Thai Airways 747-400 business class (upper deck) review Sydney to Bangkok

01. QANTAS 787-9 premium economy San Francisco to Melbourne
02. QANTAS 737-800 first class Melbourne to Sydney
03. Air New Zealand lounge Sydney
04. Thai Airways 747-400 business class (upper deck) Sydney to Bangkok
05. Thai Airways A350-900 business class Bangkok to Singapore
06. Vietnam Airlines A321 business class Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City
07. Vietnam Airlines A350-900 business class Ho Chi Minh City to Seoul
08. Delta Air Lines A350-900 premium economy Seoul to Detroit

Even before putting together this big trip to Australia and Asia, I knew that I wanted to write a Thai Airways review. No, not because I think that mango and sticky rice is quite possibly the best food combination ever created in the history of mankind. It was because I once voluntarily chose to decline being rebooked on a Thai Airways 747 after an unfortunate Northwest Airlines flight cancellation to BKK out of NRT many years ago.

Long story short, that canceled flight ruined the timing of my already tight itinerary (back when a demanding day job controlled my schedule), and I asked Northwest to send me back to LAX instead because I couldn’t risk missing another day of work.

Missing out on that Thai Airways 747 has been haunting me for years, and it was time to put those demons to rest. Not before feeding them a generous serving of mango and sticky rice first of course….

TG476
Sydney, NSW (SYD) – Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Aircraft: 747-4D7
Registration: HS-TGB
Duration: 8 hours 45 minutes
Seat: 14A (upper deck business class)

Thai Airways 747-400 side view

Thai Airways 747-400 side view illustration courtesy of my other online brand (norebbo.com). As if sanspotter.com doesn’t keep me busy enough…

Thai Airways 747-400 upper deck seat map

Upper deck seat map of this Thai Airways 747-400 (courtesy of seatguru.com) showing my seat (14A) for this flight to BKK. Spoiler alert: if you want really good views of the wing and engines, you’ll need to sit as far back in this cabin as possible. You’ll also be the last to be served doing that, so…know the risks!

SYD-BKK route map

Our route from Sydney to Bangkok this morning.

The video for this flight up to Bangkok took a little bit more time to edit than usual. You see, this was such an exciting flight for me that I went a little bit overboard with the process of getting footage and I ended up shooting more than I could ever possibly use. I’m not sure why it was such a good idea to give myself the frustration of having to sort through all of it and pick only the most relevant stuff, but I can be a total ******* to myself sometimes.

The good news is that finding just the right music for this video was very easy (as usual) thanks to the massive library of YouTube-friendly tracks over at Epidemic Sound.

Here we go with the Thai Airways review that I’ve always wanted to write

FYI, most of my flight choices these days are determined by how beneficial they would be to my blog and YouTube channel. From a business and brand building point of view, it doesn’t really benefit me all that much to create extensive content about older (and soon to be retired) airline products. That being said, I threw logic and reason into the wind when booking this particular flight because I really wanted to write a fun Thai Airways review. More specifically, a review of a beautiful old (I mean “mature”) Thai 747.

Thai Airways 747-400 review

I challenge anyone to find a better looking airplane than my ride up to BKK today. She ‘puuurdy.

After attempting a world record attempt for the most scrambled eggs consumed by one grown man in a single setting up in the Air New Zealand lounge, I hobbled my way down to the main level of terminal 1 and took my place in line. There was still about 20 minutes to go before boarding for this flight to Bangkok commenced, but it seemed as if everyone was as anxious as I was to experience this 747. Or perhaps they were all as anxious as I was to write an epic Thai Airways review?

Thai Airways boarding process

20 minutes before boarding and the queue is already 10 deep here at gate 56. What do you suppose they’re all travel bloggers anxious to write a Thai Airways review just like I am?

Thai Airways Priority boarding

The priority lane. I was pretending to be a child under the age of 5, but the Thai Airways ground staff here at SYD is a clever bunch and they didn’t fall for it. Oh well – at least I had a Royal Silk boarding pass to fall back on.

I’ve flown a lot of really good business class products over the years, but there was something about this particular flight that had me more excited than usual. It might have been the possibility of being served an endless supply of mango and sticky rice the entire way to Thailand. Or maybe it was the “upper deck” thing? I don’t know. I’ve only experienced the upper deck of a 747 once before between San Francisco and Seoul, but I have had really good mango and sticky rice too many times to count. I can assure you that both are worth getting excited about.

Do you have any idea how amazing Thai Airways boarding experience is?

Stepping onto a Thai Airways aircraft was not something I was quite prepared for. Don’t get me wrong – I was beyond excited about it, but I was certainly not prepared.

