Airline review: Thai Airways economy, Bangkok to Melbourne

THE PLANE

Airbus A350-900XWB.

THE ROUTE

TG465 Bangkok to Melbourne.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Royal Orchid Plus, with Star Alliance compatibility.

DURATION

9 hours

FREQUENCY

Twice daily

THE SEAT

Economy 40F. There are 289 economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration. Each has a 32-inch (81cm) pitch and 18-inch (46cm) width. Thai promises wider seats and more leg room and I feel like they deliver on this. The seat feels plush and ergonomically sound as well. There is in-seat power and USB outlets. Business, which we had the pleasure of experiencing on the way up to Bangkok, has 32 very comfortable flatbed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.

BAGGAGE

Up to 30 kilos of checked luggage for economy and seven kilos of carry-on.

COMFORT

Voted World's Best Economy Class in the 2017 Skytrax awards, I was curious to see how Thai lived up to the accolade. The very recent introduction of the new A350 on this route – a roomy long range Airbus renown for its carbon composite construction and consequent superior interior cabin environment – was a really good starting point.

Thai's seats are larger than some (one inch more), with a better pitch, a foot rest and a tray-table design that works for a laptop, even when the seat in front is reclined. The seat feels really supporting and cushioned, too, perhaps because the upholstery is new. But as someone who has suffered sciatic pain in the past, this seat didn't trigger any discomfort. 

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As this is a 12.05am departure, it's a sleep flight. Despite this being a codeshare with a veritable United Nations of airlines, the plane was half-empty and with a seat vacant between me and the woman in 40D, I had no issues nodding off. But she stretches out so far her feet are  touching me. After I shoo her away several times, she puts the middle tray table down and sprawls her legs across it, so I wake with her feet in my face. Come on, people. A little etiquette. The lack of manners is not Thai's fault, though. 

ENTERTAINMENT

Thai invites you to "Enjoy the up-to-date and classic in-flight entertainment with over 1000 hours of movies, short films, games, music, news and information through a large personal screen for your maximum viewing pleasure." What that translates to is less movie and TV options than, say the ME3 carriers, but I got to see a new movie I've been wanting to – The Big Sick – over dinner and caught up on a couple of episodes of Blindspot over breakfast. I used my own noise cancelling headphones. Wi-fi is coming, but was not available yet on either of my flights. 

SERVICE

Thai's service is warm and efficient. This was a responsive, slick and friendly crew. I couldn't fault them. Right up there with Qatar or Singapore Airlines, to my mind. 

FOOD

The food was decent. I had a barramundi with lentils and veggies for dinner with decent French white wine. Breakfast was an omelet with sausage and potatoes, some fruit, juice and a croissant. I only ate the omelet and it was good.

ONE MORE THING

I am an Airbus fan but my one gripe is how high the overhead bins are on this aircraft. And the bins are big, so my stuff slid to the back. I had to get up on my seat to access it. This does give more room in the cabin, though, so swings and roundabouts. And not everyone is as short as me. 

THE VERDICT

Best economy cabin in the world? Best I've experienced in a long time – if I can forget about my rude row neighbour. 

Tested by Julietta Jameson who flew as a guest of Thai Airways.

Our rating out of five: ★★★★½

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