Airline reviews Thai Airways Fleet & Seats

Thai Airways Fleet & Seats

Thai Airways Reviews

Rating: 4 out of 10 2 Star Rating: OKish Reviewed from 233 flights with 1234 photos.
NEWS: Thai Airways is waiting for the delivery of six Airbus A380 aircraft, the first of which are due to be delivered in 2013. Thai Airways is also expecting eight B787 Dreamliners (which are late - expected 2017), twelve A350s (exected 2017 - eight are leased) and six B777-300ERs to complement the three 777-300ERs it has leased from Jet Airways of India.

Whatever your expectations of Thai Airways, reduce them. Thai Airways reviews are generally pretty poor, and to a large extent that can be because Thai Airways Economy class is notably bad, thanks to only some aircraft having seatback TVs: other aircraft are very old and tired.

Thai Airways have three travel classes, and stick to the usual conventions of First, Business, and economy, adding in a fourth class - Premium Economy - on just one type of plane, on one route.

Thai Airways 747-400 First Seats Nov 2007 Thai Airways 747-400 First class seat

Economy is just that, with a 32" legroom. Seats on the 747 can be pretty basic - and few have seatback video screens, however the economy seats in the latest Airbus A340 and Boeing 777-200ER are pretty good, having a large individual TV screens in each seatback and the latest in audio/visual entertainment on demand (AVOD) with an OK selection of 30 movies, 110 music albums and 31 games. There is a telephones in the armrest, however PC power outlets only take US/Australian plugs, and you need an adapters for UK/Singapore & some european plugs. ... read more about Thai Airways Seatback TV.

Business Class is vastly better than it was a few years ago: Thai call it Royal Silk Class, but be carefull checking what seat you get. There are several different variants. On the Boeing 777-200ER and 777-300 aircraft, you only get a cradle seat (pitch of 61" (155cm), maximum recline angle of 163 degrees and bed length of 70" (178cm)) whereas on the refurbished Boeing 747-400 and Airbus 340-500/600 aircraft it is much better with a bed (length 76" (193cm), a 60 (152cm) pitch, 167 egrees of recline for sleeping) but even here it doesn't go fully flat: just level.
747-400 at LHR Nov 2002 Thai 747-400 in "Amazing Thailand" livery at LHR

On the few planes that still have it, Thai Royal First Class have a new shell seats which actually does convert to a beds, with 180 degrees of recline and almost seven feet (213cm) of space in which to stretch out, plus fully adjustable leg and foot rests.

Thai Airways Premium Economy is offered on a few flights, because Thai introduced this class with Airbus A340-500 planes it ordered for the ultra long run to New York. It scrapped these services, and put the planes on (with Premium Economy) but only between Bangkok and Los Angeles and, rather oddly, Athens (it was even more weirldly Oslo for a while) on an Airbus A340-500 aircraft. Seats are in a 2-3-2 layout rather than the standard 2-4-2 in Economy, pitch is increased to 42", there is a 135 degree angle of recline and the seat features a leg-rest. Another curiousity that on some routes such as Copenhagen and Stockholm, ancient Boeing 747-400 are used, with the old Business Class seats, and these are sold as Premium Economy. It can be quite a bargain, although of course you just get an economy meal.

Thai Airways Boeing 747-400

Thai Airways now has started taking delivery of retro-fitted 747-400 aircraft. In all three classes there is a seatback TV screen and inflight connectivity, as well as new economy seats and a 180 degree lie flat bed in Royal First Class. Five 747s are due by 2012 and a total of twelve eventually due by 2013.

Thai have a very strange seating plan for their 18 Boeing 747-400s. The planes are quite new, so its surprising that seats are of an ancient 1980s style, and entertainment definitely comes out of the arc.

747-400 First Seats Nov 2007 Thai 747-400 First seats in the nose of a 747

First class is in the nose of the plane, with the latest seats that now go completely quite flat. There is however plenty of room, and there are just two, very lonely, seats in the middle of the cabin. When fully lie-flat seats were launched in first class the number of first class seats was cut from 14 to 10. Passengers sit three across in a 1-1-1 layout on seats with cushions which are 22 inches wide and 76 inches of legroom. Seating reclines 180 degrees.

