The day before this flight Typhoon Lekima had come ashore at Shanghai and closed Shanghai Pudong (PVG) airport indefinitely. Our original flights on China Eastern Airlines were cancelled, and there was no telling when that airport would reopen. We could have been stuck in Narita Airprot (NRT) for days. But the next morning Delta Air Lines, which had booked the frequent flyer award tickets, came through and secured two business class seats on this Thai Airways non-stop flight to Bangkok. Amazingly, we were not charged any additional cost.
Other posts about the return to Bangkok:
Thai Airways Flight TG 641 Tokyo to Bangkok
Flight Date: August 10, 2019
Equipment: Airbus 350-900
Great Circle Distance: 2,889 statute miles, 4,650 kilometres
Scheduled Departure: 10:50 Local Time
Scheduled Arrival: 15:20 Local Time
Scheduled Flight Time: Six hours and 30 minutes
Class of Service: Royal Silk (Business Class)
Boarding at Gate 44 began at 10:20. Boarding, as seems to be the rule in Japan, was orderly and fast.
Royal Silk Cabin
On the A350-900 Royal Silk Class consists of 32 seats arranged 1-2-1. Designed for comfort and convenience, the distance between rows is 41-46 inches, and each seat is 21 inches wide, with 180 degree recline. Passengers benefit from easy entry and exit from their seats without disturbing other passengers.
Seat Features and Amenities
My seat was 15G, an aisle seat in the center section.
Each seat is equipped with a 16-inch touch screen that can connect to Wi-Fi, communication devices, and electrical plugs.
A quilt wrapped in plastic, large pillow, amenity kit, and slippers were on the seat. Seat controls, video remote, armrest, and storage compartment are mounted on the console.
The Lacoste amenity kit contained the appropriate gear for staying fresh on a flight scheduled for 6.5 hours.
Noise-cancelling headsets complemented the extensive selection of in-flight entertainment.
The flight attendants were very friendly and efficient. They welcomed each passenger and directed us to our seats. While passengers were settling in they distributed menus, offered beverages, and took meal and beverage orders for the flight.
I enjoyed a glass of champagne.
The captain announced an enroute flying time of five hours and 40 minutes and a delayed takeoff due to weather conditions created by the typhoon. Pushback was not until 11:17. We followed two ANA 787s to the active runway, Runway 16R, and departed at 11:39.
I was looking forward to this flight. Although I’d flown a Thai A350-900 the first week it was in service, that was a short one-hour hop from Bangkok to Phuket, Thailand. This trip would be a chance to get a good feel for the Thai A350 seat and service on a medium-haul international flight.
In Flight Service
A few minutes into the climb to the initial cruise altitude, flight attendants gave each passenger in Royal Silk Class a card with a code to access the Panasonic WiFi system. Each card was good for 20mb of free data.
I have had free internet when flying in international first class. This was the first time I recall getting free internet in business class. Passengers can purchase data, too.
Twenty minutes after takeoff, the attendants served beverages that had been ordered at the gate. I stayed with the delightful champagne.
First Meal Service
A flight attendant prepared my table at 12:30. The tray table folds down from the back of the seat in front. Getting it in the right position is a bit awkward.
These are the menus from this fight.
My rule of thumb for international flights is catering will normally do a better job preparing cuisine that is native to the departure point. In this case, all three choices on the menu looked good, but taking my own advice I went with the Japanese meal.
The meal was served at a perfect Goldilocks pace – not too fast, not too slow. The Japanese appetizer came first.
Followed by grilled Yellowtail fish teriyaki, steamed rice, pickles and miso soup and a bento box of assorted delicacies.
The main course was topped off with fruit, cheese, crackers, and… scotch.
Hazelnut mousse with mango and a chocolate malt with freshly brewed coffee for dessert.
The service and each item more than met my expectations.
After the meal I reclined and watched a movie while snuggling under the quilt.
Although an A350 is slightly wider, I prefer 787s because of electronically dimming windows that tend to keep the cabin darker. On A350s, people must open the shades to get a look outside.
Thai Airways has a wide variety of audio and video in-flight entertainment including new release movie and TV shows and classics from Hollywood, Japan, Thailand and other film capitals.
Available programming is so extensive that Thai prepares a 24-page pamphlet to describe all of the entertainment options.
Another feature that is becoming popular in the industry is passenger-to-passenger chatting.
Flight following is one of my entertainment favorites.
This aircraft has three bathrooms for 32 Royal Silk Class passengers. That is a good ratio. The bathrooms are always clean and have personal amenities and the familiar Thai Airways orchid.
Second Meal Service
Although I wasn’t very hungry, purely in the interest of writing a thorough review (cough), I tried the second meal service about 90 minutes before landing. It was a ramen dish with marinated pork and chicken breast, egg, bamboo shoots and seaweed.
To prepare for landing, flight attendants collected headsets about 30 minutes out except if passengers were still using them, unlike some airlines. They handed out Thai immigration forms and played a video on Thai immigration and customs procedures.
Airlines used to give passengers in business and first class passes to use the Priority Lane at immigration. Now presenting a boarding pass showing your class of travel is sufficient. Immigration lines at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport can be horrendous. It sometimes felt like flying business class was worth the extra expense just to use the Priority Lane and avoid standing in line for 30 – 40 minutes after a long flight.
After covering 3,127 miles, TG641 landed on BKK Runway 19R at 15:31 and parked at Gate C6 at 15:36 local time.
This flight was outstanding in all respects. The flight attendants provided flawless service, and my Japanese meals were outstanding. The delightful fare was paired with high quality wine and spirits. Providing free 20mb of internet service was an unexpected treat for business class. The seat Thai uses for Royal Silk Class is not my favorite business-class seat. Seat 15G is a bit exposed to aisle traffic. But I’m thankful that we could get any seats in business class after the other flights were cancelled because of a typhoon. Thai Airways earned high marks for this flight overall.