Thai Airways 787 BKK-BNE, business class

As we disembarked from the 747 which had taken us to BKK from HKG, I saw white buggies waiting to whisk first class passengers away. As lowly business class passengers, we had to move ourselves to immigration or the transit areas 😉
Transit security was packed and took a long time to get through. As far as I could see, there was no premium lane (even though I know BKK departures has a premium section for security and immigration), though I’m not the type of person to push my way through or look like a dick by asking if there was a fast-track. I didn’t see a sign or section, so I just lined up with everyone else. By the time I got through, there wasn’t much time left till boarding, and I’d made a stupid mistake, one I should have learnt from all those years ago on that Singapore Airlines flight to Japan… I was wearing new shoes, my feet had swollen during the flight from HKG, and those shoes were killing me. ‘Hobbling like an old lady through BKK airport’ kind of killing me. Will I ever learn? Sure, those Italian shoes were gorgeous and a great find last summer in Amsterdam, but what good was that to me, hobbling in pain? At moments like this, one is made aware of how useless most of the shops in airports are, particularly in areas where they’re set up to lure big-spending mainlanders, rather than provide any travel essentials (HKG, my home airport, is the worst for this). Random herbal medicine, booze and shiny designer goods aplenty (the tackier, the better), but very few, if any, basics. Luckily, on the way to the gate I came across a kind of surf shop, and – bless those mainlanders – a display of gaudily coloured thongs (or flip flops to any American readers) emblazoned in simplified Chinese. Sweet, sweet relief for my feet. I snapped up a pair. Now, anyone who knows me will scoff at the thought of me in thongs, and I’m awfully stubborn, so I kept on hobbling in those gorgeous Italian podiatry torture instruments till I reached the gate, passed through the ridiculous secondary liquids search for all Australian flights, and found myself boarding a bus to the remote stand.
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Boarding the bus to the remote stand
This was the first time I’d been bussed to the plane at BKK, all the more mysterious considering we were on a medium-haul flight on a shiny new 787. The bus was full of Japanese secondary school students presumably going on a study tour to Australia, and I was struck on how well-behaved and quiet they were. Sure, they were chatting about the same kinds of things all kids would (“whoa, look at that plane! Man, that’s huge!”), but my HK students, lovely as they are, would have been so much louder and messier.
Finally, we reached our 787 that would take us to Brisbane. Perhaps it was the pain in my feet, but I still hadn’t registered that I was going to Australia.
Having read a few trip reports and checked out lots of pictures of the new Thai Airways 787 business cabin, I can’t say I was too impressed. This type of seat is also used by other airlines, and it’s just never blown me away. On a new plane, direct aisle access is something one would expect in business class, but to be honest this felt like a slightly more updated version of the kind of seat I’d just had had in the 747. I know Brisbane is considered medium-haul, but it’s still a good eight or nine hours. It also didn’t feel very private – the reverse herringbone seats on so many carriers these days are fabulous for privacy, as well as the forward-facing staggered layout Thai uses on its A380 (trip report coming soon) and A350. Anyway, I’d requested a seat in the middle so that I could have direct aisle access, since I was travelling alone and didn’t fancy paying a business fare to step over some stranger on my way to the lavatory. To be fair though, Thai’s signature purple hues are restful and dignified, the cabin was pleasant, and I received a friendly welcome from the female crew dressed in those beautiful, exotic uniforms.
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As you can see, it’s not very private. Sorry, I didn’t take enough pictures of the cabin
I was a little concerned about my fellow passengers, however. There were a fair few mainlanders and ratty children. One kid in particular was allowed to run around the business class cabin, even clutching a *glass* of water. Ashtray parenting at its finest, and an accident waiting to happen. This is where I find Thai crew are a bit more meek than crew on, say, Qantas, which I’ve also travelled on in business during Chinese New Year. I’ve seen QF crew politely but firmly ensure ratty kids are safely seated, but the Thai crew were just ignoring it. One parent was more concerned with acquiring WIFI than looking after her kid, communicating with a crew member via a translation app because she couldn’t speak English. Unfortunately for her (and possibly fortunately for the rest of us if she’s the type to make calls or not use her phone on silent mode), there is no WIFI on Thai’s 787s.
Thankfully, they ended up sleeping for the majority of the flight. Perhaps you may think I’m being harsh, but I find using transport of any sort, including flying, in this region, is a real lucky bag in terms of whether one’s fellow passengers are going to make the flight a living hell or not, and I had paid for business class with the expectation of having a civilised flight. My flight on the way back to HKG was a true shock to the system and showed how stressful flying in this region can be – stand by for that one.
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Thann amenity kit. Nothing amazing, and only two little Thann products, but filled with the essentials for the flight such as socks and an eye mask.

