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Is Thai Airways Still Smooth As Silk?

As I opened the check-in reminder for my imminent Thai Airways flight last week, it dawned on me that all my recent flights on the carrier had been in economy. Which is fine as a traveler—I only fly them between Thailand and Japan or Taiwan, these days—but seemed a dereliction of my duties, as a blogger.

Curious, I logged onto the website of Air Canada Aeroplan (my preferred way to book business class award tickets) to see if there was any availability for my flight—there was, albeit priced a little higher than I wanted to pay (45,000 points + tax), and not on the aircraft I really wanted to fly (the Airbus A350).

Still, I needed to write a new Thai Airways business class review, and this seemed like my best opportunity. Continue reading to see whether my roll of the dice was worth it!

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Thai’s Business Class Has Improved Since the Pandemic

The last time I flew Thai business class was shockingly long ago—longer ago than I remembered, actually. It was in April 2017, onboard the now-retired Airbus A380, from Osaka to Bangkok. Back then, while I’d loved the novelty of Thai’s color scheme superimposed onto the super-jumbo, I found the in-flight meal (larb, a strange choice) underwhelming; the service seemed strangely cold and impersonal.

Since that time, of course, I’ve flown some of the world’s best first and business class products, and simply fly in premium cabins more often in general—my standards are now much higher, to be frank. Even considering this, as you’ll see over the next several paragraphs, I have a much better impression of both Thai’s onboard product and service.

NOTE: For this Thai business class review, I flew on the Boeing 787-9 from Fukuoka (FUK) to Bangkok (BKK) in April 2024.

Breaking Down Thai’s Royal Silk Experience

The seat


I arrived to my seat (which, on the 787-9, is a standard but satisfactory reverse-herringbone product in 1-2-1 configuration) to find a gorgeous amenity kit, made of Thai silk and produced by the iconic Jim Thompson brand. While the flight was too short for me to extend it into a bed, the seat itself was more than comfortable, though its coloring was bland compared to other Thai cabins; the cabin itself felt somewhat cramped.

The service


As many a Thai Royal Silk class review will confirm, the hospitality onboard Thai Airways is always second-to-none, even if the efficiency of the service flow itself is less reliable. The latter wasn’t an issue onboard this flight, thankfully. Even better, one of the cabin crew decided to chat with me for an extended period of time, discussing my extensive travels in Thailand—I even introduced her to this website!

The food and drink


Miles better than the larb I last had in TG biz, the Massaman beef curry on this flight was spicy, rich and delicious, even if I was puzzled by the presence of two salmon filets on my rice plate. Beyond this, crew kept champagne flowing; I was even more pleased by the fact that Thai has finally started serving real, brewed coffee in business class. Pre-pandemic, even passengers in the pointy end had to suffer instant coffee!

The entertainment


One area where Thai eclipses most other Asian airlines (especially Japanese ones) is its entertainment selection. While full seasons of TV shows are rare, you’ll find a variety of new movies, which on this April 2024 flight included the psychological thriller “Eileen” and the climate change drama “The End We Start From.” These were more than sufficient, given that my Thai Airways 787-9 business review is about a five-hour flight.

The perks


One disadvantage of flying Thai to Bangkok rather than from is the fact that Thai’s lounge options outside its hub at Suvarnabhumi Airport are meager—offerings inside the “Fukuoka Lounge” unfortunately matched its spartan name. Moreover, Thai’s business class ground services (expedited security and immigration) are limited to its Bangkok home, though business class passengers can thankfully access the arrival fast-track.

The Thai Airways Business Class Wild Card

Whether you’re flying Thai in business, first or even economy, the airline has one tendency that can vastly alter whether your in-flight experience lines up with your expectations. I’m talking, of course, about the tendency of Thai Airways to substitute aircraft at the last minute—almost always swapping out an older model for a newer one. Before the pandemic, airline bloggers even had a phrase to describe this: “Getting TG’d!”

Now, the good news is that Thai has retired many of its truly ancient aircraft since then, in particular its decrepit A330 fleet, and most of its 777s with old cabins. In all likelihood, the Thai Airways 787-9 business class I’ve reviewed here is the “worst” you will experience during your trip (and it’s not bad, of course, but just a little plane/standard). Still, I recommend not getting your heart set on a particular seat or aircraft!

Other FAQ About Thai Airways Business Class

What are the benefits of business class on Thai Airways?

A business class ticket on Thai Airways entitles you to a lie-flat seat, plus multi-course onboard dining, a full bar and priority check-in/boarding. If you’re a ticketed business class passenger, you will also enjoy lounge access, though this may not be possible if you upgrade at the airport. If you’re flying on a revenue ticket in certain fare classes, you’ll also earn more miles than you would flying economy. 

Does Thai Airways business class have flat beds?

As of 2024, almost the entire Thai Airways long-haul fleet is equipped with beds in business class, although there are a limited number of “old” 777s with angled-flat seats. I recommend contacting Thai Airways to verify the onboard product for your flight, and remaining alert for any last-minute aircraft swaps in advance of your departure date.

Does Thai Airways have a good reputation?

Thai Airways has a relatively good reputation among the general public, but a surprisingly mixed one among frequent flyers. While ordinary travelers (especially Westerners) appreciate the polish of Thai’s in-flight service and the kindness of their cabin crew, the jet set criticize the airline for its inconsistent onboard product (especially in first and business class) and its limited route network outside of Asia-Pacific.

The Bottom Line

I hope you’ve found my Thai Airways business class review helpful. Though imperfect, Thai’s business class has improved markedly in the years since I last flew it, in spite of my own standards now being much higher. Some of the amelioration is due to tangible choices on the part of the airline, such as brewing real coffee instead of the nasty instant stuff they once served. Other improvements are more ethereal—the service seems more attentive, though I’m not sure if new crew training protocols or simply post-pandemic joie de voyager are to thank. In either case, I do hope you’ll consider hiring me to plan your trip to Thailand!


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