Review: Thai Airways Business Class A330, Shanghai – Bangkok

Our flights with Thai Airways have always been very enjoyable thanks to the wonderful Thai’s hospitality. This flight was no exception as we travelled from Shanghai to Bangkok.


This post is one chapter in our Around the World in Star Alliance First Class via China, Thailand and Spain. This trip was booked using Air Canada Aeroplan miles. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Read more from this trip:

Review: Thai Airways Royal Silk Business Class, Airbus 330, Shanghai Pu Dong – Bangkok Survharnabhumi

“A flight with Thai Airways Royal Silk Business will always be remembered for its colourful cabins and its hospitable Thai’s”

It came time to board quite quickly. Perhaps it was our individual experiences but I found that in Thai style, priority boarding consisted of no formal announcement, but a plastic sign with “Business Class, Royal Orchid Plus, and Star Gold” written onto it. It was held up by an attractive gate agent with a whimsical smile – “Yes, it’s time” accompanied by a walk around the podium similar to the North American game show assistant Vanna White. Unfortunately, these actions were followed by a massive crush of about 50 stampeding Star Gold and Business Class passengers, followed by economy passengers behind him. The gate agents eventually split them up into a two line system.

Shanghai Du Pong Gate D71
Thai Airways
PVG – BKK (Shanghai Pudong International – Bangkok Survanabhumi Airport)
TG 665 – Royal Silk Class (I)
5:25 PM – 9:00 PM
May 12, 2012
Booked: Airbus 330
Flown: Airbus 330

We walked down the single jetway and onto our A330. We got a swadikaa Thai Welcome as we boarded. You could immediately tell the hospitality difference between the Chinese and the Thai’s. I do like the Thai people as they seem to be very genuine and humble in their demeanor. 

On Board Thai Airways Royal Silk Business Class:

We settled into 12A and B – a massive seat with an brown amenity it (socks, lip balm, eye covers) with noise canceling headphones and an inflight magazine in the seat pockets. The Thai Airways Business Class configuration on board this Airbus A330 was 2-2-2.

Thai Airways Business Class on Airbus 330
Thai Airways Business Class Airbus 330 Cabin

The seat itself was very comfortable and much more comfortable than Asiana’s slanted seat. The Airbus 330 seemed to have much more personal space than the Asiana Boeing 767-300 flight where I felt pretty squished in. The aircraft colors were softer and a seat pillow for the lower back was provided. From the lie down position, the seat was quite comfy and mostly flat and offered a more comfortable lie down. There was an overhead light and personal snake light in the shoulder area but no personal air nozzles as with other Airbus 330’s. 

We were offered water, orange juice and an unnamed champagne which was brought around on a general tray.

Pre-Departure Beverage

Food and Beverage:

The crew was exceptionally efficient in getting everyone settled for our 4.5 hour flight to Bangkok. The menu and wine lists (separate booklets) were passed out. 

Thai Airways Business Class Menu , Shanghai – Bangkok
Wine List, Thai Airways Shanghai – Bangkok

My forensic sleuthing got the better of me. I was offered and asked for a refill of the champagne, which was brought out in the same manner – on a tray. I placed it next to Ms T73’s champagne in the center between the seats and noticed that there was a slight but noticeable difference in color between the two champagnes. Neither of them tasted off or affected with cork taint. The champagne on the menu was listed as Laurent Perrier but I suspect they may have been using a cheaper version for the pre-departure beverage. 

The pre-departure service continued with a towel service and a two tiered cart being rolled down the aisle containing newspapers and magazines. The menu order was also taken after pushback while taxing for takeoff.

We had a long taxi to the runway. I was enjoying the view, staring out the window looking at some of the aircraft on the apron. It was almost before we were to turn on to the departure runway that I saw an Antonev AN 124 heavy lift plane parked over at some private hangars, decorated in company colors. Accordinng to Wikipedia, there are only 55 of these in the world so I was super stoked to see one.  

