[Airline Review] – Thai Airways A380-800 (TG623) – Business Class, KIX-BKK (26 May 18)

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Thai Airways A380-800 in Kansai Airport

On the Ground

Check-in Counters

Thai Airways uses the check-in counters at Row D in Kansai International Airport. The check-in rows are located in the middle of the terminal building. There are 4 queues at the Thai Airways counter. Despite having 4 counters serving Economy Class passengers, the queue seems not to be moving much. There is another queue dedicated to passengers who have completed internet check-in, served by 3 counters, which is quite short. There is 1 queue for Business Class passengers, where the waiting time is rather short as well, thanks to the 3 counters serving passenger travelling in this class. 2 counters are dedicated to passengers travelling in First Class, where the queue is the shortest. First and Business Class passengers are given an invitation to the Thai Airways Lounge and a fast lane pass to clear immigration. However, I do find this pass a tad useless as it only gave access to a separate entrance to the airside. Unlike premium class passengers travelling out of Bangkok Airport, where there is a dedicated immigration counter for premium passengers. Passing through this entrance, premium class passengers are still required to join the queue together with other travellers leaving KIX at the immigration counters.

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Check-in counters for Business Class passengers

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Passengers flying on First and Business Class can use the fast lane to get to the immigration area

Thai Airways departs from the satellite terminal in KIX, which is a short internal train ride from the main terminal. The airlines departed from Gate 11, which is a stone’s throw distance from the Thai Airways Lounge in the satellite terminal. There is a dedicated boarding queue for passengers travelling in Business Class cabin (together with First Class passengers). Business Class passengers were given priority to board before boarding commences for Economy Class passengers.

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First and Business Class entered through another bridge that leads to the upper deck of the A380

Royal Orchid Lounge

Thai Airways has their dedicated lounge in KIX. The Royal Orchid lounge is situated in the satellite building, which is very near to the boarding gate that was used by the airlines. Royal Orchid Lounge in KIX occupies a rather small real estate. There is a section of the lounge for passengers to sit, with a sitting area arranged very close to each other. There is hardly any walking space between 2 separate set of seats. Part of the lounge is dedicated for passengers travelling in First Class Cabin. The food offering in the lounge is very limited. Snacks such as Onigiri, cup noodles, sandwiches and some Japanese snacks are served in the lounge. Coffee and tea, as well as beverages such as soft drinks, wine and beers, are also available in the lounge. It is a shame that the lounge does not face the departure gate where Thai Airways aircraft depart in KIX.

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Business Class passengers are invited to the dedicate Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge in KIX

The Aircraft

The Cabin

The entire Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 is located on the upper deck of the aircraft, spread out in 2 sections with 60 seats in total. The front section is the bigger section, carrying up to 48 passengers while the rear section sits 12 passengers. Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 is decked in the familiar light purple colour scheme that is used across the entire Thai Airways fleet. The purple exudes a calm and relaxing feel for passengers travelling in this cabin. Lights are tuned to the brightest during boarding. Mood lighting is used during different phases of the 6-hour flight for passengers to adapt to the time of the day. Lightings are turned off after first meal service for passengers to catch up on their rests.

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Thai Airways A380 Business Class cabin during boarding

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Thai Airways Business Class cabin onboard the A380 is decked with a purple colour scheme

The lavatories in the Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 is of a good size and feels bigger than the Economy Class lavatories. The Business Class lavatory is decked with wooden furnishing from the cabinets to the flooring, giving it a classy and premium feel. The lavatory has more amenities compared to the Economy Class lavatory. On top of the hand soap, cologne and tissue found in Economy Class, hand lotion and handkerchiefs are found in the Business Class lavatory. Thai Airways decorate their Business Class cabins with orchid flowers to give it a more premium feel.

