The airline with the best average rating is Thai Airways with 8.2/10.
The average flight time is 5 hours and 31 minutes.More information
Here is the next segment of my flight from Singapore to Tokyo on TG via Bangkok. For how I booked this segment, please check out the last post (TG402).
Right as I got off the jet bridge, a Thai agent was waiting for me in the terminal holding a sign with my name. She walked me over to a buggy and after securing my bags, drove me down the hall to an elevator that took me to transit security.
It was a very short walk from transit security to the Royal First lounge.
Upon entering, I was very quickly processed and welcomed in.
Immediately to the left of the entrance is the main area of the lounge.
I was escorted to the first private room. The lounge has several of these rooms that are arranged with a sitting area, a lone chair, and a desk with a computer. The windows face internally. Other than when eating, I moved the desktop a bit and set up my laptop on the table to work. There is a dearth of outlets in these rooms, unfortunately.
Immediately outside of my room was the bar. Most of the staff would congregate here during my stay.
The central area of the lounge was this large sitting area with mostly the same type of seating and a TV at the very end. Along the adjacent corridor is a computer that will give you a personalized WiFi login and password. I received one directly from an attendant, so I did not use this setup. I believe it is simple as scanning your boarding pass. The Wifi in the lounge was alright.
Towards the end of the lounge, on the left is a small buffet area.
You can just inform the attendants what you would like, and they will plate it for you. I did not order anything since I was going to order from the menu.
Next to the buffet was a business area, with two working desks with computers, a few more seats, and a shelf of literature.
Across from the buffet and business area is a dining area if you want to eat in a more restaurant-like setting.
The bathrooms are located behind the entrance. There is a curious sitting area separating the male and female bathrooms. I wonder if anyone ever sits here.
The bathrooms were clean and spacious. Both the hand soap and lotion are labelled the same, but it should be clear based on the contents which is which. There are also individually wrapped wood combs.
Now that the tour is over, let's take a look at the menu.
Brunch & Dinner service begins at 10am. There are various dishes from different cuisines to satisfy most palates.
I had arrived prior to 10, so I just started off with a glass of champagne. Thai serves Moet in the lounge.
After a while I opted for a cup of tom yum goong and shrimp pad thai. Two attendants came to present the dishes and carefully set the table. I love Thai soups and the pad thai was good, so this was a great brunch. After finishing, they quickly cleared the table. I also requested to schedule my massage at this time. They accommodated me at 11am. I will review that later.
About an hour before boarding I ordered the shrimp won ton soup and the Chinese tea as a snack. The won ton soup was great and in a perfectly small serving. The tea, not so much.
Service in the lounge was very friendly and proactive, with attendants checking in on me every so often. If anything, I got the sense that they were maybe a little bored given how large the lounge is and how few passengers were there.
As noted before, I scheduled my massage for 11am. Right on cue, an attendant came to escort me to the spa, which is right across the hall.
I was welcomed by several staff members and my masseuse. Unlike a few reports I've read before, there were no forms or anything for me to fill out. I was led to the left (I believe this is the first class section).
I think this was Suite 2 - a beautiful massage room. I'm not sure what the bathtub is for though. Do passengers ever actually take a bath here?
Attached is a changing room with a restroom and shower. I was asked whether I wanted to shower before or after the massage and since I opted for the oil massage, I chose to shower afterwards.
There are lots of amenities in the changing room. Foremost is a silk robe, along with various towels. You also have the standard hand lotion, hand soap, combs, shower caps, etc . . . A jewelry box is conveniently provided. The shower room has L'Occitane shampoo and conditioner.
The massage was very relaxing though it was only about 45 minutes rather than an hour. After I showered and changed back into my clothes, I was escorted to a small waiting area where initially there was one other gentleman, who soon left.
There is a small snack display available, but nothing looked appetizing to me.
I was asked if I wanted ginger tea. I can't remember ever having ginger tea before, but I guess it's good after a massage.
After going back to the lounge, I worked on my laptop for most of the remaining time. An attendant came to alert me when it was time to go (2:20pm or so), which was after boarding. We waited for all three passengers to assemble in the check-in area before an agent escorted us to our flight. There was no buggy ride this time (nor was one needed). It was about a 5 minute walk to Gate C4 and we arrived as they called final boarding. We were escorted all the way onto the plane and into the first class cabin where we were warmly welcomed.
Thai has a total of 9 747-400s. 5 have the updated 9-seat cabin and 4 have the old 10-seat cabin. There is a massive difference between the cabins so I was very relieved when I saw it was the 9-seat cabin. The seat map had remained unchanged the entire time, but given Thai's reputation for last-minute swaps, I didn't really feel reassured beforehand.
