Review: Thai Airways First Class 747 Bangkok To Hong Kong

Filed Under: Thai

Thai 606
Bangkok (BKK) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Saturday, February 17
Depart: 4:00PM
Arrive: 7:45PM
Duration: 2hr45min
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 1A (First Class)

Nowadays it’s a real treat to fly in the nose of the 747, given how many airlines have retired the plane. We boarded through the forward left door, where we were greeted by two exceptionally friendly flight attendants and escorted to our seats. This configuration of Thai’s 747 features a total of nine first class seats. There are three sets of seats along the windows on each side of the cabin, and then two rows in the center — one has two seats, and the other has just one seat.

Thai Airways 747 first class cabin

The flight attendant taking care of us, Wipa, was a gem — when she saw me taking the pictures she said “please give me a moment and I will close all the bins, it looks nicer that way.” And sure enough that’s exactly what she did.

Thai Airways first class cabin 747

In front of the first row in the center is a small display with some magazines and newspapers (is that Shawn Mendes?). Also, shoutout to the lady in business class who is photobombing — hah.

Thai Airways first class cabin 747

It’s not often that you see a single center seat in the way that Thai Airways has on this plane.

Thai Airways center first class seat

Also, Thai has one of the coolest and strangest galleys of any airline on this plane. The galley for first and business class is along the side of the cabin behind first class, and it stretches quite a ways back. So if you’re seated in the center section of business class, there’s a wall to the right of you (which isn’t ideal).

Thai Airways 747 galley

I had assigned myself seat 1A, the window seat on the left side in the nose.

Thai Airways first class seat 747

Tiffany was right across the aisle from me, in 1K. Given that so few airlines are operating the 747 nowadays, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to sit in the first row, even though the last row center seats would have been closer together.

Thai Airways first class seat 747

While purple and yellow aren’t personally my favorite colors, I do quite like the finishes for Thai Airways. The seat itself was well padded, and there was a partition along the aisle-side of the seat. I’m not sure why Thai decided not to add a door to these seats, because they could have easily done so. Regardless, it’s still quite a private product.

Thai Airways first class seat

Across from the seat was an ottoman, the entertainment screen, and a small closet with a mirror.

Thai Airways first class seat

There was plenty of storage space underneath the ottoman.

Thai Airways first class seat ottoman

The closet was large enough to hang a jacket or maybe a garment bag. All other belongings could be stored in the overhead bins, in the big closet in the nose of the plane, or underneath the ottoman.

Thai Airways first class seat closet

At the front left of the seat was a storage compartment, which also had the power outlet and literature pocket. Also in this area was a beautiful orchid.

Thai Airways first class seat storage

There was a long counter that extended along the side of the seat, which had some basic seat presets to choose from, as well as a screen that could control the seat, lighting, and more.

Thai Airways first class seat controls

Then along the side of the seat was another storage compartment, as well as an entertainment controller, the headphone jack, and two USB outlets.

Thai Airways first class seat controls

The tray table could be folded out from the side of the seat, and could be folded over in half.

Thai Airways first class tray table

One downside that I’d note about these seats is that they don’t have individual air nozzles.

The headphones were waiting at my seat on boarding, and were pretty good quality.

Thai Airways first class headphones

There was also a good amount of bedding at my seat, including two pillows and a thick blanket.

Thai Airways first class pillow and blanket

A moment after settling in, we were presented with the menu and drink list for the flight.

Thai Airways first class menu

Thai Airways first class menu

Then we were presented with a cold towel, a box of chocolates, and an orchid, and were asked if we wanted something to drink.

Thai Airways first class warm towel, chocolates, and flower

We each ordered a glass of champagne, and they were pouring Dom Perignon 2006 — very nice! Despite the very short boarding process, we were even offered refills on champagne. The champagne was poured by the gentleman working first class, though he was working the galley for the rest of the flight.

Dom Perignon in Thai first class

I’d note that Thai has new champagne flutes compared to the last time I flew them. In the past I recall them just having very small wine glasses.

Thai Airways first class pre-departure drink

The boarding process was insanely efficient. Despite us only starting boarding at 4PM, at 4:10PM it was announced that boarding was complete. At this point six of the nine first class seats were occupied.

At 4:15PM we began our pushback, at which point the cabin manager informed us of our flight time of 2hr15min, and the safety video was screened.

Pushing back Bangkok Airport

Taxiing Bangkok Airport

Our engines were started up pretty quickly, and we began our short taxi to runway 19L.

