Pat's Travel Reviews

Thai Airways Business Class Review between Bangkok and Phuket

I have been meaning to write a review on Thai Airways Business Class (Royal Silk) between BKK & HKT since I started this site. I have flown on this route several times over the last 20 years (ouch!). On one of those occasions I flew Thai’s discount carrier Thai Smile in Smile Plus (their business class) which I did review;  But, for some reason I never got around to reviewing this flight (and the experience is very different from Thai Smile). Actually, it is probably because Thai flies several types of aircraft between BKK & HKT (and Chiang Mai (CNX) – about the same distance with same service) and I didn’t want to take the time to review each type of aircraft. Outside of the Thai Smile flights, which flies A320’s, Thai only uses widebodies on these flights. So for this review I will just stick to the service and what to expect on an hour long flight in Royal Silk. I will also stick to the past three years, which I have flown on an A350, A330, and B777. Years ago I remember flying on B747’s to both CNX & HKT (they still may fly on these routes, but I have never seen this as an option when booking the tickets. But I did see a B747 at HKT a few weeks ago (Jan. 2018)).

The other reason I decided to finally review this route is that the Phuket Airport has gone through significant changes with a new International Terminal and an upgrade to the Domestic Terminal. Until this last trip in January, I have always flown out of the Domestic Terminal which was terribly dated. But this time, as I was checking in, I remembered to mention that I was continuing on an International flight from BKK to SAN that evening. The agent at the Domestic check-in found my JAL record and told me to check-in at the new International Terminal. This was significant because not only was I curious to see how the new International Terminal looked but also as a Business Class passenger you are entitled to use Thai’s Royal Orchid Lounges. Having flown out of the Domestic Terminal many times, the lounge there (and gate area) have seen their better days. My prior flight out of HKT was in May 2017 and there was no sign of any renovations, but in the 7 months between visits the check-in area received a complete make-over and is a huge improvement. So hopefully the gate area has been renovated as well. On that May visit I did see that Thai turned the old International Royal Orchid Lounge into the Domestic lounge (which is a slight improvement) The International Terminal is a couple minute walk (using hallway) away and is quite impressive. Thai’s check-in area is not as large as you would think as most of their flights are domestic (although, I have flown from HKG to HKT) . After checking in and receiving all three boarding passes (JAL to NRT & SAN) and an CIQ sticker I passed immigration/passport in Phuket then proceeded to security (you have to go through security again in BKK). There are two Royal Orchid Lounge’s in the International Terminal. They are upstairs after security and they are very close to one another. One designated as South the other North. I originally went into the North location, but it was a little crowded. They told me the South was identical, but you can actually order food at that location (noodle soup with duck). The lounge was also empty so I was happy I moved. The lounges are small, but with plenty of places to sit and outlets. There are no computers in the lounges and I had trouble connecting to the lounges Wi-Fi. There is a lot more food choices here than in the Royal Orchid Lounge in the Domestic Terminal. When departing Bangkok to HKT (or CNX) you can use the Royal Orchid Lounge downstairs near the domestic gates. This lounge is not nearly as nice as Thai’s International Lounges upstairs, but it does have computers and several food options. I have not been to CNX for several years and am not sure about the lounge there.

The B777’s I flew on and the A350 have Thai’s new Business Class seats and are configured in a 1x2x1 layout while the A330 and some B777’s have their older business class seats with a 2x2x2 configuration. I also flew on an A330 two years ago (May 2016) with their non shell seats. I am going to assume (hope) that those seats are no longer in service. Other than then the seat itself and what kind of pillow and blanket was on it (from small pillow only to full international bedding) the service on this route hasn’t deviated since I have been visiting Thailand. A pre-departure drink of either iced tea, water, or juice (usually orange juice) was offered and a very nice hot towel was handed out on the ground. Newspapers were offered at this time as well. The meal service started almost immediately after take-off. There has always only been one choice but for the last five years it has always been a hot entrée (I think there is a small snack in Economy too). Much to my delight, most times a chicken dish was served (not a fan of seafood). In fact, of the last four flights that I remember on this route cashew chicken, chicken with noodles, and a pasta with chicken was served. The one exception was deep fried prawns with rice. A preselected choice of drinks is served with the meal. Similar to the pre-departure choices but with the addition of Coke and Diet Coke. My guess is you could ask for another drink if so desired, but the service is very fast (so you may get it after your meal). Each dish was served with a dessert. While none of the meals were memorable, they were more than you would expect on a 1 hour flight. About four flight attendants work the business class cabin and within 30 minutes of departure they have cleared all the meals. The flight attendants are professional and friendly, but as this flight is typically just over an hour the service is quick and to the point. Not nearly the service you would experience on their international flights.

All the aircraft had a USB port and power outlet. The IFE varied by the newness of the seat. The A350 being the newest plane had the most options and even had a camera on the tail, but all flights had the same entertainment options as a long-haul flight would. Only one of the flights I have taken had Wi-Fi, and that was on the A350. I was unable to connect and it could have been they didn’t turn it on for that flight, although, I was able to access the pricing page.

Part of my enjoyment visiting Phuket and Thailand is Thai Airways “Smooth As Silk” experience. The cost difference between Business and Economy is usually not that much and while I can gain access to the Royal Silk Lounges with my Star Alliance Gold status, it is still worth the extra cost to fly Thai Royal Silk on these routes. Even more so, the price difference between Thai Smile Plus and Thai Royal Silk is negligible, but the experience is significantly better.

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Pat's Travel Reviews

Pat's Travel Reviews