While it was nice to have a spacious staggered seat on this two-hour flight, the service on this flight left a lot to be desired.
Thai Airways flies a bunch of aircraft to Hong Kong. At the time that I took this flight, Thai Airways operated three A330s, two 777-300ERs and one Thai Smile A320 to Bangkok every day (one of these 777s has since been replaced by an A350, and one of the A330s has been replaced by a regional 777). I had flown Thai Airways’ A330 many times, and the 747 once; however, this was my first time flying a Thai Airways aircraft outfitted with their longhaul configuration.
I got to the gate at 11:45 AM in anticipation of a 12:05 PM boarding time, and was face to face with the sleek Thai Airways 777:
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport
Boarding began at 12:10 PM, beginning with business class and Star Alliance Gold members.
Before we get too far into the report, here’s a video I made of the experience (yeah, spoiler alert, this flight wasn’t the best):
Thai Airways Flight 601
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 64 Dep: 12:45 (07:50)
Destination: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) Gate: C6 Arr: 14:25 (09:40)
Duration: 2 hr 40 min (2 hr 50 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER Reg: HS-TKL
Seat: 17K (Business Class)
Thai Airways’ business class features Solstys-style staggered business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Forward Cabin
I quite like these seats, though they’re by no means my favourite configuration. I’ve also tried these seats on Hong Kong Airlines, though this was my first time trying this configuration out on the 777.
While some of the airline’s newer 777s have nicer finishes, we got one of Thai Airways’ older 777s today. The purple colour tones are a touch on the bland/monotonous side for me, though on the grand scheme of things they’re not the drabbest out there.
The forward cabin featured 24 business class seats spread out across six rows.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Forward Cabin
Behind the second set of doors was a smaller business class cabin, featuring another 18 business class seats. Personally, I actually may have chosen to sit here instead – though we couldn’t all get window seats on the same side, and my mother tends to find smaller cabins a little too cramped for her liking.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Rear Cabin
I assigned myself seat 17K, which was a seat closer to the window in the last row of the forward business class cabin.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Seat 17K
Honestly I didn’t find the seat to be overly cramped, though it sure wasn’t the widest business class seat out there. I love the privacy you get in the window seats in this configuration, though you might want to pick a seat closer to the aisle if you have issues with feeling physically compartmentalised.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Seat 17K
My parents were seated in aisle seats, which are significantly less private. Personally I far prefer the window seats, especially on a longhaul flight. I would’ve taken one of these seats and left the windowside seats for my parents, though they didn’t want me to be judged for talking to my GoPro throughout the flight, so…
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Seat 16J
In terms of other seats, some of the center seats are closer to the aisle and further away from each other. If you’re stuck in one of these seats, row 17 isn’t a bad pick, since you have extra console space on the side due to the lack of a seat behind (the aisle-side window seats 23B and 23J also have this luxury).
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Seat 17G
And then some of the center seats are closer to each other; these are christened “honeymoon seats” by most of the aviation community. I would voluntarily choose these seats if I were traveling with a loved one whom I knew I’d be seeing for the last time (maybe due to deportation or terminal illness), or if I were guaranteed to sit next to a celebrity I deeply adored. Those are the only two conditions under which I’d choose honeymoon seats, as they’re basically as proximate as economy seats are. That being said, I understand the appeal of these honeymoon seats for couples who like being proximate to one another.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Seats 16E and 16F
Speaking of economy, Thai Airways is one of the few remaining airlines that have no plans to reinstall their 777 economy cabins with 10-abreast economy seats. This plane was older and featured Thai Airways’ pink and purple colour tones; Thai Airways’ newer 777s and A350s feature more vibrant colours in economy class.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Economy Class
Back at my windowside seat, 17K, I found the seat controls and entertainment system remote to my left.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Seat Controls
Also to the left by the side console was a reading light.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Reading Light
Below the side console was a 110V power port, which was able to accommodate “wall-climber” power plugs.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Power Port
Directly in front of my seat was a TV screen.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class TV Screen
Under the TV screen there were two USB ports (which I always appreciate, due to the multiple electronics I have to charge inflight).
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class USB Ports
Below that was an ottoman. One nice thing about this configuration is that you have almost unlimited foot space in bed mode, unlike some other configurations which have tiny compartments for your feet.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Ottoman
The tray table swung out from the back of the seat in front, and was large and sturdy (too sturdy, almost – the table made a squeaking noise every time I deployed it from the seat in front).
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Tray Table
One awesome thing about this specific configuration is that you can swivel the tray table around in order to leave your seat during meal services, which, as someone who works nonstop (even on planes), I found really convenient.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Tray Table Swiveled
Overall, I was happy to be in this configuration, and was especially happy to be seated in one of the windowside seats. That being said, these seats aren’t for everyone – my mom wasn’t a fan of the boxed-in, dense, compartmentalised seat structure of this configuration, and actually preferred the angled-flat seats that we had on our return flight. So these seats aren’t for everybody, and in particular, couples and families shouldn’t make any schedule sacrifices or go out of their way to fly this product over Thai’s old regional product on a shorthaul flight.
