Airline review: Thai Airways economy

The Plane

Boeing 777; Thai has 28 of this type of aircraft 

The Route

Flight TG461, Bangkok to Melbourne

The Plane

Boeing 777-200ER. Economy class has 278 seats, plus 30 seats in Royal Silk business class

The Loyalty Scheme

Royal Orchid Plus. Passengers can also earn points towards other airline programs in the Star Alliance network

Class

Economy 63F

Duration

Eight hours and 50 minutes

Frequency

Twice daily flights from Bangkok to Melbourne

The Seat

Economy seats are in a 3-3-3 layout, with five rows having a 2-3-2 configuration. The seat pitch is 31 inches (79 centimetres) and seat width is 18 inches (46 centimetres).

Baggage

Checked baggage allowance is a generous 30 kilograms. Carry-on baggage is limited to one bag (up to 115 centimetres in length) weighing up to seven kilograms.

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Comfort

I picked a seat in the back row to limit the possibility of being kicked all the way back to Melbourne. Just as I was congratulating myself on my excellent choice, the lady in front reclined and I was sent reeling. The space issue could not be solved by reclining my own seat because the back seats have limited recline. Seats at the rear might work for airlines such as Jetstar and Virgin but on Thai it's a doozy.

My poorly thought-through plan left me unable to use the tray table for a laptop. A bit of light gymnastics was required to get in and out of the seat because the armrest cannot be shifted.

A few hours into the flight and I realised that was not the only issue; my seat was right next to the toilet, with a constant flow of traffic going past my seat.

However, on the flight coming out of Melbourne in a regular economy aisle seat, Thai's old-school seating meant comfortable, slightly larger pitches than on regular flights and on an overnight flight, where comfort was paramount, I am pleased to report I was out with the lights.

Service

You can't knock Thai hospitality and Thai Airways is no exception. This was a daytime flight and the last day of our holiday to boot, we were furnished with G'n'Ts and smiles which killed time in the afternoon. I was a little dismayed the soap dispenser in the toilet remained empty, despite the cubicle being used by staff.

Entertainment

The screen was possibly the least user-friendly I've experienced; it was unresponsive, and possessed the least appealing choices I've seen on flights in recent history. There were 100 movies to choose from including new releases such as Mortdecai and Avengers: Age of Ultron among a disproportionately high selection from the action genre for my tastes. Television choices were not much better, and ranged from a 'hilarious hidden camera show' plus some other populist titles such as Gotham and New Girl.

Food

Breakfast was served around an hour into the flight, and my vegetarian meal consisted of a cheese omelette with tomato, mushroom, pepperonata, potato along with a serving of fruit and a roll. A tray of warm croissants was offered to passengers and we were urged to take as many as we wanted; a far cry from the journey to Bangkok where the first meal, served around midnight, barely sustained me; a small serving of creamy pasta with baby spinach leaves as a side. The meal served before landing was a crowd-pleasing spinach ravioli in creamy pea sauce, with roasted vegetable salad – which sounded a good deal more appetising than the 'prawn in orange sauce' option.

One more thing

Vegetarians should not arrive hungry on the overnight flight – or they'll remain so all night. There are no USB outlets – just power outlets and one between two seats.

Verdict

Larger seats and great service makes Thai a formidable choice on this popular route (the only other direct flight being Jetstar).

Our rating

4 out of 5 stars

Tested by Kylie McLaughlin who travelled at her own expense

See also: 20 things that will shock first time visitors to Thailand

See also: Flight test - Jetstar Dreamliner economy

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