Thai Airways boeing 747 Business Class Cabin seats July 2010
Thai Airways 747 Business class seats

Business Class is in a totally unique seating pattern, shuffled to the left hand side of the plane downstairs, with a galley on the right hand side. There are windows only on the left hand side of this cabin (for seats A and B). This seems very odd when you are flying in seats E and D, sitting next to a wall, hearing the ovens heat up on the other side of the partition.

Fortunately there is also business class on the upper deck, with 10 rows of seats in a 2+2 pattern. Row 16 here is the best, with more legroom thanks to the door. Seats upstairs are very popular, as dogs were not placed here (in recent history Thai allowed dogs on board), so it smells much better.

Business class seating has recently been reduced to 40, and seats are 20 inches wide with 60 inches of legroom, and the recline is 170 degrees.

Exactly which type of seat you get on your flight, is dependent on which type of 747 you have. There are a couple of 747s which are ancient, which only have small flip out TVs in business, and four seats in a row on the top deck. Most passengers believe these planes were scrapped years ago: oh no they were not - they resolutely fly to Hong Kong and back. Newer 747s have only three seats in a row upstairs, and these Thai Airways 747s have a larger seatback TV with AVOD.

Thai Airways Airbus A340 awaits departure in Sydney July 2010
Thai Airways Airbus A340 awaits departure in Sydney

Thai Airways reviews of Economy Class really take a hammering on the 747. It is the usual cramped lottery, with seats in a 3+4+3 pattern. Rows 31, 43, and 53 are emergency exit seats with a lot more legroom. On the older planes without AVOD, rows 53 to 56 can't see the overhead video screens, so there is no inflight entertainment. Rows 68 to 70 get only two window seats abreast, so there is perhaps a little more room.

Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 / A340-500 / A340-600

A340 First Seats Nov 2007 Thai Airways A340-600 at Auckland
Thai have a large number of the twin engined A330-300 (a total of 19, with 8 on order. Plus two types of the four engined twin isle Airbus. Four of the 'specials' - the ultra long range A340-500 which has premium economy and is used to the US, and six of the A340-600 which is used for destinations including Australia and New Zealand.

On both planes, Economy seats are a standard 2-4-2, which many couples seem to like as it gives good pairs of seats, rather than the three seats next to the window in the 747s. In both types of A340, Row 44 is an emergency exit, but it is disliked by many regular passengers due to the lack of a window, the cabin crew sitting opposite you, and the traytable in the armrest, which reduces the seat width. However, you do get a flip out video screen an a lot more legroom. In the A340-600 there is another economy cabin, in rows 31 to 42.

Thai Airways A340 First Seats Nov 2007 Thai Airways A340-600 First class seat

Business Class (or Royal Silk Class) are all with the new-style Thai seat, configured 2-2-2. You get two separate cabins, rows 11 to 16 (or 17 In the A340-600), which is by far the quietest cabin, and row 18 to 22 (or 21 in the A340-600) which are over the wing.

First Class is only fitted to the A340-600, and comes in just two rows configured 1-2-1. These are the classic old lie flat seating pods, with acres of space. With the window seats you get four windows, and a pod beside you with several flip up cupboard doors.

Thai Airways A340 Business Class Seats July 2010 Thai Airways A340-600 business class cabin
There is a huge table which pulls up from the window pod: it's so heavy, you may have to help the cabin crew get yours erect. You can also pull it towards you. In this pod there is also the TV screen, which is satisfyingly large. The seat has a reading light which has to be flipped up to work, and then you press the button.

On the A340-500, which was used to fly between Bangkok and New York, Premium Economy was introduced. It is in rows 31 to 36 and configured as 2-3-2. Seat pitch is increased to 42", 135 degree angle of recline and the seat features a leg-rest. Premium Economy class passengers also have more choices over their meal selection. All seats of Premium Economy class are equipped with AVOD with 10.5" touch screen. Row 31 is a bulkhead, but it also has a bassinet (screamer) fittings. The seatback video here is annoyingly screwed to the bulkhead itself.

