Tried & Tested

Flight review: Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk (business class) Bangkok-London

22 Jan 2022 by Hannah Brandler
Thai Airways B777-300

Background

Thai Airways is currently operating direct flights from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport to London Heathrow Terminal 2, operated by B777-300 aircraft.

We originally flew to the city via Phuket but returned on the 0010 night flight service on December 12, which was a 12 and a half hour flight and arrived in London at 0620.

First impressions

I arrived at Bangkok airport at 2207, following a very smooth domestic flight from Chiang Rai with the airline’s subsidiary Thai Smile. It was not a connecting flight, so I had to go through customs, collect my luggage and check-in again at the Thai Airways desks on the fourth floor at international departures.

I reached the desks at approximately 2230 and the queue for business class was speedy. I had to show a negative PCR test result taken within two days of departure (a requirement at the time to enter the UK) along with proof of vaccination and my passenger locator form.

Those in economy had to suffer snaking queues which looked to be going quite slowly – the airport, in general, was quite busy.

I used the fast-track security area, which lived up to its name, but the same could not be said of the priority immigration queue which went quite slowly. I had to provide my departure immigration card – you fill this out on the way out – and scan my fingers on my left and right hand.

Unfortunately, due to my previous flight and queues at immigration, I was not able to spend a long time in the lounge.

Royal Orchid Prestige Lounge Bangkok

The lounge

The Royal Orchid Prestige Lounge is located in the concourse D area opposite gate D4, on level 3. It had been closed due to the lack of demand during the pandemic, but reopened at the start of December to accommodate the rising number of international passengers following the reopening of the country.

It is now open 0500-0200 daily. Business Class customers, Royal Orchid Plus Platinum and Gold status members and Star Alliance Gold status members can use this facility.

The expansive lounge spans the length of the D gates, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows teasing those who don’t have entry. Staff are friendly and provide you with a wifi code on a piece of paper when you check-in.

It’s a great facility covering 2,089 sqm, with a range of seating areas able to accommodate 463 passengers. The colour scheme fits the airline’s branding, with purple and beige-hued seats, while stylish art deco-style table lamps provide plenty of light. There are also lush green feature walls, a nod to the tropical landscape of the country.

Royal Orchid Prestige Lounge Bangkok

The buffet area features both hot individually packaged items such as bite-sized spinach quiches and green curry chicken pie, and cold sweet pastries. There is also a hot buffet which includes stir-fried cabbage with sesame seeds, chicken panang, dumplings and western dishes such as spaghetti with tomato sauce.

The bar area has hot drinks and a fridge with soft drinks and beers. Gloves are also provided for guests to use when handling the food.

It was a shame I did not get to spend longer here as it’s a great lounge for both working and relaxing, plus you can have a full meal before boarding. I had already eaten dinner in Chiang Rai but couldn’t resist some snacks.

Royal Orchid Prestige Lounge Bangkok

Boarding

Boarding was scheduled for 2335, but it was still not announced at 2340. I was aware that Gate C was a fair distance from the lounge, so headed off at this time. It’s a ten-to-fifteen-minute walk to the gate, so it’s really not worth leaving it to the last minute unless you want to run through the terminal film-style. Boarding gates close ten minutes before departure.

In this case, boarding was delayed so it wasn’t an issue. My ticket was scanned upon entry to the room, which was already very full with a lot of people standing ready to queue for boarding. At 2352 there was a pre-boarding announcement stating that priority would be given to families with small children, elderly people and those who needed assistance. Business class passengers or those holding Royal Orchid membership were told that they could board at their own convenience.

Boarding began at 1200, I was at my seat by 1210 and offered a sanitiser wipe and drink shortly after. Unlike my outbound journey, I felt confident that this would be great service from the moment I boarded.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk

The seat

The B777-300 features 306 seats in economy and 42 in business class (Royal Silk) configured in a 1-2-1 layout. Business is set across two cabins, one to the left of the entrance (with 24 seats in rows 11-17) and another to the right (with 18 seats in rows 18-22) which continues into the economy area, separated by a curtain.

A bathroom is located on either aisle between the two business class cabins, and these were cleaned throughout the flight and featured soap, moisturiser and air freshener spray.

All business class seats extend into fully lie-flat beds, with a width of 20 inches.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk class seat

This time, I was in the cabin to the left of entrance, which feels a little more private and exclusive than the latter. My seat was 14J, a window seat about halfway down the right-hand side of the cabin.

