Review: Thai Airways 638 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to Hong Kong Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

Introduction
Thai Airways 629 A330-300 Economy Class Hong Kong to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
Dusit Princess Srinakarin Bangkok
Thai Airways 638 A330-300 Economy Class Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to Hong Kong


I was pretty excited to see if I’d be coming back on a similar product as the outbound, though my camera completely fogged up on the inside. Clearly Bangkok was a little too hot and moist for my phone, as the moisture crept inside the phone, then condensed against the cold lens while I was sleeping in the hotel room.

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Thai Airways Boeing 787-8 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

In comparison, here’s a photo taken with the front camera (which was perfectly fine, having a different enclosure method):

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Thai Airways Boeing 787-8 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Our bus drove the full length of the tarmac, then turned back and headed towards the airport. That made for some cool views, so I wasn’t complaining.

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Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

We got to the airport at about 11 PM for our 2 PM departure, which was plenty of time to soak up on the food companies that found themselves less successful in Hong Kong. I love Dunkin’ Donuts, I love Auntie Anne’s and I love aircraft views, so why not do it all at the same time? ūüėČ

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Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Exterior

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Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Check-in Hall

Add that to the fact that we were through immigration in a matter of minutes, and we had plenty of time to walk around.

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Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

We walked to¬†where we saw a Burger King, which was at the F concourse, pretty proximate to the E concourse where we were headed. We saw an Auntie Anne’s¬†and diverted to that instead (the pretzel bites are just…OMG).

On the way, I saw an EVA Air 777-300ER, which I hadn’t seen in person before.

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EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Unfortunately, we got a little carried away. While sharing my pretzel bites, we went down an escalator and found ourselves in the arrivals hall. The supervisor had Dex’s passport as he was uncomfortable keeping it himself, so he had to go all the way from the gate at concourse E to where we were and pick us up. I still don’t know why the escalator’s there, but it sure reminded me to stay alert at airports.

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Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

I’m not sure if it was all the walking or what, but my phone’s camera cleared itself up while we were doing all that. We got straight to the gate, as it was almost time to board (disregarding the fact that the supervisor was pretty pissed at us and didn’t want us causing any more trouble).

Our aircraft was waiting there. I immediately recognised the aircraft’s tail number, HS-TEP, which was the aircraft that rolled 30m down the tarmac a little bit less than a year ago at Hong Kong Airport.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

My friends having flown on HS-TEP before from Phuket, I knew that the aircraft had Thai’s older economy class product, though at the time I wasn’t sure which. This was the last aircraft to be delivered with the product I’m about to review, and three aircraft were delivered with what I walked past on the way to Phuket last February (on a side note, probably…who names their airplane¬†U Thong?). Everything after that was delivered with what I got on the outbound.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

While I recapped all the types of economy class on the A330 just now, I didn’t know that at the time, so was excited to see what awaited me onboard.

Thai Airways Flight 638
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Origin: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) Gate: E1 Dep: 14:00 (13:55)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 43 Arr: 17:45
 (17:55)
Duration: 2 hr 45 min (3 hr 00 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 56K/57K (Economy Class)

Upon getting on, we were welcomed and all pointed to the right aisle, as I had seated everyone on the right side this time (while I couldn’t do that on the outbound, it’s nice when everyone gets a window or an aisle).

Unfortunately, we were halted at the aisle.¬†A Chinese couple didn’t know about seat selection, so the woman was seated on a window seat and the man was seated in a middle seat. The Chinese man chose to sit next to the woman in the aisle, and when the lady came, she was instructed to sit in a middle seat. Obviously, not many people appreciate that, so she called in the flight attendant, but unfortunately, there was a communication barrier. The flight attendant was Thai, which wasn’t really in his favour.

Flight attendant: Sir, please sit in your assigned seat.
Man: (in Mandarin) Speak Chinese, will you?
Flight attendant: She doesn’t feel comfortable with her seat, Sir.
Man: (in Mandarin) I don’t get you, will you speak Chinese?

I stepped in and told the man what the flight attendant was trying to say, and while he slunk back to his middle seat, I whispered to the flight attendant, “I feel sorry for you”. He reassured and thanked me.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

While the cabin doesn’t age well, I¬†love the colour tones. They’re exotic and tropical, which people seem to think about Thailand (from experience I know that’s not true, but the Thai really like to maintain their national identity to a level, which I really appreciate, and can’t say the same for Hong Kong/China).

