Review: Thai Airways A350 Business Class

Filed Under: Thai

And now it’s time for a review of the MVP of this trip, in my opinion. Actually, there might be one more pleasant surprise coming up after this.

To get back to Europe I was flying Thai Airways’ A350-900 to Milan. While Thai Airways has several destinations in Europe, this was the best in terms of schedule and getting me on one of their planes with new business class seats. I booked this ticket using Avianca LifeMiles — the cost was 78,000 miles plus $49.33.

My flight was departing at 12:40AM, so after lounge hopping and working for several hours, I headed to my departure gate, C2, at around 11:40PM.

Thai Airways departure gate Bangkok

This was right around the time the gate opened. At Suvarnabhumi Airport they scan your boarding pass as you enter the gate area, and then you just sit down in the gate area until boarding starts.

Thai Airways departure gate Bangkok

While boarding was scheduled to begin at 12AM, in reality it started at 12:15AM, with business class passengers being invited to board first.

I couldn’t wait to see what Thai Airways business class would be like, as I had never flown Thai’s long haul business class before (though I have flown their long haul first class).

Let me note upfront that I didn’t have terribly high expectations, as I’ve historically considered Thai to be a second tier Asian carrier, and not quite to the level of Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, etc.

Thai Airways Air 940
Bangkok (BKK) – Milan (MXP)
Saturday, August 10
Depart: 12:40AM
Arrive: 7:35AM
Duration: 11hr55min
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Seat: 15A (Business Class)

I boarded through the forward door, where I was greeted by two flight attendants who couldn’t have been kinder. They pointed me down the left aisle towards my seat. The first thing I noticed was just how purple the cabin was. While it takes some getting used to, it felt appropriate for Thai, and I appreciated the bold design they chose.

Thai Airways A350 business class cabin

Thai A350 business class cabin

Thai Airways’ A350-900 business class cabin consists of a total of 32 staggered seats. This consists of eight rows of seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.

This is a pretty traditional staggered configuration, virtually identical to Vietnam Airlines’ A350 business class, for example.

In the center section, seats alternate between being closer to one another, and being closer to the aisle. The “honeymoon” seats are popular for those who want to be close to their travel companion, but aren’t ideal if traveling next to a stranger.

Thai Airways A350 business class seats

Meanwhile the other rows have seats that are much further from one another, though the downside is that they’re close to the aisle, so you don’t feel like you have much privacy.

Thai Airways A350 business class seats

There’s a similar pattern along the windows. In some rows the seats are closer to the aisle, which isn’t ideal, in terms of being able to look out of the window and also in terms of privacy.

Thai Airways business class seats A350

Thai Airways business class seats A350

The best seats in this configuration are the “true” window seats, which make it easy to look out of the window and also have privacy. I was in one of these seats (15A), right around the center of the cabin.

Thai Airways business class seats A350

As you can see, on the aisle-side of the seat was a console and a literature pocket.

Thai Airways business class seats A350

Also to the right of the seat were the seat controls, which were easy to use, along with the entertainment controls.

Thai Airways business class entertainment controls

There was an armrest on this side of the seat, as well as a small storage area.

Thai Airways business class seat armrest

The headphone jack and 110v USB outlet were located underneath the seat and to the right.

Thai Airways business class power outlet

Then across from the seat was a personal television (underneath the television were two USB plugs), as well as the tray table hooked to the seat in front.

Thai Airways business class seats A350

Thai Airways business class USB outlet

The tray table consisted of a single tray that could pretty easily be moved around, so that you could even get up with it extended.

Thai Airways business class seat tray table

While staggered seats aren’t my favorite in the world, these are among the most spacious out there, and I found I had plenty of room for my feet even when reclined.

Thai Airways business class seat ottoman

Overall I thought the seat was quite comfortable. My only real criticism was the lack of individual air nozzles.

Already waiting at my seat upon boarding was all the bedding, which included an excellent pillow and blanket, as well as a mattress pad.

Thai Airways business class bedding

Then there was an amenity kit from Mandarina Duck, which I thought was pretty basic — it had a comb, a toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, lip balm, and lotion.