The first thing I experienced was an assortment of cabin crew members bowing at me as if I was the most exciting and amazing creature they’ve seen all day. Being the realist I am prevented me from letting my imagination run too far, and I quickly reminded myself of the fact that the entire crew gets paid to act like that. As much as I would have liked to think that they were *really* happy to see me, chances are high that they just wanted to get everyone the **** onboard and go the **** home.

Thai Airways flight attendants

Being spoiled rotten for the next 8 hours begins in 3…2…1….

Thai Airways 747 business class review

Ok, yeah, these business class seats don’t look all that amazing, but all I’m thinking about is that staircase just a few steps ahead to the left…

Thai Airways 747-400 staircase

I’m not religious, but I’d like to think that this is what the steps to heaven are going to look like when I eventually kick the bucket. A bit of weepy harp music right at this moment would have convinced me that my time was up for sure.

Thai airways 747 stairs

Screw the harp music. Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is far more appropriate here. If nobody was right behind me I would have popped my AirPods in and enjoyed the moment a bit longer. #headbang

Thai Airways flight attendants

I’ll bet anything you’ve never had a United Airlines flight attendant greet you this way. I actually had to turn around and check to see if the Prime Minister himself snuck up the stairs behind me!

Thai Airways business class seats

Thai Airways 747-400 business class seats. I didn’t even care that these aren’t lie-flat, because when someone bows to you like royalty just seconds prior, you’d feel so flattered that a seat on a concrete block would be perfectly acceptable.

Thai Airways 747-400 upper deck

The year 2000 called, and no…they don’t want thier business class seats back. They are very comfortable (and gloriously purple) though, so as far as I’m concerned, the year 2000 can shove it.

The business class seats in these old Thai Airways 747s definitely have that “retro” vibe going on – but in a good way. Unlike some really old and stale business class products I’ve flown recently (such as the TAP Portugal A330 from Lisbon to Toronto), these Thai Airways recliner seats are draped in a beautiful concoction of squishy purple cloth and wood-like hard surfaces. Emphasis on the “like” since I highly doubt it’s actual wood. But at least it looks nice!

Thai Airways 747 business class leg room

Oh God yes! Purple carpet too! I’m not sellf-absorbed or anything, which is good because it would be too embarrassing to tell you how many pictures I took of my red shoes against the purple floor.

SANspotter selfie Thai Airways

Speaking of colorful articles of clothing, I do believe I wore the proper shirt today. I wish I could have planned this, but I’m not that smart and this was a total coincidence.

Thai Airways 747 business class seat controls

No “Thai Massage” button? I thought that would be standard equipment on these birds.

747 upper deck storage bins

747 upper deck storage bins are the best. You could hide a dead body in here and it likely wouldn’t be found for years! (That’s a statement and not a recommendation by the way.)

Thai Airways 747-400 safety card

Not even one mango in this entire safety card. Trust me – if they would have hired me to design this thing, I would have figured out how to include mangos.

As expected, that Thai Airways hospitality started with a bang and I had a refreshing drink in hand and a friendly welcome from the purser within the first three minutes.

Thai Airways business class pre departure drink

The signature SANspotter pre-departure water. One of these days I’m gonna grow up and drink something that’ll put hair on my chest…

Thai Airways business class amenity kit

For as much as this airline is attached to the color purple, this sporty green Lacoste amenity kit was unexpected. The purple toothbrush was nice…but sadly there was no purple toothpaste to accompany it. I guess that’s a good thing, because I would’ve likely spent too long in the lavatory trying to stain my teeth purple.

747 view of engines upper deck

Unfortunately, this was the best view of the engines I could get from my seat. It was still an amazing departure sequence though (with awesome sound), and you can see it all in the video – if you’re into that sort of thing.

As we were rolling out for departure, I was thinking that it was almost a shame to have to get pics and video footage for a trip report since I knew it was going to be an awesome flight. It would’ve been nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy this to its fullest but…I just couldn’t let you guys down like that. On with the review!

Sadly, mango and sticky rice is *not* a part of this Thai Airways review

This flight up to Bangkok was scheduled for just over eight hours, which meant that there would be two full meal services en route. Lunch was served within 25 minutes of departure from Sydney, and as expected, it was remarkable. If I’m being completely honest, it was the service and the professionalism of the cabin crew which made it feel so special. The food was really good of course, but the flight attendants were extremely friendly and proactive for the entire duration and I never once had to ask for a refill or top off of anything.

Thai Airways business class menu

The menu. I may have gasped upon the realization that there wouldn’t be any mango and sticky rice served, but I was too light headed and close to passing out to even remember.

Thai Airways business class snack

Ok, there might have been some dried mango bits in here…but that doesn’t count! Just sayin’.

