We flew Thai Airways International from Bangkok to Phuket in Royal Silk class (business class). Despite being a quick domestic hop scheduled for 1 hour 20 minutes, THAI flight TG203 was operated by a Boeing 777-300 aircraft configured for international service.
We left the packed domestic THAI Royal Orchid lounge and headed for the gate right on boarding time. It was quite a hike from the lounge (located in the A gates) to Gate B6 and we arrived to find the gate area completely packed out.
We worked our way around to the front of the crowds, expecting priority boarding to be called shortly, and waited. And waited. Eventually about the time of scheduled departure, boarding was called for business class.
Of course, seemingly every passenger booked on the plane surged forward. The staff did their best to run priority boarding from both sides of the counter for business class only, turning away those jumping their turn. But of course only those business class passengers who had been quite assertive with the crowd would have made it anywhere near the front to actually board early.
There were two airbridges used for boarding this Boeing 777-300 service, so there shouldn’t have been any need for a large number of economy class passengers to trek through the business cabin on boarding. A number did anyway, but the aisles are noticeably wider than Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand’s business class cabin on its Boeing 767 aircraft so that wasn’t such a problem.
Onboard, the Boeing 777 aircraft was configured with 34 Royal Silk (business) class seats.
We’ve always found the water bottle holders molded in to the seat backs (pictured middle below) to be rather dinky.
Notably on this configuration, while the first row is configured 2 – 2 – 2, the remaining four rows are configured 2 – 3 – 2.
The seats are electrically adjustable. Disappointing for those used to gate-to-gate entertainment we found the AVOD was switched off from boarding until the flight was well in the air.
The cabin gradually filled with an eclectic group of passengers.
In stark contrast to the service we have experienced on longhaul THAI flights in Royal Silk class, we had to wait until the cabin was full before the crew brought around pre-departure drinks (consisting of a number of sweet Thai juices). Of course, THAI’s domestic flights are dry so there is no liquor served during the flight.
Before long the doors were being closed and the cabin being prepared for take-off. A relatively brusque flight attendant slammed the armrest lid down on our elbow without stopping in the aisle and certainly without so much as an apology. The THAI safety video is relatively unobtrusive and soon we were departing out over the Gulf of Thailand.
The crew came through the cabin serving lunch. There seemed to be no options (and certainly there was no menu). It was extremely hot and took a long time to cool to a point that you could eat it without burning your tongue. Shortly after it was served, the aircraft hit severe turbulence (not that the seatbelt sign was illuminated until it had been going on for a number of minutes).
After the turbulence subsided, the crew cleaned up the minor mess that had been created and continued with the service. The rest of the flight was uneventful and we arrived only a few minutes late into Phuket International Airport (HKT). Interestingly, Phuket runs different baggage carousels for domestic and international passengers (so those connecting from an international flight) as this might be passengers’ first encounter with Thai customs.
Passengers used to high standards on THAI’s international services, should dial back their service expectations for these quick short domestic hops. That said, an internationally configured plane for a quick domestic flight sure is a comfortable way to fly.