Thai business class amenity kit

Waiting in the literature pocket were the menu and wine list for the flight.

Thai business class menu & wine list

Service began the moment I settled into my seat. One of the flight attendants taking care of me came by to introduce herself by name, familiarize me with the seat, offer me a warm towel, and ask me what I’d like to drink before takeoff.

Thai Airways business class warm towel

Pre-departure drinks of choice? Nice! I asked for a glass of champagne, which was served in a proper champagne flute (which you don’t often see in business class).

Thai Airways business class pre-departure champagne

A few minutes later I was also brought a pair of pretty good quality headphones.

Thai business class headphones

After finishing my first glass of champagne I was offered a refill. Also, about 10 minutes later the flight attendant came by to take my meal order in a very detailed fashion (what I wanted to drink after takeoff, what I wanted for dinner, what I wanted for breakfast, if I wanted to be woken up, etc.).

While economy was pretty full on this flight, business class was only about half full, and the other three seats in my row were empty.

Boarding was efficient, and by 12:30AM the door closed for our 10hr55min flight to Milan.

Five minutes later the safety video was screened. Then at 12:40AM we began our pushback, and five minutes later we started our taxi.

We had a quick taxi, and at 12:55AM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 19L.

As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection.

Thai Airways A350 entertainment system

To my surprise, the programming was excellent. There were nearly 200 movies, and also quite a few TV shows.

Thai Airways A350 entertainment system

Thai Airways A350 entertainment system

Thai Airways A350 entertainment system

Thai Airways also offers Wi-Fi on their A350-900s.

Thai Airways A350 Wi-Fi

Shortly after takeoff the crew distributed vouchers for 20MB of free Wi-Fi. While that’s better than nothing, that will last you maybe 10 minutes with normal use, so is hardly anything to get excited about.

Thai Airways business class free Wi-Fi

If you wanted to buy Wi-Fi, Thai’s Wi-Fi pricing is as follows:

  • 30MB costs $9.99
  • 100MB costs $19.99
  • 500MB costs $34.99
  • Unlimited data costs $59.99

Thai Airways A350 Wi-Fi pricing

I ended up buying the 500MB pass. It goes without saying that Wi-Fi pricing is on the high side, though I at least appreciate that the Wi-Fi was really fast when I used it, and at least the Wi-Fi allowances are high.

For example, 500MB is a lot, and at least they have an option to purchase unlimited data (which I wouldn’t do on an overnight flight where I hope to sleep, but on a daytime flight that could be well worth it).

Given what a late departure this was, I was happy to see how quickly after takeoff the meal service began. On this flight dinner was served after takeoff, and then breakfast was served before landing.

The menu read as follows:

The wine list read a follows:

20 minutes after takeoff I was served my first drink, along with some nuts. I ordered a glass of champagne (Thai Airways offers Veuve Clicquot in business class, which is solid), and sparkling water. High marks to Thai both for the champagne, and for the glassware in which they serve it.

Thai Airways business class dinner — champagne & nuts

Just 30 minutes after takeoff the starter was served on a tray. That consisted of crepe roll moutabel with olive oil pearl, beetroot and carrot Japanese cucumber roll, and green mango smoked salmon roll. The starter was excellent, as was the garlic bread I was offered to go along with it.

Thai Airways business class dinner — appetizer

My tray was removed, and then 40 minutes after takeoff I was served the main course. I selected one of the Thai options, specifically the Pad Prik Khing — it consisted of stir-fried salmon and string beans with chili paste.

It was served with Tom Jiew Nua (spicy beef soup with sweet potatoes and mixed herbs), stir-fried sweet pork, stir-fried snap peas with garlic, and steamed jasmine rice.

This dish was so good — it tasted like restaurant quality Thai food on a plane.

Thai Airways business class dinner — main course

Once that was done, I was asked if I wanted a cheese plate, which I was served 50 minutes after takeoff.

Thai Airways business class dinner — cheese plate

Lastly dessert was served about an hour after takeoff. I ordered the pandan sago with young coconut in coconut milk. Mmmmmm…

Thai Airways business class dinner — dessert

After the conclusion of the meal I ordered a cappuccino. Thai Airways has proper cappuccinos in business class, which are excellent.

