Business Class Review: Flying Thai Airways

A few weeks ago I flew from Rome, Italy to Bangkok then to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Here's my review of the business class flight with Thai Airways, how it compares to other airlines and if it was worth the extra cash. I'm going to share some travel hacks, secrets, and how you should plan your flights from Europe to Thailand. Even if you can't afford to fly business class yet, read this article as I'm going to explain how I fly for free using miles and why it's worth paying full price for even if it's 400% the price of an economy ticket.

I've just started flying business class on all long haul international flights a few years ago, and it's already changed my life. I went from dreading long flights to looking forward to them, and have now realized how different each airline's business class really is. For Thai Air, the Royal Silk Class is their version of business, and was vastly different plane to plane. In the photo below, you'll see the type of cabin I flew in from Rome to Bangkok, but further down is the private booth-style cabins from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Lets jump into it so I can give you an idea of what to expect.

First Impressions:

One of my favorite things about flying business class is having access to the lounge even before getting on the plane. As annoying as it is needing to get to the airport 2 hours before an international flight, it makes it bearable knowing that you can have free food, drinks, and wifi once you get into the lounge.

The lounge was small and didn't have any proper tables which was annoying both to eat and do any work. I understand that a lot of business travelers prefer individual seats for privacy over communal tables, but i'd take the tables anyday. The good news is they had freshly made salads, espressos, and italian pasta. Once getting on the plane they offered champagne and mixed nuts but I opted for sparkling water instead as flying dehydrates me enough and I didn't have a huge desire to drink that day. The welcome kit was super nice as it contained useful items like long socks, face moisturizer and chapstick. Even the bag itself was nice as it was made by Samsonite. I've gotten so many of these from different airlines now that I usually just toss them out, but this was the first I've kept and continue to use. 

Welcome kit aboard Thai Air, Royal Silk Class

In Flight Entertainment:

One of my favorite things to do on long flights is to watch a movie, I'm always surprised how small and low resolution most airline screens are, so I was very happy to see Thai Air step up their game. They even included high quality noise canceling headphones which I've used in previous flights before getting my Bose QC35 headphones and were really impressed with. I've been on other airlines that give cheap on ear headphones and couldn't stand them as all you hear is engine noise, so these are great.

But since I had my QC35's on me, it was a no brainer to use those instead as nothing on any airline will compare.

High quality over ear noise canceling headphones by Thai Air

The Seating

Wide, comfortable and with tons of legroom. The only strange thing was that check in didn't automatically move people around so there would be no one next to them and it was left to us once we got on the plane and realized there were a bunch of empty seats. Even though these don't look as futuristic as the private booths on other business class flights, I much prefer these seats as I value width and elbow room more than I do privacy. Who the heck needs privacy on a flight anyways?

The Food

It was cool having an option for either Western food or Thai food in air. Since I had been traveling around Europe for the past 4 months, I really missed Thai food so it was a perfect choice. It's hard to present it well, but the taste was super high quality which I enjoyed.

Like on all business class flights, you have the option of wine, liquor, or beer with your meals but I skipped it all. I did get the dessert though. My only complaint was that the fruit tart was completely frozen solid and should have been taken out 20 minutes earlier to defrost before serving. But since it was a 10 hour flight, I had plenty of time to wait until my fork could cut through it. For breakfast, I chose to sleep in and asked not to be woken up by the attendants. So even though I woke up just 40 minutes before landing, they were nice enough to bring me some fruit, yogurt, bread and butter, basically everything but the eggs.

Which options would you have chosen?

Lie Flat Seats

The thing I look forward to most and the main reason I pay extra for business class is for the lay flat seats. Being able to lay flat and have a comfortable night sleep versus being forced to sit up straight or have your neck in an awkward postion for 10 hours is the difference between arriving at your destination feeling terrible for the next 5 days or arriving refreshed and ready to sightsee, explore, or hang out with friends and family.