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

SeatGuru suggested that rows 57 and back had limited legroom, so I secured us on the right side of rows 53, 54, 55 and 56. Not many people like to sit at the back, so I assumed that was true for all eight of us and assigned myself seat 56K, a right-hand side window seat.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Seats 56J and 56K

I settled down with my seatmate Leanne and checked out the legroom. While these seats aren’t slimline, I was still able to fit in them pretty easily – which I can say for most economy seats, so I’m fine with economy for now.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Legroom

There’s also a footrest, which was appreciated. In an industry where economy class is getting less and less comfortable, it’s nice to see that Thai had these footrests all along, and continues to retain them on their new economy fleet. Word is that Thai has those legitimate bike-pedal adjustable footrests in their new 787 and 777-300ER economy class, which I’m really pleased to hear about.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Footrest

Boarding finished¬†really quickly, and I realised row 57 was empty. While I’d definitely heard that they had one less inch in legroom (31 instead of 32), I’d definitely value 18 extra inches in width compared to one extra inch in legroom. ūüėČ

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class View from Seat 57K

I didn’t notice any disparity in legroom. However, there’s the annoying entertainment box that juts out in every window seat. Bummer!

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Legroom

While the weather wasn’t amazing, I have no plans to return to Bangkok in the future, so I admired the airport for a while. I kind of can’t believe the airport was built in 2006, given that it kind of already feels older than Hong Kong Airport, but it’s still pretty stunning.

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Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

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Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

While I’d take two of these over a much more modern seat any day, the seat definitely represented a techno-downgrade in terms of the fittings. There was one power port between the two seats, and it wasn’t even international. There weren’t any USB plugs, though I can live with that. The screen reflected a lot, which I can’t say the same about with most six-year-old planes out there.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Seatback

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Shared Power Port

While the plane wasn’t in¬†terrible condition, the overhead panels were definitely newer than the rest of the plane looked like.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Overhead Panels

All that being said, it was more than enough for a three-hour flight. I mean, it was probably better than what I’d be getting in the Turkmenistan Boeing 777-200LR that followed us all the way to the runway.

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Turkmenistan Airlines Boeing 777-200LR Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

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Turkmenistan Airlines Boeing 777-200LR Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

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Turkmenistan Airlines Boeing 777-200LR Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

The safety video was playing, which was the same one we got on the way there, though I wasn’t paying attention as my eyes were glued to the window.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Safety Video

The cabin was all set for takeoff, so I looked outside. It wasn’t a nice day in terms of the weather, so I could see all the aircraft disappearing into the clouds.

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Takeoff Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

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Runway Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

The takeoff views were pretty amazing, as we left the city and got back to the countryside where we started. With all these years and all these commitments I’m having lately, it probably wasn’t my last time in Bangkok.

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Takeoff Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

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Takeoff Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

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Takeoff Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

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Takeoff Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Up in the air, it was a beautiful day, as always. I felt like it was especially nice with the cirrocumulus clouds decorating the sky.

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Takeoff Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

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Takeoff Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

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Takeoff Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

There even was a nice rainbow of sorts on the seat.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Rainbow

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Takeoff Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

After takeoff, I started a bit of work. It’s nice to see that even the older seats have the sleek black tray tables. It’s easy to get taken aback, but I completely see why they chose black – it suits purple, red and yellow fittingly, and isn’t as “cheap” as the normal plastic colour you see.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Tray Table

I went to use the lavatory. A330 lavatories are¬†really loud, but I’m starting to get used to airplane lavatories anyway.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Lavatory

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Lavatory

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Lavatory

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Lavatory

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Lavatory

The back three middle seats of the plane were empty, which makes sense given how light the load is.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

I utilised the space to take a few cabin pictures. While for a short flight I prefer my own two window seats to three middle seats (I don’t think a full row of four was open on the flight), on a long flight I would’ve laid down to relax.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

No one can really recreate the sound I made when I realised that Thai’s pillows were all in pillow covers. The pillows inside are¬†so soft and comfy, especially for economy class. Hell, I’ve had much¬†worse pillows in business class. It was a shame people weren’t taking the pillows out of the pillow covers, as they were soft and marshmallow-y, and really comfortable on the skin.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Pillows

Add that to my back for lumbar support and the one on the seat next to me for an extra pillow, have the window open facing this, and I had my perfect work setup.

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View out of Window, Surin, Thailand

I quickly browsed the limited entertainment selection, then went to work for about fifteen minutes before the meal service started.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Entertainment Selection

The menu read as follows:

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Menu

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Menu

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Menu

¬†The meal service began with a hot towel. This one smelled a bit weird but was a nice touch. It’s nice to see that Thai isn’t cutting costs for economy travel.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Hot Towel

I had the sweet and sour pork, which was served with egg and a few vegetables on the side. While the pork wasn’t really crisp and lacked colour, everything else was basically spot-on on the plate, from the sauce, to the temperature of the pork, to the flavour of the egg fried rice.