Thai Airways business class dinner — cappuccino

My tray was cleared less than 90 minutes after takeoff, so I was ready to get some rest with about 9hr30min remaining to Milan.

Moving map enroute to Milan

Moving map enroute to Milan

The meal was exceptional, in my opinion — the food quality was great, the pace of service was ideal given the late night departure, and the service couldn’t have been friendlier.

While Thai Airways serves business class meals on trays (rather than directly on the tray table), that system actually makes sense for them, because they’re so efficient. It means they can perform the entire service without using carts, since they simply remove your tray when you’re done with each course.

After the meal the crew offered to make my bed, so I checked out the lavatory during that time. There were three business class lavatories — one at the front of the cabin and two at the back of the cabin. I was impressed by how clean the crew kept the lavatories, down to the toilet paper being perfectly folded at all times.

Thai Airways A350 business class lavatory

The bed was quite comfortable. Window seats in these staggered configurations are quite nice — the bed was long, and the footwell wasn’t too tight.

Thai Airways A350 business class bed

Thai Airways A350 business class bed

The bad news is that I only managed to sleep for about 90 minutes. Obviously that’s not Thai’s fault, I’m not sure what was going on. I was super tired but also couldn’t sleep, despite conditions more or less being ideal. I guess the crazy week of travel had caught up with me.

When I woke up I tried to go back to sleep, but then I placed so much pressure on myself to go back to sleep that I couldn’t. Oops.

Map enroute to Milan

Map enroute to Milan

So at that point I figured I might as well stay up, and ordered a cup of coffee. I was served a cookie to go along with it.

Thai Airways business class coffee

I worked for several hours, and the crew was proactive in refilling my water and coffee.

I managed to work for several hours, and then around 1hr45min before landing the breakfast service began. First I was offered a warm towel, along with my choice of orange juice, tomato juice, or water.

Thai Airways business class juice & warm towel

At this point there was a beautiful sunrise out my window.

Sunrise enroute to Milan

About 20 minutes later the meal was served, with the following choices:

I ordered the boiled rice soup with prawns, which was served with a Thai omelet, fresh fruit, bircher muesli with mixed berry compote, and a bread basket. This was one of the best airline breakfasts I’ve had in a long time.

Thai Airways business class breakfast

At around 6:15AM Milan time the captain announced we’d be descending shortly and would be landing in about 35 minutes. At this point the crew started to prepare the cabin for landing.

Map enroute to Milan

Map enroute to Milan

Thai A350 cabin before landing

During the descent every single one of the business class flight attendants came up to each passenger to thank them for flying with Thai. The cabin manager even approached each passenger and asked “do you have suggestions for how we can improve our service?” Wow.

That’s a lot more useful of a question than “everything was alright, yes?” which you get on some other airlines.

As we descended I both looked out the window, and also at the awesome high definition tail camera on the plane.

View approaching Milan

View approaching Milan

Thai Airways A350 tail camera

Thai Airways A350 tail camera

We ended up touching down in Milan at 6:45AM, and then had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we pulled in at 6:50AM.

Thai Airways A350 tail camera

I bid farewell to the crew and then made my way to immigration, where I had a significantly less pleasant flight ahead of me.

Thai Airways A350 in Milan

Thai A350 business class bottom line

Thai Airways A350 business class was spectacular, which I wasn’t expecting. The seats and amenities were roughly what I expected, but everything else exceeded my expectations. The service and food were spectacular — the service was proactive, genuine, and polished, while the Thai food was restaurant quality. The entertainment and Wi-Fi were very good as well.

In my opinion Thai Airways has a first rate business class product on their A350s. It’s not just that I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with them again, but I’d actually seek them out.

I do think it’s important to acknowledge that many of their long haul aircraft don’t feature flat beds, though, including their 747s. So on those planes it would be a very different experience.

If you’ve flown Thai business class, what was your experience like?

  1. Huh. As much as I love Thai, I find their food to be one of my least favorite among SE carriers, and while their service in F has been amazing each time, I can’t say the same for C. Not that it was bad, but certainly not exceptional.

