Thai Airways passengers travelling to/from Sydney will soon no longer be able to fly "as smooth as silk" up front.
That is because, from the end of October, the airline will join the growing number of Asian carriers that no longer provide first class seating when heading Down Under.
On October 26, Thai will remove its three-class but elderly B747-400s from its Bangkok to Sydney route.
They will be replaced by more economical two-class B777-300s, although it is unclear which version of this plane will be used.
It is to be hoped that Thai will roster its newest variant — the B777-300ER, with fully-flat beds in business class (configured six-across) and nine-across seating in economy — for daily flights TG475 and TG476.
Thai also operates a further three flights a week into Sydney numbered TG471 and TG472. But these services may well be operated by Thai's older B777-300s, which are configured with older seven-across seating in business although economy remains nine-across.
Moreover, these aircraft are intended for regional routes. In other words, this aircraft type is not used for Europe or North America.
The problem is that Thai is famous for making last-minute plane changes so I would advise readers to check again at the time of booking or nearer the flight date to ascertain the B777 variant.
Readers with long memories will note Thai's declining fortunes on the kangaroo route. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was one of the very best Asian airlines for Europeans to choose for a flight Down Under. Thai's famous "as smooth as silk" marketing slogan was synonymous with quality travel.
But Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and, latterly, the Gulf carriers have over the years captured much of Thai's market share.
In further news, Thai has pencilled in early December as a launch date for a new non-stop Dusseldorf to Bangkok service (see news, August 16). It is awaiting confirmation from the German authorities before seats go on sale.
The intention is now to operate four flights a week with a B747-400. Dusseldorf is close to the Dutch border, so as well as appealing to residents of the Ruhrgebiet, the service will also interest travellers based in southern Holland.