Thai Airways 747 Bangkok Airport

Thai Airways 747 Bangkok Airport

Taxiing Bangkok Airport

We waited for a VietJet A320 to take off, and at 4:30PM we were cleared for takeoff as well.

VietJet plane Bangkok Airport

Taking off Bangkok Airport

View after takeoff from Bangkok

View after takeoff from Bangkok

Five minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off. A few minutes later the captain came on the PA to announce that we’d be cruising at 37,000 feet and would be landing at 7:35PM.

As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection. Thai doesn’t have Wi-Fi on their 747s (not that it matters much on such a short flight). The entertainment selection wasn’t impressive.

Thai Airways entertainment selection

There were a bit over two dozen movies to choose from, which isn’t much.

Thai Airways entertainment selection

Thai Airways entertainment selection

There was also a small selection of under a dozen sitcoms.

Thai Airways entertainment selection

This was such a short flight that I didn’t really want to watch anything, so I just kept the airshow on for the entire flight.

Thai Airways airshow system

Airshow enroute to Hong Kong

Airshow enroute to Hong Kong

Airshow enroute to Hong Kong

The meal service got started very quickly after takeoff. The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

To start they offered drinks and macadamia nuts. We stuck with the Dom Perignon.

Thai Airways first class dinner — champagne and nuts

Shortly thereafter tablecloths were brought out, and tables were set.

Thai Airways first class dinner — table setting

Part of that table setting included a breadbasket, which I thought had a pretty bland selection (at least the three rolls).

Thai Airways first class dinner — breadbasket 

On top of that a basket was brought around with some delicious, warm garlic bread.

Thai Airways first class dinner — garlic bread

The first course was served about 30 minutes after takeoff. That was a Chinese corn soup with crab meat, which was delicious. The flight attendant had a pepper mill with freshly cracked pepper.

Thai Airways first class dinner — table setting

Thai Airways first class dinner — Chinese corn soup with crab meat

While we didn’t order it, the flight attendant insisted on overfeeding us, and said we “must try” the papaya salad with prawns. It was very good.

Thai Airways first class dinner — papaya salad with prawns

For the main course I ordered the stir-fried flat noodles with prawns in gravy. While it was also good, at this point I was so full that I just ate a couple of the prawns because I couldn’t eat anymore.

Thai Airways first class dinner — stir-fried flat noodles with prawns

Tiffany instead selected the high tea set, which included a caviar tart, scone, tea sandwich, foie gras terrine canapé, pork burger, and mixed fruit tart.

Thai Airways first class afternoon tea

I was so full that I couldn’t even think of dessert. Foolishly I asked if they had any mango sticky rice, given that I was leaving Thailand. Wapa had a big smile on her face and said “yes, we have a selection of Thai desserts.” She served me four beautiful little Thai desserts, as well as the sesame panna cotta. I told her there was no way I could eat all of that, and she encouraged me to just try them all.

Thai Airways first class dinner — dessert

Tiffany had the cheese plate for dessert.

Thai Airways first class dinner — cheese plate

What an incredible meal, and even more I couldn’t help but love the warm hospitality. Thai is different than many other Asian carriers, in the sense that they don’t only have super young flight attendants who are almost like robots in terms of following protocol. Instead Thai has some older flight attendants as well, and they’re so incredibly warm and genuine. I’m a fan of that.

The views enroute were beautiful, though the sun quickly began to set over the course of the short flight.

View enroute to Hong Kong

Sunset enroute to Hong Kong

50 minutes before landing the cabin manager came by to first class passengers and asked “is everything perfect?”

Yes, actually it is.

At 7:05PM local time the captain announced that we’d be landing at 7:30PM.

Airshow enroute to Hong Kong

Airshow enroute to Hong Kong

We immediately started our descent, so I checked out the lavatory before our arrival. There are two lavatories located at the back of the first class cabin. The bathrooms had orchids and some other basic amenities.

Thai Airways first class lavatory

Thai Airways first class lavatory amenities

Thai Airways first class lavatory amenities

About 10 minutes before landing the crew came through the cabin with orchids. While that’s a nice touch, I’ve always been a bit confused by this. First of all, the aluminum foil on the stem always looks a bit strange to me, and beyond that I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with it. Don’t most countries ban you from taking flowers through immigration?

Thai Airways first class pre-landing flower

On the final descent landing cards were handed out for Hong Kong, along with pens.