    However, I’ve only flown them to/from AU/NZ (1xF, 1xC) and intra-Asia (1xF, 3xC), never Europe.

  2. Thai is awesome. Always my favorite. Always perfect (even when they swap your aircraft). Only issue is business class lounges but there are plenty of other options in BKK. As a side note, their food even in coach on short flights is better than business class on US carriers.

  3. I am glad you have given Thai A350 business class service a fairly positive review. I have been flying Thai quite a bit in the past 18 months between SE Asia and Australia.

    Thai’s onboard services and catering have improved quite a bit. I won’t hesitate to fly it’s A350 services. The other aircrafts still have older seats and some are angled flat seats, particularly the 777s. They are not as private and comfortable.

    I thought the the Thai staggered seats remind me of the United Polaris design except United cramped so many seats into the cabin. SQ’s 787-10 staggered business cabin also share resemblance of the Thai A359 design.

    At BKK, I have been skipping the Thai Lounge and use the SQ lounge, which was fairly new and offer better food, drinks and other amenities. EVA’s Lounge is also quite decent. I have also visited the Turkish Lounge as you had reviewed, but I did no think it is up to SQ and EVA’s standard.

  4. Lucky what did you reply when asked if there was anything they could do to improve the service? 🙂

    I absolutely LOVE flying Thai. I find the service onboard to be really genuinely nice and not robotic like many of the other asian airlines. I also find their catering top rate. Their lounges are where they are let down although this is not uncommon with asian airlines.

    I have been stung more than once with Thai swapping out aircraft though. I flew from Zurich to BKK a few months ago and the rostered 777 (with new seats) was swapped out for a 747. I love the 747 but angle flat seats on a 12-ish hour flight just doesn’t cut it anymore no matter how good the food or service.

  5. Hey Ben why air India is allowed to fly to usa and thai airways not its better airlines tgan air India.

  6. @ Miguel — Thailand has worked on getting back to a Category 1 rating with the FAA. The issue isn’t whether or not the airline is allowed to fly to the US, but rather that it’s hard to do so profitably. Thailand is mostly a leisure market that’s highly price sensitive, and the economics of operating an ultra long haul flight without high yield business demand is challenging. That’s not to say they won’t do so again in the future, but it’ll be tough for them to make money.

  7. @ duck ling — Indeed, Thai does love to do last minute aircraft swaps, which is frustrating. As far as what I told the cabin manager, I actually just mentioned how phenomenal the service was, and how I was so impressed and I couldn’t think of anything they could really do to improve. Go figure you’re always asked questions like this when things are actually excellent, while when there’s a lot of room for improvement they rarely care.

  8. @ Leo Guam — While their food certainly isn’t the “highest end,” I think what impressed me so much was how well executed it was. Thai food generally reheats well, and that’s why I thought all the food tasted every bit as good as I’d hope for in a restaurant.

  9. @ Alvin — Hah, I have, but I usually end up on the left side. And I stand corrected, my mistake. I thought the 787-8 had angled seats, but they do appear to be fully flat. Thanks for the correction.

  10. I flew Thai business on the A380 BKK-NRT a few years ago and the lie-flat seats were much better than the angled seats on the 744 we had on the outbound HND-BKK flight. Service and food were good on both flights but nothing overly special.

    One of the best flights my wife and I have taken was on Thai ZRH-BKK in F on an A346.

    The crew were simply amazing. So amazing that I almost forgot about the poor transfer/lounge access experience when we were on the ground in ZRH.

    I’ve also flown TG in economy and have no complaints although we did take an extremely tired 737 from USM to BKK on that same TYO-BKK itin. For a one hour flight its not bad but the aircraft desperately need a refit.

  11. @Ben:
    your point about Thai food reheating well is spot on. Thai food is so rich and tasty; even mediocre Thai food tastes good.

  12. @Ben: excellent review, thank you. This trip is very effective with a lot of useful reviews.
    I hope that after all the work and little sleep you headed straight for the Lufthansa lounge at MXP for the best lounge coffee that I have had in a long time.