Thai Airways has tried hard to sell its four Airbus A340-500 aircraft, and failed totally: few airlines want them because they drink a lot of fuel. They now operate on the long Bangkok to Tokyo and Los Angeles route, however Thai now expect that they won't be able to dump them, and hope to reintroduce them on the New York route, and switch from New York JFK to Newark, which is a Star Alliance hub.

Thai Airways Boeing 777 taxing at Bangkok July 2010
Thai Airways Boeing 777 taxing at Bangkok

Thai Airways Boeing 777-200 / 777-200ER / 777-300

Thai have 23 Boeing 777s, of which 6 are of the extended 777-300 type. They have just business and economy seats, with no first class, except for the 777-300ER which has 8 First Class seats.
Thai A330 & two 777s at Bangkok Sept 2003 Thai A330 & two 777s at Bangkok

Economy is configured 3-3-3, giving a 31" pitch, and a 18.5 inch width. Seats recline 118 degrees. On the 777-200 row 31 is a bulkhead (with a bassinet or screamer fittings), and row 50 is an emergency exit. On the larger 777-300 there are three cabins, with row 31 is a bulkhead (with a bassinet or screamer fittings), and row 47 and 61 being an emergency exit. Due to Thai's wacky design, all six economy class lavatories are in a cluster at the back of the cabin. As a result, there is always a crowd at the back here, and rows 70 to 73 should be avoided.

Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class seat July 2010
Thai Airways Boeing 777 Business Class seat

Business Class comes in two different types, depending on the plane you are on. The Thai Airways 777-300ER seating plan for Business Class is 2-2-2 with 30 of the latest seats that Lie-flat giving 170 degrees of recline, and a 61" pitch, 21.5" width, in five rows (row 11 to 16). The Thai Airways 777-300 Business Class is a different proposition. Be wary: very wary. It has the older style Business seat with a pitch of just 55", and they do not lie flat. The cabin is configured 2-3-2, giving 49 seats with a width of 20.5", in just one cabing with rows 11 to 23. The 777-300 Business Class seats are slowing being replaced: if your seating plan has 2 middle seats in row 11, but 3 seats in rows after that, it will have the latest seats.

Thai Airways reviews of Economy Class on the Boeing 777 are notably bad in some cases, because you won't get a seatback TV. On the 777 on the older planes, such as the 777-200, over-head screens provide in-flight entertainment for economy class. However seatback TV screens with AVOD are available at every seat on the latest Thai Airways 777-300, with a 6.5 inch screen in business. As a result, check you are on a revamped plane.

Note that Thai have recently started leasing Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft from Jet Airways of India. These are mainly used on the Paris-Bangkok route. Jet Airways ordered far too many of these planes (a total of 10), and has started a new business leasing them out to Turkish and Thai airways. They are very good, flat beds in business class using the curved Virgin Atlantic style bed. Seats are configured in a herringbone pattern (1-2-1 on the Boeing 777-300ER

Thai Airways Airbus A380 Superjumbo

Thai will start flying the Airbus A380 Superjumbo shortly, with 507 seats, and they are expected on the London Heathrow and Frankfurt route by 2013, with five in the fleet.

The Thai Airways Airbus A380 seating plan has premium classes on the upper deck, and 435 economy seats on the lower deck in a 3-4-3 layout. Economy has a 32" pitch and a 18" width, using the new Recarro 'thin' seats having a 10.6" TV screen. Like Singapore Airlines, there is a small mini economy cabin at the rear of the top deck, with a 2-4-2 layout.

On the upper deck there will be 12 first class seats in a 1-2-1 cabin layout on the A380,called the Contour Mini-Suite, 26.5" wide with a 23" TV Screen, however they won't have cabin doors like on Singapore Airlines and Emirates. There is a large bathroom to the right of the main stairs, and a small lounge to the right, with a First Class bar at the top of the stairs, with Thai Teakwood decoration.

On the Thai Airways A380 the 60 business class seats on the upper deck are semi-convential, being staggered in a 1-2-1 pattern rather like Emirates, using the Sogerma flat bed seat, having a 74" pitch and 20" width and a 15" screen. At the back is the Royal Silk Class Bar, which is really just a flat area in the galley operating as a snack bar.

