Melbourne to Bangkok
The Loyalty Scheme
Royal Orchid Plus, with Star Alliance compatibility
14J, Business class
There are 32 flatbed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. The seat pitch is 44 inches (112 centimetres), with a 73.5 inch (187 centimetres) bed length, a 20 inch (51 centimetres) width and a 180-degree recline.
Up to 40 kilograms of checked luggage for economy and seven kilograms of carry-on.
It doesn't really get more comfortable than brand-spanking new business class seats on a new plane designed to ward off the effects of jetlag. There is little doubt the air quality feels fresher, the seats roomier and more comfortable than the old 777. Similarly to the Boeing 787s, LED mood lighting changes throughout the flight. The shape of the cabin has been designed to give more head and shoulder room and there's more overhead storage in business - however, there's so many spaces which to tuck small bags and electronics around your seat, I barely use the extra space.
A single purple orchid matches the purple upholstery of the seats in Thai's Royal Orchid business class, each with direct aisle access from the 1-2-1 seat configuration. The interlocking seats give window seat passengers more privacy, but the seats closer to the aisle feel roomier. Business class passengers receive a Furla toiletries bag with the usual useful, non-brand specific bits and pieces, with slippers but no pyjamas as this is a day time flight.
The beds do feel a little short to my 170-centimetre frame and the end tapers which may not leave a lot of wriggle room for larger frames.The two USB ports, a coat hanger and power point all come in handy.
The screen is a huge 16-inch LCD monitor that plays "1000s of hours" of entertainment with a dedicated Thai language section, which leaves English-speaking natives a bit short. But that's nitpicking really, as there's plenty of choice new releases such as The Big Sick and Baby Driver, plus some classics for those travelling on to Europe (The Sound Of Music definitely kills some time).The noise-cancelling headphones are great, and there's a neat camera on the bottom of the plane that allows you to watch the view from beneath, which is particularly good as the plane takes off. Wi-Fi is available, at a cost.
It's tough to criticise warm and friendly service from the land of smiles, but it was a little on the scarce side for business class. There's none between the first course of the meal and the glass of champagne when you're welcomed aboard, and the rose I'd requested with dinner does not arrive. It turns out they'd run dry, and, a French chardonnay from Burgundy, France arrives by the time dessert arrives, a little too late. After dinner the service disappears much like in economy – although it's super prompt when summoned.
Unique to Thai's business class is the "Samrab" – which is a selection of small dishes representing Thai cuisine. On this flight, the dishes included a beef salad, stir-fried eggplant with chilli and basil and a prawn curry, which was the standout dish. While you'd be mad not to go for the Thai spread, it does not cater for vegetarians, and according to the menu on this particular flight, neither does the Western menu, which includes a choice of pork or a barramundi. Just before landing in the evening passengers are served another meal from the "All day dine" menu, which included boiled rice with sea bass, pineapple fried rice with chicken or a beef steak sandwich, which were all pretty standard. If I were heading straight into Bangkok, I'd save my appetite for something better.
One More Thing
The A350 is Thai Airways gateway flight to Europe, which means a significant five-hour layover in Bangkok Airport on my route to Vienna. Once you've had your one massage business class passengers are entitled to, that leaves a lot of time to kill, and no great lounges in which to do it. There are many lounges to utilise, but it's quantity over quality. Time would be better spent laying over in Bangkok for a night.
Travelling business class leaves very little to complain about; however, Thai need to pick up their game when it comes to service, although on my subsequent hop to Europe aboard the same plane with a different crew it was improved. Tall people may have trouble getting comfortable in those tapering lie-flat beds.
The writer was a guest of Thai Airways