Thai Airways to reinstate first class, Boeing 747s on Sydney flights

By Chris C., September 15 2014
Thai Airways to reinstate first class, Boeing 747s on Sydney flights

UPDATE | Thai Airways has backtracked on its decision to withdraw first class from Australia, with 'Royal First' flights to continue between Sydney and Bangkok.

TG471, 472, 475 and 476 were all to be downgraded to a Boeing 777 from October 26, although the airline has reinstated the Boeing 747 on its Australian flights.

Unlike the Boeing 747, Thai's Boeing 777s come without first class. Sydney is Thai Airways' only Australian Boeing 747 destination, with the jumbo's disappearance previously flagging an end to the airline's first class service to Down Under.

A Thai Airways spokesperson confirmed the shake-up to Australian Business Traveller, advising that first class will continue to be available on both of Thai's flights between Sydney and the Thailand capital.

First class fares are currently being withheld on TG475/476 from October 26, so if you're looking to travel in first class after that date, you'll need to patiently await their reappearance.

Flights between Perth and Bangkok will also get a rejig, with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner currently making an appearance from September 21 through to October 25 before the older Airbus A330 returns from October 26.

PREVIOUS | Thai Airways will remove first class from Australia-Bangkok flights in October this year as it trades in its iconic Boeing 747s for the smaller Boeing 777-300 on all Sydney flights.

As Thai's last remaining first class destination Down Under, downgrading to an aircraft type that comes without a first class cabin sees Thai's luxury travel wrapping up from October 26 2014.

That's when the three-times-weekly TG472/471 flights are being downsized between Sydney and Bangkok, along with the daily TG476/475 services between the same cities.

A Thai Airways spokesperson revealed to Australian Business Traveller that "this aircraft type is more efficient than the Boeing 747-400", and that "we are hoping that it will enable us to grow the frequency of the (TG472/471) flights through time."

GONE: first class on Thai Airways flights to Australia
GONE: first class on Thai Airways flights to Australia

Business class picks up a middle seat on the TG472/471 flights, which isn’t found in business on the airline’s Boeing 747 fleet.

The angle of the ‘sloping sleeper’ business class seats remains the same between the Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 aircraft, sitting at a near-flat 170 degrees.

A Thai Airways spokesperson could not yet advise which variant of the Boeing 777 will be used on the airline's daily TG476/475 run, although confirmed that Thai would no longer offer first class to Sydney – and thus, Australia.

If Sydneysiders luck out, Thai's newer Boeing 777-300ER aircraft come fitted with 180-degree fully-flat beds in business class – a 10-degree improvement over that found in business on the Boeing 747.

They're also the same seats as found in business class on the airline's Airbus A380 fleet, which Australian Business Traveller reviewed on the inaugural superjumbo flight.

While Thai doesn't fly its A380 to Australia, the Boeing 777-300ER has been appearing on flights to both Brisbane and Melbourne:

Business class on Thai's Airbus A380, which mirrors the new 777-300ERs
Business class on Thai's Airbus A380, which mirrors the new 777-300ERs

The aircraft schedule hasn't been finalised for Q2 2015, although Thai Airways' spokesperson had earlier told Australian Business Traveller that the airline "expects this flight to continue with the Boeing 777-300".

For flights through Q1 2015, the aircraft swap for TG472/471 is now reflected on the Thai Airways website, although the daily TG476/475 flights are yet to be rolled over.

Until that happens, first class fares on the affected flights have been withdrawn from the booking system, with passengers who have already booked to be re-accommodated in business class.

That's unfortunate news if you've already used Royal Orchid Plus miles to upgrade to first class, or have stocked up United miles to make a Thailand trek.

As a Thai Airways Sydney-Bangkok flight in first class can currently be nabbed for only 40,000 United miles under the revised MileagePlus redemption rates, it's a particularly great loss to travellers who purchase miles to redeem for heavily discounted travel.

The aircraft downgrade and all-out removal of first class to Sydney and Australia follows the move to pare back Thai's Sydney-Bangkok flights from 12 to 10 each week and Qantas' removal of the Boeing 747 from its Singapore flights.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2014

Total posts 37

Thai used to be my favourite airline for years.  Then their Bus class service just got less and less professional, and the quality of food and beverage declined. Then everyone else had flat beds, and they didn't. They are falling behind badly, yet their prices are uncompetitive. Pity - once a great airline.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 May 2012

Total posts 76

I absolutely agree, I love Thai airways but its time for them to leapfrog there competition not just play catch up. Its time to standardize there fleet to A320 for Thai Smile domestic and short haul international, B787 / B777-300ER / A380 for international long haul. Introduce a proper regional / domestic business class for there A320's and complete the flatbed upgrade (same as A380/B777-300ER) to the remainder of the fleet.                                  I can only dream . . . .

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 204

Totally agree, sadly! I used to travel with TG quite a lot between Australia and Asia, but the decline in quality of their IFP, service and F&B has been marked :-(

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Nov 2012

Total posts 68

It seems First class options to Sydney and Australia are drying up fast. 

