Thai withdraws 1st Class to NZ/Australia?

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  • Anonymous


    Following the interesting article regarding Thai withdrawing the BKK-NYC service, I have found that they have dramatically altered the flights also from BKK to Australia & NZ!

    Looking to travel in September, the aircraft listed are now B772/3, the older 747-400 to SYD x3 a day replaced. This means there is no 1st Class cabin!
    Equally to Auckland, again the previous A346, has been replaced with a 772, no 1st class!

    Heard no mentions of this, but whilst we know reigning in services & moving the aircraft around can be anticipated, this begins the Spring & summer & busy period from Asia to The Australasia region.

    Quite a dramatic move?
    Have SQ & the A380 taken much business from them? i have heard this in Australia…Many Australians are now preferring SQ more than ever…

    Also Etihad Airways, will up flights to 10 a week in October AUH-SYD, & they currently operate with very high load factors, hence the increase.
    Have they taken business from the Europe to Australia Market, & the increased EK choices to operate via The Middle East direct, cutting out Asia?

    Would Business Travellers ,as well as those wanting premium Business class services for this Long hauil route, now prefer the 15hr non-stop Middle East – Australia?

    Is this the demise of 1st Class, or just Thai’s quiet removal of it…only re-launched a few yrs ago?

    Whats yr view /or knowledge of this?

    Business Traveller replies:

    The simple answer is that New Zealand doesn’t have much of a demand for first class. That is why the national airline, Air New Zealand, removed first class from its fleet a couple of years ago in
    favour of an upgraded business class which uses the same seating as offered by Virgin Atlantic for its Upper Class.

    That is also why both Thai and Cathay Pacific no longer wish to provide a first class cabin on their New Zealand services and why SIA recently decided to remove first class from one of its two daily flights.

    It’s beginning to be a similar scanario with Australia with all airlines starting to remove first class from various routes. Even flights into Sydney aren’t immune from the cuts. For example, Cathay Pacific no longer offers first class to Australia’s main business city out of Hong Kong and neither does JAL out of Tokyo.

    There will always be a demand for first class on prime business routes like London-New York or Chicago-Tokyo. But the number of first class seats per flight will be reduced. Air France’s first class cabin, for example, is configured with as few as four seats depending on the route and aircraft.

    Thai hasn’t been a significant player between Europe and Australasia for a number of years.

    There is no doubt that the Gulf carriers have taken a substantial amount of Europe-Australasia traffic from the SE Asian carriers. This trend can only continue as they acquire more planes and as they win further landing rights from the Australian and NZ governments. Emirates, for example, has won approval from the Australians to increase flights from Dubai by some 50 per cent in the coming years.

    Singapore and Changi are well aware that its share of the voluminous market between Europe, Asia and Australasia is under threat from the likes of Emirates, Qatar and Etihad. That is why the airport authorities will be adding a fourth terminal at its Changi hub – see Online News, March 9.


    I can understand the frustration of not havig any First Class services from your region but as I just returned from a Thai Airways First Class flight from Europe to BKK and back, Thai is reeling-in their costs and one way to do so is to have more Business Class revenue seats than empty First Class seats.

    As you mentioned, they are removing their non-stop flights from the US and selling the aircraft, a HUGE dissapointment as I and friends have raved about having that service from New York, also with no First Class seating…but its sadly understandable in these times of outrageous fuel costs.


    Thai’s First Class services at BKK are brilliant and having fewer First Class passengers allows for all of them to enjoy every bit of enjoyment at the lounges, especially their Royal First SPA which was a brilliant experience.

    For those who don’t know, Thai escorts passengers to and from the aircraft at BKK, even my flight which was parked on a remote stand, the Thai Airways rep was at the top of the remote stairs, took me down the stairs to the private van, then driven to the arrival hall, and then via purple golf-cart all the way to the lounge where I was brought directly to the spa, due to my tight connection, and they made sure i enjoyed every minute i could in their facilities. I even kept asking about boarding my onward flight and they replied “don’t worry, we will come find you and bring you to your seat sir. Please enjoy the lounge!”

    Insert a cartoon scene with my head spinning in circles and my eyes “popping out” along with the sound of an antique car horn!

    *I could only imagine a few dozen other First Class passeners trying to enjoy the same services at the same time I was!

    Best of luck to you folks “down under” as at least you still have the airlines flying from your cities 🙂


    Many Thanks to Business traveller for their analysis & comments as always.