If there’s one takeaway from what I’ve said above, my flight-reviewer GoPro-soliloquist needs-direct-aisle-access-so-he-can-work-the-entire-flight preferences of the best business class seat may be slightly different from someone who prefers to relax, is travelling with someone else, and/or prefers a more spacious, airy configuration.
Yours Truly in Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class
Above me were the seat’s reading lights, though unfortunately air nozzles weren’t featured.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Overhead Panel
An orchid was already waiting at my seat when I first arrived, though a flight attendant came and offered pre-departure beverages – “drink?”. I chose to have some orange juice.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Juice and Hot Towel
In terms of the other amenities the seat offered, there was a large sturdy pillow, which I really liked.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Pillow
There was also a comfortable blanket that I would’ve been satisfied with on a longhaul flight (though in my understanding this blanket is also used for longhaul flights, where I’d actually prefer something more substantial).
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Blanket
The headphones were placed in one of the side pockets. I’m an idiot and didn’t take a picture of the headphones on this flight, though I did manage to on the return. I also tried out the headphones on the return, which were surprisingly decent in quality, though not mind-blowingly awesome.
Thai Airways Business Class Headphones
In a side pocket I also found a bottle of water.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Water
I found the amenities pretty decent in quality, and certainly more than sufficient for a short two-hour flight.
As the cabin filled up, I took the opportunity to use the bathroom. While it was fairly standard, one of the cool things about Thai Airways is that they put real towels in their towel dispensers in their business class lavatories.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Lavatory
The cabin filled up quite quickly, and there was one empty seat in business class. In the meantime I stared outside, where a Cathay Pacific 777 was parked next to us.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport
Tarmac Views Hong Kong Airport
After the plane filled up, the safety video pl-…nevermind. The safety video was never played on this flight. This raised pretty major alarm bells for an avgeek like me, since that’s a direct violation of Civil Aviation Safety Authority standards. International aviation safety regulations state that “the operator of an aircraft shall ensure that all passengers are orally briefed before each take-off”. That never happened. The captain did come onto the PA to announce our flight time of 2 hours and 30 minutes, though.
I’m sure consequences would have arisen if I escalated the situation, though I see the safety video (on any airline) as more of a procedure than actual necessity, since no one tends to watch it. I saw this as more of a demonstration of the crew’s negligence, and didn’t actually think my safety was being put at risk; so I didn’t say anything, but you might think differently.
In much less severe terms (though still contributing towards my overall impression of the crew), they distributed menus shortly after pushback, but they missed my seat for some reason. The crew failed to collect it back, as they didn’t collect the cupholder from my pre-departure beverage, or my trash from unwrapping my pillow and blanket. Now I support that every man’s responsible for their own trash, but…
The weather was sort of turbulent, though it was relatively nice at the time of our taxi over to runway 07R. During our taxi we passed by some cool aircraft, including a Malaysia Airlines A330, Air New Zealand 777 (I haven’t flown them in WAY too long), and some other aircraft.
Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330 Hong Kong Airport
Air New Zealand Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Hong Kong Airport
Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 Hong Kong Airport
Austrian Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Hong Kong Airport
I was also able to get a shot of an ANA 787 landing into Hong Kong – beautiful (even though I didn’t necessarily take the best of shots)!
ANA Boeing 787 Hong Kong Airport
At around 1:10 PM we were cleared for takeoff, and had a rather long takeoff roll from runway 07R. It’s worth noting that almost all takeoffs I’ve experienced are preceded by a last-minute safety check just to make sure all safety precautions are put in place. A pre-takeoff safety check was not executed on this flight.