  13. Used to be gold with Thai and loved flying them, They had a very underrated miles program in Royal Orhcid Plus, I utilised the free upgrade from PER-FRA return and took advantage of some of their 50% off reward bookings they quietly offered gold flyers. That was all great until the ROP program was literally raped and murdered, I go with SQ and Krisflyer now.

  14. ” I was in one of these seats (15A), right around the center of the cabin.”

    I had to re-read that sentence, normally after the seat number is given, the next words are nearly always “at the back of the cabin” or “which is the last row of business class.”

    Any particular reason?

  15. The issue with TG is their consistency. Having used TG as my only choice in the past, I stopped flying with them, the disappointment on a ZRH-BKK in F was just too much. But I can clearly say that I have had my best flights on TG but also my worst. In that sense, one should not expect consistency with TG and the next flight can be a total disappointment.

  16. @ JDS — Hah, sharp observation! I had actually selected the last row at the time of booking. Oddly when I went to check-in I was assigned a different seat. At that point I selected the only remaining “true” window on the left side, which was 15A.

  17. I hardly see Thai FAs being proactive and polished. You must be very lucky to get those who are proud of doing their job.

  18. What they could improve? The aircraft roulette. Not the most pleasant experience when your longhaul flight gets downgraded from A350 to 777.

  19. I found it excellent. My trip was on a 787-9 to Taipei, so very short. But the aircraft was modern and comfortable, no idea why they use it on a short hop. Great food, great FA’s, great seats (reverse herringbone)

  20. Thai business used to be my preferred way of travelling from Australia to Europe. The service was excellent. I even chose their 747 flights when they still had angled seats in business (while everyone else was moving to flat seats), because their service was so good. Once, I was working on a deadline, which needed to be met, by the time I hit the ground in London. I worked all through the night during the flight, and the staff couldn’t have been more attentive. They made sure my glass was full, and regularly checked if I wanted a snack or anything else. Needless to say that the project was completed on time and I had a really enjoyable flight, even though I was a little sleep deprived on arrival.

    I also did a leg in First and was the only passenger. As you would expect the service was exceptional.

    Soon after that, service and food started going downhill, and prices got higher. Reluctantly I abandoned them. It’s good to know they are improving standards. Once they stop running Jumbo’s out of Sydney and make their pricing more competitive – I would love to return as a faithful passenger.

  21. I agree that this is a solid but not outstanding product. But Thai continues to struggle to get people to pay for it : in your case they were virtually giving it away( and good for you and others able to ticket that way).But for ROP members ( and those paying money) they still want to charge a huge premium over the competition. That strategy hasn’t worked and will never work. They aren’t good enough to justify it.
    Unfortunately the TG ‘brains trust’ can only come up with : flogging frozen meals, points earned at gas station coffee shops and crowdsourcing ideas for how to get profitable. One would like to see Thai recover but by any objective measure, sadly, that ship has sailed.

  22. This is the aircraft type I was supposed to be on during my HND-BKK route. But of course a last minute aircraft swap which Thai is famous for. Flight was still very good and the food some of the best in the sky. Better than Cathay first class I must say. More flavorful, more caring staff whom are very proactive with refills and service.

  23. Try their spa in Bangkok airport. It’s the best!
    When are they gonna stop doing the last minute equipment swap? This is really frustrated.

  24. My husband and I flew Thai business class on their A380 (LHR – BKK) as part of our first international premium cabin trip in December 2015. It remains one of my favorite business class experiences, just under Japan Airlines.

  25. Rarely post – but I cannot agree more with your review of TG A350s. I think the J seats on the 747s give TG a bad rep (rightly so).

    I take it often between MEL-BKK. One of the most underrated hard/soft products out there – the food has always been sublime, though I rarely care for the random assortment of appetisers to start off.

  26. Thanks for the great review Lucky. Have been toying with the idea of flying TG LHR – BKK – LHR, as well as DXB – BKK – DXB on the A380 and A350 respectively. Going to do so soon.

  27. Great review of the TG A350 product! On the food side of things, I don’t think that the heavy menu you experienced is all that appropriate for a middle-of-the- night flight. It would be drool-worthy for a daytime/evening flight however!
    As to not getting sleep, a lighter intake of food would help greatly, and as others have already pointed out, you should ditch the coffee, and any other caffeine drinks. Also if the caterers were lazy and used any MSG in the food, as is super common in Asia, this combined with alcohol, would almost guarantee you get no sleep.

