Hong Kong’s downtown check-in was quiet mid-morning and registering for flight TG601 took less than two minutes. The Airport Express train was its usual smooth 24-minute ride, and I was through immigration and airside at HKIA just 35 minutes after starting the process in the city centre.
The Royal Orchid Lounge is located up the escalator near Gate 40 overlooking the main concourse. There are plenty of brightly coloured seats – though I personally found them slightly uncomfortable – and an “indoor” sealed-off room for those wanting a reprieve from the frequent flight announcements.
My first look at the hot foods (around 11am) revealed a number of empty dishes, but an eagle-eyed staff member explained the offering was about to be changed to a lunch spread. Ten minutes later that was ready, and it proved to be an appetising selection of Chinese and Thai fare.
Other facilities included two massage chairs, a comprehensive selection of newspapers and magazines, nine computer consoles near the entrance, three gaming consoles (Wii and Xbox) secreted up a side corridor plus fast, complimentary wifi.
My plane was parked at Gate 60, a short walk from the lounge (thanks to a regular – and very convenient – arrangement between the airline and HKIA). There was no queue for business/first class and I was soon on board, where I was offered juice or champagne, a hot towel and a blanket. The plane drew back from the gate on schedule at 1325, but we did not leave the ground until 1347 after a lot of taxiing.
The Royal Silk window seats are staggered so that those in odd-numbered rows (like my seat 19K) are beside the window, while even-numbered ones are next to the aisle. The seat capsules are boxy affairs, with expanses of mauve plastic that are showing a few scratches, dirt marks and fraying rubber moulding – though in fairness nothing rattled or squeaked during the flight. Two large storage compartments below the window would have held my entire carry-on bag’s contents.
The seat was well padded, comfortable and provided good lumbar support, plus a full set of electronic adjustments – including fast one-touch “relax”, “bed” and “upright” buttons.
A power socket is situated at shin level, there is a head-level reading light with three levels of brightness, and
two USB ports are just below the large TV monitor. IFE is comprehensive, with hundreds of movies, TV shows and games available. The noise-cancelling headphones were comfortable and worked well.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE
There are 60 business class seats, all on the upper deck, comprising 15 rows (1-2-1) with the last three rows separated by a bulkhead and the bar area. Rows 15-20 are probably the best option, to be as far away as possible from the galley, toilets and bar. Choose a window seat for a bit more privacy.
This is a short flight so the flight attendants quickly gave out menus, brought round the drinks tray, took orders and served lunch. There was a choice of two champagnes, two reds and two white wines. I chose a Cote de Beaune Villages 2013, which proved to be a very pleasant pinot noir. The first course of lunch was simmered pork loin with a Thai sauce, which lacked flavour; however, my main course of roast chicken breast in a mustard sauce with gratin dauphinois, roasted carrots and broccoli was excellent, the sauce a good complement to the tender meat (other mains included beef stroganoff, sautéed basa fish in black bean chilli sauce and pork curry pa-naeng). The mango mousse cake dessert was also good – overall I rate Thai’s F&B offerings highly.
I spent the remaining flight time working on my laptop – the table tray is large and very sturdy; conveniently, it swings forward towards the footwell to allow you to exit your seat into the aisle without having to move your computer (or food tray).
We began our descent at 1500, and were at the gate by 1530 – 25 minutes behind schedule. It was a long walk to immigration, plus a 10-minute wait for my checked bag. I was finally heading downtown by 4pm (a 30-60 minute drive depending on traffic).
Although the hardware is starting to show some signs of wear, this is still a solid product that excels in terms of service quality.
- TESTED BY Jeremy Tredinnick
- JOURNEY TIME 2 hours 40 minutes
- CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
- SEAT PITCH 188cm/74in
- SEAT WIDTH 51cm/20in
- SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
- PRICE Internet rates for a midweek return business class flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok in May start at HK$5,905 (US$756) including taxes and surcharges.
- CONTACT thaiairways.com