Thai Airways International provides high levels of personal service at their hub at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport for passengers traveling in their flagship product, Royal First Class.
Arriving at the airport, our driver pulled in to the signposted entrance for passengers traveling in Royal First and Royal Silk (business) classes. For travelers unfamiliar with Suvarnabhumi, this provides valuable time savings as being dropped at the other end of the concourse results in quite a walk.
There is ostensibly a porter service available for Royal First passengers, but it was unstaffed.
Taking a sharp left inside the terminal, it was impossible to miss the first class check-in area…
… as the entrance has massive signs either side.
Inside, we were invited to take a seat while the staff took our passport off to get our boarding passes.
A bottle of water was bought out for us proactively by another staff member, but we scarcely had time to look at it before the original attendant was back. We were offered a spa appointment and given our boarding pass, before we were quickly on our way being escorted to the back of the check-in area, where a priority security and immigration area is setup for Thai business / first class passengers.
After clearing security and immigration, it was down the escalator to the lounge area. At the bottom of the escalator we were handed off to a narrow golf buggy emblazoned with ‘Royal First’ to drive us through the business class lounge into the first class lounge (which has a massive sliding door into the back from one of the business class lounge receptions which seems to have been put in especially for that purpose).
That is all unnecessary and over the top, but it sure is memorable. It always raises a smile.
The first lounge is nicely appointed. There is a large open seating area, which rarely is full.
The reality for this lounge is that it is noisy (as it is at Suvarnabhumi after all). The walls at the edges of the lounge have gaps which let noise and announcements from the concourse below drift upwards.
There are a number of semi-private ‘living’ rooms along the side.
These used to have Bang & Olufsen TVs in them, but now they seem to be have been replaced by LG ones.
There is also an HP computer in most of them. We’d honestly rather the desk was just empty so we could use it as a desk for our own devices.
Another large room is located near reception, with plenty of seating.
The service during this particular visit was pretty good. We were led into the lounge by an attendant, and after indicating that we would prefer to have one of the ‘living’ rooms down the side, we were promptly led to one. We were offered drinks (the menu is presented on an iPad, but its not like it is used for electronic ordering which sort of defeats the purpose of using a tablet, but we digress). Our Champagne arrived moments later.
On a previous visit to this lounge it took upwards of three attempts to get what we wanted, to the point it was almost comical. No sign of that here.
The lounge has an extensive buffet spread. While usually we find that we get closely followed by an attendant around the buffet, that was not the case on this occasion. For the record, we are totally fine with that. It is always a little strange to take the single donut of any variety that is out and have someone rush to replace it.
The lounge also has a dining room, but we didn’t feel like sitting down to dinner just before our flight on this occasion. We also had our spa appointment to attend. The spa will be the subject of a separate review, as it is a huge value add that Thai offers to its longhaul premium class passengers.
There is a computer set up to scan your boarding pass to produce a wi-fi code. However, the staff at reception will just give you a piece of paper with a master code on it, rendering this somewhat unnecessary.
We find the massive sofa and chaise lounge located outside the bathroom entrances to be a particularly odd use of space.
It got to within 20 minutes of our scheduled departure time and so we asked the lounge desk whether our flight was ready for us. They insisted that we wait until they came to get us, and then tried to sell us on the lounge’s smoking room. We don’t smoke, but took a look for research sake.
Shortly thereafter, we were fetched and walked to the plane. We arrived at the gates merely minutes prior to the plane pushing back. For a time, passengers could expect a golf buggy ride to the gate if flying from one of the far gates, but this seems to have been discontinued (at least for now).
Thai’s Royal First Class ground service is up there as one of the world’s top airport experiences. If it was just the lounge alone, perhaps it would be a different story. By the time you add in the spa and the constant feeling that the airline values your time and will not waste it, you have a deeply compelling offering for departures from Bangkok.