A strange omission is that plans for Premium Economy seating on the Thai Airways A380 have been scrapped.

Thai Airways Airbus A300 / A300-600R

NEWS: Thai have been trying to scrap their AB6 fleet. Passengers were thankful - until Thai reversed this policy, and kept these heaps aloft, to the stage of even giving them all a repaint in the latest livery. Alas the interiors are very much original.
Thai have a grand total of 16 A300, including one solitaary model of left of the original A300-600 (the rest are the slightly newer R model) which was Airbus' original plane. Thai refer to them as Thai Airways AB6. You have to be lucky (or rather, unlucky) to get one of these ancient 1970s style crates. Thai are one of the few airlines still using them, mainly on domestic runs up to CNX and down to Singapore, but occasionally the Thai Airways lottery goes bad, and you'll be stuck on these misable planes for hours on an international run. Avoid, to the level of checking carefully before the flight to see if Thai have bowled you a googly with one of these noisy, misable, smelly, heaps.
Thai Airways Airbus A300 on the stand at at Chaing-Mai July 2010
Thai Airways Airbus A300 on the stand at at Chaing-Mai

Thai Airways Airbus A300 Business Class Cabin seats July 2010
Thai Airways Airbus A300 Business class seats

Business Class has six rows, in a 2-2-2 formation. Row 11 has extra legroom - but its virtually impossible to see the video screen from the window seats. The seats are classic 1960s style business seats, and indeed look rather like economy on a budget carrier, with only a small amount of recline. Audio controls are also of the small rotatory type, and decline rapidly with age. I've found that rapily moving the volume control back and forth for a few seconds restores some of the original function, although others never work. There are of course no inflight seatback TVs on Thai A300 planes: you'll be lucky if the projection screen at the front of the cabin works.

Economy seats are in a rare 2-4-2 formation, which seems to give a greater feeling of width than most other airlines - unless you're stuck in the middle in seats D or E. Row 31 and 39 are emergency exits, giving much more legroom, but really it is rather pointless trying to get comfortable on these planes. All entertainment in A300s is via overhead projection screens at the front of the cabin - even in business class. All in all a great 1970s experience you will want to forget.

Thai Airways Historical Fleet

Thai Airways MD-11

NEWS: Thai have now scrapped all of their MD-11 fleet. Passengers are very thankful.
Three Thai 777s at Bangkok Sept 2003 A rare Thai MD11 at Bangkok
Thai have a grand total of 4 MD-11s, and you have to be lucky (or rather, unlucky) to get one of these unusually shaped beast of a plane. Thai are one of the few airlines still using the MD-11s, and are used on the Australian run.

The MD-11s are very distinctive, the only tri-engined wide-body airliner still made - with an engine high up in the tail. Less than 190 MD-11 have been made, making it a commercial failure, and when first took to the air several airlines promptly cancelled their order as soon as they had a chance to fly it. Commentators have persistently raised safety questions over the airliner, due to refinements that give it relaxed aerodynamic stability. However this has not as yet been definitely linked to a number of high profile crashes, when the aircraft has flipped upside down, which could be a statistical anomaly. No Thai Airline MD-11 has been involved in such incidents.

Most people try very hard to avoid the MD-11, as its very cramped. Alas, its used on the convenient 0810 daytime flight to Sydney, which then flies on and returns via Melbourne.

Thai Loos in Business Sept 2003 MD11 Thai Business Bathroom

First class is in the nose of the plane, with just two rows of stiff upright seats.

Business Class has six rows, in a 2+3+2 formation. Row 11 has extra legroom - but its virtually impossible to see the video screen from the window seats. 11D however had the video screen right in front of you. The seats look like economy seats, with only a small amount of recline. Audio controls are also of the small rotatory type, and decline rapidly with age. I've found that rapily moving the volume control back and forth for a few seconds restores some of the original function, although others never work.

Economy seats are in a rare 2+5+2 formation, which seems to give a greater feeling of width than most other airlines - unless you're stuck in the middle of a row of D. Row 31 and 39 are emergency exits, giving much more legroom.

All entertainment in MD11s is via overhead projection screens at the front of the cabin - even in business class. All in all a great 1970s experience.