There was a marinated prawn and cannellini bean salad with tamarind and herb dressing for the appetiser, and a blueberry yoghurt mousse for dessert (once again, props for a full meal in economy). Both delivered with a punch of flavour.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Sweet and Sour Pork Hong Kong Style with Egg Fried Rice and Sautéed Vegetables

While my interaction with the flight attendants was virtually zero, every time I talked to them, they smiled and were really friendly, which I can say about three out of my four flights on Thai Airways.

After the meal was taken away, I felt rather sleepy, so decided to give up on the work for later. I put my charger and my computer away, and went to sleep, waking up an hour later, twenty minutes out of Hong Kong.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Position over Hong Kong

It was a cloudy day, but it looked beautiful from above. I guess that’s what everyone gets for 3ňöC weather in Hong Kong.

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Descent Hong Kong Airport

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Descent Hong Kong Airport

We were held in a holding pattern in Hong Kong due to the amount of traffic. It was late afternoon, and the sun illuminated the cabin, which was beautiful.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin upon Descent

As the sun kept going down, the views just got nicer on our behalf. It was late afternoon, and the sun shone on the clouds, and onto the wing. The colours were just amazing. That’s definitely something I’d only notice behind the wing!

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Descent Hong Kong Airport

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Descent Hong Kong Airport

It got rather obvious that there were two layers of clouds, which was pretty cool when we flew over a hole on the upper layer.

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Descent Hong Kong Airport

We descended a little and flew between the layers. It’s nice to see when it’s completely white outside, yet I could see the wing.

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Descent Hong Kong Airport

We broke through and were on our way home. While I only had a view of the sea, there were little ice bits floating around given how cold it was. Definitely something I hadn’t seen a lot in Hong Kong!

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Descent Hong Kong Airport

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Descent Hong Kong Airport

While I kind of wanted to see the IFC capped in snow and Victoria Harbour glazed over with ice, this was pretty fine.

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Descent Hong Kong Airport

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Descent Hong Kong Airport

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Cabin upon Descent

We got a cool view of the unfinished Hong Kong-Macau bridge before landing, which looks like it isn’t far from being finished.

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Final Approach Hong Kong Airport

We touched down at Hong Kong Airport a bit behind schedule, and taxied over to the gate. While I was hoping for a gate at the (now open) midfield terminal, it looks like Thai won’t use the terminal for a pretty long time.

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Touchdown Hong Kong Airport

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Touchdown Hong Kong Airport

We taxied past the midfield terminal, which looks amazing. There was a Cathay Pacific A330 parked at the gate, which kind of looks up to the few Cathay Pacific flights I have over the coming year.

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Midfield Terminal Hong Kong Airport

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Taxiing Hong Kong Airport

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Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Hong Kong Airport

I might get a tour of that next week, though Hong Kong Airport hasn’t replied me yet. Fingers crossed!

I was pretty disappointed when the aircraft turned left towards Terminal 1, bypassing a Lufthansa A340.

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Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 Hong Kong Airport

Pulling in was interesting, as at one point we got a really clear view of a British Airways 777, Virgin Atlantic 787-9, Air New Zealand 777-200 and two Cathay Pacific heavies at the same time.

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Traffic Hong Kong Airport.

We parked next to a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

Upon deplaning, I snapped a quick picture of Thai’s business class, which I’ve flown in the past. I could tell the load in business class was really light, since most of the seats were in perfect condition.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Business Class

I was one of the last people to deplane, though quickly realised I left my charger on the plane. Drats! I informed one of the staff, informed them of my seat number and after ten minutes I was set and ready to go. Thai Airways was efficient and gracious about it, which I really appreciated.

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Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Hong Kong Airport

On the plus side, all the waiting for my charger (I wasn’t allowed onboard again) allowed me to enjoy the El Al 777-200 parked on the other side, bound for Tel Aviv that night.

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El Al Boeing 777-200 Hong Kong Airport

I caught up with the group, and we were ready to go. I didn’t have any baggage so was out in a matter of five minutes.

One thing I didn’t notice was that the Airport Express now has USB chargers. While the one pictured is some other charging device, there are USB ports on every other seat.

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Charging Port Airport Express

BOTTOM LINE ON THAI AIRWAYS A330-300 ECONOMY CLASS

Thai Airways offers a nice economy class product no matter which configuration it is. I ended up on the newest A330 configuration, and the oldest A330 configuration, and while there definitely are differences, they were both pleasant ways to travel. However, while the newest seat is industry-leading, this product is just middle-of-the-road, in my opinion. The service and food stayed great.

Regardless of the class of service, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Thai Airways again.

BOTTOM LINE ON MY THREE DAYS IN BANGKOK

The three days in Bangkok were eye-opening, and apart from learning a lot at the conference, I got to test out an industry-leading economy product. While I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to fly an economy product, I wouldn’t mind flying economy class on Thai Airways in the future.

I’m excited to see if Thai will keep rising on the comfort front, or eventually sink back into the competition and start cutting costs.

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