After a few days in Macau, the next leg of my trip would take me back to lovely Thailand.
Even though there are quite a number of airlines flying the route from Hong Kong to Bangkok, all of the economy options were still quite expensive, and the late-night departures of Emirates and Hong Kong Airlines didn’t really suit my plans.
Thai seemed to be my best option, and also an opportunity for me both to try a new airline and a new airplane, as I had never before flown the 777. Economy tickets for my chosen flights were about 3300 NOK ($425), and Royal Silk only about 1000 NOK ($129) extra for the return trip to Bangkok, so I decided to splurge.
This review will be based mainly on the return leg from Bangkok to Hong Kong, as the ground experience from the Thai hub at Suvarnabhumi differs greatly from what you would get as most other airports.
Check-in and lounge
I arrived at the airport around 2,5 hrs before departure, as I was hoping to get to try the Royal Silk spa. Business class passengers on international Thai Airways itineraries are entitled to a 30 minute foot or neck massage, while First class passengers have a wider choice of 60 minute treatments.
Check-in was done at the dedicated Royal Silk check-in area at the very end of the departures hall. This can actually be a bit tricky to find if you don’t know where you are going, as Royal Silk domestic and Royal Silk international check-ins are done from separate areas.
A very friendly lady checked me in and headed me towards the dedicated fast track through security and passport control for Royal Silk passengers. There were no passengers in either, so getting through took me a total of about one and a half minute. From here you take one flight of stairs, and arrive straight into the Thai Air lounge.
This is one loooong lounge, with several beverage and snacks areas, with the spa located all the way on the other end. I headed there, and to my joy found out that there was no line for treatments and a masseuse available immediately. I chose the foot massage, which seemed like a great way to start the day. And it was.
It’s almost hard to describe the feeling of being able to escape the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s largest airports in such a way. The masseuse was friendly and very calming, found just the right amount of pressure and used one of my favourite products from the THANN range.
The rest of the lounge was nothing special. It’s a huge lounge, quite busy at the time I was there, and the food and beverages served were also far from spectacular. I had a machine-made cappuccino, some sparkling water and fruit. Alcoholic beverages other than canned beer are served from a bar at one end, but as it was in the morning, I decided against it.
I headed towards the gate about 40 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time. The trek to the gate took me about 10 minutes, as it was all the way in the end of one of the concourses. When I got there, boarding was just about to start, and a lady was using a sign to signal that priority boarding was just about to begin. It felt slightly chaotic, but people were mostly calm, so I boarded without a hitch.
Boarding for Royal Silk was done through the door just behind the cockpit, and I quickly found my seat for the flight, which was 14F. I’m pretty certain I had chosen 15K, the same seat as for my inbound flight, but I didn’t fuss too much about it.
I was amazed by the height of the cabin, however – the 777 is a really spacious airplane, and luggage bins were almost so high up that the shorter flight attendands had trouble reaching them.
Royal Silk on the 777-300 is configured in a 2-3-2 configuration, meaning three out of seven seats have no direct aisle access, and the seats are definitely showing their age. Legroom was huge, however, and I’m pretty certain I would have no problem getting into the aisle even from a middle seat.
The cabin has five rows, so a total of 34 business seats, as the first row only has 2-2-2.
In the seat I found a decent-sized pillow, a soft blanket and a pair of headphones. Food and beverage menus were in the seat pocket. As soon as I had sat down, a flight attendant was there to ask what I wanted as a pre-departure beverage.
Still overjoyed by flying business class, I couldn’t resist requesting champagne, and the FA was happy to oblige. She also handed me a moist towel.
The food and drinks
Thai serves Veuve Clicquot Brut, which I found to be a little less interesting on the palate than the Charles Heidsieck one Scandinavian serves in Business on their longhaul routes, but still a decent beverage.
We took off right around schedule, and as soon as the seatbelt sign was switched off, the crew came around to pick up the remaining meal and drink orders, as well as serving another beverage. For this flight we had a choice of Thai, Western and Chinese meals.
I decided on the Thai meal, which was stir-fried beef fillet with sweet basil, onion, red and green chilies, served with steamed rice and stir-fried pickled turnip with egg. I also requested a glass of the pouilly-fumé (Pascal Jolivet), which is one of my favourite kinds of wine.
It didn’t take long until the meal was served. Everything is served on one tray, but with proper china and metal cutlery.
Along with the main course, I got a small cheese selection and some fresh fruit. Everything was tasty, and although the portion seemed slightly on the small side, I ended up very full. The wine was also great.
After the meal the flight attendants handed out some strange jelly dessert. It was rather forgettable, in my opinion. I also asked for a cappuccino, which was fine, but to my dismay came pre-sweetened.
The Royal Silk seats on the flight are not fully lie-flat seats, but rather angle-flat to 163 degrees. I found them to be very comfortable for my 2 hour and 45 minutes flight, but it might have been more of an issue if I was travelling all the way through to Seoul. If you compare this to intra-Europe business class, which mostly just means a blocked middle seat, this is a whole other class, however.
The in-flight entertainment system also clearly shows its age. The screens are fairly large, but square shaped, quite low-res and dim. They also are not touch screens, so you have to use the remote control in the seat. That said, that do the job for a short flight, but if I was flying longer I might have brought my own entertainment on an iPad or similar.
After the meal I reclined my seat to the flattest position I could find, which probably would be perfectly fine for sleeping if I wanted to. The Royal Silk cabin was completely full, however, with quite a few kids running around, so sleeping on this particular flight would be hard no matter what.
The rest of the flight went by without a hitch, except for the fact that we had to do a bit of circling before we were allowed to start our descent towards Hong Kong International.
I found the service to be professional and prompt, but not really that personal or overly friendly in any way. They were around when you needed them, which after all is the most important thing, but I might have expected more.
Overall, this was an extremely comfortable experience, and it almost didn’t feel like I had been flying at all. Access to the Royal Silk spa is a great feature when flying out of BKK, and although the seats are old and worn, they offer more than enough of both legroom and recline for a sub-3hr-flight.
I also appreciated the 777’s very spacious cabin, although it’s an old plane and the sheer tech would be better on a 787 or A350/A380.
To sum it up: I would have absolutely no hesitation in flying Thai’s regional business class again.
All kinds of travel rates Thai Royal Silk business class Bangkok – Hong Kong 4 out of 5.
I liked: Spa access at Suvarnabhumi, fantastic legroom, 777 cabin is very spacious, decent food and wine, good points accrual with Star Alliance partner SAS
I disliked: Cabin and plane clearly shows its age, no lie-flat seats, mediocre champagne, no wifi onboard.