Flight review VTE-BKK-MEL Business Class with Thai Airways | Australian Frequent Flyer
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Flight review VTE-BKK-MEL Business Class with Thai Airways

Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
71
I recently flew from Vientiane (VTE), Lao PDR to Canberra (CBR), via Bangkok (BKK) and Melbourne (MEL), with all international legs business class on Thai Airways (TG), so I thought I'd put up a review.

Vientiane
Wattay International Airport in Vientiane is very easy to get to - 10 minutes by taxi/shuttle bus, and my check in and security experience was quick and stress free. Immigration control was also quick. There is no departure tax. BTW, I had arranged a visa for Lao PDR before I left home, so I did not have to get the visa on arrival Other passengers were complaining about the wait for that, and also that you can only pay in USD. I think it was about $147. The "premium lounge" was hilarious. I've attached a photo of the food offering - please note that there were two flavours of 2-minute noodles to choose from, as well as two lovely young ladies to make the noodles for you. Realistically, Lao PDR is a very poor country, where people are kind and gentle, so the experience was worth it. Don't go for the food or drinks! The only alcohol was Beer Lao (and I don't drink beer), so it was a dry session for me.

I left VTE on 29 Nov on TG575 for a 1 hr 5 min flight to BKK in seat 14J. The flight departure was delayed by 45 minutes. This was my first flight on TG and I was pleasantly surprised. It was an A330, with a standard 1-2-1 business layout. Seat comfortable, layout spacious and the crew managed to do a drinks service and serve a full 3 course meal on this very short flight. I didn't take any photos. The meal was quite good - local noodle dish and a cooling dairy dessert. Lovely. There was a film about the King of Thailand and his aviation exploits. I was really excited about my longer leg from BKK to MEL.

Bangkok
Arrival at BKK was the usual chaos trying to work out which concourse for the next flight. They really need to put up clear signs showing departure information in better locations. After clearing another full security scan (which surely has to be a make jobs activity) with extremely long lines, no priority screening and very grumpy security personnel, I made it to the Royal Silk Lounge. Very, very disappointing. There was a massive line for entry - at least 20 people in front of me. Moved at snail pace. Eventually, after more than 15 mins in the line, a lounge staff member came along the line and selected (randomly it appeared) various people to just show boarding pass and go in to the lounge. I was lucky to be one of those. The people behind me complained loudly. I should mention I have no status with Thai Airways, and apparently they did! The lounge was underwhelming. So overcrowded that all seats were occupied, people were standing everywhere, very tight quarters and hard to move around. The food offering had been annihilated. Decor tired. Toilets a bit messy - not dirty, just being used a lot. Grabbed a cold drink, and left to wander the terminal. The paid entry lounges looked much nicer and significantly less busy.

At the gate, there was the usual "surprise" final inspection for liquids that I have encountered before in BKK and also in DXB. A lady in front of me was being made to either leave or pour out baby formula she had prepared for her baby to drink on the flight. No quarter given. I thought there was an exemption for baby food, but did not feel I could intervene. I don't know how that ended as I was finished and left while she was still shouting and crying and calling for a supervisor - which request was being denied. Just awful and so arbitrary. What is the baby supposed to drink??

A long wait at the gate. Not enough seating at the gate. No real attempt at priority boarding for pax with status of Business Class. A total shambles. Anyway, finally on board the A350 with a 1 hr delay to departure. Anticipation high as I went to seat 15A. I was directed to the far aisle. That did not sound right. I said "really?" - the FA just waved at me and the press of other pax pushed me onwards. Of course it was the wrong aisle, and the FA on that side treated me like a moron when re-directing me. Not an auspicious start.

Bottom line, and you've probably guessed it by now, I was very disappointed with TG 465 BKK-MEL on 30 Nov 2019.

