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
Being the pessimist that I am, I figured that I only had about a 30% chance of writing this specific Thai Airways business class review. You see, I only had a one hour connection in Bangkok after my flight from Sydney – which I purposely (foolishly?) agreed to when I booked this itinerary. I wanted a ride on that A350 like you wouldn’t believe, so I was willing to take the kinds of chances that most sane travelers would refuse.
But what’s the worst that could’ve happened if things didn’t go as planned? I suppose that missing this flight and having to spend an evening in Bangkok wouldn’t have been all that bad actually. I love Thailand!
However, that “One Night in Bangkok” song from the 80s kept ringing in my head as I rolled the dice on this itinerary and made the purchase. I figured that no matter how this played out, it was sure to be interesting. That’s exactly the kind of spirit that every traveler needs to have, and I forged ahead with the kind of blind courage my cat has when she reaches for things on my dinner plate.
Anyway, because you’re reading this, you already know that I made my connection and a hard man wasn’t made humble somewhere in a shadowy back alley on the streets of Bangkok.
Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) – Singapore (SIN)
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Duration: 2 hours 2 minutes
Seat: 17A (business class)
If you’re the type of person to skip over my videos thinking that it’s just the same rehashed stuff here on the blog, you should know that I approach these two forms of content differently. The videos are fast moving summaries of my flight experiences, while the blog posts dig a bit deeper and provide a place for me to expand on the portions I think are important. They are intended to augment each other!
Music, as always, is courtesy of my pals over at Epidemic Sound. It’s the best source for YouTube music by far!
Suvarnabhumi airport is the perfect backdrop to begin a Thai Airways business class review
As I was Googling how to spell “Suvarnabhumi” just now, I noticed a clip of text proclaiming it as the 9th busiest airport in the world. And I totally believe it too considering how long I had to walk to my gate after clearing security. All I’m going to say is that Bangkok airport security is extremely efficient.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been to BKK, so it’s massive size and stunning architecture didn’t shock me as it did the first time I was here (back in 2008). This is easily one of the most beautiful airports in all the world, and it was unfortunate that I didn’t have time to enjoy it on this layover.
Making the experience somewhat less enjoyable this time was the fact that the air conditioning wasn’t working as it should have been. It was as hot and miserable inside just as it was out on the tarmac.
And if tens of thousands of sweaty people rushing around in close proximity (brushing sweaty arms up against one another) sounds hellish, I’m here to confirm it. Nothing will make you cringe faster than wiping the sweat of a complete stranger off your arm as you run to your gate.
This is a beautiful and stunningly designed airport terminal though, so at least I had something nice to look at as I was dealing with mopping up random stranger sweat off my arm.
The best Thai Airways business class experience is right here on the A350
As much fun as I had in Thai Airways 747-400 business class between Sydney and Bangkok, the hard truth is that it’s a fairly lousy business class product. Of course the cabin crew was nothing short of fantastic (and the food was pretty good too), but the recliner seats are old and simply not competitive anymore. This is not the case with the A350.
I like to think of the A350 as a fresh new beginning for Thai Airways. It’s as modern and technically advanced as airliners get, and it’s the perfect platform to transition back into the group of world class airlines they used to be a part of. It’s been a rough few years for Thai Airways (which included failing yet another FAA safety audit and losing the right to fly to the US) and it’s been kind of sad to see them stumble. Thankfully, the new A350 business class product is a major step in the right direction.
Thai Airways business class is just about perfect on the A350. The layout is an industry standard 1-2-1, draped in beautiful purple fabrics and wood accents. Combine this with the legendary Thai onboard service, and it’s a product I’d be more than happy to fly long haul.
Thai Airways business class food is amazing – even on short haul flights
Just when I thought I couldn’t eat anymore airplane food today, I was faced with the conundrum of eating (or not) on this relatively short flight down to Singapore. Once we were in the air and screaming towards cruising altitude, the flight attendants kicked of the service with drinks and little bags of nuts.
The dinner service followed very quickly after, though it’s important to mention that even though we had a choice (a Thai or Western option), there were no menus distributed. A flight attendant simply appeared at my seat, asked “whaddya want?” (in the sweetest Thai way possible), and then scurried off to the galley to retrieve it.
Overall I’d give this Thai business class meal service 3.5 out of 5 stars. It did seem a bit rushed and robotic, which is entirely understandable considering how short of a flight this was, but the food was delicious. It was also much milder than the super-spicy fare I had on the SYD-BKK leg, which made this white boy quite pleased. I desperately need to work on my tolerance for food with a little heat.
Is Thai Airways business class something I can confidently recommend?
The fact that Thai Airways has recently failed yet another FAA safety audit means that I’ve been getting a lot of comments from people saying they’d never set foot on this airline until they get thier act together. But having experienced two magnificent Thai Airways flights back to back on the same day, I’m not one of those people.
Sure, they might have a few problems and some inconsistencies that they need to figure out. But it’s not like they’re crashing airplanes and killing people, so until that starts happening I will continue to be a huge Thai Airways advocate. Especially for their business class product!
At the end of my 747 experience from Sydney to Bangkok earlier in the day, I thought that with the right hard product (seats), Thai Airways has the potential to be one the best overall business class products anywhere in the world. The seats on that old 747 weren’t all that great, but the seats on these new A350’s are incredibly good. And combined with that amazing Thai Airways hospitality, it makes for one heck of a good business class experience.
I’d confidently recommend Thai Airways A350 business class to anyone. Even those who are considering JAL or Asiana as well (which are notoriously and consistently fantastic). Great seats, Great food, and amazing crews make this an easy recommendation.
Wrapping it all up
The descent and landing into Singapore was fantastically stunning. Mother Nature really put on a show with an unforgettable hot and humid sunset – which I suppose happens fairly regularly in this part of the world. Remind me again why I don’t live here?
I’m not exactly sure when I’ll be able to try Thai Airways business class again, but even if they aren’t on very good terms with the FAA right now I’d still have no problem booking them for any future trip.
Finally. I’d like to think that they are working hard to pass the next FAA safety audit (whenever that may be). Once that happens, will likely be seeing them in the US once again where they deservedly belong. After all, next time I get the “One Night in Bangkok” song stuck in my head and I have to return to Thailand to undo it, wouldn’t it be fun to fly there on the national airline? I sure as heck think so.