The seat has a foot rest under the IFE screen, with a compartment below that too. There’s a wooden table with a cupholder by the window, meaning you are closer to the aisle than the window, and the tray table folds out from the back of the seat in front.

The seat had a blanket, cushion, slippers and an amenity kit designed by the Italian luggage maker Mandarina Duck. The kit included a hair brush, toothbrush with toothpaste and mouthwash, lip balm and moisturiser.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk

The IFE remote and seat controls are located to the right of the seat and are easy to use with pre-set buttons like ‘relax’, ‘upright’, ‘bed’ and ‘massage’. There is also a plug socket on the lower right hand side by your feet, and a reading light to the top right of the seat.

Unfortunately there’s not much storage space, other than a slim section for magazines by the wooden table, a small pocket to the right of the seat, and the well in front which you’re not allowed to use during take-off or landing. For this reason, I had to keep my belongings on my lap or in the overhead locker.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk

Best seat

While I enjoyed my seat, I would prefer a window seat with the table beside the aisle as it provides a bit more privacy. These are seats A and K on rows 12, 15, 17, 19, and 21.

In the first cabin, I would avoid row 17 as it is very close to the galley and toilets. Row 11 at the front of the cabin may have more legroom, but it is last to disembark the plane.

In the second cabin, the bulkhead row 19 is very private and close to the exit – see my review of this seat here:

Flight review: Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk (business class) London-Bangkok

Row 18 only has middle seats, and these are very close to the galley.

The middle seats alternate from side-to-side EF on row 11 to aisle seats D and G on row 12. The former would be good for those travelling together, while the latter are more distanced due to the side tables (but they are closer to the aisle).

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk

The flight

Due to the delay in boarding, we took off late but this did not extend our journey time. At 0024, the cabin crew sprayed the plane, and we took off shortly after at 0042.

After my welcome drink, a flight attendant asked what I would like to eat for dinner. I had already eaten and wanted to maximise my sleeping time, so instead just ordered breakfast (more on this later). Further drinks for the meal service were offered at 0100 and dinner was served at 0130.

I used the remote control to request help from a flight attendant to set up the bed, and they arrived within seconds and made up the bed equally quickly. The bed was comfortable and I managed to sleep on and off for a lot of the journey. After the halfway mark, there was a little bit of turbulence which was a bit distracting, but it wasn’t too bad.

At 0400 UK-time, a sanitiser wipe was offered to passengers, and breakfast was served at 0410. I felt quite well-rested and watched half of a film with my breakfast before an announcement was made that we would soon be landing in London. I could hardly believe it as the journey felt so quick.

The IFE includes a rather small 15-inch LCD screen which is still lacking a wide selection of content due to the company’s financial troubles but the airline is working on improving this. A pair of noise-cancelling headphones is provided, which are not superb quality. The flight did not have wifi.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk

Food and drink

Business class passengers were given the choice between stir-fried minced chicken with Thai basil and Jasmine rice, and braised beef check with roasted potatoes for the dinner service. Note that vegetarian options must be ordered with 48 hours’ notice. As of December, business class customers can pre-select their meal online if departing from Bangkok – see our forthcoming feature in the February/March issue of Business Traveller.

Breakfast was served shortly before arrival at 0410 UK-time and passengers could choose between a chicken omelette or prawn-fried rice, both of which were accompanied by a pre-packaged croissant, bread roll with butter and jam, some fruit and a yoghurt.

I had the prawn-fried rice and was pleasantly surprised – it was tasty, and I enjoyed the accompaniments too. Tea and coffee were brought around at the same time, and service was prompt and very friendly.

Arrival

An announcement was made to remind passengers of the requirement to take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until results (this is no longer required), and a short film was also broadcast about the rules regarding bringing meat and dairy into the EU.

We began descending into London at 0552 local time, and it was a smooth landing at 0618. The only problem was that my blanket, cushion and bedding were not collected, and so remained in the well area.

We disembarked ten minutes later, and as the cabin was not full, I was never close to anyone. It was a ten-minute walk to immigration, where I proceeded within minutes through the e-gates, arriving at baggage claim at 0640. This was probably the longest section of the journey, with my bag arriving fifteen minutes later, but even this wasn’t time-consuming in the scheme of things.

Verdict

I really enjoyed this flight back to the UK. It could have been stressful as my Thai Smile flight was not a connecting one, but the experience was smooth throughout – from a short stint at the well-designed lounge to warm and prompt service on board. The food was much better than the way out, and I managed to sleep for a chunk of the journey – something that I usually have great difficulty with. As a result, it felt like a short-haul trip despite it being a 13 hour journey.

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