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Thai Airways A350 business class (aka Royal Silk) is a solid business class product. It shines in certain areas like dining but it also has a few shortcomings (though some of those can be avoided with the right planning). Keep reading this article to find out everything you need to know about the Thai Airways A350 business class based on my flight from BKK to FRA.
The trip routing
This particular segment to Frankfurt was part of a mini round the world trip which included the following routes: IAH->TPE->BKK (layover)->FRA->IAH.
- IAH->TPE: EVA 777-300 J
- TPE->BKK: Thai 777-200 J
- BKK->FRA: Thai A350-900 J
- FRA->IAH: Lufthansa A380-800 F
ORD->IAH: United 737-900 F(changed)
After securing flights to Taipei and from Frankfurt to the US, I still needed to find a way to get across those 5,823 miles from Frankfurt to Taipei. Since I had a nice stash of United miles I turned to the Star Alliance. I thought about flying business with Swiss but I read iffy things about the comfort of the seat. I also considered flying first class on Air China since the suite looks comfortable but that would mean flying Air China.
Partners like EVA and Singapore were out since I already flew them, and I didn’t want to fly Lufthansa business class due to its layout (2-2-2).
Ultimately, I decided to fly Thai Airways from TPE to Frankfurt with a connection in BKK based on how good the A350 hard product and soft product appeared and not to mention the low fees. I’d also just been fascinated by Thai Airways since the last time I visited Bangkok and saw their ads everywhere. I would’ve loved to book Thai first class but I didn’t see any openings so just decided to stick with business.
I didn’t follow Thai award availability for a long time but based on my searches it seemed pretty good.
Here are the details for the flight:
- Route: Bangkok (BKK) -> Frankfurt (FRA)
- Flight No.: TG 922
- Aircraft: A350-900
- Class: Business Class (I)
- Seat: 15G
- Date: June 14, 2019
- Departure Time: 12:28 pm
- Arrival Time: 7:11 pm
- Flight Time: 11 hours, 43 minutes
Booking Thai business class with points
I booked Thai business class with 75,000 United miles — a pretty competitive rate from Asia to Europe. Fees were only $17.50 but I had to pay $50 in United close-in fees which don’t show below. This flight went for $2,294 USD so that’s about 3 cents per mile which isn’t bad, though that’s a pretty reasonably priced business class ticket in my opinion.
Connecting at BKK
After flying in on a pretty underwhelming 777-200 (review to come later), I had to connect through BKK. I deplaned into a shuttle bus (yay, crowded bus) and then had to make my way through BKK to the international transfer counter.
I wasn’t 100% sure where I was headed once in the airport since the signs weren’t super clear to me and didn’t say anything about international transfers until I got very close to where I needed to be (which was the “East Transfer Counter.”)
After making my way through a few long walkways and going through transfer security, I made it to the Royal Silk Lounge. The entire transfer process at BKK took about 25 minutes.
Thai Royal Silk Lounge
I first arrived at the Thai Royal Orchid Spa — which me being me — had mistaken for the lounge. They told me I could get in in ten minutes and I wondered what kind of second-rate business class lounge would make me wait ten minutes to get in until it clicked…..
Once i realized what they were talking about I didn’t think ten minutes was a bad wait time but I had just gotten a pretty good massage the night before at the W Taipei. I didn’t want to over do it (if that’s even possible with massages) and I was a bit pressed for time, so I opted to go without the massage.
Right across the corridor was the entrance to the lounge.
The Thai Royal Silk Lounge is big and long with glass windows that open up to the terminal. It’s very understated and a little boring by today’s standards but it is spacious, calm, and quiet.
The lounge was not packed at all and so seating was easy to find.
I wandered around a little bit before settling down. I first came across the computer cubbies which were pretty scuffed up and looked a little depressing.
I also saw a kids play room.
And at the back of the lounge was the bar with only one lone patron.
In the middle of the lounge is the main food area where you can find different types of hot food items. Here I found several different types of sandwiches along with a table dedicated to hot food items, such as: fish in red curry sauce, stir-fried Chinese noodles, sautéed vegetables, jasmine steamed rice, and even a margarita pizza.
I was trying to save my appetite for the flight (and to just not be a fat arse) so I only went for a couple of sandwiches to hold me over. They weren’t bad at all.
