Flying sky-high with THAI
Christine Retschlag boards Thai Airways International’s Dreamliner for a journey in Royal Silk Business Class.
Flyer: Christine Retschlag
Class: Royal Silk Business Class
Route: Brisbane to Bangkok
Aircraft: Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner
The Thai people revere their royalty and that same regal attitude extends towards Thai Airways International, their flagship airline, and to travellers flying at the pointy end of the plane. Here, you are flying Royal Silk, rather than just plain, old Business Class. That typical THAI touch – fresh purple orchids placed on your arm rest – will never fade out of fashion.
The cabin consists of 22 lie-flat seats with a maximum recline angle of 180 degrees, bed length of 198 centimetres and a seat width of 49 centimetres. There’s mood lighting throughout and large window screens adjust according to your personal preference. All seats have a variety of positions between upright and fully reclined for optimum balance of head, back, leg angle and lumbar support. Seating configuration is in a 2-2-2 layout, ideal for both those who are travelling together and solo flyers, with a sliding panel between adjoining seats. The seats are, however, on a strangely skewiff angle, and those in a window seat are somewhat restricted from exiting their seat should the person beside them adopt the fully flat position.
THAI has completed a major revamp of its Royal Silk Business Class and passengers now have a choice of either the new ‘Samrab Thai’ (Thai set menu) or a Western menu. Samrab Thai is the combination and presentation of dishes that complement one another in the use of ingredients, flavours and textures that are uniquely Thai, creating a harmony of flavours that are spicy, sour, bitter or sweet. Think fish in green curry or beef in massaman curry served with sliced pork with Chinese cabbage soup; stir-fried asparagus with garlic; and steamed jasmine rice. Western options include seared beef with mountain pepper demi-glace sauce and seared salmon with saffron cream sauce. An All-Day Dining Menu complete with meals, snacks and beverages is available on flights between Australia and Bangkok and all flights between Bangkok and Europe. Main meal choices can be pre-ordered via reservations, and there is a list of more than 20 different special meal options for dietary, health and religious requirements.
Premium brand champagne, spirits and liqueurs, fine wines and beers, along with soft drinks and juices are always complimentary and you’ll find some decent French drops, such as a 2015 pinot noir from Burgundy, as well as Thailand’s Singha and Chang beers.
Despite take-off being delayed by five hours due to mechanical problems, staff on board were pleasant and patient. However, there were moments of confusion about who was serving this particular passenger, seated in a middle row, with either two of everything turning up, or nothing at all.
Royal Silk Class seats feature personal 40-centimetre touch-activated screens at each seat, which are located at a decent distance from your eyes, for those with longer vision. There’s a choice of up to 100 movies, 150 TV programs, 500 music albums and a selection of 60 games on demand. All passengers are provided with noise-cancelling headphones, quilts and pillows. Power outlets are also available in each seat along with USB ports for portable devices such as laptops, smart phones and tablets.
THAI’s hub, Suvarnabhumi Bangkok International Airport, boasts eight premium lounges including six Royal Orchid Silk Class Lounges, plus the award-winning Royal First Class and Royal Spa Lounge. The Royal Spa Lounge won World’s Best Spa Lounge by Skytrax in 2017 and offers a full menu of Thai, foot or oil massages that use aromatherapy and gentle music to ease travellers into preflight relaxation. There’s also a selection of Asian, Western and healthier, lighter meal options. The furniture upholstery at the Royal Orchid Silk Class Lounge near Gate E1 has seen better days, and there was no tomato juice in order to make a preflight Bloody Mary, but the food options, such as Thai desserts and dumplings, were plentiful and tasty.
Arrival at bustling Bangkok Airport is Door 1 for premium customers, an exclusive check-in area only available to THAI customers, with dedicated check-in areas, with comfy seats, and access to the Fast Track Immigration channel directly to the premium lounge area. Porters are available to assist premium customers with their luggage as required.
Designer amenities On this flight, Thai Harnn products were served in a travel kit made by OTOP (One Tambon One Product), using ancient Thai traditional handicrafts from northern Thailand, well-known for its cotton woven fabric.
Limousine transfers No.
Celebrity chef The focus here is on Samrab Thai, the fusion of spicy, sour, bitter and sweet flavours.
Signature champagne Veuve Clicquot Brut NV