Date: March 19, 2018
Flight No.: TG635
Route: Seoul Incheon to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (via Taipei Taoyuan)
Airline: Thai Airways
Type: Boeing 777-300ER
The second flight of my trip to Phuket – from Seoul to Bangkok via Taipei – was originally scheduled to be operated by Thai Airways 777-200 configured with old-generation business class seats in a “2-2-2” layout.
Luckily, the scheduled equipment was changed to a 777-300ER the night before departure, and so I was able to experience Thai Airways’ staggered business class seats – a product that can be found on many of the airline’s long haul flights.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Transiting at Seoul Incheon Airport
The transfer process at Incheon was as smooth as it gets, and so, not long after getting off my flight from Tokyo, I found myself back in the secure area. As I only had about thirty minutes until boarding was scheduled to start, I visited Asiana Lounge only very briefly (I reviewed it in the past) to have a can of ginger ale, and then made my way to the departure gate.
Along the way to gate 12 where my flight was departing from, I briefly enjoyed a string quartet performance.
Here, I’ll note that I was surprised by how badly the airport was marked. There were only large numbers for each gates and a number of signs scattered across the terminal pointing to different sets of gates. But, there were not nearly enough signs that could easily get people from the central area just past the transit security check to whichever gate they were departing from.
Not long after I got to the gate, an announcement was made that the flight would board in five minutes.
Once the boarding begun, I was the first person to walk down the jetway. But, not before receiving a new boarding pass with a new seat, 15K, assigned instead of the original 19K.
When I got onboard, I received a warm “sawasdee ka” welcome by the cabin crew member standing at the door and was shown to my seat.
On the counter of my seat, there was the day’s Japanese newspaper waiting. I was really impressed by that given that the flight didn’t originate in or head to Japan. Instead, they must have prepared it just based on the passenger manifest. Well done, Thai Airways!
Thai Airways 777-300ER Business Class Cabin and Seat
Before continuing with the flight itself, let’s take a look at the hard product.
Thai Airways Boeing 777-300ERs are equipped with 42 staggered lie-flat seats split across two cabins. The first cabin, located between the first and the second pair of doors includes 24 seats. The second, smaller, cabin is equipped with 18 seats.
The seats are basically the same model as the one I experienced on Asiana’s A380 on the previous flight of the trip. Since they are staggered in a 1-2-1 layout, the seats in the center section alternate between being right next to each other and being separated by counters.
Similarly, the seats on either side of the aircraft alternate between being closer to the aisle and right next to the windows (“true” window seats).
As for the seat itself, it was covered in purple cloth, and upon boarding, a noise-cancelling headset and a fairly large pillow were placed on it. Across from the seat was the foot cubby which felt much spacier than the one on Asiana’s A380 due to a cutout on its right side. Under the foot cubby, there was enough space to store a pair of shoes.
On the panel of the seat’s console, near the floor, there was a universal power outlet. There was also a pair of USB ports under the IFE screen. On the side of the console, next to the seat itself, there were also the seat controls, the IFE remote, as well as an armrest and a small storage compartment perfect for storing a cellphone or a small camera.
Finally, on the panel of the seat in front, there was a safety card pocket, a coat hook, as well as a tray table.
One thing the seat was missing was any sort of storage space other than the fairly small counter and the small storage compartment under the armrest.
Departing Seoul Onboard a Thai Airways 777-300ER
Going back to the flight itself, soon after I settled in my seat, one of the crew members came to ask if I was Japanese. After mentioning that indeed I was (half) Japanese, but jokingly making a remark that my reading is not good enough to read the newspaper, she cleared it.
And, at that time, she also brought me a hot towel and asked whether I wanted anything to drink. The orange juice that I ordered was brought not long after.
At 5:25PM, we were welcomed by the captain who mentioned that the flight time to Taipei would be two hours and fifteen minutes. Around the same time, boarding was completed.
The aircraft’s doors were closed at 5:27PM, and we were pushed back two minutes later, one minute ahead of schedule. Several minutes of taxiing later, we reached the end of runway 15R from which we took off at 5:45PM, leaving Seoul Incheon airport behind.
Thai Airways Business Class Meal on the Seoul – Taipei Segment
The seatbelt signs were switched off less than ten minutes after take-off. Not long after that, the preparations for the meal service begun with one of the crew members coming to ask me about my meal choice. Soon after, a blanket was provided.
As for the meal, there was a choice of Thai, Western, and Korean dishes. I decided to go with the Korean-style chicken and ginger ale for drink.
Just a couple of minutes after I made my order, I was brought the drink as well as a bowl of cold nuts.
Once the flight attendant noticed that I finished the nuts, she stopped by to confirm that I was ready to have the meal itself. All of the meal came together on a single tray which is understandable given that it was a fairly short sector. And, besides the chicken and rice, there were also a prawn appetizer, a pack of kimchi, some fruits, and a coconut and strawberry mousse.
Both the appetizer and the main were quite good (although the chicken was a bit too spicy for me, which is unsurprising for a Korean meal).
When I was done with the main and started eating the dessert, the crew came around to ask whether I wanted a cup of tea or coffee to go with it. At the same time the tea I ordered was brought, the crew also cleared the tray.
Thai Airways’ In-Flight Entertainment System
After the meal, I worked a bit while waiting for the sunset. When working, I also realized how useful the ability to move a seat forwards or backwards can be – especially so when the tray table itself cannot be moved.
I also visited the restroom which was equipped with some simple amenities as well as a fresh flower.
