Thai Airways A350 Royal Silk Business Class Melbourne to Bangkok Review
- Excellent food and service
- Modern and comfortable seat
- IFE and USB glitches
A pleasant redeye service with a few unexpected technical glitches.
After reviewing Cathay Pacific's Airbus 350 in a previous article, I was thrilled to get the chance to experience Thai Airways' A350 during a recent business trip from Melbourne to Hong Kong via Bangkok. Melbourne is currently the sole Australian city serviced by their A350, and although Thai Airways recently scaled back its operations to Melbourne from 2 flights per day to just 11 flights per week, the good news is the aircraft type for this route remains unchanged. Melbourne to Bangkok will continue to be an all-A350 route.
Flight: TG 462
Aircraft Type: Airbus A350-900
Route: Melbourne to Bangkok
Class: Royal Silk Business Class
A one-way ticket from Melbourne to Bangkok in business class with Thai Airways typically costs around $4,000. However, I redeemed this ticket using United Miles as part of a multi-city itinerary, which also earned me a complimentary Air New Zealand flight using the United Excursionist Perk. Alternatively, Thai Airways flights are redeemable using points from Star Alliance affiliated programs such as KrisFlyer, and Miles and More. Generally, Thai Airways are generous and release a good number of redemption seats across their premium cabins which makes advanced trip planning a little easier.
START PLANNING YOUR OWN POINTS JOURNEY
Looking to fly on Thai Airways using points? Thai Airways is part of Star Alliance, so KrisFlyer Miles from Singapore's KrisFlyer program can be used. If you don't have KrisFlyer Miles, you can transfer Virgin Velocity points into the KrisFlyer program. Alternatively, many American Express credit cards also allow you to transfer Membership Rewards Points directly into Thai's Royal Orchid Plus Program.
Compare credit cards with bonus Velocity or Amex Membership Rewards points below:
The check-in counter opened three hours before our scheduled departure, at which point there were already a dozen passengers waiting at the priority lane. Fortunately the economy class counters prioritised serving premium passengers to ease our wait time. Check-in staff accurately confirmed my wife's vegan meal, our pre-selected window seats and checked our bags through to our final destination.
Thai Airways does not operate its own lounge in Melbourne, instead directing their premium passengers to the Air New Zealand Lounge. It is advantageous to note that Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge is also accessible to Thai Airways passengers thanks to the Star Alliance reciprocal benefit. Both airline lounges are located after the security and immigration checkpoints and are fairly easy to get to by following the signs. The Air New Zealand Lounge is located one floor below the SilverKris Lounge.
Air New Zealand Melbourne Lounge dining area
I had the opportunity to visit both lounges, although in my opinion, the Air New Zealand lounge is overall more superior. The Singapore Krisflyer Lounge was significantly smaller and a bit dated. While the Air New Zealand Lounge featured a beautiful and modern New Zealand-inspired nature theme, a signature decor across their international lounges.
Here are a few key points to note from the Air New Zealand Lounge:
- Spacious areas dedicated for dining, relaxing, showering and plane-spotting – with a view of the tarmac.
- Power sockets were widely available in the lounge for those who prefer to get a little work done before boarding.
- Food options in the evening were rather disappointing with Air New Zealand serving up a small selection of fruit and snack wraps.
If you are looking for a more substantial meal I suggest hopping over to the Krisflyer Lounge as they serve several hot food dishes throughout the day. Having said that, Air New Zealand's lounge has a more impressive drinks selection, including a variety of New Zealand and imported beverages. Not to mention you can also order a barista-made espresso at the bar, though only available during daytime when the bar is staffed.
Air New Zealand Lounge snacks
Air New Zealand Lounge self-service bar
SilverKris Lounge hot food buffet
The overall boarding process from the gate was excellent. In particular, I was impressed that a section near the gate was reserved as a waiting area for priority passengers and those needing special assistance. As a result we breezed through the boarding line. As we entered the aircraft via its middle door we were greeted by a team of friendly crew members with the traditional wai, the Thai greeting with palms pressed together and a slight bow.
Royal Silk Business Class Cabin
This service features a total of 32 business class seats in 1-2-1 configuration. It has a similar layout to Qantas' business seats on their Dreamliner, but with a smaller seat pitch and seat width. Due to its staggered layout, some middle seats (D and G) are more suited for solo travellers while others (E and F) are more couple-friendly. Similarly, not all window seats are created equal. The A and K seats are "true" window seats while the B and J seats are closer to the aisle. If you are travelling alone, I recommend choosing the K window seats for more privacy and a better view.
Thai Airways A350 Royal Silk Business Class
A350 window seats with staggered layout
This brand new cabin has a purple colour scheme decorated with fresh orchids and a contemporary orchid wall decor. Each seat has a magazine rack and a faux wood table top. When compared to Cathay Pacific's hard product, it did feel like there was not as much practical storage space for items such as headphones and personal electronic devices. Nevertheless, located below the ottoman was a compartment suitable for a handbag or small backpack.
Seat 15K plus inflight mood lighting
Seat 15K, a "true" window seat
The cabin is installed with computer-controlled LED cabin ambient lighting that adjusts its colour and intensity to suit the different phases of the journey. This was coupled with seats that convert into a 73.5 inch flatbed which is arguably the most essential feature of any redeye flight. Although not the most generous in terms of its bed dimensions, based on the comfort of the bed alone, I had no trouble getting proper rest on board. Regrettably there were other unforeseen factors at play and my sleep was interrupted by an onboard medical emergency and a faulty inflight entertainment screen which had a mind of its own.
