Thai Airways currently has more different business class products than any other airline. Their A330s, 747s, and select 777s feature angled flat seats (two unique types, actually), their newer 777s, A380s and A350s feature Solstys-style staggered business class seats, some of their 787s feature forward-facing fully flat business class seats, their other 787s feature reverse herringbone seats, and they still have an active 737 with recliner seats in business class.
Since Thai doesn’t operate any 787s to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong to Bangkok route is served exclusively with their planes with angled flat seats and Solstys-style staggered business class seats. I’ve had the chance to fly their A330 and 747 with angled flat seats, though haven’t tried their Solstys-style staggered business class configuration (I’ve flown a similar configuration on Hong Kong Airlines, who has a virtually identical seat apart from the finishes).
Thai Airways Boeing 747 Business Class Seat
Well, apparently someone went to Thai Airways’ CEO and said “you know what, Charamporn, I don’t think six unique business class configurations are enough for our airline. I think passengers would like less consistency, and more variety. Let’s introduce a seventh business class seat configuration, just to mix things up.”
So the airline is doing just that. Thai Airways is reconfiguring some of their A330s with yet another new business class seat.
The seat itself isn’t anything new – it’s a Vantage-style staggered business class seat, which differs from the Solstys-style business class seat as there are no “honeymoon seats” (i.e. no seats directly next to each other). I generally find Vantage-style business class seats to be narrower, though the advantage is that you’ll never be sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with a stranger.
For those new to/confused by the configuration, here’s how it looks like on a Swiss 777 (which features a similar product):
Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Main Cabin
Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Main Cabin
Still confused? Here’s a picture of the seatmap of one of these planes from ExpertFlyer:
Thai Airways’ new A330s feature a seven-row business class cabin, alternating between a 1-2-1 and 1-2-2 configuration. These new planes will have 31 business class seats between doors 1 and 2 on the A330-300. The new seats are lie-flat, so they’re a marked improvement over Thai Airways’ old A330 seats (which were falling apart anyway, despite the planes being less than ten years old). However, the seats are also quite high-density, so the new cabins actually can fit an extra seat in the same space compared to the old A330 cabin. This also translates to the fact that the new seats aren’t particularly wide.
Thai Airways Old Airbus A330 Business Class Cabin
Thai Airways Airbus A330 Business Class Cabin
As is usually the case for such a configuration, the seats to go for are the throne seats, which have extra space due to how the cabin is laid out. These are seats 11J, 14J, 16J and 18J on the Thai Airways A330, as reflected both on ExpertFlyer and on the seatmap. Below is a picture of a similar throne seat on Swiss’ 777.
A similar throne seat on Swiss (you don’t have to pay for a throne seat on Thai Airways, though)
Unless you’re traveling in a couple and want a window, the seats to avoid would be the right window seats (H and K) in rows 12, 15, and 17, as they’re the only seats in the cabin that don’t feature direct aisle access. This means that window passengers would have to clamber over the aisle passengers to use the bathroom or access something from the overhead bins.
So far the only retrofitted aircraft seems to be HS-TEN, a 9-year-old A330. It seems to be exclusively operating flights between Bangkok and Krabi and Tokyo Narita. The below frequency to Krabi seems to have the new business class cabin operating until the end of the schedule:
Thai Airways 249 Bangkok to Krabi dep. 5:15 PM arr. 6:35 PM
Thai Airways 250 Krabi to Bangkok dep. 7:20 PM arr. 8:40 PM
The below frequency to Tokyo Narita also seems to have the new business class cabin operating until the end of the schedule:
Thai Airways 640 Bangkok to Tokyo Narita dep. 10:10 PM arr. 6:20 AM
Thai Airways 641 Tokyo Narita to Bangkok dep. 10:50 AM arr. 3:20 PM
While I’d try to pick the above Bangkok to Krabi frequency if possible, the other two frequencies that Thai Airways operates to Tokyo Narita are operated by an A380 and an A350 respectively. Having flown both types of staggered business class products before, I slightly prefer the Solstys-style business class seat, so would proceed to choose Thai Airways’ A380 or A350 over the above frequency.
Thai Airways Airbus A380 still has a better business class product IMO
Multiple of Thai Airways’ flights to Hong Kong are operated by A330s, but for now I don’t see any of them operating with the new business class cabin so far (correct me if I’m wrong).
Thai Airways Airbus A330 Hong Kong Airport
I’m confused as to why Thai Airways didn’t decide to retrofit their A330s with the same seat that they have on their A380s and A350s, or even the new reverse herringbone seat that they have on their 787s. I consider both aforementioned products superior (and they’re equally as high-density – Hong Kong Airlines fits 32 Solstys-style business class seats between doors 1 and 2 on their A330, while Thai Airways’ configuration only has 31), though the main reason for my confusion is because Thai Airways now has seven unique business class seats. You’d figure an airline would try to streamline a consistent business class product, especially when the business class seat operating on a majority of their longhaul fleet is already excellent.
That said, I’m still excited about this change, for two reasons. The first and most obvious reason is because the new A330 seat is unarguably a marked improvement over the old one, unless you’re pleasured by the prospect of sitting in a dentist’s chair. The second reason is that Thai Airways will probably introduce Apex Suites into their fleet soon. I mean, if they do, they’ll have operated literally every single mainstream business class configuration on the market – recliners, angled flat seats, forward-facing fully flat seats, both types of staggered seats and reverse herringbone seats (they used to operate herringbone seats as well, back when they were leasing 777s from Jet Airways). Blimey. 😉
Have you flown Thai Airways’ newest A330 business class configuration? How did you find it? If not, have you enjoyed a flight with a similar business class seat configuration?