Tried & Tested

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

22 Jan 2022 by Hannah Brandler
Thai Airways B777-300

Background

We flew with Thai Airways from London Heathrow Terminal 2 to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport via Phuket International. The flight was operated by a B777-300 with a flight time of 14 hours and 50 minutes.

To enter Thailand at the time, I needed to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, medical insurance over US$50,000 and proof of full vaccination. See our guides to entering Thailand on the Test and Go and Sandbox schemes.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk

First impressions

Airlines are currently advising you to check-in three hours before your departure due to document checks, so I arrived at the airport at 0900 for my 1150 departure.

The check-in desks for the airline are located at the far end (section D) of Terminal 2, and there were two short queues with two desks dedicated to economy, and one for business class passengers. I had to show my Thailand Pass, which is a QR code that I printed out and stored on my phone, along with my passport, and proof of a negative PCR test.

Check-in was simple and I received a paper boarding pass. I proceeded to fast-track security, which went fairly quickly though the person in front of me seemed to have a considerable amount of hand luggage.

The terminal was quite quiet and I headed straight for the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, which was around a 20-minute walk away from security near gates D. Thai Airways does not have its own lounge at Heathrow.

Singapore SilverKris lounge terminal 2

The lounge

Business class passengers can use the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge as both airlines are members of the Star Alliance. It’s easy to find, and has a set of lifts taking you upstairs to both the SilverKris and Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge.

The lounge is excellent, with a range of seating areas and plenty of food options. As you enter, there’s a more serious looking business centre-like room on the right hand-side which has tea, a Nespresso machine, a fridge with soft drinks and some pastries.

The main lounge area is down the corridor to the left, and begins with a self-serve buffet area with fresh-from-the-oven pastries, cold cheese and ham croissants, some yoghurts, smoothies and clingfilm-covered fruit salads. There’s also a fridge with soft drinks and beers, a wide selection of teas and a coffee machine which was attracting a lot of attention in the morning.

As you continue towards the lounge area, there’s another table with small Kelloggs cereal boxes and a range of fresh juices. There are signs throughout advising you to scan the QR code from your table to order hot food. I tried scanning the QR code but it did not work, later finding out from a staff member said that you had to connect to the wifi first for it to work. Several people were also confused about this, so it may be worth them signposting this.

The hot menu included a Full English breakfast (and a veggie version), a bacon roll, and Singaporean dishes such as a mild Nasi Lemak with Chicken Sambal and Asian Vegetable Noodles.

Singapore Silverkris lounge bar

For alcoholic drinks, guests can head to the bar which faces the larger seating area, and serves wines, beers, cocktails and mocktails. The bar was also serving the Singapore Airlines Connoisseur Dry Gin which was created with Hayman’s London in celebration of the first flight from London to Singapore in 1971. There were two cocktails featuring the gin, which included ‘An English Garden’ with apple juice, lemon juice and elderflower cordial, and ‘Exotic Citrus Cooler’ with grapefruit juice and Sicilian lemonade.

I chose to sit at an armchair facing the pod-style seats so that I could snag one of the coveted private seats as soon as someone left. A pod became available as soon as I finished eating, so I set up camp there and worked for 30 minutes. These feel very private and it’s understandable why they get filled up quickly.

Unfortunately, there had been some sort of water leak so the majority of the power points were out-of-use. Luckily, my laptop was fully charged. The lounge was almost full when I arrived, due to a delay with a Singapore Airlines flight – the announcement said that boarding was delayed due to enhanced document checks at check-in.

Staff were very attentive and regularly collected plates, and wiped down surfaces.

Singapore Silverkris lounge pod

Boarding

I was told that the flight would be boarding at 1110 so I left the lounge and headed to the gate, which was just a minute away. At 1118, we were told to form a queue for medical checks, which involved a temperature check from our wrist, followed by a stamp of our boarding pass and passport check.

I was one of the first in the queue, though it wasn’t organised by cabin class, and so was finished by 1120. Everyone was then rather confused as we assumed that this would be followed by boarding, but instead we stood around waiting in a small area following the checks. Many people moved back outside the gate area to avoid close proximity to people.

Boarding began at 1145 and was a little chaotic as people didn’t know which line to join as they weren’t marked out. Some business class passengers found themselves in the economy queue and so converged with our line.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk seat

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.

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 seat

I didn’t have far to go once I boarded, as my ticket was for seat 19A which is the first window seat on the right-hand side of the entrance. While it’s the first row in the second cabin, it is removed slightly from the bulkhead as the area between the shell of the seat and the galley is filled with a table. You get three windows to yourself here, which is great for sky-seeing throughout the long journey.

The seat has a wooden table on the aisle-side, and a tray table folds out from the right-hand wall in front. When I arrived, there was a blanket, cushion, slippers and an amenity kit designed by Porsche Design Group to resemble a suitcase. The kit included toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash, a moisturiser, lip balm and a hairbrush. Noise-cancelling headphones by AKG are also provided.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk seat amenity kit

The IFE remote and seat controls are located to the right of the seat which are easy to use, and there’s a socket on the lower right hand side by your feet.

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 seat controls

Best seat

I enjoyed my seat due to the privacy and proximity to the galley and exit, but it was rather loud throughout the entire journey as it was close to the engine.

It’s better to have a window seat with a 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.

