Saturday, November 3, 2012

What it's like to fly Thai Airways First Class

Who says you have to go on the Honeymoon after the wedding? Certainly not me! I'm all about breaking rules anyway. I had a ton of air miles burning a hole in my pocket. I was saving them up for a nice trip... somewhere exotic and far.. somewhere in first class. But in case you weren't aware, airlines are constantly devaluing their loyalty programs, making the miles worth less i.e. it cost more miles to get where you want to go. Therefore I had been obsessively fretting the imminent value melt down of my miles and could not wait until after the wedding to take the trip of a lifetime. So several months ago, I booked us our "premoon," two tickets to paradise (Bali and Thailand) in Thai Airways first class.

In order to book this trip I used US Airways dividend Miles towards flights on its Star Alliance partners.  At the time I booked this trip it was only 110k miles per person round trip to fly from Europe to South East Asia.  It even allowed for a stop-over! 

Our routing to Bali was a bit weird because it's difficult to find availability in premium classes when booking with miles. After a great deal of searching for this tickets for my partner and I finally managed to book the flights. We first did a hop to Frankfurt in Lufthansa Business Class, then to Bangkok, that's where the Thai Airways first class came in. Then we flew on to Singapore in Singapore Airlines business class, where we spent 1 night. This did not count as our one stopover because it was less than 24 hours per the rules. 

Then next day we headed off to our first destination Bali, also in Singapore Airlines business class. Both Singapore Air flights were in 2 class aircraft so there was no first class available. We stayed in Bali for about 2 week before heading to Bangkok in Thai Airways Business class (again a 2 cabin aircraft) where we spent our stopover, an additional 10 nights. We headed home again in the first class cabin or Thai Airways by way of Munich with our flight home to Amsterdam again on Lufthansa. 

The uniqueness of flying first class started our first leg when we reached Frankfurt Airport. AS we exited the aircraft, much to my surprise, there was an airline representative waiting at the exit of the jetway with my name on a placard. We almost walked right by her because this was so unexpected. We followed her and she led us straight through immigration, skipping the queue, and directly to one of the Lufthansa Senator lounges. She took our passports and told us she would return for us when it was time to board out Thai Airways first class flight to Bangkok. The lounge was very peaceful, with barely anyone there except ourselves. There was a cocktail bar from which we ordered complementary mojitos.

When it was time to bard our representative made sure we were the first one's in the aircraft, and I was greeted by name by the flight attendant upon entering. Nice touch. The Thai Airways flight itself was spectacular. It more that exceeded my expectations. On the outbound flight we each had our own suite. This is by far the best way to travel. It's a level of privacy that is rarely achieved on a commercial aircraft. 

The suite of course included a lie flat bed, Large screen TV/entertainment system, and even a private coat closet. The seat was adjusted by remote control and when it came time for sleeping the flight attendant made my bed up for me with sheets, pillows and a blanket. Now that's service.

Dinner included Dom Perignon, lobster and caviar. Need I say more?

They gave us some cute PJ's for the overnight flight. We had no reservations about dressing down for dinner.

When we arrived in Bangkok we were awaited by a buggy in the terminal which escorted us to our lounge. Since we were connecting with Singapore Airlines we were brought to one of the Singapore Airlines Business Class lounges. I was not very fond out this lounge after what we had just been experiencing.  It was tight and it didn't even have it's own restrooms. So we headed to the Thai Airways First Class lounge with is a wonderful feature of the Bangkok Airport. Technically you are only allowed to visit upon departure in first class, but we were lucky and they let us in anyway. It's by far the most exclusive lounge I've ever had the pleasure to visit. It has full private bathrooms with showers  and amenities like hairdryers and shampoo. It was wonderful to take a shower and change after the long overnight flight before heading onward. We were also given our own cubby to relax in, complete with TV and sofa's. There is a restaurant with with full service, but you can also order the food right to your cubby, if you don't want to leave. We really didn't want to leave the lounge to get on our next flight.

The rest of our journey wasn't as special so I'll skip ahead to the return flight from Bangkok to Munich.  This Aircraft unfortunately did not have suites in its first class Cabin.  The hight light of the trip was rally the check in in a private area of the Airport where we were the only customers at the time. The sat us down in at a small lounge area wait while they checked us it.  No waiting in line here. I had purchased two very large paintings (still on the frame) while in Bangkok and they were packaged a sizable cardboard box. They checked it for me without even batting an eyelash. Then we were taken, again by buggy to the first class lounge. This visit was even better than  the last because we were able to visit the Thai Airway's first class spa! Yes, they actually have their own spa, and the services are complementary for first class passengers.  My husband and I enjoyed a couples neck, shoulder and back massage. There is also an option for a full body massage but it was fully booked when we were there.  MY advice is to get there early and already book the treatment you want at check in.

There return flight was similar to the first flight except for the suites. Since it was a day flight we were not give pajamas but a "lounge suit," instead. I preferred the PJs. 

In summary, this is truly the way to travel in style. We had access to several posh airport lounges and a personal escort through immigration, to our gate or the lounge, sometimes even on a buggy! I would definitely not hesitate to use my miles on this kind of flight redemption again.


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