Overall, it’s a decent-looking lounge that seemed to offer a pretty nice line-up of hot food items along with plenty of snack foods like the sandwiches I had and some sweets as well. But I recall visiting the Cathay Pacific business class lounge last time at BKK and feeling like it had more to offer in terms of dining (can you say noodle bar?) and coziness (though it was much smaller as a satellite lounge).
After spending only a few minutes in the lounge, I started to make the trek over to the boarding gate: C5. That’s about when I stumbled upon another Royal Silk Lounge, which was much closer to my gate. So I learned my lesson to not simply jump on the first lounge I see but to do a little scouting, although that lounge appeared smaller from the outside.
So I continued on towards my gate at C5, which was pretty scenic as you can tell.
And then finally I came up to the entrance to the gate and there she was! (The A350 — not the girl in the photo below.)
The boarding took place in a contained area for C5 down from the main terminal corridor. There were no signs for economy, business, etc. — just an area sectioned off that allowed passengers with disabilities to continue through. Eventually, an agent simply unroped the area and they made the call for business class passengers in what was a fairly orderly boarding process.
I was the first to board and followed the jet bridge through to the exclusive business class boarding entrance.
Thai Airways A350 business class cabin
The Thai Airways A350 business class cabin is made up of 32 flat bed seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. The seat layouts alternate in each row. Some rows have true window seats directly adjacent to the windows while other rows have “window” seats closer to the aisles. The middle seats also have “honeymoon” seats which are the rows with seats close together while other rows have seats better for folks who want more privacy.
When I first entered the cabin, I was very impressed with the aesthetics. It’s a beautiful cabin, and I immediately fell in love with look of the purple accents and brown faux wood panels. It felt very peaceful and the orchids placed on the counters were an elegant touch.
I really liked the floral wall art found at the back of the cabin as well.
Although I loved the look and feel of the business class cabin, the aisles did feel narrow and the cabin slightly cramped (though it helped that the overhead bins sit so high in the middle to open things up).
Thai Airways A350 business class seat
Design, comfort, and privacy
I was assigned seat 15G but that’s not the seat I would have picked. I really wanted a “true” window seat which would have much more privacy but I was willing to “settle” for this seat which just required a little more work for the window views.
I’ve learned that’s one of the drawbacks to last-minute booking: limited seat selection.
Notice how the seat below has much more privacy since it’s closer to the windows. I was truly envious of the people in these seats.
The seat looked beautiful up close but I did immediately notice how narrow it looked. SeatGuru has it listed at 20″ wide compared to the 26″ wide seat I’d just flown with EVA — that’s a pretty dramatic difference. The armrests are also very thin as you can tell in the photo below. Still, despite those drawbacks, I didn’t find the seat uncomfortable.
The next thing I wanted to check out was the footwell. It looked pretty deep and not as narrow as some business class seats out there so I was holding out hope that I would be able to get comfortable during the flight.
One thing that I did notice was the large hinge for the tray table that was pretty much just begging my knee to hit it.
But I was pretty comfortable with my feet stretched out into the foot well. Once my feet (size 12) were in the footwell, it felt a little cramped but not in an extremely uncomfortable way.
The problem came when the crew was pushing out the drink cart. The crew would be literally centimeters from my legs.
Also, there’s only a very modest privacy shield on the seat so the seats don’t feel very private.
I really believe that if I had a true window seat that the entire experience would have felt much different, so if you value privacy I highly recommend that you avoid the type fo seat I had — it just feels too exposed.
Seat features (controls, storage)
The seat controls are easy to access and to use and will be right next to your armrest. I really liked how easy it was to turn on the reading lamp and then the additional lighting they had for the seat. I also thought that the lighting looked great when it was turned on.
There’s not a lot of easily accessible storage compartments. You have some storage space under the ottoman but that’s not accessible when the seat is in lie-flat mode, so you’re really just left with the deep pocket seen below, which can hold things like your amenity kit, passport, and other things.
The storage under the ottoman offers a decent amount of space but items tends to roll out of there due to the uneven surface. I’d recommend just throwing all of your bedding and other materials in the overhead bin.
Once you take off, you should have enough space to pull out a bag or backpack and plop it down next to the window for easy access.
I liked how easy and straightforward it was to bring down and store the tray table.
However, the tray table did feel just a little small to me (compared to others like EVA).