  28. Good to see TG back on their game. Their food is second only to SQ because of Book the Cook. The problem is while the SQ’s main is usually spectacular the appiess send the overall meal to hell in the proverbial hand cart. Where TG do fall flat is on their legacy aircraft hard product all of which feature the ubiquitous angled lie flats while the 744s are positively jurassic Mind you I am not a big fan of SQ’s J hard product which I think is due for a tenth if not sweet 16 birthday celebration.

  29. I just flew on Thai’s A350 as well. One thing to note, Thai offers a service similar to Singapore Airlines “Book the Cook”. They have about 20 different meals you can choose from.

  30. Thai’s Business Class became one of the best in the World now, beating Emirates, being my previous favorite. I fancy a lot their Low Sodium meals and wide choice of fresh fruits. Cannot wait for the next flight to BKK.

  31. Great review however i find it so interesting a lot of the reviews say the same thing,great food excellent service but the lounges need attention !!!!!

  32. I would describe Veuve Clicquot as ‘solid’ – but rather mainstream…. unless a vintage or Grande Dame, but the NV is an entry-level champagne. Some airlines offer better bubbly in business, to my opinion of course as this is subjective.

  33. That looks better/same as Thai FIRST class on its longhaul? Or am I missing something? The better color scheme, similar flat seats, and meals. But for less points, I’d surely book this.

  34. If Thai used the A350 & A380 exclusively in their long haul fleet I would fly them far more often and they would have a great hard product and a fairly top end soft product when the crew get it right which IME they usually do.

    That said, if you get the 777, 788 or god forbid the 747 you will have a much poorer experience that will make you question whether you want to fly Thai again any time soon if at all regardless of how reasonable the price may be.

    It would surely also make sense to Thai to rationalise their fleet instead of operating such a mixed up fleet. I almost still wait for one of their MD11s to appear – they haven’t been gone that long and they didn’t even have footrests in business class let alone lie flat.

  35. Sounds like a good experience overall.
    I personally love the amount of purple, its their brand and they stick to it.
    And the food looked amazing!
    Would love to try this product.

  36. I find the lack of storage around the seat to be really disappointing. I don’t know why seat designers completely neglect that aspect

  37. I had my first ever Business experience with TG back in January on a 777 with exactly the same product as that A350. I was completely blown away by the service. An overnight flight from Europe to BKK and I couldn’t sleep at all, was way too excited. The spectacular flight attended noticed my excitement and refilled my champagne flute throughout the whole night. I just want to say thanks to you Lucky for posting good points deals which helped my have this experience! Keep up the good work.

  38. Looks like Thai offers a solid Business Class product. Love the look of the Thai livery on the A350!

  39. Recently, I had the good opportunity to fly Thai business from Manila to Bangkok when i was equally impressed by Thai’s good service including a real Champagne flute; your MVP review resonates with my recent experience.
    Happy and Safe travels

  40. The only long haul destination still served by TG’s extremely outdated 2-2-2 configuration and angled sleep position is Sydney. (Brisbane and Melbourne have got the 787 or A350). I flew A380 from FRA to BKK and back earlier this year in Business and everything was spot on. They also had extremely reasonable prices and undercut the other airlines on this route with a special offer by about 1.000€. I still would love to try SQ business though.

  41. I find the service has improved on TG over the past few years. It really depends, as is often the case, on the cabin crew dynamic. I’ve had some amazing TG business class flights where I didn’t need to ask for a thing – and others where the service was completely lacked coherence. Overall, I’d say the service and the food have improved markedly over the past few years. I enjoy flying the similarly configured 777-300 on Thai and will look forward to the A350 on a trip in the New Year.

  42. Thai business class i am flying more than 7 years. They are excellent.
    Now a days their food menu detoriated a bit.
    They are excellent next to Airindia

    They are better business class than Air France.
    Swiss air and Lufthansa is my favourite.
    But i give thai business class a thumbs up.

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