Landing card for Hong Kong

We touched down in Hong Kong at 7:30PM, and from there had a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we parked next to a Cathay Dragon A330.

Cathay Dragon A330 Hong Kong Airport

We bid farewell to the crew and headed towards immigration, before taking the Airport Express into the city.

Thai Airways first class bottom line

Two hour flights don’t get much better than this. While Thai Airways might not have quite as extravagant of a first class product as some other airlines, they make up for it with the genuine warmth of their employees, and their spectacular ground services. The crew couldn’t have been kinder, and the meal service was over the top for such a short flight.

I hadn’t flown Thai Airways for a long time prior to this flight, but now I can’t wait to fly with them again.

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

  1. Northwest 747s (not sure which model…. THINK 200s) between HNL and NRT had the same galley configuration basically taking up the “right side” of the downsairs business class section.

    Since this was mostly a leisure route and J never sold out they TYPICALLY only sold J seats in the bubble and unofficially referred to the downstairs as “super coach” which they’d assign at the airport to Platinums or ???? starting 24 hours before flight. As a plat military guy stationed in Hawaii and OFTEN on the HNL-NRT run the agents knew me well….my office was a VERY short drive from the airport so I’d stop in the day before my flight and the agents would wave from a distance as I walked in and usually have my new seat assigned before I even got to the counter! I also often got OP upgraded to “real” J due to coach oversells (“super coach” pax moved to J, medallions or full fare coach pax moved to “super coach”.

  2. I flew first class on Thai between Sydney – Bangkok a few years ago. What they lacked in a truly up-to-date first class hard product was more than made up for in a spectacular soft product. Excellent ground services, both in Sydney and in Bangkok; outstanding food and drink; and superlative service provided by older, more experienced, flight attendants who were more impressed by me as a customer than they were with themselves. I’ll take that over a gimmicky new F-suite any day!

  3. KLM have some 747 Combos part passenger and part freighter with that same galley combo, they have economy down the side of the galley.

    Looks like an amazing flight, better than Qatar’s short haul service?

  4. Which is the best way to redeem for this flight? I tried using Krisflyer but only biz availability shown…

  5. I have redeemed UA miles for first-class tickets on this BKK-HKG flight 4-5 times, including each of the last three years, and I concur with the review: warmth pretty much covers it. In HKG. From this flight I invariably took a cab for Conrad Hong Kong where more warmth awaited 🙂

  6. What does the age of FA have to do with “warm” or “robotic” service? I have had plenty of both from “young” or “older” FA’s. SQ – old or young – ROBOTIC. AA – old or young – SURLY. BA – young or old – always British. CX – young or old – always spot on. QR – young or old – on point. Service is service – no concessions should be made for age. Strange perspective in this article.

  7. KL have the same config on their 747s.

    Also Ben, are you sure it wasn’t Sean Mendis? 😛

  8. @Jason – they board planes faster everywhere in the world besides the US. The last two times I’ve returned from Asia I’ve been on full 777-300s (once on ANA, once on Korean). Boarding time was scheduled as exactly 30 minutes prior to departure time. We left early both times. Whereas here they have 35 minutes boarding time for a 737. Why? Because over there people check luggage (no charge) so you have fewer tussles regarding overhead space. They dont have as many boarding groups – it’s first/economy/ then coach – go! it’s much quicker. We do this to ourselves over here. It wasnt always like this

  9. @DT

    A lot of inexperienced but well intentioned flight attendants don’t understand the service routines or what they are doing. For example, recently on a jet airways biz flight the flight attendant only came around with the bread basket while the dessert was being served… anyone who understood what they were doing rather than just doing it like a robot would understand it has been done wrong. It’s like they were just operating off a checklist without any understanding of the rationale for anything.

  10. @ Karim I agree 100%. This has everything to do with experience and training, and nothing to do with age (see the blog post above).

  11. I just flew Thai 1st on the 747 from BKK-SYD, had to love United’s old chart of only 40,000 miles for this route, and could not agree more with you Lucky. Thai has a truly first class soft product. I pre ordered a Thai meal for my flight and it was the best meal I had in Thailand. Can not recommend enough taking advantage of flying the 747 in the noise while you still can.

  12. I know these new compartmentalized cabins are all the rage (even if they remind me of an office secretarial pool), but I do miss the old days of open, airy cabins with huge, comfy seats.