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

The middle seats alternate from side-to-side E and F 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

My flight attendant introduced herself as soon as I sat down and knew my name, which was a nice touch. She offered me a small water bottle and sanitiser wipe, and returned ten minutes later to ask what I would like for dinner, with a choice between a beef massaman curry and grilled salmon – I opted for the latter, but there wasn’t much information beyond that and no paper or digital menus (despite there being a section for it on the IFE).

I ordered breakfast at the same time, which was scrambled eggs with pork sausage or chives – I again opted for the latter. The problem with the cabin is that the engines are so loud that it’s really hard to hear people when they speak, especially when you’re both wearing masks.

An announcement was made at 1203 to say that the flight duration would be 11 hours and 10 minutes to Phuket, with clear skies ahead, and asked passengers to follow quarantine measures throughout the flight – I assume this meant wearing masks and keeping your distance from passengers. We were also told that we could request hand sanitiser gel whenever required. This was again quite difficult to hear, perhaps as my seat was located right next to an engine.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk seat IFE

At 1214 we began taxiing, and a safety video was shown on the IFE screens. We took off at 1225, 35 minutes late. After the safety video, my IFE stopped working. The screen turned off but illuminated whenever a passenger announcement was made. I had to remind the crew a few times about this, as they were busy laying down table settings and preparing the dinner service.

The IFE was rebooted at 1250 and took approximately 10-15 minutes to begin working again. During this time, I noticed that people were being served drinks but I had not been offered one. I asked what was on offer, and got a glass of Champagne. Dinner was served soon after at 1305 (more on this later).

The IFE system is quite poor, with few movies and TV shows as a result of the company’s financial struggles, but it is something that the airline is working on improving. The aircraft did not feature wifi, but guests could use the seat-to-seat messaging service if they had friends on the plane.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk seat

After the dinner service, a flight attendant asked if I wanted my bed made up. I wasn’t that tired yet but thought I should try to beat the jet lag by switching to Thai time, so tried to sleep for a few hours. The bed was comfortable and the flight was largely smooth but became a little turbulent as we approached Phuket.

Breakfast was served at 0500 Thai time, an hour and a half before landing in Phuket, along with an immigration form to be filled in before disembarking the aircraft. Headphones were collected before landing – the IFE system doesn’t work for the next leg of the trip – and the crew handed out complimentary SIM cards to business class passengers.

We landed as the sun rose at 0635 in Phuket, which was really magical and a lovely introduction to the island for those disembarking.

Landing in Phuket

The landing was accompanied by an announcement informing passengers bound for Bangkok to remain seated, leaving just a few passengers in my cabin. This was proof of the lower demand for Thai cities at the moment, with the rebound in tourism fuelled by leisure visits to sandbox destinations such as Phuket. For more information on this programme, see our feature:

A guide to Thailand’s Sandbox scheme

We stayed on the tarmac for about an hour, during which time passengers are not allowed to use the toilets. The plane refuelled and was ready to take off at 0735. While it was inconvenient to travel via Phuket, it gave me time to chat to the friendly crew about my trip and also meant that I had the cabin (pretty much) to myself for the remainder of the flight, with incredible views of the islands as we took off for Bangkok.

Phuket takeoff

Food and drink

Dinner (or lunch UK time) was served at 1305, and included a main plate of grilled salmon with soggy potatoes, broccoli and a white sauce which didn’t have any flavour but was needed for the dry salmon. This was accompanied by three small bowls: some lovely cheese and grapes, slices of thick ham with a chutney and croutons, and a lemon cheesecake with dessicated coconut. There was also a bread roll and butter, and everything was covered with plastic due to Covid-19 protocols.

The table had ample space for me to eat the various elements, but I wasn’t very impressed by the food. Tea and coffee was then offered at 1350.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk dinner

Breakfast was served at 0500 but I was very hungry by this point as I hadn’t eaten that much at dinner and snacks had not been offered in between services. I was given the wrong breakfast but this was quickly rectified.

The scrambled eggs with chives was served with baked beans, roasted tomatoes, and two tasteless potato cakes. On the side were two pastries, a bowl of lovely fresh fruit and a yoghurt.

Thai Airways B777-300 Royal Silk breakfast

Arrival

We began the descent into Bangkok at 0832 and landed at 0841. It was very quick to disembark given there were only six people in my cabin.

I then made my way to the disease control officers, who were located about a ten-minute walk from the plane. It was a very well-organised system, with seats set out in socially distanced rows allowing you to rest while you compiled all your documents and avoid falling asleep upright.

I had to provide my Thailand Pass QR code, along with documents such as proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test. Once approved, I proceeded to immigration where I provided my immigration form and scanned my fingers on the pad – there is hand sanitiser at the desk for you to use before and after.

This all ran very smoothly and efficiently, and once I had collected my luggage, I made my way to the exit. This area is filled with hotel representatives for arriving passengers, ready to transport them directly to their arrival PCR test. Luckily The Peninsula Bangkok had its own room for this, so I did not have to go via a hospital or testing centre.

Verdict

Thai Airways’ business class product has issues which need improving if it is to compete with other carriers. The IFE system lacks a variety of content, the food was quite disappointing and the service felt a little chaotic at times, though staff were very friendly.

On the positive side, the seat was comfortable and private, and the experience at the lounge was a peaceful start to the journey. It was also great to see the arrival process at Bangkok airport, and how well managed the process is for the Test and Go scheme – read more about this here:

A guide to Thailand’s Test and Go scheme

Interestingly, my return journey was a lot more positive – read about it here:

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

thaiairways.com

 

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