Airline review: Thai Airways economy, Melbourne to Bangkok

THE ROUTE

Melbourne to Bangkok

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, seat 45H.

DURATION

Flight time is scheduled at nine hours and 10 minutes, but we arrive 30 minutes early into Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport.

FREQUENCY

Flies twice daily direct from Melbourne (and Sydney) to Bangkok.

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

COMFORT

It's an overnight flight, so comfort is paramount. The plane is barely half full and there's room to spread across the empty seats around me. My knees come up a good 10 centimetres short of the seat in front, and I manage to sleep for a few hours, which is uncommon for me on flights. The only cause for complaint is  that in an aisle seat, the reading light is positioned so far away that it casts only a faint glow.

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ENTERTAINMENT

The numbers look promising – 100 movies and 500 albums – but the selection isn't the most imaginative. The 24 new-release films (including six kiddie animations) merge into a gun-toting Hollywood blur, while the classics are less nostalgic (the likes of Dick Tracy and Top Gun) than the title suggests. New-release albums are dominated by non-releases – cheesy compilations put together by the airline. The TV selection is better, with entire seasons of a few US sitcoms, and dramas such as Gotham and Forever.

SERVICE

It's a promising start when you're personally, smilingly escorted to your seat, and the drinks trolley rattles through the aisle at almost the moment the seatbelt light is switched off. The crew is unfailingly polite and cheery, with a quiet sincerity that doesn't fade at any point through the night.

FOOD

The on-screen menu promises a middle-of-the-night dinner and breakfast just before arrival. There are two dinner choices: chicken thigh crusted in bush tomato, and an East-meets-West beef massaman curry with a side of cauliflower and green beans. The beef is good and tender, while "the finest wines from the best vineyards" turn out to be a single red and a white from one French winery.

VERDICT

By the time I've eaten dinner, slept and am tucking into the final croissant of my breakfast, we're tracking over the Gulf of Thailand towards Bangkok. It's been one of the shortest nine-hour stints in the air I can remember. It's no-frills travel – good service, comfortable, if a little short on entertainment – but a good approach into Thailand.

Andrew Bain flew courtesy of World Expeditions.

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