When flying I love runway 07R, as it affords a really nice view over Hong Kong – though to be completely honest, I would’ve preferred to sit on the left, where I’d have a nice view of the Hong Kong Airport passenger terminal as well. Oh well, you win some, you lose some…
Views upon Takeoff Hong Kong Airport
Shortly after takeoff I once again checked out the cabin from behind. While these specific finishes are aging and I much prefer the newer finishes, I’m still quite fond of the colour scheme on this plane.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Cabin After Takeoff
I was also able to explore my seat a little bit. Thai Airways’ 777 business class seat features a preset relax mode, which I found nice for watching a movie or reading a book. However, it’s worth noting that much like other seats in a similar configuration, these seats don’t feature swing-up footrests, so you’re out of luck if your feet don’t reach the ottoman in front.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Seat in Relax Mode
I was also able to check out the seat in bed mode. You won’t be disappointed in bed in Thai Airways’ 777 business class, though this is where the privacy of a windowside seat excels. If you pick one of the aisle-side seats in this configuration, you really feel like you’re sleeping in the aisle. Otherwise, I actually found the seat really well padded, and also thought the bed was long enough.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Seat in Bed Mode
15 minutes after takeoff I was asked for a pre-meal service beverage, which signalled the start of the meal service. The menu read as follows:
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Menu
The meal service began with nuts and a beverage.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Meal Almonds
I chose to have a beer, which was poured with enough sloppiness to rival Oscar Munoz’s initial response to United’s Dr. Dao dragging incident. In fairness, Singha beer is quite good, so I quite enjoyed the beer itself.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Meal Beer
Due to the short flight time, the meal was served in one go. I’d actually pre-ordered my meal online, which you can do in the “Manage Your Booking” section of Thai Airways’ website; the meal was served 10 minutes after the drinks service. The salmon was overcooked and teetering on the dry side, but it was extremely flavourful, which I liked; but I was impressed by how flavourful the vegetables were; overall, I was satisfied with the meal. While this flight did hinder my overall impression of Thai Airways, this meal certainly wasn’t one of the reasons why.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Meal
The meal was served with a decent side salad. It was less boring than it looked – citrusy notes permeating throughout, though not nearly enough to enliven the otherwise boring salad dish.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Meal Salad
There was also cheese on offer, which I enjoyed.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Meal Cheese
With the lighting conditions and my window seat, I went a little photo-happy with the catering. Here are my attempts at getting an artsy shot of my meal on the flight:
Photoshoots of Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Meal
After I was finished, a flight attendant came over and cleared my tray, asking if I wanted dessert. I said yes, and was presented with a carrot cake. The carrot cake was quite nice as well.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Meal Dessert
Overall I was quite happy with the meal, and actually found it above average to all the flights I’ve had on Thai Airways. That being said, the crew were mediocre at best on this flight, unfortunately. Longtime readers will know I’m only critical when I have to be; they went through the motions, and actually cleared trays rather efficiently, though I have nothing nice to say about the attitude and demeanour in which the service was presented. It was clear that the crew didn’t want to be there, and I certainly don’t remember seeing a single smile from a crew member throughout the flight.
After the meal service I went back to check out the economy class cabin inflight. It didn’t actually look too bad – the 3-3-3 configuration meant that the cabin was rather spacious. Too bad a 9-abreast configuration on a 777 is more or less a rarity nowadays.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Economy Class Inflight
I then went back to my seat. Thai Airways’ 777s don’t have WiFi, and I didn’t really have much work that I could do offline. Thus, I decided I was best off spending my time checking out the entertainment selection, which featured a decent though not impressive amount of content.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Entertainment System
The airshow featured on this plane was rather standard, though unfortunately it didn’t feature any cool outside cameras.
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class Airshow
At this point the crew passed out landing cards for Thailand. In the family, convention is that my parents pass all of the passports to me, and I fill in the landing cards. In this case, they hadn’t passed out all the landing cards yet, though they didn’t seem to be busy, so I asked for a couple more.
Specifically, I asked for two more. The flight attendant serving my aisle came back with one more, and when I went to the galley to ask for another one, she retorted “I give you already”. Sure enough, she had given a landing card to my mother in the meantime, though she could’ve said it in a nicer or more courteous tone.
Either way, I filled out the landing cards, and we slowly approached Bangkok. 35 minutes before landing, the captain came onto the PA to announce our imminent arrival into Bangkok, as well as the local time and temperature. Much like the pre-takeoff check, the crew failed to execute a pre-landing check on this flight.
Views upon Cruising into Bangkok Airport
While it was sunny above the clouds, Bangkok was dealing with pollution problems at the time, so it was especially smoggy.
Views upon Landing into Bangkok Airport
We touched down into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport at 2:45 PM. Some of the aircraft we saw upon our taxi into gate C6 were a Kenya Airways 787 and a Thai Airways A350.
Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Bangkok Airport
Thai Airways Airbus A350 Bangkok Airport
We parked at gate C6 at around 2:50 PM, and I was excited to be back in Bangkok, a city I quite enjoy.
Bottom Line: Thai Airways 777 Business Class
Gosh, where do I start? On the plus side, this was the first time I had the opportunity to try out Thai Airways’ 777 in business class. It was my second time in a Solstys staggered business class configuration, and it’s one of my preferred ones, even though it’s not my favourite. I don’t like how some seats are more private than others, though I do like the fact that there’s a different type of seat for everyone, and I generally find the seat to be quite ergonomically designed. I do prefer this to Thai Airways’ regional business class configuration, though wouldn’t actually make any schedule sacrifices to fly this product over their regional configuration on a two-hour flight, especially when travelling with family. Thai Airways features extensive amenities that are all quite high-quality, and I also thought the food on this flight was good.
However, I can’t get over the fact that this crew was lazy, lousy and just not safety-oriented. I can stand crews that have a bad day and stay in the galley the entire flight, and I tend to be more lenient than most when it comes to meal service timings (mostly because I spend too much time geeking out and too little time actually evaluating service procedures). However, the lack of a safety demonstration and any sort of pre-takeoff or landing check whatsoever took this crew over the top as one of my worst ever.
Obviously this flight left me quite disappointed, though thankfully Thai Airways redeemed themselves on the way back. That being said, the airline is no longer my parents’ airline of choice when flying to Bangkok, so clearly a single “off” flight can make quite an impact on certain travelers…
Would you have said anything about the safety inconsistencies on this flight?