One of the best flights in my life was in Thai First class – and it didn’t hurt that it brought me to Germany to visit family for Christmas, traveling from Thai’s hub in Bangkok to Frankfurt/Main, Germany, on their new Airbus 380! While I had flown Thai in Business class before, this is a whole different experience!
Prior to your flight, Thai First passengers are allowed to pack plenty of luggage: 2 pieces of 70lbs (32kg) each from/to the US and a total of 50kg between Asia and Europe. That’s a lot more than I ever carried, short of moving residences.
When flying Thai First (or Business) you should also consider their meal preference: Thai offers a “Chef on Call”, allowing you to request special meals in advance. You can order online or by phone and select from a bewildering choice of 39 meals! That sure beats the “beef or pasta” you still find on US airlines. It includes some fairly unusual choices and you should be able to find something to your liking. Before you get too excited, not all options might be available on all flights, but it still beats the onboard selection.
At the airport, you will be welcomed by a Thai smile and staff in beautiful outfits. Thai has a special line for First Class, with quick, professional and friendly service, checking you in in no time and whisking you off to the lounge. That experience will differ based on your departure airport. Thai shares lounges with other StarAlliance carriers or has rented lounge access in some airports. The crown is their own lounge at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport, which offers excellent food and even a Spa with free massage treatments. I love massages and there is no better way to kick of a long journey than with a free massage. You can read more about the Royal Orchid Lounge BKK (review coming soon).
The Thai ground service is one of the best in the industry. During a connection at Bangkok Airport, we were met at the gate of the arriving flight by a Thai agent who escorted us to a waiting golf cart and gave us a ride through the BKK airport to our departure gate, saving us a very, very, very long walk. While it isn’t as spectacular as a ride in a Porsche at Frankfurt airport, courtesy of Lufthansa First class, it was quick, comfortable and did the job. I did feel a little weird being driven by all the people walking, but not weird enough to stop and get off…
Onboard the Airbus A380, Thai offers its newest First Class product, 12 semi-private suites in a 1-2-1 configuration on the upper deck, giving everybody direct aisle access. With partial walls at the head and foot end, I found it to be a nice balance of privacy and openness. It is very generous in size, at 27in seat width (5in more than United) and somewhere between 82in (according to SeatGuru) and 96in (according to Thai). I’m 6ft3 and couldn’t touch the end. It has a very comfortable seat that reclines all the way to the 180 degree, full-flat bed position, allowing for comfortable sitting, lounging and sleeping. At the opposite side of your mini-suite there are is an ottoman and a movable table. The ottoman becomes part of your bed in full recline or can be used for a “guest” to sit on with the table in the middle, giving you a nice option to chat or eat together, if you are flying as a couple. Around your seat are plenty of storage and shelf options, so you can keep all the things you might need close at hand. During the flight, I got very comfortable pillows, duvet and padding, giving me the best sleep I’ve ever had on a plane! You also get a nice amenity kit by Rimowa, in the ripped aluminum look of their luggage. The video screen is a humongous 27in on the A380 and the entertainment system has hundreds of movies and TV shows, including a lot of regional choices. Not as much as some of the middle-eastern airlines, but plenty to keep you busy for a few very long flights. There is WiFi available for a fee. Flights are the last, quickly vanishing excuse to be disconnected for a few hours, so I didn’t try it.
I didn’t pre-order my meal and regret it – but the choice and quality of the multi-course meal available on board was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yet I can’t believe as the picky eater I am I let a chance pass to select the perfect meal from the long list of choices! I made up for it with the excellent choice of beverages, starting with champagne, to good quality wine and closing with a nice port! Both, the quality of food and drink, was significantly better than United First! Probably the most distinguishing part of the experience is the onboard service: The Thai flight attendants will change from the regular, purple uniforms you will see at the airport to traditional Thai dresses onboard. You will be pampered by friendly and attentive service throughout the flight. While I have read about sometimes grumpy attendants, I have yet to experience that myself. I only had the best experience so far and would rate it as the very best right up there with Singapore Airlines. While it is not as perfectionist as Singapore, I found it to be warmer, friendlier and more genuine.
Overall, Thai First Class was one of the best flight experiences I have had to date. The mixture of comfortable seat, excellent service onboard and on the ground, as well as good food and entertainment leaves little room for improvement. Ticket prices for Thai First are pretty steep, but there is very good availability to reserve seats with the Thai Royal Orchid program (read more here) or StarAlliance miles. I was able to find two tickets during the Christmas high-season to Europe on my desired days with plenty of availability on other days as well using United miles. This is one of the best uses for United MileagePlus miles and will certainly make for a dream trip!