As we prepared for takeoff, I familiarised myself with the seat. In spite of having seen so many pics and trip reports, it was my first time sitting in this type of seat. I tried, but sorry, I’m not in love with it. I found the lack of any handy storage spots a bit underwhelming (there was a little nook behind me, to my right) and as I previously mentioned, the lack of privacy was an issue for me (especially when one is worried about potentially feral passengers ruining the overnight flight). As other bloggers have mentioned, the foot cubby is a little small, though that didn’t really bother me.

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This was later in the flight, bit you can see the narrow foot cubby wouldn’t be popular with a lot of passengers.

We took off at 00.44 BKK time. 

After takeoff, I decided to go to the toilet. As usual, I locked the door but while I was doing my thing, suddenly the toilet light dimmed and the door opened a crack! I found myself letting out a few expletives, which may have stopped the person on the outside opening the door any further. My god, that could have been even more embarrassing and I still don’t know how that happened, since I ALWAYS lock the door for fear of such a situation.

The initial drink service took a long time, which was a bit annoying on an overnight flight when most passengers would want to be making good use of the flat bed.

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Drinks were served with warm nuts in the beautiful new serving ware. You can see the new signature logo on the glass.

Additionally, the meal service was rather slow and drawn-out. I think it would have been better if it was fast, even on the one tray, so that passengers could maximise their sleep time. The breakfast service was dine on demand, which is great.

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My seafood meal appetiser. Sorry, I didn’t snap a pic of the regular menu on this flight, as I was so sleepy and forgetful. This was a tasty smoked salmon and potato salad dish. I couldn’t eat the gluten filled bread 😔
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A prawn and some other seafood pasta dis with a cream sauce. Not that much different to SQ’s economy class seafood meals. I just ate a bit of the seafood and veggies. Even though a seafood meal often contains pasta, I find them good on night flights since I can just pick at the protein.

How gorgeous are these Thai desserts! I couldn’t decide between them, so the crew member said “Why not try both?” Why not, indeed! The one on the left is banana and coconut milk, while the second picture shows little Thai cakes. Gorgeous presentation and a lovely way to finish off the drawn-out but tasty  meal.

The entertainment selection wasn’t any better than on the 747. During the meal service I decided to watch Focus, which I’d never seen before and wouldn’t require too much thinking from the viewer. If, like me, you find yourself catching up on movies (whether trashy or arthouse) on planes, Thai’s entertainment will do the job. The TV selection is lacking, since there are only a couple of episodes rather than full seasons. I found the placement of the headphone jack annoying, since it could only be draped in front or behind you. It would be better if there was a jack next to the passenger, not behind.

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Bottles of water were handed out after the meal.