Hard product
The aircraft fitout was down right shabby (see photo). The layout was cramped and access to the seat required me to turn sideways and shimmy (I'm 165 cm tall and of solid but not huge build). There was insufficient storage for the items I wanted to have for the flight - my phone, an ipad, my headphones and a book - not excessive I would have thought (see photo). Seat was very narrow and not well padded - uncomfortable as both a seat and a bed. The cabin was hot and stuffy at the gate, but also during the flight, and there were no individual air nozzles to adjust for passenger comfort. The overhead lighting position could not be adjusted. The aisles were very narrow. I had a single seat, closer to the window. The man in front in seat 14A which was closer to the aisle, got bumped by every person who walked past and also by the service trolley. Based on this experience, I'm feeling a bit scared about my upcoming A350 flight on China Eastern from PVG to SYD in February - I hope the layout is better than this. There was a mattress and pillow on the seat, and a FA came around offering headphones during the settle in.

Soft product

The corporate purple lighting was nice and subdued for a flight at 1.30am. I was offered a drink of champagne, juice or water once settled. I was given a warm wlecome by the FA sho said she would be looking after me There was a pretty orchid on my console. It looked quite nice until you looked closer and noticed how shabby things were underneath the gloss (see photo). Saw the same video about the King's love of aviation. As soon as the seat belt sign went off, I wanted to go to sleep (as it was now 2.30 am). No crew anywhere to be seen, so I got up and started to fit the mattress. It was harder than it looked! As I struggled, no less than 3 crew walked past and not one even acknowledged me, let alone offered help. Anyway, I finally managed it, and sat down, fitted seat belt and tried to recline my seat. It would not recline. Tried for a few more minutes - mores crew walking by, no help offered. Got up and chased down some FAs who said they would do it after meal service! I said no thanks, please do it now, as I won't be eating, it's late, it's a short flight and I would like to sleep. They told me to wait in the galley area (narrow aisles) and went off with bad grace to attend to my seat. It reclined eventually, so all good. It wasn't very comfortable and was both short and narrow. A person who is bigger than me would have had real trouble sleeping, I feel. Also I was hot most of the time - no individual air vent to moderate temperature. I looked in the amenities kit (see photo) for a mask and ear plugs to help me sleep. Nope. Neither. I knew there would be no PJs and socks so I had already brought my own. I got up again and asked crew for disposable ear plugs. Maybe they genuinely did not understand the request, but they offered me headphones. I said that I had my own and also that I could not sleep wearing bulky head phones and wanted ear plugs so I could lie down. They just shrugged. It was a daylight flight for most of the time, despite being an overnight flight on the clock, and some pax had window shades open (as is their right), so the cabin was quite light and OMG so noisy - people having loud conversations, crew having loud conversations. Sleep was all but impossible on this flight, for all the reasons listed. I gave up and requested a cup of tea. It was provided in a very perfunctory manner. I cannot ever recall feeling so awful getting off a long haul business class flight, and I have done a lot of them. Basically, the FAs were fantastic on the set piece service - meals, drinks, handing out amenities kits and hot towels - but hopeless and unwilling on anything that approached personal service eg fitting the mattress, fixing the seat, addressing requests.

Food
I did not have the meal straight after departure as I wanted to try to sleep (ha ha). The breakfast that was served about 2 hours before arrival was quite well done in terms of food. Service was done by a standard meal service from trolley - definitely not individually when requested or on waking up as happens with other airlines.

Overall Conclusion
I would not travel Business Class on Thai Airways again based on this very underwhelming experience. I can only assume that Economy would be even worse. I know, first world problems.
 

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Happy Trails

Established Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2010
Messages
2,396
Just for the record, TG have around half a dozen J lounges at BKK, most quite ordinary, but the new one on concourse 'D' is very good (I actually prefer it to the F lounge).
I sense most people just enter the first one they see.
There are also BR, SQ and TK, but probably only TK open for the OP's departure.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
19,764
Thanks for making the effort to write this trip up. Certainly didn't make me want to try Thai in J.
Disclaimer: I buy MEL-BKK return via Lifemiles - around AUD1850 return. For me it's an excellent product for the price.

I'm surprised by the OP's experience which seems to have got off to a bad start during transit and stayed that way. The mattress pad is [very] easy to fit so perhaps the crew didn't appreciate it was causing a problem. The seats themselves are comfortable, but a lot depends on which side you sleep on. Choosing the 'A' or 'K' seat according to whether you sleep on your left side or right side can make a huge difference in the way the hardware is set out. If you pick the 'wrong' side your knees end up banging the console.

