We haven’t reviewed Thai’s economy class from Bangkok to Hong Kong for a few years (our last review is here) so here is an up to date review from a flight last month. We previously reviewed the same route and class in the opposite direction here.
This was the return leg of a Hong Kong-Bangkok ticket which I purchased from Trip.com a fortnight before travel for $1,905, slightly cheaper than through Thai directly. Flights between Hong Kong and Bangkok though plentiful are often not very cheap – on my dates Ethiopian and Emirates were around $1,500 return, but I didn’t fancy the Emirates timing, or the safety and hijacking record of Ethiopian.
Cathay was more expensive. They did have good availability in economy class for 10,000 miles each way (lots of flight options on both travel dates) but the fees were in the range of $700-800 so I decided to fly Thai as I find their elegant service more pleasing than Cathay’s.
At the Airport
I arrived at the airport about an hour and a quarter before the departure time.
This was an economy class ticket but I have gold status through another Star Alliance airline. I think the way Thai handles this is quite smart. They reserve their own business class checkin with its dedicated immigration and security channel and direct lounge access for their own passengers. They have a separate business class counter for Star Golds, which had no queue.
I think this is quite smart because it provides an incentive to fly business class on Thai rather than relying on one’s Star Alliance status from other airlines to get equivalent benefits. Sometimes when airlines differentiate between their own premium passengers and alliance elites it is annoying, such as Qatar forcing One World Emeralds to use a “first class” lounge in Doha which is nothing like as good as the proper first class lounge. But Thai wasn’t really doing this: its Star Gold service was up to snuff, but it just reserved some treatment for its own premium passengers, which strikes me as reasonable and also a smart business strategy.
This flight was operated by a Boeing 777-300 (the good ship Vimolmassiri, HS-TKO).
Upon arrival each seat had a sizeable blanket and pillow on it – bigger than what many western carriers offer for long-haul flights.
The seatback television was large and had a middling range of entertainment. The cabin was colourful and felt clean throughout.
The flight left from gate C2. Newspapers were offered on the jetbridge, which I appreciate. In this as in many things, Thai’s service is fuller and more enjoyable than that of other airlines who have reduced the passenger experience.
There were just a few empty seats in economy class, although I was one row behind the bulkhead row and there most of the seats were empty. One passenger asked to move to them but the cabin crew said that he could not. A lot of the passengers seemed to be Thai, unlike on the Cathay flights on this route which are often mobbed with mainland tour groups.
It was a smooth flight and we touched down slightly ahead of schedule even after circling before landing due to congestion at Hong Kong airport.
The cabin crew were immaculately attired, both the ladies in their traditional costume in different colours and the gents, who were about half of the cabin crew. Only some of the female cabin crew changed into the uglier purple uniform later in the flight, perhaps because of its short duration – on many Thai flights, they will all change midflight.
There was a meal service, followed by a drinks run. After that the crew were mostly in the galley but did pass through the cabin a few times albeit briskly.
Food and Drink
The food was chicken rice or pork stew. As neither felt especially Thai, I opted for the pork stew, which was very tasty despite its pedestrian appearance. The starter, a sort of salad with a Thai fish preparation on it, was delicious.
Thai’s drink selection is excellent in economy class and their blended whisky choice of Hankey Bannister was one one rarely sees on airlines. Churchill and Evelyn Waugh drank it, but then again Churchill and Waugh drank more or less anything. They did not have their own beer like Asiana and Cathay, but even in economy class they had bespoke cans of Thai beer. I really appreciate these touches, which I think add some more local interest to flying.
I always like Thai’s inflight service – their crews are poised, friendly and helpful and this flight was no exception. Their service at Suvarnabhumi was good and the afternoon departure time meant that there were not the mammoth queues which sometimes dog passport control there. Overall this was another lovely Thai Airways experience.
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