    I agree with the further comment also, that the Thai 1st Class lounge service in BKK, is just like no other anywhere, & The Spa pretty amazing with the wonderful Thai Hospitality Shining through.
    I was certainly impressed with Singapore’s 1st Class lounge in March when i came through (Ironically on from Oz then the KUL shuttle…but they only run 1st/ econ so if booked in C you get to the 1st lounge!).
    However the facilities pre-flight with the Spa are pretty luxurious & pampering.

    So the FFP’s for these airlines (& Star Alliance especially), will need to updated, as no longer zone to zone will you be able to get from Asia down, if redeeming for a 1st class miles seat? Earning also, would mean not x3, but x2 miles, again may well hit earning abilities?
    Thais revenue for 1st class “A ” fares were only approx %15 more than in D down to Oz & Aukland!

    I also agree that a good Business Class cabin can be better than a older style 1st Class. Etihad’s Excellent Pearl Class really exceeds most other airlines 1st in my experience.
    Sure we can all see the “Emerging” economies growing in the Industry, with Middle East also coming to be more prominent, eg on the Australia /NZ routes that by pass Asia entirely with direct services. Ironically though, Etihad is very highly priced from SYD to AUH for the Australians, but starting the other way round costs considerably less. Etihad have an Aussie reputation of being luxurious, but expensive…so they dont need the australian market so much…??!!!

    Fares have risen, But in the same manner a fare say LHR – SYD via any routing on Star Alliance combination, then the value of our FF miles have also, in their purchasing capability, on the value of what would be a revenue seat. My flight 18 months ago for £1,700 is now nearer £3,000, so using my miles buys me more.

    Surely this will now lead to a review of many FF programs…combined with the global living costs & issues in many countries, perhaps this is the time to spend the miles before they are adjusted to be worth less…Its a volatile road ahead…

    r ryan

    TG may have removed FC from the Oz routes but they have replaced it largely with a premium economy product. On some days they are using a 777 with their best J class seats [angle flat, 2-2-2] but on many days it is a 777 with old 70’s style business seats, very cramped, little recline and 2-3-2. Thai jacked up their prives after introducing and establishing their new J class a while ago [at least 18 months] and now has taken a very backward step. These are the same type of horrible cramped seats [belive me, I have sat in them for long flights] that TG sell as premium economy on their scandinavian flights on the old 747’s.
    Just for Thais record, I have been a frequent user of their FC and J class for many years; and on my next trip to europe in July, I DEFINITELY will NOT be using them. My collegues from Zurich who return nect week have said the same – sub business class standard out of Oz now, so they are moving to SQ; as are two Australian based colleagues who just cancelled their TG bookings next week and moved to SQ. Well done Thai. Nice crew, but not good equipment


    When we travel to New Zealand we always go EK via Dubai, 1st class is very good and the network really meets are needs. And for Australia we stick to BA, a product which may be tired but at least it works.


    Until BA withdraw from Australia …as it seems likely & they are rumoured to do so…see recent BT postings. They have such little remaining n downgraded f;lights already to smaller 777 they seem unable to meet load factors.

    EK & Etihad seem very full in premium classes n doing well espec down to Oz..

    It would seem that SQ are or have become the dominant force to Sydney at least with 1/2 A380 per day n other 747 aircraft total= 4 flights a day.
    Fom the comment above, TG seems to have lost their battle for the routings, interesting with Etihad increasing schedules in the coming months to 11 weekly AUH-syd. Have to prefer them to EK, space more generous & more private if travel alone with seating arrangements.
    Pity EK along with others like KLM/AF, have added 1 seat across in Y for others seems to be putting lots of other travellers off an otherwise good service in all classes.

    I think its time to use up all those stored miles now,;it wont be long before the FF Membership rules will be changing, along with the calculating rewards, to reflect today’s climate.


    Hi everyone!!

    TG is offering F class beginning 25.10.2009 from BKK-SYD. So after a while and perhaps by popular demand, TG will be reinstating its F class again to Oz. TG announces to use A340-600 but the airline is known for changing spontaneously so a B747 could be used as well.
    While in the A340-600 and new gen B747-400(744), the F class is more individual pods while the older B747-400(747) still showcase the twosome seatings.

    So Oz premium pax can experience full F class service all the way to Oz again. It is not yet sure, if destinations like AKL, MEL and BNE are profitable enough to offer F class service at the moment or the near future.

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