    In the early 80’s, seated in the nose of an Air France 747 en route from Paris to Chicago, luncheon in Premiere was about to begin when an hors d’oeuvres cart was wheeled into ‘A’ zone, loaded with pate, caviar and lobster and bearing an entire stuffed pheasant on top – wings open as if it was going to lift off!

    Today, flying upfront is all about being boxed-in, both in First Class and Business. (“I’ll ring if I need anything” SLAM.) I find it rather claustrophobic; no matter how good the service is. And with everyone shut-away in their private kingdoms, what would be the point of wheeling a fabulous stuffed pheasant into the cabin? No one would see it.

  13. @James McCarthy – Here’s the flight info.

    Fare Class: ‘O’ [award F]
    Cost: 35K UA miles.

    Thu, 11JAN18
    TG606, B747-200
    Flight operated by THAI AIRWAYS.

  14. Thai used to pick up all First Class passengers in a cart and take them to immigration. I guess that must have been cut as well

  15. I think TG will stop flying their 3-cabin B747 on this route. They will be flying a 2-cabin B777-300 or 2-cabin A330, which will cost 25K for business saver [fare class: I]

  16. @Adam – No it has not, and this site had a post on that a few days ago. Click link for
    “Review: Thai Airways First Class Lounge Bangkok Airport” at the top of this post.

  17. Shame this flight is no longer available. I just did this route in J would have gladly paid the extra miles for the F experience.

  18. A bit ‘over the top’ for a 2 hour flight ( one that can be had for about $400 US rtn in perfectly adequate J, or $150 in acceptable Y). Nice but unsustainable.
    TG persisted with these anachronisms long after the ‘use by date’ mostly in a vain effort to satisfy ‘hiso’ locals and ‘more money than sense’ farang.
    Getting rid of them may help them reverse away from almost inevitable bankruptcy. I hope so.

  19. BTW, the purple/yellow combo is common in Thai culture. Purple has always been a TG colour, going right back to the earliest colour schemes when it was a managed partnership with SAS ( including some of the Pierre Balmain uniforms).
    The yellow is a royal colour and is most associated with the late , much adored and revered King . It has appeared more extensively since his death and is in tribute and homage.

  20. There’s really nothing quite like flying in the nose of a 747, period.

    And the intention of this stretched galley was for the use of preparing meals for the “Royals” in the past, if I’m not mistaken 🙂

    It’s very unique though!!

  21. Super VC-10, awesome! Love that memory!

    Speaking of memories, I can recall many times flying on 747s configured thusly. Specifically, the Pan Am 747SP from JFK to DHA. Long, awful flight sitting in business class just behind the long galley on the starboard side. Meanwhile, the ARAMCO oil rig workers were a few rows back in economy getting as absolutely drunk as possible. 🙂 Crazy years and I was only 19!

  22. I don’t think immigration would stop flowers from entering the country.
    Customs might give you more problems.

  23. TG first class, like Air France, is hit or miss in terms of crew and soft product; I’m glad you had a great crew, but to others I would say don’t bank on having the same level of service reflected in this review. Personally I go out of my way to avoid TG whenever I can. Agree that their first class ground service is top notch, but in flight service? Not so much, and for Asian carriers I try and stick with SQ, CX, and NH for any tickets whether paid with cash or points.

    Btw, TG had the same galley setup on their MD-11s back when they flew those, which were used primarily on BKK-LAX one-stop service and varying BKK-Europe flights.

  24. @DCS

    Being picked up and driven to “immigration” [after a flight] is different than being driven through a lounge before a flight. And TG used to do this in HKG. I don’t think @Adam will find anything about being picked up and driven to immigration in HKG in a post about a lounge in BKK.

  25. What a service for such a short-haul flight, and everything that was served looked spectacular. It would be really interesting to have a review of a TG long-haul flight. Hope their flights to the US can be launched soon!

  26. @Ari — That may well be the case, but @Adam did not specify which service he was referring to, so I took it as referring to the pick up at BKK, ESPECIALLY since I was not aware that TG used drive F passengers to immigration at HKG. I am sure that they have not done this for the last 4-5 years because I have taken this flight in F during that time span.


  27. Thank you for yet another great review!
    I had the same flight in B747 in Thai First class about five years ago. I agree with your experiences. Thai’s hardware leaves something to desire but is totally fine for a two hour flight. Much of what is lacking in hardware is payed back in hospitality. At that time I found the menu was more comprehensive than now – there was a seven-course meal with even western options.

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