The Seat

Seats in Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 are arranged in 1-2-1 configuration, giving direct aisle access to all Business Class passengers. As the seats in the Business Class cabin are arranged in a staggered manner and some seats enjoy greater privacy than others. Business Class seats have 71″ pitch and 20″ width that provides ample legroom for its passengers. The Business Class seats onboard the A380 seem bigger than those onboard their newer A350. The seats are capable of converting into a 180° flatbed for passengers who wish to catch up on their sleep. The Business Class seat onboard Thai Airways A380 is very comfortable to sleep on in the bed mode. The seats have 3 main positions that passengers can choose from, the upright position for take-off and landings, the lounge mode which is perfect for watching movies on the IFE, and the flatbed mode for sleeping. Other than these 3 main positions, passengers can move the seats back and forth for greater comfort according to the space they require. All seats have a massage function that provided more comfort during the flight. An ottoman is placed in front of the seat, under the IFE screen where passengers can rest their feet on for more comfort. The inclusion of additional storage space for shoes underneath the ottoman is a nice touch to the Business Class product. Large pillows and quilted blankets, as well as amenities kit for Business Class passengers, are already placed on the seats

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Business Class cabin seats onboard Thai Airways A380 in take-off/landing position

There is a small table on the right side of the Business Class seat onboard Thai Airways A380. Reading materials such as in-flight magazines and menu as well as the aircraft safety card are neatly stored in the seat pocket located above the side table on the right side of the seat (on some seats, the small table and the seat pocket are located to the left side of the seat). Just beside the seat pocket, closer to the seat is where a small reading light is placed for passengers to use. The reading light can be adjusted for different levels of brightness. Opposite the seat pocket, on the bulkhead next to the IFE screen is where the coat hanger and tray table are located. The tray table is quite big and swings up to the bulkhead when stored and can be moved forward for passengers to exit the seat when deployed.

There is some practical storage space in the Business Class seat onboard Thai Airways A380 aircraft. A small bin by the side of the seat just beneath the left armrest, allows passengers to store things like their iPad or a book other than passports and mobile phones. This bin is larger than those found on the newer Thai Airways A350 Business Class seats. The headphone jack is located by the armrest on the right of the seat alongside a power socket located slightly below the headphone jack. Seat control and the IFE controller can be found mounted to the seat bulkhead above the armrest on the right side of the seat. There is an additional storage bin for passengers sitting by the window onboard Thai Airways Business Class cabin.

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Business Class passengers by the window would have an extra bin for storage

In-Flight Entertainment

Thai Airways has a superb in-flight entertainment system that keeps their passengers occupied throughout the fight. Passengers can choose from movies from Hollywood and Thailand as well as sitcoms and radio stations. There is even a menu for young passengers containing movies and TV shows that are targeted to children. One can also be entertained by the games in the IFE system, though I find the games a tad boring. Seats in the Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 are equipped with a large 15″ touchscreen monitor. The monitor is quite sensitive and the touchscreen function did not lag at all. Alternatively, Business Class passengers can toggle through the IFE menu using the remote control stowed above the armrest in the seat. There are 2 USB outlets located below the IFE TV screen. However, I find watching the TV when the seat is in the flatbed mode to be impossible due to the lighting on the LCD screen. There are also no tilting functions on the IFE screen. I do find the lounging position on the seat is most ideal for catching up movies on the TV screen. All Business Class passengers were issued with noise cancelling headphones, which are very comfortable when wearing and is very effective in blocking out the noise.

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Each Business Class seat has a 15″ touchscreen TV

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Noise cancelling headphones

The Food

Business Class passengers on Thai Airways were well fed throughout the fight. As soon as I boarded the aircraft, after settling into my seat, flight attendants come around serving pre-departure drinks. I always go for “Violet Bliss” (butterfly-pea drink) as the pre-departure drink which is very refreshing and is slightly sweet. As this drink was not on the tray that the flight attendants hold when they come to me, I had to request for this drink which the flight attendants served with a smile. As soon as the seatbelt signs were turned off, flight attendants sprung into action to distribute nuts and another round of drinks, while taking order for the first meal.

For the first meal, I ordered the Japanese cuisine. As this is a medium haul flight, meals were served course by course in the Business Class cabin. The first meal started with a serving of crab salad and smoked duck as the appetiser presented in Thai Airways china. The crab tasted fresh flavourful and the duck was not too tough. There is even a scallop that is served together with the appetiser. Flight attendants come around with a bread basket for passengers to choose from after the appetiser was served. The main course was served after the flight attendants cleared the appetiser. The Japanese Cuisine was served in a silver with purple lining Thai Airways bento container. The bento set contains an assortment of Japanese cold dishes such as cold soba with crab, tamago egg roll with fried salmon, steamed prawn and unagi sushi to name a few. These cold dishes are very fresh and tasty. The meal is served with Japanese rice, miso soup and beef cheek sukiyaki. The beef cheek tasted very tender but I find some parts of the beef to fattening for my liking. But the broth it comes with is very tasty. My friend opted for the pork loin, which presentation wise does not seem appetising but the taste is great and well seasoned. After we are done with the main meal, the flight attendants cleared the table to make way for fruit and cheese as a prelude to the dessert. For dessert, I opted for the Thai milk tea ice-cream which is very refreshing. Tucking into the milk tea ice-cream, I feel as though I am drinking the Thai Ice tea on the streets of Bangkok. Shortly after the flight attendants served the ice-cream, another attendant placed a piece of chocolate on the table. What a nice touch!