The first class cabin on Thai's 747-400 has one row of two seats, a second row of three seats, and a third row of four seats. The lone middle seat is probably the least desirable seat out of the bunch.
The cabin would be 5/9 today, with 1A, 1K, 2A, 2K, and 3K occupied. it was only 3/9 two days earlier. 3K was a pilot, but not sure who the other addition was.
I chose 1A, right in the nose. I was shown to my seat by Ki (apologies if I misspelled the name). She stored my carry-on and coat and let me know that the flight time would be 5 hours and 5 minutes.
The seat is spacious and partially enclosed. There is a fair-sized IFE screen with a beautiful orchid adjacent. A couple of storage compartments are along the fuselage. The first (and closest to the IFE) is the literature holder and where you can find an outlet and headphones. Towards the back is where the IFE remote and a fairly sizable storage for any miscellaneous items. At first, I didn't even notice it despite it staring me in the face. USB outlets are found next to the remote. A small reading light is atop the wall of the seat.
The seat control is on a tablet along the fuselage. It was a little clunky and not very responsive. The screen was not working properly, but the actual control functions still worked.
There were two comfortable pillows already at the seat, a soft blanket on the bottom, and what I believe is the bedding beneath the ottoman.
Both my carry-on and 1K's luggage were placed in the nose closet. By comparison, Lufthansa, for example, uses this space to store bedding.
Here is the closet (sorry I forgot to take a picture in daylight).
The slippers were fine, plenty comfortable for the flight.
Same as the previous flight, Thai uses AKG headphones, though these were larger and more comfortable.
The hot towel was not waiting for me at my seat, but it was presented so quickly it more or less arrived at my seat the same time I did. Also waiting was an orchid as well two chocolates. They were tasty (the chocolates, not the orchid).
Next Claudio came to introduce himself and present me with the Dom. He also made sure I knew the flight time today would be 5 hours and 5 minutes.
I always have to get a window shot with the amenity kit and champagne flute.
This particular Rimowa kit was dark purple, stocked with plenty of goodies. I am not familiar with the Caudalie brand.
The in-flight manager Naruemol introduced herself next and presented me with the menu. She also informed me that the flight time would be 5 hours and 5 minutes. I don't think I've ever flown a flight where they were this concerned with letting me know the flight time. I appreciated it though.
Ki came to take my order before takeoff and let me know that my pre-selected meal had been boarded.
We pushed back at 2:47pm. Before takeoff, Claudio was very proactive about refills, so I was very much enjoying the Dom during this time.
My favorite part about Asian airports:
We took off at 3:04.
To my surprise, the nose closet door swung open during takeoff. It was quite startling and I was worried for a second that the luggage would come flying out, but luckily nothing moved.
As usual, I checked out the lavatories right after the seat belt signs were switched off. Thai has two identical bathrooms immediately behind the cabin. Both are relatively small for first class on a 747.
There were Payot amenities (just various lotions). I suspect there will be more on a true long-haul flight.
Some of the amenities were added later because they cannot be secured during takeoff.
Now's also a good chance to check out the IFE. It is a bigger, crisper screen than my previous flight, but hardly the newest technology out there. The resolution wasn't the best, but it was much better than on the 777-300 and Thai has an okay selection of movies. The controls were a little slow and not the most responsive, however. I ended up watching Any Given Sunday this flight - cannot recommend it. Thai does offer a decent selection of TV shows and I started the first episode of season 6 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I should have been watching that all along.
Originally, I did not realize that Thai offered a meal pre-order option until I came across a review that mentioned it. Thai's English website is not the best, so it was quite the pain to find where to order. Since the SQ's famous Lobster Thermidor was not available out of PEK on my flight down, I figured I would try TG's version out of BKK. If my experience is representative, these pictures show you exactly what you are going to get.
Here are the physical onboard menus:
As before, the Thai option was highlighted. There was a Thai, Western, and Japanese option on this flight.
The drink menu was highlighted by the 2009 Dom and had two whites and two reds.
As you may have guessed, I stayed with the Dom for now. Naruemol brought the canapes 13 minutes after takeoff and Ki brought the Dom a minute later. The canapes were okay, but not particularly memorable.
25 minutes after takeoff, Ki set the table with precision. Each passenger gets their own breadbasket.
The appetizer was a smoked salmon cannelloni with caviar. I did not expect a caviar offering of any sort on the flight, so I was pleasantly surprised. I very much enjoyed it and liked the presentation as well.
For my main I had pre-ordered the lobster thermidor. It tasty and very filling. That said, this wouldn't be favorite way of preparing lobster on the ground. After bringing the dish, Ki offered to take pictures for me. I took her up on her offer because my grandparents had specifically requested a picture from the flight. She did the same for 2A.
