Thai Airways A380 Royal Silk Class Review

Thai Airways A380-800 | Royal Silk Class (Business)
Paris to Bangkok |  TG 931 | Oct 2013

This flight report covers the return journey from my France trip with dad and mom. It’s part of a carefully orchestrated partner airline award booking using (painstakingly) purchased points from a mileage program.

With those points, I flew business class on Thai Airways from Melbourne to Bangkok and met up with dad and mom there (they flew from Singapore on SQ’s business class). From Bangkok, the three of us flew to Paris together in Thai Airways First Class on the A380 – one of the most memorable flying experiences I’ve ever had.

Sadly, I could not find three seats in first class on our return flight (only two were available), so we decided to stick together and fly back in business class, which was a good thing anyway because we wanted to see Thai’s A380 business class product as a point of comparison to our first class experience.

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Charles de Gaulle Airport (during taxi)

I think award bookings are fantastic if you have the foresight to plan and book the flights waaaay ahead of time when there’s still space availability. For this trip, I booked 10 months ahead after spending a whole year purchasing the points whilst praying that the mileage program doesn’t devalue. Overall, I spent a grand total of A$2915 flying myself from MEL-BKK-CDG return, while I spent A$2120 pax to fly my parents from SIN-BKK-CDG return… which is a insanely good value!

Like many of us, as a middle-income earner there’s NO WAY I’d fork out many thousands extra just to fly in a premium cabin, so our flights for this particular holiday can be pretty much considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience. At the time of writing, I’ve relegated myself back to economy class for all of my holidays since that trip, and whoa my goodness am I feeling the difference now.

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Here’s the Thai A380 upper deck seat map that we’d found at the airport’s check-in section. On our previous first class flight, we sat right at the nose of the plane in seats 1A 1E 1F. This time, we’re in the (Royal Silk Class) business cabin further back, in seats 17A 17E 17F.

I’m showing you this picture to illustrate how the business class seating configuration (in purple) is construed in a staggered fashion, which is important when you’re choosing your seats. I made sure I had a personal seat that’s against the window (17A) instead of against the aisle, and I made sure that dad and mom had the ‘honeymoon seats’ (17E 17F).

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Star Alliance Lounge (Charles de Gaulle Airport – Paris)

After check-in, we had enough time to enjoy to the Star Alliance Lounge (business class edition). It wasn’t that much to shout about, mainly because Paris isn’t a Star Alliance hub… but at least it wasn’t busy and there were reasonably comfy sofas for you to rest at with lots power points available to charge up your devices.

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Boarding was a breeze, and we soon found ourselves in the A380’s business class cabin. On the approach, we first noticed how HUGE a cabin it is with 60 business class seats. It’s a distinctly different feel to the exclusivity of the 12-seat first class cabin. But I suppose that’s expected from such a large airplane.

On the upside, I quite liked the staggered 1-2-1 layout. It may look a little bit messy, but it affords you with a good amount of privacy in most seats whether you’re travelling singly or as a couple. And there’s the added comfort of direct aisle access for everyone.

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Dad and mum were seated in the middle of the plane in their ‘honeymoon’ booth. The rows in this section are staggered together and apart to accommodate single and couple passengers.

Of course, the 20 inch wide seats here felt a bit more squeezy than the 26.5 inch wide seats in first class. All that said, dad and mom actually enjoyed this seating configuration better than what they’d experienced in first because it really felt like you’re in your own private little ‘capsule’ when you’re in the honeymoon seats.

During mid-flight, I tried sitting in there and it did feel very secluded and cosy indeed! By comparison, there’s this thick divider between mom and dad’s seats when we flew first class on Thai’s A380, making it feel less personal.

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Here’s my window seat. The seats in this column are staggered such that one seat is against the window (with the side table separating you from the aisle) whilst the next one is against the aisle (with the side table next to the window). I picked one against the window as the little partition table next to me helped afford some added privacy from the aisle traffic.

The seat pitch (distance between the back of the seat in front of you and the back of your own seat) is 74 inches (83 inches in first), but the staggered configuration means you will have added legroom because your legs pretty much extend into the underneath of the side table section of the passenger in front of you.

I’m also happy to say that these business class seats can flatten into a full 180º flat bed, which I later on took full advantage of during our 12 hour flight. Of course, it wasn’t quite as plush as having your ‘bed’ all cozied up with a futon and duck down quilt in first class, but I was still very happy to be able to sleep flat whilst flying. I did find that I couldn’t splay around the ‘bed’ with as much abandon here as compared to the wider flat beds in first. Haha… yes I’m a rather fidgety sleeper.

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The TV screen in business class is 15 inches wide, as compared to 23 inches in first class and 10.6 inches in economy. And here’s one of the things I like about sitting in the upper deck of the A380… your hand luggage, unwanted pillows, blankets and accessories can be stowed into the little cabinets next to the window. So they’re out of sight but within easy reach. No need to get up and open the luggage compartment above you.

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Chicken Satay | Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce, Mixed Salad
Salmon Chu-chee Curry | Cheese Platter + Cake

Lunch was a leisurely (and now all-too-familiar) five course affair featuring an obscene amount of food laid on white tablecloths. And once again, I found myself enjoying the starters and entrees more than the actual mains and dessert. And also once again, I maintain my stance that airplane food remains pretty ordinary regardless of the class of travel because everything is pre-cooked on the ground and then reheated in the air. Even when we were in first class, only the caviar starter was great, but everything else went downhill after that… ha ha!

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After our meal, the lights were dimmed as everyone settled into their seats (and beds) to rest, sleep and relax.

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Breakfast was served an hour or so before we landed in Bangkok (at 5.55am). I enjoyed having some fresh fruits to start with (to go with the yoghurt, pastries, juice and coffee/tea) before the hot main dish arrived.

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And the experience ended all too soon, with us arriving safely in Bangkok. There was a sense of pensiveness as we departed the aircraft, as that was the end of this epic long-haul leg of our premium cabin experience as a family. But on the bright side, we still had our flight from Bangkok to Singapore (in Singapore Airlines business class) to look forward to, not to mention my flight back to Melbourne.

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Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (viewed from Silverkris Business Class Lounge)

I apologise for being less comprehensive with my photos for this flight report. This was the end of our 3 week trip in France and I was at that point where I was less excited about being overly trigger happy, with more focus on just taking it easy and enjoying my flight. All that said, I now think I’ll want to be more detailed with my flight reports should I ever travel premium class again!

Overall, I think travelling in business and first class appeals to each of us for different reasons. Fatbee loves the priority check-in, bag tags, boarding and lounge access… while I get a lot more excited about the fact that I can have a flat bed in the sky and loads of legroom to boot. The noticeable absence of noisy children and crying babies is a big big plus for me as well. And of course there’s this palpable feeling of exclusivity as you breeze past the snaking economy queue as you’re boarding.

I’m not in a career that requires me to travel for business (with its concomitant stacking of frequent flyer miles). So I’m now back to travelling in the squeezy confines of economy, whilst slowly accumulating points in a few frequent flyer programs (via flights and credit card spend) for my next putative award booking in the future. I admit it’s a pretty frustrating experience travelling in economy now that I’ve had a taste of the more ‘spacious’ side of things, but hey… it’ll make my next premium cabin experience all that much sweeter no??  =)

Here are my other flight reports for this trip:

Thai Airways Business Class Boeing 777 MEL-BKK (Shell seats with 167º recline)
Thai Airways First Class A380 BKK-CDG (Full Flat Bed)
Singapore Airlines Business Class A330 BKK-SIN-MEL (Angled Flat)