The power outlet (110V, 60Hz) is found on the front of seat and the headphone jack is just above that. It’s not too difficult to access them and wires never really got in the way so I was okay with their position.
There are two USB ports just under the TV screen. These are super easy to access but they could give you a little bit of trouble if you have a short USB cable.
Thai Airways business class amenity kit & headphones
The Thai A350 business class amenity kit is very basic.
Although I liked the Mandarina Duck bag, there’s not anything special about the amenity kit. Inside, you’ll find the following:
- Dental kit
- Mouth wash
- Lip Balm
The toothbrush and toothpaste are very cheap and my toothpaste “malfunctioned” and wouldn’t open so I asked the crew if they had a different kit they could give me. They brought me out a much higher quality dental kit and I thought that was interesting. As far as the lotion, it was refreshing but not on par with luxury-brand lotions.
No pajamas or slippers were issued so I simply jumped into the ones I had from EVA. It felt a little disrespectful, but they are all Star Alliance so whatever.
The headphones were from AKG and were noise-cancelling. These were mediocre quality and required you to slip on the covers to the speakers, which of course came off every chance they got (even though I had secured them). So overall, the business class amenities from Thai were average.
Thai A350 business class IFE
The TV monitors on the A350 were large (16″ I believe), crisp, and responsive. You could control them via touch screen or with the remote control.
I would rate the in-flight entertainment as solid based on the movie selection. I don’t watch TV, play games on flights, etc., so I judge IFE based solely on the movie selection. I ask myself, “Is there enough flight time to watch all of the movies I really want to see.” If the answer is no, then that’s a solid IFE experience. In this case, they had several movies I wanted to see (Creed II, Game Night, Aquaman, Captain Marvel, and several others).
One form of IFE I love is viewing the flight maps. On this flight though this wasn’t an option because the satellite was out. That was a major blow because I usually check that every 90 minutes or so and love getting the photos. Oh well.
Thai A350 business class wifi
The Thai A350 offered wifi but I’ve been getting screwed when purchasing wifi on long-haul flights. The wifi speed has been unbearable (assuming I can even get it to connect). Since they were already having satellite issues, I didn’t feel like bothering with it. Plus, the couple of hours I allocated for work could be done offline anyway so it wasn’t a big deal.
I’m still on my alcohol hiatus (still debating if a glass of champagne really falls under this) so I didn’t partake but here’s a look at what was offered on the menu.
I went with my usual: sparkling water.
Thai A350 business class dining
The Thai Royal Silk business class dining experience was a memorable one and probably the highlight of the flight for me. I really didn’t know what to expect so I went in very open minded.
We started off with Iberico ham stuffed coriander cream cheese and mozzarella pearl along with a Thai spicy prawn salad with lemongrass and mint. They also brought out the bread and I took a piece. The appetizer was fresh with a nice little kick that was balanced by the cream cheese — not a bad way to get things started.
Then the main dish came out, which had the following:
- Deep-fried snapper fish with Swet and Sour Chilli Sauce
- Prawn and pork belly soup with mixed Thai herbs
- Deep-fried marinated pork
- Stir-fried cabbage with fish sauce
- Steamed duo jasmine rice
The snapper was phenomenal. The flavors popped in my mouth and the fish had the perfect amount of kick to it. It also helped that they served up a good-sized portion. I have forgotten about a lot of business class dishes (and even first class meals) but this will not be one of those.
I was in love with the blue jasmine rice. Even though there was no discernible difference in taste and I only ate a small portion, there’s just something cool about eating blue food.
The soup broth was very flavorful with a nice sharp twang that the shrimp soaked up. I didn’t try the pork belly, though.
I tried a small piece of the fried pork but just wasn’t feeling it. I think I’ve gotten to the point that if it’s not bacon or pepperoni, I’m really not that interested in pork.
Next came the “boutique” cheese platter which had a good variety of tasty cheeses.
And then dessert rolled out: a lemon meringue tart. This little dessert packed a punch and I wasn’t able to finish it but it was good. Not too heavy and just tart enough.
And then they wrapped things up with one final sweet snack.
After getting some sleep (more on that below) and then waking up, they brought out the second meal. The appetizers were marinated salmon with coffee, cream cheese and pistachio, crepe roll baba ganoush, and a fresh pineapple morsel topped with sauteed minced pawn, pork, and peanuts. These starters were much more of a shock to the taste buds and I’m not sure they were the best choice for right after waking.
