Thai Airways operates a few different aircraft fitted with different first class configurations. The most up to date 747 are semi-private suites. However, Thai operates 2 different 747 jets; one featuring the new suites and the other sporting an old cabin. The A380 on the other hand is somewhere in between. At the time of writing the cabin is already 6 years old! But comfort and service are what can make or break first class so let’s see how the A380 stacks up!
In this post:
Booking Thai First Class
Thai Airways being a Star Alliance member allows savvy travellers to book first class cabins with the use of frequent flyer points. For Australians, the easiest way to fly first class for a fraction of the ticket price is by buying Life Miles from Avianca when they are on sale. Award availability for Thai is rather good, so it makes sense unless you have a lot of spare KrisFlyer or United miles lying around.
Thai First Class Ground Experience
Thai Airways is famous for its first class ground experience and take this very seriously. It all starts on arrival in Bangkok, if you’re flying in on a business or economy flight, Thai representatives will be waiting at the aircraft door with the sole task of getting you from the plane to the lounge as fast as possible without exerting too much energy…of course.
Even if your incoming aircraft parks up at a remote gate, a dedicated car will be ready to transport you to the terminal. In my case I was flying in from Perth on-board the 787 in business class and as soon as I walked out of the plane, a Thai Airways rep was waiting for me with a sign. Once in the terminal we jumped onto a golf buggy and zipped past all other travellers on route to the Thai First Class Lounge. What would have been a solid 15 min walk turned into 2 mins of golf cart driving. We then arrived at a security checkpoint which is where the Thai ground service kind of falls apart. There’s no way to bypass or get expedited treatment here, everyone is equal so there’s nothing you can do but queue up. On the other side of the screening point, a second rep was waiting for me. His only task; get me from the security checkpoint all the way to the first class lounge entrance. A daunting 10 meters…
Safely inside the First Class Lounge, it was smiles all around as every staff member greeted me (there were a few!). I opted to skip the lounge for now and go straight to the Spa to claim my free 1-hour massage which you get when flying Thai Airways First Class departing from Bangkok. Since I was short on time, we changed that to a modest 40 minutes of relaxation after which I had a quick snack and a glass of champagne back in the lounge.
Overall I wouldn’t rate the lounge that highly but there is a dedicated dining room and extensive a la carte menu. No fancy champagnes are on offer, but it’s the spa that makes the Thai lounge experience.
Not long after my spa treatment, the lounge staff were informing all first class passengers travelling to Paris (4 of us in total) that our buggies to the gate were ready. An (always) enjoyable buggy ride later, we arrived at the final security checkpoint before boarding.
The whole experience was guided by the first class ground crew who made sure we got from the lounge to the gate without any hassle.
Thai First Class Amenity Kit
Thai Airways is one of the 3 airlines that offers the infamous Rimowa amenity kit to its first class passengers. It is somewhat of a collectors item and you can regularly find them on Ebay for more than $100; which is crazy. The kit came fully stocked with everything you might need on a long flight + some of Evian’s new “facial mist” which is just water in a can…
The Thai A380 First Class Seat
The Thai Airways A380 first class seats are very spacious but unfortunately, lack the privacy of a fully enclosed suite.
That said, all seats are staggered, and there’s a privacy shell which means you won’t actually see too much of your fellow passengers. The Thai first class seats have plenty of storage space for all your belongings with the window seats having additional storage bins along the window. Although the cabin is showing its age, it’s muted colours of beige, light brown and gold-ish colours really aren’t that bad.
Power supplies are also there, so there’s an opportunity to charge your laptop and phone simultaneously.
Unfortunately, my seat had some problems with the audio port which was only sending out a mono signal and the remote control wasn’t working at all, on this occasion it didn’t bother me since the entertainment offered on Thai is a bit mediocre and I was planning to sleep after dinner.
Space wise, the Thai first seat is actually much wider than Emirates’ A380 first class suite, and the legroom goes for days. This makes for a very comfortable bed in the sky, though I would have liked to see a more padded mattress for sleeping.
In my opinion, 2K and 2A are the best seats if you prefer the window. Both seats will give you the full 3 windows whereas 1A and 1K both have a window missing. 3K and 3A are right next to the galley so there will be some noise when the crew are preparing food. Middle seats are all on parr, but I would go for the middle section to be away from the bathrooms and away from the galley. Of course, the middle seats come with a large privacy screen so in case you’re sitting next to a stranger you can raise it for more privacy.
At the front of the cabin, there’s one first class bathroom which is very spacious but lacking a shower. On the other side there is a small “lounge” area which looks uninviting, and I highly doubt anyone would actually use it.
It seems like a wasted space and an opportunity to install another bathroom or even a shower like Emirates or Etihad.
The Food & Drinks
I didn’t have high expectations in regards to the Thai first class menu, but I was really surprised by the quality of the food!
Even though I had pre-ordered a “Book the cook” meal, I was glad that it wasn’t mentioned since the main menu had a few very nice looking options.
Thai offers both a Thai and Western-inspired selection on their menu which had Wagyu and Lobster on offer… tough choice! To start, I had the crispy oyster mushroom with tomato salsa. Even though I really don’t like mushrooms I ate them all as they tasted terrific.
No first class experience is complete without a proper caviar service and Thai Airways excels in this department! The presentation was beautiful, complete with all the condiments and a few more glasses of Dom.
The lobster was perfectly cooked, tasty and presented very nicely, the same can be said for the dessert (or should I say desserts!).
After indulging in some more champagne, it was time to catch some sleep. While I changed into my comfortable Thai first pyjamas (my favourite first class PJ’s right now) the crew made up my bed.
Two hours before our arrival in Paris I woke up to have some breakfast, opting for fresh fruit, pastries and a delicious omelette.
Once again the food was spot on! For some reason the coffee was also very drinkable (usually airline coffee isn’t exactly that nice), that I ended up drinking a few cups (black with no sugar).
Arrival in Paris was smooth and fast thanks to the No.1 priority immigration clearance line to which business and first-class passengers get access. A good 5 minutes after exiting the plane I was out of the airport and on my way into the city.
Thai First Conclusion
I didn’t go in with extremely high expectations, but the Thai First class experience was one of my favourite ones to date. The crew on my flight were outstanding and the service was spot on without being too over the top that it feels awkward.
The food was exceptional. Thai really goes out of its way to make sure the presentation is perfect; from beautiful crystal champagne glasses, custom porcelain, beautifully plated food through to the hot towels which seemed to appear after each meal.
Sure the cabin was a bit dated, but this didn’t change the service or the overall experience. Best of all, Thai Airways always has excellent availability for its first class cabin, so it makes an outstanding redemption if you have some Life Miles lying around!