Thai 647
Central Japan International Airport (NGO) – Bangkok (BKK)
Depart: 12:30 AM on Friday January 1, 2016
Arrive: 5:10 AM
Duration: 6:40
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Seat: 15F Royal Silk (Business)

Last month I booked myself Thai Business Class for 36,000 LifeMiles + $47 to get from Japan, where I spent five days, to Thailand to meet my friend.

I woke up the morning of my flight in Kyoto and took a train to Nagoya. Unfortunately all the sites I wanted to see in Nagoya were closed for New Year’s Eve. I still enjoyed a lot of walking around the city and stopping for chicken katsu to compare it to how the dish is served in Hawaii. After sunset, I watched Star Wars at a Nagoya mall, and then five hours before my flight, I was pretty much out of things to do, so I took a train to the airport.

Unfortunately Thai Airways only opens check in two-and-a-half hours before its flights in Nagoya, so I was stuck sitting on the floor of the airport with free wifi for about two hours. (I had checked in online hoping that I could print my boarding pass, get through security, and wait in the lounge before the flight. Unfortunately, although I was checked in, I couldn’t get a boarding pass without a passport check at the check in counter.)

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.34.31 AMBy the time, check in started, over 60 people were in line.Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.34.36 AM After check in, security was a breeze, and I headed to the Star Alliance lounge, which was a long, narrow room with seating by the windows…Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.34.43 AM …travel quotes on the wall…Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.34.50 AM …a second, less comfortable seating area…Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.34.58 AM …and a buffet. The buffet had takoyaki (octopus balls), pasta, rice balls, sushi, sandwiches, croissants, and cup of noodles.Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.35.15 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.35.26 AMScreen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.33.28 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.35.33 AM There was a self-serve bar that included beer, wine, liquors (Japanese and Western), and some sort of whiskey-based drink on tap.Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.35.40 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.35.46 AMBoarding was slated to start at 11:55 PM, but I didn’t leave the lounge until almost 12:15 AM. I was happy to see that there was a separate boarding line for Business Class and a separate boarding door from the jetway, so even though I boarded when the main line was 100 people long, I was at my seat in just a few seconds.

As I entered the plane, I was greeted by a flight attendant with a big smile and a deep bow, very different than the non-greeting one expects from American airlines.

Thai Business Class on the Dreamliner consists of 30 seats spread across five rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. I chose a middle seat, so that I had aisle access, and I wasn’t blocking anyone else’s aisle access. I didn’t want any disruption to my sleep on such a short redeye.

My seat was in the last row of Business Class. When I arrived, my pillow and blanket were on the seat, my headphones were in the little cubby by my headrest, and my slippers and the amenity kit were by the footrest.Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.36.20 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.36.29 AMScreen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.33.12 AMScreen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.33.20 AMI sat down and stretched my legs out to the ottoman under the television. Unfortunately, the Thai Dreamliner has the tiny foot cubby that many Business Class beds have. It can be a tight squeeze that is less than ideal for lounging and sleeping, but it isn’t a total deal breaker for me.Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.36.43 AM

The television was working from the moment I got on the plane until the moment I got off. This is the way that all entertainment systems should be, but somehow in 2016 some systems don’t work until you are airborne. I started watching an episode of Modern Family with the hope that I would be asleep before it finished.

The flight attendants were a flurry of activity before take off.

First, one attendant brought a tray of apple juice, orange juice, Veuve Cliquot champagne, and water. I went with a water. I prefer when orders are taken individually, which United manages to pull off in Business Class, but at least Thai gave us a pre-departure beverage.

Next, another flight attendant brought a piping hot towel, which was refreshing right before bed.

Later, a third flight attendant brought the menu, artfully presenting it by bending down and opening it for me to the page of entrees.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.36.51 AMThe menu read as follows:Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.37.01 AMScreen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.37.30 AM

The drinks menu read as follows:Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.37.37 AMScreen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.37.44 AMScreen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.37.51 AMI asked the flight attendant if the meal would be served after take off, and she said that it would be served 90 minutes before landing, which was 6 AM Japan/4 AM Thailand time, which makes the chicken, fish, and sushi a little strange but very welcome, since I am not a big breakfast guy.