And then they brought out yet another winner — the baked salmon trout with horseradish yogurt sauce. I took off the skin and this salmon and sauce was great and tasted high quality. I avoided the potatoes but thoroughly enjoyed the buttered snow peas.
And then another dessert in a cup was brought out — a dulcey chocolate panna cotta with apricot jelly, raspberry sauce. This one was very sweet and rich and a great way to cap off the memorable dining experience.
Overall, this was a killer business class dining experience. To have two main courses I really enjoyed is not common and I appreciated the variety and depth of the flavors. I would have to rank Thai business class dining up there with some of the best J cabins based on this flight.
Thai A350 business class service
Overall the service was great, but it could be more polished. The crew was very warm and spoke good English and though I don’t judge crews based on English speaking abilities (for non-US routes), it was helpful. My only issue was a slight lack of attentiveness.
The crew piled up things on my counter like glasses, water bottles, coasters, trays, towels, etc. and then would just forget about them. This is especially annoying for someone like me who is trying to constantly get clean photographs. I feel like most other airlines have done better at keeping the seats rubbish free.
But overall I would say the staff was great — just need to work on being a little more attentive.
Thai A350 business class lavatory
The Thai A350 business class lavatory was clean but pretty basic.
The orchids were a nice touch.
There were a couple of fragrance bottles in there but no facial misters or anything like that (I’m kind of addicted to those right now). They had cups in there but I don’t think I’d ever risk using water directly from the plane’s lavatory to rinse unless times were truly desperate. Also, don’t mind me looking like a hobo in the photo below.
Overall, it was a pretty standard lavatory that did feel a little cramped when I changed in there. In fact, it was so cramped that when changing I dropped my phone on the floor next to the toilet, which was just tragic.
Thai A350 business class bedding
After my meal, I decided to make my bed and pulled out the bedding. A couple of crew members walked past me as I made the bed and didn’t offer to help, which didn’t bother me (okay, maybe it did a little). But the lack of help was in contrast to the help I’ve experienced flying business on other Asian airlines like Singapore — they seem eager to go the extra mile.
The bedding pad was thicker than the one I recently had with EVA air which gave me hope that this would be a comfortable sleeping experience.
But when I pulled out the blanket, I realized that it was much thinner than the EVA blanket. I then got settled into the bed and immediately felt cramped by the narrow seat and the footwell that all of a sudden felt much tighter. The bed is 73.5 inches or about five inches shorter than EVA. Despite the short length, once I tired out a couple of different positions and I got on my side, I was able to find a comfy position.
I ended up sleeping several hours on the plane, probably around five or so. I now think that I’m turning a corner sleeping on planes due to the fact that I can now comfortably fall asleep on my side. I was always a 1000% stomach sleeper but a neck issue forced me to learn how to sleep on my side and I think the silver lining to that is I can now get more comfortable on planes.
That combined with the fact I don’t drink on planes has allowed me to land feeling refreshed even after 15+ hour flights. The atmosphere on the A350 might have helped with the refreshed feeling, too.
So if you struggle to sleep on planes and you’re a stomach sleeper, I’d recommend trying to get used to sleeping on your side — it makes business class way more tolerable.
Landing at FRA
Before I knew it, we were approaching Frankfurt and getting ready for landing. It was nice getting a good view of the Frankfurt skyline from the plane.
Once we touched down I made my way through immigration which was a very interesting experience as someone in the front of my line was having major issues not responding to questions and causing a big scene. I ended up having to switch lines after waiting several minutes and luckily got through there amid that fiasco. Once through, I was off to pick up my bags and headed outside.
I looked at the prices for the limousine pick-up at the airport and saw that they were outrageous for the Hilton Frankfurt. So I looked at taxi prices which were about €45 and I priced out Uber which was only about €22. So I went with Uber.
If you choose to get picked by Uber at FRA, you’ll need to head up the departures level and that’s were you’ll get scooped up (you will be able to select a specific entrance like “entrance five” which will be clearly numbered so it’s a very easy Uber pick up process.
Overall, here’s what I felt about Thai Royal Silk business class on the A350 based on my flight:
- Fantastic dining
- Solid IFE
- Great service
- Exposed seat
- Narrow and slightly short seat
- Basic amenities
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.