Date: March 21, 2018
Flight No.: TG684
Route: Phuket International to Beijing Capital
Airline: Thai Airways
Type: Airbus A330-300
With my stay in Phuket over way too soon, it was time to head back to Japan. Rather than going through Bangkok as on my way to Phuket, I took advantage of one of Thai Airways’ international services out of the resort island.
More specifically, I took flight TG684 that connects the Thai island with the Chinese capital every night. The flight, which I booked using ANA miles, was operated by an Airbus A330-300, and I was lucky enough to take it in business class.
Checking-in for and Boarding Flight TG684 at Phuket Airport
Yukihiro drove me to the airport about two hours before the scheduled departure time of 10:20PM. And, given that there was no one at the business class check-in desks, I had my boarding passes as well as a lounge invitation in less than five minutes.
Since I still had some time before having to catch the flight, I went for a quick Thai ice tea with Yukihiro before bidding him a farewell, clearing the security check and immigration, and heading into the Royal Orchid Lounge for a bit.
While originally boarding was scheduled to begin at 9:40PM, at 9:25PM an announcement was made in the lounge that boarding had begun. As such, I left the lounge and headed down to gate 11 which was just a short one-minute walk away.
Since there was a separate queue for business class passengers and status holders, I was able to get onboard the aircraft right after arriving at the gate.
Thai Airways A330-300 Business Class Cabin and Seat
The business class cabin on the Thai Airways A330-300 was located between the first and second pairs of doors, and consisted of a total of 36 angled seats. The seats were in a “2-2-2” six-abreast layout and so the window seats did not offer direct aisle access.
The seats, in line with Thai’s brand, were purple, and there was even a piece of art on the wall behind the last row of business class seats.
While I first settled in 15F, my originally assigned seat, I asked one of the cabin crew members if I there was any empty pair of seats next to the windows. Luckily, there was (the business class load was quite low on the flight), and so I moved to seat 12K in the second row of the business class cabin.
In case you are wondering, the seat numbering starts with row 11…
There was a fairly large IFE screen on the back of the seat in front of me under which there was a rack with the in-flight magazine and so on. There was also a coat hook to the right of the screen, and a bottle holder as well as safety card pocket to the left of the screen.
And, while there was no storage under the seat in front of me, there was (a rather useless) small storage compartment above the IFE screen.
The seat controls and IFE remote control were located in the right (outer) armrest of the seat. As for the left armrest, it housed the tray table which was covered by a small counter when not in use.
Under the left armrest, one could find a pair of USB ports, the audio output, a power outlet, as well as a small storage compartment ideal for storing a cellphone or a small camera.
Finally, above the left armrest, there was a reading light as well as a partition that could be pulled out to slightly increase privacy between the two seats in the pair.
Thai Airways Business Class Pre-Departure Service
Upon boarding, a blanket and a pillow were already waiting on each seat. And, soon after I settled down in my seat, a hot towel as well as a welcome drink (I opted for Thai ice tea again) were provided.
Soon after, menus were handed out, followed by amenity kits and headsets, and finally followed by newspapers.
Then, around 9:40PM – the original boarding time – one of the crew members came to take my order. After telling her that I hadn’t decided yet, she said “no worries, take your time,” and went on to mention that the flight time would be five hours.
About ten minutes later she came back, and I ordered the Chinese option (stir-fried beef fillet with Shimeji mushrooms) from the menu below.
Two minutes later, at 9:52PM, the cabin crew announced “boarding complete, ka,” the doors were closed, and the safety video was played.
We were pushed back at 9:56PM, twenty-five minutes ahead of schedule, and took off from runway 27 at 10:06PM.
Thai Airways Medium-Haul Business Class Dinner
The seatbelt signs were switched off less than ten minutes after take off, at 10:12PM, at which point the meal service started.
First, I was served Coke Zero that I ordered prior to take off together with a bowl of mixed nuts and dried fruits.
Then, about ten minutes later when I finished the nuts and fruits, I was brought the meal itself. Just like on my previous flights from Seoul to Bangkok and from Bangkok to Phuket, the meal came on a single tray.
While I was enjoying the meal, the cabin crew came by to place a bottle of water into the bottle holder on the back of the seat in front of me.
Around 10:45PM, the Captain made an announcement welcoming us onboard and provided use with brief information about the flight – including the facts that we were cruising at 39,000 feet, had about 4 hours of flight time left, and that we would be arriving in Beijing at 4AM.
Soon after the announcement, once I was done with the meal, the very friendly cabin attendant came by to ask which dessert I preferred. When I said “hmmmm, hard choice,” she immediately responded “maybe try both?”
Of course, I said yes to that and tried both of the desserts. While both of them were quite tasty, they were a bit too sweet for my liking which leads me to believe that most people would find both of them way too sweet.
I also ordered peppermint tea to go with the desserts.
The Uncomfortable Thai Airways A330 Business Class Seat
After the meal, the cabin crew came around the cabin offering immigration cards. Since I was only transiting in Beijing, I didn’t need one.
Instead, I decided to turn my seat into “bed” and try to catch some sleep.
On a side note, the in-flight entertainment system on this flight was the same as on my flight from Seoul to Bangkok and so I won’t be reviewing it here again. Also, the aircraft was equipped with wi-fi, but I didn’t test it since it was the middle of the night.
As for the seat, it was one of the most uncomfortable business class seats I had the chance to try. I am not sure whether I was just not able to fully turn the seat down or if the seat was meant to be that way, but besides the rather steep angle of the seat back and leg rest, there was an even steeper drop with the footrest.
To compensate for it a bit, I padded the bottom of the seat with some extra blankets and pillows. But even with that, the seat was not comfortable enough.
Still, being tired, I managed to find a position in which I was able to get a couple of hours of decent sleep.
Landing at Beijing Capital Airport
Around 3:30AM Beijing time, the Captain made an announcement again mentioning that we would be landing in about 25 minutes and that it was clear with one degree Celsius in the Chinese capital.
At the same time, the cabin lights were switched on and a video talking about Chinese immigration procedures was played.
Then, at 3:40AM, the seatbelt sign were switched on and fifteen minutes later, the landing gear was lowered.
Finally, we touched down at Beijing Capital airport at 3:59AM, reaching our parking gate E10 at Terminal 3 at 4:12AM or about half an hour ahead of schedule.
The aircraft door opened another five or so minutes later, and so, after taking some more cabin photos, I stepped into the cold airport terminal to begin my half-day long layover there.
Thai Airways A330-300 Phuket – Beijing Business Class Summary
This flight left me with mixed feelings. While the crew was the best of the three Thai Airways flights that I took during the trip, the hard product was the worst of the three flights.
While that would not be an issue in itself since it was a five hour regional flight and on one of the previous flights I could sit in a first class seats, I just found the seat to be too uncomfortable to sleep in.
As for the meal, it was more than sufficient for the flight of this duration, and while it was nothing overly gourmet, it was still tasty.