I ordered the chicken, but I specifically asked not to be woken up for the meal. I said, “I will take the chicken if I am awake, but please do not wake me up.”

Right before take off, the captain welcomed us to the flight. He even made a few cute jokes about the fact that we were taking off at 12:30 AM on New Year’s Day. He said we could ask a flight attendant to check bad spirits though they would not be delivered to us in Bangkok, and that we would be flying to Bangkok but also to prosperity and a happy new year.

We took off at 12:40 AM. I was exhausted, so as soon as we left the ground, I put the seat into bed mode and curled up under the blanket on the fully flat bed.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.32.55 AM

The plane was a bit cold, but with my jacket and the blanket, I was comfortable. The medium-sized pillow was also comfortable for sleeping.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.03.23 PM
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR9fhagkepE

I was very happy with the bed overall. I wish it were a little wider than 21″ and that it didn’t have a cubby for the feet, but at 6’6″ long and fully flat, it is a solid bed. I fell asleep immediately.

I was awoken 90 minutes before landing by a flight attendant pushing a cart full of food, despite specifically requesting not to be woken for breakfast. I consider this a major problem. Airlines need to develop a 100% accurate system, so that premium cabin passengers are woken for or allowed to sleep through meal service. Maybe all airlines should copy the system Avianca uses: you are given a sticker to put on your seat if you want to be woken for the next meal. If you don’t use it, you aren’t woken.

Luckily, I was so tired that I fell back asleep immediately.

I woke up at 6:30 AM Japan time, meaning I got about 5:45 of sleep. Flight attendants had put water and immigration forms at my seat while I slept. Twenty minutes later, I had to put the bed back into its upright position for landing, and we were on the ground at 7:02 AM Japan time/5:02 AM in Bangkok.

During the last bit of the flight and the taxiing I watched the first half of another TV episode, though it was frequently interrupted by announcements being made in three languages (English, Thai, Japanese.) It got me thinking, what flight has announcements in the most languages? Does Emirates flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok have announcements in English, Arabic, Thai, and Cantonese?

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I didn’t have any use for my amenity kit during the flight. Here’s what it looked like:
Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.37.57 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 7.38.05 AM

After the Flight

I really wanted to hit the ground running on the first day, since I only had the weekend in Bangkok before flying to Chiang Rai. My friend was arriving to Bangkok at 11:30 AM, so I had about six hours to kill, and I wanted to get the rest of my full eight hours of nightly sleep.

The Bangkok airport has a hotel where you can rent day rooms, but they are $122 for six hours. You can get a nearby hotel for much cheaper. Look for hotel employees inside the airport on the arrivals level just to the right of exit door 4. Tell them how long you want a room and negotiate a price with them. They should be able to get you an immediate shuttle to the hotel, and then you can get a shuttle back though possibly not on demand.

I thought I could get a room for about $15 – $20, but the best offer I got was $30 (all negotiations were in baht, but I am converting them for ease) during my first round of negotiations with the employees. I walked a few feet away to airport information, which had a list of hotels in the vicinity, which I called with my new Thai SIM card (also available inside the airport on the arrivals level.) Many were sold out, and the others wouldn’t go below $33.

I went back to the bullpen of hotel employees and struck a deal for five hours for $25. Ten minutes later, a shuttle took me 10 minutes to an acceptable hotel. I slept a few hours and used wifi for a few hours before returning to the airport.

Between the flight and the airport hotel, I got a full night sleep and felt great on day one in Bangkok, during which I visited the Golden Mount temple, walked through the downtown area, and threw a frisbee in Lumphini Park before a delicious Thai dinner and a trip to the rooftop pool at the Park Plaza Sukhumvit.

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Bottom Line

My experience flying Thai Business Class wasn’t perfect because check in started too late, and I was woken up when I had requested not to be woken up.

However, overall I had a positive experience. The bed was comfortable, and I slept over 90% of the flight, with the rest spent watching TV. Thai’s flight attendants provided excellent service, and I arrived ready to immediately tackle Bangkok.

Because I slept so much, I didn’t get as many pictures as usual. Check out this tour of the Thai Dreamliner for more.

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