At 6:13PM Taipei time, the captain announced that we would be starting our descent soon and that we were expecting to land in Taipei around 7PM. Not long after that, I stowed away my laptop and switched the in-flight entertainment system on.
As for movies, there was a total of about a hundred movies divided into ten or so categories. While the selection was not as extensive as that of the Middle Eastern airlines, it was better than airlines such as ANA – and it was certainly enough to keep a person entertained on even a long haul flight.
Similarly, there were about fifty TV shows, each with a couple of episodes. Here, it was unfortunate that the seasons and episodes available were quite random. But then again, there are not many airlines that offer full TV show seasons.
And, they offered some episodes of The Big Bang Theory – my go-to TV show on flights – so I had nothing to complain about.
While I didn’t listen to any of the music or play any of the games, there were several hundred albums from a large variety of artists and more than ten games available in the IFE system as well.
Finally, the information section included the in-flight map as well as other things such as the airline’s fleet details.
Landing and Transit in Taipei
Once I was done with going through the IFE system, I decided to watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory.
At 6:35PM, the cabin crew made an announcement that we were starting our descent, and that they would be preparing the cabin for landing.
At that point, I realized that the the crew basically disappeared into the galleys right after the meal service, not coming around the cabin to check on passengers or offer drinks. And, not even clearing my cup and can.
If there was any negative point of the flight, that would be the only one.
In either case, at 6:37PM, the seatbelt signs were switched back on, and at 6:58PM, we touched down at Taipei Taoyuan airport.
While we were taxiing to our arrival gate, an announcement was made that we would depart after a roughly 40-minute-long stop. And that – unlike on my Qatar Airways flights between Doha and Hanoi – even transit passengers had to get off and go through security.
We arrived in blocks at 7:03PM, and after disembarking, transit passengers were handed a transit card and were directed through security to gate B5 where the onward flight to Bangkok would depart from.
Departing Taoyuan Airport Bound for Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
The second segment, from Taipei to Bangkok, started boarding around 7:40PM, half an hour before the scheduled departure time of 8:10PM. I was one of the first passengers to board, and onboard, I found a cleaned up cabin including new fresh orchids, pillows, as well as headsets placed at each seats.
Not long after I settled down, the same friendly flight attendant that was taking care of me on the first segment came around to offer me hot towel and orange juice (based on my preference from the first segment).
It’s worth noting that she did it in Japanese adding another nice touch that personalized the whole flight experience.
With all the passengers onboard, the cabin crew closed the door at 7:59PM, shortly after which the captain welcomed us (back) onboard. He also mentioned that the flight time would be 3 hours and 35 minutes, and that it was 28 degrees Celsius in Bangkok.
Right after that, the safety video was played, and at 8:07PM, we were pushed back.
As we were being pushed back, the cabin crew came around taking (second) dinner orders. As I had the Korean option on the previous flight, this time I decided to go with the Thai option – the fish curry.
At 8:11PM, the cockpit crew requested the cabin crew to do a cabin check and take their seats for take-off, and right after, we started taxiing towards runway 05R from which we took off at 8:23PM.
Thai Airways Business Class Meal on Taipei – Bangkok Flight
Once we were airborne, I continued watching The Bing Bang Theory episode that I started watching on the previous segment.
At 8:35PM, the seatbelt signs were switched off and the cabin lights on, and so the meal service could begun. Just like on the previous flight, it started with a bowl of nuts and a drink of choice (ginger ale in my case).
Then, about half an hour later, table cloth was placed on my table, and just a couple of minutes later the tray with the dinner was brought. Besides the fish curry and rice, there was also spicy chicken salad and a fruit plate.
Once again, the meal was very tasty.
Unlike during the meal on the previous flight, this time the dessert came separately after the meal rather than on the tray with the main. I decided to go with strawberry panna cotta and a cup of peppermint tea.
Not long after the dessert was served, the crew came around with warm towels. And, another several minutes later, I was brought a Thai immigration form. While I had to ask for a pen even when flying with Cathay Pacific in first class, Thai Airways provided pen together with the form. Yet another nice touch.
Testing Thai Airways Business Class Flat Bed
As I had been up since the early hours of the day, I decided to get some sleep once the dinner service was finished.
Interestingly, while blankets were provided on the shorter segment between Seoul and Taipei, they were not provided on the longer segment to Bangkok in spite of the fact that it took place at night.
In spite of that, I managed to get a bit more than an hour of good sleep in the comfortable seat. As mentioned above, the seat felt spacier than its Asiana counterpart due to a cutout in the foot cubby.
Landing at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
When I woke up, I found a bottle of water placed next to my seat. And, around the same time, an announcement was made that we would be landing in about forty minutes.
Not long after that, at 10:25PM Thailand time, we started our initial descent as we were flying over Pattaya. About five minutes later, the seatbelt signs were switched on, and at 10:47PM, we touched down at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport.
Less than ten minutes later, at 10:56PM, we parked at our gate. And, thanks to flying business class, I was through immigration at 11:10PM even though the regular line was at least an hour long.
Thai Airways 777-300ER Seoul – Taipei – Bangkok Summary
Overall, I highly enjoyed my first two flights with Thai Airways. While it would have been nice if the crew came around the cabin proactively offering drinks from time to time, otherwise they were excellent.
And, as mentioned in the beginning of the report, I was especially impressed with the Japanese newspaper waiting at my seat upon boarding. That showed me how much effort Thai Airways puts into customizing their service to each passenger.