The screen was a sleek 16-inch touch-enabled high definition LCD monitor, that could also be navigated through the interactive handheld console. While not the most extensive I have come across on my travels, the entertainment options were adequately diverse and up-to-date. Featured movie releases included Maze Runner and Pacific Rim Uprising, which were identical to my flight with Thai Airways three weeks prior. From time to time, I turned on the interactive inflight airshow and tail camera view to keep up with the flight progress and check out our surroundings.
As I was determined to optimise sleep time, I only viewed a few short comedy TV shows and proceeded to rest after the dinner service. To my frustration, I was awoken several times due to the screen repeatedly turning itself on with its glaring brightness. I initially thought I was pressing on the console power button by accident, but I concluded that it was a technical glitch. As I am not normally a fan of eye shades, I requested the crew reset the system which took another 10 minutes to resolve the problem. Just as I managed to settle down to rest, there was a call for medical staff to attend to an onboard medical emergency, which I hesitantly left my bed to assist with. Thankfully the passenger concerned was stable and a turn back to Melbourne was not necessary.
Another undesirable technical glitch I encountered was both of my seat USB ports and the power socket were malfunctioned. Unfortunately, I only found this out much later in the flight when my phone battery died despite being plugged in overnight. A small annoyance given it was a little too late to request for a seat change.
Inflight entertainment system
Onboard WiFi has been installed on Thai Airways' entire A350 fleet. Data can be purchased at US$6.99 (20MB), US$9.99 (30MB), US$14.99 (50MB) and US$19.99 (100MB). As mentioned in my previous Cathay Pacific review, I prefer Internet packages that are charged based on duration of use rather than data limit. Nonetheless, I was pleased that a small complimentary data allowance of 10MB was being provided for business class passengers, which came in handy for communication using messaging apps. The 10MB burned out rather speedily, which was to be expected.
Inflight Internet plans
Business passengers were also given a Furla amenity bag with standard toiletries, socks and slippers. While a nice memento, I have accumulated quite a few of these Furla kits now as they have provided the identical product for the last two years. Disappointedly pyjamas were not provided on this service.
Furla amenity bag
I have always had good experiences with Thai Airways' onboard catering and this flight was no exception. Prior to take off, crew members took orders for both our dinner and breakfast. Some passengers opt to skip one or both meals, which is sensible if you prefer to rest up. Dinner service was promptly served not long after we arrived at cruising altitude.
The first course for the dinner service was a standard dish for all, a scrumptious tarator-style baked salmon. Following on for the main course I had the choice of a dish from either the "Samrab Thai" or international cuisine menu. The Thai roasted duck red curry was not a bad choice at all; the curry was perfectly seasoned and the duck was tender and flavourful. It was a pity the portion size was a little small, just two thin slices of duck did not really cut it for me. To finish I had some cheese and crackers, a lemon tart and cup of green tea.
Champagne and warm mixed nuts
First course: tarator-style baked salmon
Second course: roasted duck red curry
Cheese and crackers
Dessert: lemon tart with raspberry coulis
As I was checking through the wine menu, I couldn't help but chuckle at the wine descriptions removed using see-through white tapes. I came across some interesting expressions, for example one was described as having "plenty of character and you could do much worse at the price". Perhaps the description was duplicated from local sources and the meaning got lost in translation. I was surprised they did not just reprint the menu altogether.
Dinner service menu
Red wine menu
Before our early morning arrival into Bangkok, breakfast was served. Crew members came around to provide hot towels and a gentle wake-up prompt for those who preordered breakfast like myself. I opted for the Western-style breakfast and a cappuccino. In retrospect I should have skipped breakfast to compensate for my disrupted sleep.
Staff members were generally warm and courteous, something I commonly find with Thai Airways. On this flight my interactions with them were mainly in the context of assisting the passenger who needed medical assistance. The cabin service manager was grateful for my help and thanked me with a bottle of champagne (which unfortunately was confiscated at transit security due to not coming with a duty-free receipt). The rest of the cabin crew who farewelled us upon arrival into Bangkok also thanked me by name, which I thought was impressive.
Thai Airways A350
We arrived in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi on time and headed straight to the Thai Royal Orchid Spa for our 30-minute complimentary massage treatment. This might be the best perk when passing through Thai Airways' hub on a connecting flight.
Enoch's Thai Airways Flight Rating: ★★★★☆☆
Having experienced other Thai Airways operated flights between Australia and Bangkok, the A350 hard product is no doubt the most modern and comfortable one, compared to their older Boeing 747 (ex Sydney) and the more restrictive configuration of a Boeing 787 (ex Perth). However, I was surprised that this relatively new aircraft was already plagued with IFE and USB port glitches, which can be frustrating during a redeye flight. Apart from these technical issues, I enjoyed the journey. The food and service were excellent, which is reflective of the genuine Thai hospitality that I am accustomed to. In view of my recent well-rounded experience with Cathay Pacific's service in the same aircraft type, I rate this service a notch below. That being said, I have no hesitation with flying on Thai Airways again in the near future.
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