I meant to switch to the Maison Chanson for the main, but somehow forgot.
It took me a while to finish the main as it was a good amount of food. Soon enough though, Ki presented the cheese and fruits, beautifully presented on a cart. I was getting very close to full, and knew I wanted dessert, so I only asked for a little bit. She seemed surprised I only asked for such a small quantity.
I love desserts courses with multiple items so I can try more things. The white chocolate panna cotta and hazelnut & macadamia pie were delicious, but I was not a fan of the mango ice cream.
Soon we were approaching the South China Sea.
I wrapped up with a cup of tea and was presented with another hot towel as well as a bottle of water. This was around 1 hour and 5 minutes after takeoff - meaning the service was quite efficient.
After the tea, I also asked for a glass of the Old Pulteney 21YO to sip on.
Lights were turned off 1 hour and 10 minutes into the flight. Before I settled in, Ki came to ask if I wanted a pre-arrival meal or any other food. I told her maybe later, I was fairly stuffed at this point.
I believe there is turndown service, but I didn't bother to ask for it because I was just looking to lounge and specifically did NOT want to fall asleep. So I made my own turn down with just the blanket. What do you think of my presentation?
I asked for water a few times throughout the flight and it was always swiftly addressed.
With roughly 1 hour 20 minutes left to the left, Ki asked if I was hungry and I ordered the Khanom Chor Paga Grong off the anytime menu, which was described as "flower-shaped coconut milk dough filled with bean paste." It was quite delicious. Funny note was that I thought there was a cherry and not being fond of cherries, left it. When Ki came to collect the plate, she was concerned I did not eat it and explained to me it was not a cherry at all. Turned out to be just as good as the rest of the dish, glad she took note.
I walked around for a bit after the snack. I did not take a picture of the long galley because there were so many flight attendants there and I did not want to bother them. It is a rather unique configuration.
Here is the staircase - my favorite part of any 747.
Here is the business class cabin on the other side of the galley. During the flight it is separated from the first cabin by a thick curtain.
With 34 minutes left inflight, the captain announced the descent and lights came back on 6 minutes later. Sometime afterwards, Ki and Claudio came by to say their goodbyes.
We touched down at 10:05pm Tokyo time and arrived at Gate 105 8 minutes later.
I thought I had snagged a good picture of the bird on my way out, but when I looked at my phone later in better light, I realized there was this annoying pole right in the way. Oh well.
It was a longish walk to immigration, but as with everything in Japan, I was processed very efficiently and soon on a train to my hotel.
When Michelin added Tokyo's (and the world's?_third-ever Michelin-starred ramen/soba shop in 2019, I knew I had to try it. I got to the store ~6-7 minutes before it opened and the line was already this long.
The store opened at 11am and it took about ~45 minutes before I got to the entrance.
I was finally served their famous shio soba at 12:03pm - an overall wait of about 1 hour 10 minutes. It was quite possibly the best soba I've ever had. If you have some time in Tokyo, I'd highly recommend it.
Lounge: The Thai Royal First Lounge is one of legendary ground experiences out there. I'm not really sure where to include the rating for massage, so I added points in the Entertainment/Wifi section. The furniture in the lounge is a bit dated and could use a refresh, but is comfortable to lounge around in. The private rooms are especially nice, though the lounge is so big and quiet it doesn't make too much of a difference. Service is incredibly proactive and friendly. The dining experience may not be comparable to something like the FCT or TPR, but it is extensive and delicious.
Cabin & Seat: The age of Thai's 747s are showing even in their newer layout. The seat is fine, but despite the more enclosed design is not actually all that private. Using a more open seat with an adjustable privacy divider like on LH's 747s would allow for a more spacious seat with more privacy. That said, the seat is comfortable both lounging and in lie-flat mode and I wouldn't hesitate to fly on it for a true long-haul flight. The IFE also exceeded my expectations, though it certainly wasn't an extensive collection.
Service: Thai's service in the air is just like on the ground, incredibly friendly and well-intentioned. Refills were frequent, service was very responsive and quick. If you forced me to say a criticism, they were ever-so-slightly less personal, but standards of my last few last few First flights are hard to match.
Meal & Catering: Thai impressed me with the catering on a mere five-hour flight. The meal was better than I expected and the drinks list, though not ridiculously extensive like you'll find on some carriers, was quite good.
Bottom Line: The BKK-HND route is a great way to try Thai's First Class product without committing to a long-haul. From the ground service to the flight, service was warm and proactive and the hard product was comfortable. While I wouldn't go out of my way to fly Thai again, I'm very glad I tried it this trip and had a great time.