai’s first class meals in terms of taste and quality.
On another note I think it’s a pity that the cabin looks used and worn down. Thai should invest more in the maintenance of their aircrafts – leased or not. To me, the condition of the cabin represents somehow the attitude of an airline (two thumbs down in this regard for TG). Furthermore, allow me one thought on lounges. Please get more creative! I want something else than sushi again and again!14 Jun 2012