After the meal service, I went to the toilet again, to prepare for sleep. On my side of the cabin, it was more convenient to use the toilet in the rear galley, just before economy class. There is also another business class toilet near the cockpit and forward galley, located on the other side of the cabin. Unfortunately, while the sign on the toilet clearly said “Royal Silk Class passengers only”, and crew were in the galley, it was not enforced – economy pax were using it and the crew said nothing. That meant there was only one dedicated toilet for business class passengers. It was particularly awkward when an economy passenger tried to push in ahead of me, eyes averted like they were on the MTR trying to get a seat, when I’d clearly been waiting longer and, whether they should have been there or not, it was my turn! (Not to mention that they shouldn’t have been using that toilet) Don’t take this as snobbery – when I fly economy, I use the economy toilets. I would be absolutely mortified if someone told me to go back to the economy section. It was a very awkward situation that could have been avoided if the crew, who were right there in the galley, had been more proactive. Unfortunately, this crew were rather conflict averse, as seen in their avoidance of kids running around before takeoff.

Back in my seat, there was turbulence at around 2am and the seatbelt signs were switched on. I still managed to drift off to sleep for a few hours, only to be woken up by my phone’s 6am alarm for work! Having gone to the airport straight from work, I hadn’t thought to turn it off. Whoops. I wasn’t the only one – another absent-minded passenger had an alarm go off not long after.

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Crossing into Australia 🇦🇺

I found the bed in full flat position quite comfy, but when the pillow was placed on the padded headrest, my head was too elevated for my liking. Short people like me can slide down and sleep in the foetal position to avoid this, but taller people may not be able to.

Knowing that I would be picking up a car and driving straight after landing in Australia, I willed myself to sleep more, but I couldn’t. However, the crew were always around for those of us unable to sleep, and as passengers woke up, were offered refreshments and breakfast. I really like the dine on demand breakfast concept, part of the Thai Samrab service.

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Breakfast started with fresh fruit and yoghurt
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I requested my meal be changed to the Pad Thai, which was on the menu. It was quite tasty.

As breakfast was being served, an economy passenger even walked through the whole business class cabin to the front toilet before she was politely requested to go back. As we say in my part of the world, “more front than Myer!” Not cool. I personally would be mortified at the loss of face and would rather wait in the right section to avoid embarrassment, but that’s just me.

The cabin lights were on, but the mood lighting was still nice and soft, not harsh like in economy.

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Express passes were handed out, though we had no need for them in a very quiet airport

I bought some duty free presents that I couldn’t buy in Bangkok airport due to the liquids restrictions on flights to Australia. Unlike on other airlines, the duty free service wasn’t pushed, and passengers interested in purchasing needed to ask the crew.

At 11.48am BNE time, the Captain announced we would begin our descent soon and land slightly behind schedule due to congestion at BKK. It would be 29 degrees in Brisbane – wow! This would be a nice reprieve from Hong Kong’s winter. It’s not that cold in Hong Kong, but the smog is particularly nasty and there’s something so free about a Queensland summer.

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Preparing for landing

It really hit me that I was about to be in Australia when the strict Australian Quarantine video played. I’d been so busy at work and had just rushed from work to the airport, I guess I hadn’t really registered I was visiting home.

As the crew prepared for landing, saxophone music filled the cabin. The purser personally thanked each passenger for flying Thai Airways:  “We hope to see you again”. The crew adjusted the electronic windowshades so they were “open”, though they had trouble with three which remained blue but finally were fixed.

Sitting in the middle section, I couldn’t really see anything out of the windows until “thud”, we’d landed and started our taxi to the gate. Hello, Brisbane. It’s been a while.

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I couldn’t see much as we were landing

This particular flight (flight times vary according to the day) lands at a very quiet time of the day for Brisbane International – we seemed to be the only international arrival, and as we were stepping off the plane I heard duty free staff say “They’re here – get ready!” (it’s impossible to avoid duty free at Australian airports, as you must walk through it on the way to immigration). I was soon through immigration and priority luggage was delivered quickly.

All in all, a decent flight. I don’t love the 787 business class, and I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly it, especially if a competitor offered reverse herringbone seats in business class. The crew should have been a lot more strict with economy passengers trying to access business class facilities, and also with astray parents. However, the crew were extremely polite and responded to requests quickly. Smooth as silk? Not quite, but not a bad way to fly.

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