Unfortunately, the seats on this Thai Airways flight on the Boeing 777-200 weren't completely lay flat. They are what you call angle flat seats, which go more than 90% flat but are still way less comfortable than if it was completely flat as you often find yourself sliding forward into your feet. The good news is that they were 170 degrees recline which is only 10 degrees off from being completely flat. Compared to economy where the recline is only 5 degrees, it's like being in heaven, but when airlines use seats that lay the complete 180 degrees flat, it's amazing and I highly encourge airlines to use them for future planes.

Angle flat "lie-flat" seats on Thai Airways (not fully extended in this photo)

Business Class Pods

On my short flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai which is just around an hour, I got the experience the private pod booths in Thai Airways business class on their Boeing B77W. Some people may prefer the privacy, but in my experience it makes the cabin feel a lot more cramped, busy and uncomfortable. I was on a similar plane flying with Etihad and didn't like that experience either.

Honestly, I would never pay for business class on a short flight like this but since it was a layover, it was part of the package. The biggest benefit wasn't the flight itself, but instead being able to use the business class lounge during the layover. Instead of having a few hours with nothing to do, you can go take a hot shower complete with free towel service, eat a hot lunch and get some work done.

In the business class pod on Thai Airways

Why Fly Business?

The only reason not to fly business class is because of price. If you have any other reason for opting to fly economy over business, you're fooling yourself. Personally I don't find it a good value for any flight under 6 hours so I only fly business on long haul international flights. I'd also rather have direct flight in economy than a flight in business class with layovers. I also think the comfort benefit going from Economy to Business class is way higher than the slight benefit from upgrading from Business to First Class, which is why I never fly first.

A few years ago, before I was actually wealthy enough to afford to fly business, I wrote an article on my blog called "Why You Should Always Fly Business Class."

Even then, I knew I wanted to be able to someday be able to afford to fly business. I set it as a goal and three years later you'll never see me sitting in economy unless it's a short flight somewhere. The other reason why I can afford to fly business is because it's all paid for with reward points. Technically, i'm still paying for the flights as I opt for cash back cards instead of airline miles, but at least it makes me feel like I'm getting it for free, even though it's coming out of my pocket.

Another hack is making every flight a business expense. Don't go anywhere unless you're planning a meeting, checking out a potential supplier, or attending a conference. That way both your flight and hotel can be written off.

My view and leg room from business class on Thai Air

Tips and Tricks

Always check the type of seats before you book a business class flight on any airline. There is a huge difference between some airline's idea of what business class is and others and even though sometimes the price difference is so drastic I just book the cheaper one regardless, other times it's worth paying a bit more for things like layflat seats.

Always opt for truly 180 degree flat seats over lie-flat or angle flat seats. Also as a hint, never sit in the first row. When flying economy, the front row is most sought after as it gives the most amount of legroom but in business class, every seat has a lot of leg room, so do yourself a favor and get one in the middle center aisle. That way you get a larger screen on the back of the seat in front of you instead of a fold out smaller screen, and unlike sitting next to the window seat, you don't to crawl over anyone or have anyone crawl over you to use the bathroom, especially when the seats are laid flat to sleep.

Final Thoughts:

The Royal Silk Business Class experience on Thai Airways is overall very good. They had great service, good food, comfortable seats, and no annoying passengers or crying/screaming children in business class. I greatly prefered the standard seats on the Boeing 777-200 over the private pods in the Boeing B77W.

If you're reading this because you already fly business class for all of your fights over 6 hours, congratulations on your success and I've hoped this guide helped finding the best seats and airline! If you're reading this and daydreaming about flying biz class, good on you! Set it as a goal and you'll make it happen! If you're reading this and thinking you're more comfortable in economy or that business class is too expensive and not worth it, you're lying to yourself. Instead of saying you can't afford it, start asking yourself how you can.

Hope to see you up front!

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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  1. Hey Johnny, would you be able to do a post on networking, exchanging value and how to keep in contact with people?

    1. Hey Darkwds, great idea! I'll put it on the list. Keep an eye out in the next month or so!


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