Thai Airways business class meal appetizer

The appetizer: smoked salmon with avocado mousse and mesclun. I have no idea what “mesclun” is, but my spell check wasn’t confused so it must be a real thing.

Thai Airways meal service review

More fine service by this amazing crew. Either that or she was trying to get me drunk so I’d write a glowing review…

Thai Airways business class meal pics

The main course: salmon in Pa-naeng curry. Really spicy (but delicious) stuff that this white boy from the Midwest almost couldn’t handle! I curse you, my Scottish roots. I curse you to hell!

Flying over Australia desert

A quick look out the window between swallows (to prevent my stomach from igniting into a ball of flames so intense that it’d surely crash the plane).

SANspotter selfie Thai Airways business class

Back at it with another bite of molten fire in the form of inconspicuous salmon.

Thai Airways business class dessert

Thankfully this mango and white chocolate cream dessert soothed my stomach before we all died a horrifically disgusting death in the Australian outback.

The only criticism I have of the lunch service is the fact that mango and sticky rice was not on the menu. How is that even possible for Thailand’s national airline? If the cabin crew wasn’t so on top of things and amazing in every regard, there would be the potential for this Thai Airways review to go south right about this point. I mean, it should be obvious by now how bad of a thing I’ve got for that sweet yellow fruit from the tropics, so the fact that it wasn’t even an option left me a bit disappointed.

The second meal service was served with roughly two hours of flying time remaining, and was much lighter in substance. And trust me – that’s a really good thing since lunch was fairly significant and I wasn’t even hungry at all as they were coming through the cabin taking orders. I opted for the chicken fried rice, which actually ended up being fried chicken in regular rice. Go figure.

Thai Airways cabin crew

Her: “Would you like a snack before landing?” Me: “No thank you, I’m thoroughly stuffed.” Her: “But it’s really good!” Me: “Ok” (I caved way too easily on that one lol)

Thai Airways business class food

The chicken fried rice I certainly didn’t need. It’s good thing she didn’t come back and sweet talk me into an full pan of lasagna or something…

Chicken and rice somehow ends up being the food that I eat most often everywhere I go, and based on my other experiences with this simple yet delicious dish all over the world, I’d have to say that this was just so-so. Maybe because I wasn’t hungry at all and I was just forcing myself to eat it, but let’s just say that I’ve had better. Whatever. Just as it was with the first meal service six hours ago, the cabin crew did an amazing job getting everyone fed.

What’s the final verdict on Thai Airways 747-400 business class?

As I mentioned earlier, writing a review on Thai Airways business class is one thing. Writing a review about a Thai Airways 747-400 is another thing altogether. You see, all these old 747’s are definitely showing their age. As much as I love this airline and want to say really good things about it, the truth is that this business class product just can’t compete with modern equivalents. The seats are old and squishy, and they even look like they’re from a different era altogether. Yes they’re super comfortable and they still recline very deeply even if they don’t go all the way flat, but this configuration simply isn’t competitive anymore – especially when today’s business class customers expect a lie flat seat on any long haul flight.

Landing in Bangkok

Deep into the descent into Bangkok now, feeling really good about my first ever Thai Airways experience. As a reminder, the full landing is included in the video, and it was a very scenic one at that. Hmm…is this a good place to ask everyone to like and subscribe?

Thai Airways business class flight attendants

How much you wanna bet they turned to each other and laughed as I walked past? “OMG did you see how red he got when he tried the curry?! Hahaha!”

Thankfully the cabin crew is what made this experience so special (and memorable) for me. The people of Thailand are some of the friendliest on earth, and I felt the kindness and warmth within every cabin crew member I had an interaction with. These are people who truly love their job and helping others, which blows my mind considering how different things are here back at home in the US. I’m not saying that we don’t have friendly flight attendants here in America, but they are much harder to find and it’s almost impossible to find an entire airplane full of ‘em at once.

747 stairs

If “Stairway to Heaven” was the perfect soundtrack for ascending these stairs, what would be appropriate for the descent? It would have to include lyrics about crying and obtaining deep emotional scars that last a lifetime, but unfortunately I’m in a really good mood at the moment and I can’t think of any…

Thai Airways detailed review

Sadly, this marks the end of my first Thai Airways experience. Also, this guy is apparently carrying around dead bodies in a large bag instead of stuffing them in 747 upper deck bins like I recommended earlier. This is how I know who does and doesn’t read SANspotter.com!

Anyway, the verdict is that the 747 itself was a bit of a downer, but the cabin crew made it an exemplary experience. Can you imagine what would happen if you combined a modern and technologically advanced aircraft with a crew of the same caliber? Well, stay tuned because my review of Thai Airways A350 business class is coming up next…

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