Thai Airways plans new 787 business class

Expect a private suite-like treatment in the new Dreamliners.

By David Flynn, April 22 2024
Thai Airways plans new 787 business class

Thai Airways has one of the most diverse long-range fleets in the sky, with six types of twin-aisle jets – and that’s after the airline retired its Airbus A380 and Boeing 747s.

It’s not uncommon for the Star Alliance airline to swap these aircraft around at short notice, leading travellers to think they’re getting one type of plane – and one type of business class seat – only to find themselves effectively downgraded.

A good example is Thai’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, where the six 787-8 models have an out-dated 2-2-2 seating layout in Thai’s Royal Silk business class, while the two more modern 787-9 versions have a contemporary 1-2-1 layout – even if the seat itself is not ‘cutting edge’ by any measure.

Thai's 1-2-1 business class.
Thai's 1-2-1 business class.

That could change in a few years’ time, with Thai Airways set to take delivery of 45 new Boeing 787-9 twinjets – aircraft which you’d expect would arrive with the latest in business class.

In addition, that order alone almost equals the size of Thai’s current fleet, giving the airline scope to push forward with the retirement of older less fuel-efficient aircraft and move towards its long-range international fleet being based largely on the 787-9 Dreamliner.

(Thai also has options for 35 additional jets as part of this bullish Boeing order, although it’s hard to imagine the airline puling the trigger on these.)

Thai's order for 45 new Dreamliners could reboot the fleet and the airline's business class proposition.
Thai's order for 45 new Dreamliners could reboot the fleet and the airline's business class proposition.

Thai’s new Boeing 787-9 business class

The new Dreamliners won’t begin arriving until 2027, and will flow through “over a ten-year timeframe”, the airline says.

With the first jet still three years away, a spokesperson for Thai Airways tells Executive Traveller the business class seat design “has not been finalised.”

But in line with a 2027 delivery, Thai will need to lock down that design within the next 18 months – and odds are that Thai will settle on what is already becoming the baseline for modern business class.

Think ‘suites’ with sliding privacy doors, large-screen 4K video monitors with Bluetooth audio streaming, plus wireless changing alongside AC and USB-C sockets. Even now, in 2024, the latest crop of business class already ticks those boxes.

It’s also possible Thai will join other airline embracing the ‘business plus’ movement of transforming the first row of business class with more space and more features, ranging from an ottoman which doubles as a companion seat to a chilled mini-bar.

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