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Crab salad and smoked duck together with a choice of bread as served as the appetiser

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I opted for the Japanese Cuisine which comes with Japanese appetiser and beef cheek sukiyaki presented in a Thai Airways Bento container

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My friend opted for the pork loin as the main course

The second meal was served 2 hours before landing. For the afternoon tea set, I opted for scone and latte. The scone tasted fluffy and sweet due to the thin layer of sugar glazed onto the scone. However, the scone only comes with jam and does not come with cream. It would be perfect if it comes with cream.

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I opted for the scone for afternoon tea meal

Service

The service I received onboard this Thai Airways flight on Business Class from KIX to BKK is impeccable. The excellent service started at the check-in counter, where the ground staff representing Thai Airways was very patient with my questions and helped us settled our luggage during check-in. The staff also gave very detailed directions on where the fast lane is and where the lounge is located when our boarding pass is handed over to us. The service in the lounge is very good as well. As soon as we walked into the lounge, we were made to feel welcome with smiles and cheerful greetings. The staff manning the lounge area ensured that the food is replenished on time and tables are cleared promptly. There is this instance that I wanted to get hot water for the instant noodles and informed one of the staff at the lounge that the hot water had run out, the staff immediately apologise (though I think she does not have to do that) and promptly swap out another flask with hot water. She even volunteered to prepare the noodles for me and had it delivered to my table.

The service onboard is immaculate and is the best service I have received so far flying Thai Airways. The excellent service started when friendly flight attendants received passengers at the door with the Thai Wai and showing us to our seats. While at our seat, the flight attendant introduced some features of the seat and also where we get find copies of the menu. Despite the drink that I wanted was not on the tray, the flight attendant hastened to get my drink and served with a smile. This is my first time seeing flight attendants going around the cabin introducing themselves to the area of passengers they are serving. During meal service, flight attendants gracefully laid the table and presented the meal of our choice. They seem to be very observant and promptly cleared the plates after we are done with our meal without us having to ask them to do so. The service onboard is very prompt with meals and drinks served in an efficient manner and with grace and smiles throughout. The flight attendant also asked if we are full and wanted more food. Flight attendants are seen patrolling the cabin frequently throughout the flight. They are also seen wearing their smiles all the time throughout the duration of the flight. I was pleasantly surprised when the flight attendant went around distributing free wifi access cards, which is a very nice touch in Business Class cabin.

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Flight attendants went around introducing themselves and greeting passengers with the Thai Wai

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Flight attendants during meal service

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Flight attendants patrolling the cabin

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Thai Airways gave each Business Class passengers complimentary wifi access card

Afterthought

Thai Airways A380 Business Class product is excellent. The Business Class cabin exudes a sense of calm and classiness with the purple hues used in the decor of the cabin. The seats are comfortable and the legroom is excellent. I felt the space in Business Class seat onboard A380 is bigger than that in their newer A350 aircraft, as I did not have to struggle to get in and out of my seat with the tray table deployed. The design of the Business Class seats in A380 is very well thought out, there are storage spaces in the seat for small items and the depth is just right. The IFE system kept me entertained throughout the flight, though my only complaint is that the screen is not viewable when the seat is in flatbed mode. The food served onboard is very flavourful and tasty. Meals are served course by course, making me feel as though I am dining in a restaurant. The best impression of flying Thai Airways Business Class is the service. The flight attendants took pride in their work and ensured all passengers are well taken care of during the flight time. They are seen wearing their smiles all the time and are very prompt to respond to passengers’ requests. Flying with this excellent set of crew onboard Thai Airways, I felt welcomed and the warmth that the Thais are renowned for. Overall, this experience flying with Thai Airways onboard their A380 Business Class cabin is a very pleasant experience.

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Thai Airways A380 flying through the clouds

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