Airplane Spotting – Antonev AN 124 at Beijing Capital

At this point in our trip, I started to reflect. Hey – this was a pretty neat adventure. Maybe these F RTW’s are actually going to be fun, even if they were for no particular reason at all. We were getting to experience lots of different carriers, different menus and different cultures. We were away from our usual business class in our home carrier featuring the familiar menus and the similar catering over and over again. It was all for the price of something that we already had in our possession, countless miles just sitting in a 6 figure mileage account. My perspective on the Timeshare presentation started to change… I was no longer thinking that the trip was going to be the boring part. 

Once we got airborne, some nuts were given out and in old fashioned style, the pre supper drink was served from a cart. I took another refill of the bubbly. My first impression of Thai Royal Silk was great. I really enjoyed the service and quick attention.

Cart Service for Pre-Supper Beverages
On board catering for Thai Airways Food and Beverage

There was that Vodka and tonic that I had been longing so much for.

The Meal: Dinner Service

It quickly came time for the meal, and I opted for a full serving. The meal was served old school style from elaborate carts in the aisle.

Show Time

The meal was presented pre-plated on an airline tray. It did have some funky plates that weren’t completely square or oval, but flowing in nature. The bread service included garlic bread, which was a first for me on an airline. 

Duck Terrine, Italian Smoked Salmon Rose, with Mixed Salad with French Dressing

.

When it came time for the main course, it was presented, again in an old fashioned style, in a tray out of the warmer with a colored foil wrap over top. It seemed a little low grade with each entrée on the cart being a different foil stripe color. I had the Beef Medallion, which I loved. Ms WT73 had the Halibut which wasn’t too her liking: “Fish just doesn’t taste good microwaved” was her comment.

Beef Medallion with creamy Mustard Sauce, Roasted Turn Potatoes, Brocolli, Carrot, Green Asparagus.

The cheese and fruit board arrived from the old fashioned trolley. I was offered and poured (without asking) a glass of port. I had actually asked for a glass of red wine to go with the Beef Medallion since I never got it during the streak part of the dinner. They were able to accommodate and did insist on getting me a fresh red glass- not re-using the white glass. 

Cheese and Fresh Fruits

As if the cheese and fruits weren’t enough, this was followed by dessert, digestive drinks and tea or coffee.

Mango Mousse Cafe with Blackberry and a random side of brandy

After dinner, we settled into movies. Ms WT73 asked for a second class of wine to enjoy her movie with and was given what she interpreted to be a mortified look. The flight attendant returned with crackers instead. After another flight attendant came by, we were able to correct the order. Supper was followed by another towel service for all Royal Silk passengers. From there, it was settling into the Advanced Video on Demand movies for the rest of the flight.

“My name is Pussy Galore” – Albert Broccoli’s Goldfinger (James Bond)
Flight Map on Approach to Bangkok

The overall theme of the service seems to be similar to McDonald’s fast foods. “Let’s get these customers served as quickly as possible and then forget about them”. By this I mean that after the food service was completed, we could hear crickets through the cabin – not a single staff member to be found. We did press the call button twice to get drink refills over the remainder of the flight. 

Looking around, there seemed to be a complete mix of races of those on board: older Thai travelers, yuppies on business, middle aged tourists… There was no generic profile unlike Air China which was strictly Asian. At the same time, I noticed that the blended cabin also resulted in varying demands of the flight attendants from travelers as well- with some seeking more attention than others.

We arrived to the cool blue glow of Suvarnabhumi International airport in Bangkok at a non gate position. They were going to deplane the aircraft with two sets of stairs. I always enjoy a non gate position because hey- it’s different, it’s exotic and not something that happens every day. MsWT73 was not sharing my enthusiasm at that point “I can’t stand it, I have to carry my bag down all those stairs?” Approaching midnight, my explanations for the excitement were not met with the same enthusiasm. Before we knew it, we were among the first off the plane and on the executive class bus , which departed immediately for the terminal. 

Our checked bags were out almost immediately and there was duty free on the secure side of the baggage hall which was a nice touch.

Thai Airways Royal Silk Business Class Summary:

I really enjoy flying Thai Airways. The seating on the Airbus A330 was much more comfortable and spacious for regional business class than on Asiana’s Boeing 767. The food and wines were enjoyable. The cool purple of the color scheme is especially groovy. In the low points, the service was rushed and quick. In the end we loved the TG experience and wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again within Asia.


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