Agree the midnight departure is fairly limited for the first meal service, and usually fairly underwhelming (it's a single course hot snack). The breakfast however always hits the spot with the fresh fruit, breakfast pastries, and an egg dish (salt helps :)). The morning departure from BKK has better catering for both meals.

TG's cabin can run pretty hot. I always ask about 20 minutes before going to sleep for them to turn down the temperature and that has always worked so far.

TG's amenity kits used to have earplugs in them, and socks + slippers. The Mandarina Duck seems to be the first set without them :( They have them in the galley though.

TG is not SQ. But a 9 hour flight BKK-MEL allows a good 6+ hours of sleep compared to around 4 - if lucky - on the SIN-MEL sectors.



Just for the record, TG have around half a dozen J lounges at BKK, most quite ordinary, but the new one on concourse 'D' is very good (I actually prefer it to the F lounge).
I sense most people just enter the first one they see.
There are also BR, SQ and TK, but probably only TK open for the OP's departure.
The 'new' TG lounge looks fantastic and has had some pretty good reviews. Agree the old one is pretty much as the OP describes. The TK lounge is also excellent - not so much for the hard product, but the service (and massage) is really really good. The BR lounge would also have been open at that time, but the TK one trumps that now, IMO.
 

lydea

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2012
Messages
14
A somewhat more positive trip report of Thai Airlines Business class, MEL-BKK-CPN and return.

Seat OB reported on a miserable trip with TG, but I have just had a much more positive experience. It undoubtedly helps that I am 156cm instead of 165 – ‘fraid the vertically-endowed will not find they fit a TG flat bed, so I won’t do it again if accompanied by husband. All my seats flattened out smoothly and no additional mattress was offered or required. I could snuggle down with plenty of space to spare, and despite being a woman of a certain age and unstable body temperature, I had good sleeps under the purple quilt.

TG466 & 461 MEL-BKK and BKK-MEL was on an Airbus A350, and the TG950 & 951 BKK-CPN-BKK legs via Boeing A350. All planes in decent condition; admittedly the fit-out a bit old-style, but not frayed and worn as shown by Seat OB.

The food was tasty (Thai choice), but more than I needed. Fruit and a very nice bowl of rice soup for brekkie just don’t need to be accompanied by the usual ordinary Western pastries. After one dinner I gorged on an exotic Thai dessert inadequately described as pumpkin custard, which I didn’t need but had to try, and it was delicious. The curries had plenty of zing. The entrée out of CPN was a big chunk of a crab’s bicep – I’d observed a stack of these giant arms ready to be cracked and served in a restaurant in town. The OJ was reconstituted muck but the wines were more than satisfactory.

What is it about amenities kits in these reviews? Why does anyone bother looking at them on ANY airline? The toothbrush and toothpaste are just fine for one use, and really, don’t you carry your own face cream and lip salve along with your stash of meds? The TG kit contained a ducky little folding-handled hairbrush, which was sufficiently useful to be souvenired.

The FAs were attentive, polite, helpful (I asked for, and promptly got, a sleeping mask, both ways). They were diligent about loose bag safety for take-off and landing. I LOVE the Thai pha nung skirt and neat little waisted jacket, in a beautiful palette of pinks, purples and (great move) yellows, with rich gold woven pattern above the hem. The change to pink/purple pinnies for food service is a most unaesthetic comedown, though sensible for the job.

I’m rather keen on the ritual of FA farewell when disembarking on all airlines, and really miss it where they don’t bother; I like to say thank you and get a smile in return. In SE Asia, I enjoy the mutual politesse of a sawadee farewell (or greeting) with wai ‘praying hands’ gesture. I always return it, as one should if not a high monk or the king, and am surprised how few exiting passengers bother.

Speaking of the king, the video about his wondrous achievements offers an …interesting insight into royal absolutism in the modern world.

Look, TG is a second-order airline, but the price was very right. An average-sized Anglo woman can eat, drink and sleep very well while she travels a long way, if she’s a bit luckier than Seat OB.
 

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