The Thai first class (renewed) product which serves Dom and their legendary lounge with full service spa in Bangkok is still my top 3 experiences to-date.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 698

Agree Steve, it's a great shame indeed that First is getting harder to find out of Australian ports, particularly since it's still a long sector to connect to Middle East and Asia super-hubs from Australia. It's true Business Class is evolving upwards (mostly) but I still like the opportunity to go all out and test the best each carrier has to offer (without having to go half-way around the world, just to do so).

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 542

Air China will start first class to Sydney, and on their 777-300ERs. First Class on them doesn't look half bad (though I've never flown), so it's a tradeoff.

14 Feb 2012

Total posts 37

+1 Steve, I'm flying Bangkok - Sydney tomorrow night with Thai in First.  The service at Bangkok airport is second to none for First passengers.  The new cabin on the 747 is brillant as well, it is such a pity we will be losing it. 

Star Allaince

28 Jun 2014

Total posts 4

Thai Airways should put the A380 on the BKK-SYD route!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2204

They'd need to cut back to a single daily flight to do that.

It would help if their tourism industry wasn't in free fall from all the governmental disruptions...   Till they can actually get people back on their planes to Thailand i can't see a lot of upgrades and refurbishments....   This is tough luck for the Sydney siders...

02 Sep 2013

Total posts 11

I hope they re-introduce more frequent filghts (inculduing that midnight route). I always liked their flights when its depart bangkok at midnight, and arrive in sydney around midday.... But now they don't have it..... 

If they were to have 3 filghts.... they should one morining one, afternoon depature (or early eveing), and late night one....

They need to get some consistency in their long haul business class product. They are just so far behind the pack.  They just have no direction at the moment, selling flat beds as premium economy in to the Nordic countries and using angled crappy seats in to premium markets such as SYD. They have improved all other Aus cities though with The 777-300ER scheduled for both daily flights in to MEL from Sept 1 and being used on the single daily in/out of Brisbane, the 787 to Perth. So it will only be SYD left without flat beds in business.  But there is still the chance of an aircraft swap to one of Thai's older 777.  As far as I know they have nothing in the pipeline to refurbush their existing 777's.  It was crazy that they put new angled seats in half their 747 fleet only late last year.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 65

Thai have cut out First a few times over the past 20 years, then brought it back. They did it once while I was in the middle of a trip, so it was First all the way to Europe, and back to BKK, then bunged in the middle of a 3 on their 777 in Business to SYD, and no compensation. Not happy Jan.

They were my favourite, used to love their full First service until they jacked the prices way up with no quality improvement. Long ago gave up on them because of their seat/product inconsistency shenanigans, especially in Business. Last I checked they were still running their 777 with the 2-3-2 angled wedgie seats out of Brisbane. Horrible product, and they seem to reserve their worst for Oz. 

My travel agent tells me she has given up on Thai as their prices don’t justify the product. When travelling to Zurich from Bris Vegas on a Swiss ticket, we have the choice of CX to HongKong - flat bed, all aisle access, great food; or Thai to BKK - horrid angle seats, possibility of being stuck in the middle of a 3, difficult aisle access, and very ordinary food - at the same price (maybe a slight variation due to airport tax). Easy choice.

Not sure when you last checked but Thai have been pretty consistently running their 777-300ER on the BKK-BNE-BKK route for the last 6 months plus (note when doing a dummy booking on Thai's own website it will have just the designation 777-300 but you need to conintue and check the seat map to see the 'real' aircraft).  Flat beds and direct aisel access from all business seats which is better than SQ, QF and MH out of BNE in to Asia.  CX is better though still.

"...better than SQ, QF and MH out of BNE in to Asia."

Which Thai Airways are you flying?

Flew them in Business once and never again. The mediocrity was too much to bear.

The Thai Airways lounge in Bangkok was an utter disgrace. For a country with such fantastic holiday resorts it is quite shocking that quality service delivery  hasn't permeated the national airline.

Once, when? Hard product facts below. I agree that other airlines may be better in soft product.

Currently on BNE-Asia Business Class it is the following:

SQ: 2-2-2 angled flats, MH: 2-2-2 angled flats, QF: 2-2-2 angled flats, TG: 1-2-1 fully flat beds with direct access for all.

October 2013. I believe it was a 773 (2-3-2) out and a 772 (2-2-2) return.

Pathetic seats that do not go 180 degrees, let alone lie flat. I do not mind the angled 180 degrees you get on SQ,MH and QF. In fact I quite like them. But TG was something else. It's not just one thing that sets me off but it's accumulated imperfections, that taken as a whole makes it quite a mediocre experience. 

But if you're talking about the 77W, then I'll have to take your word. However a hallmark of a great airline is consistent service across the board particularly within a single market. It is shabby to offer wildly different products to the same destination (BKK) from different ports within the same market (BNE, SYD, MEL). So if the 77W hard product is the only thing that sets them against the competition, you'de imagine they'll go out of their way to harmonise it. 

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2438

As a Brisbane resident myself, I nabbed a seat in Thai's 'new' Boeing 777-300ER business class on a recent Bangkok-Brisbane flight, and can confirm that it's a fully-flat bed – not an angled lie-flat bed that you'd find on Qantas, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines to Asia. :)

09 Apr 2014

Total posts 11

Just an update on this, Airline Route has listed confirmed aircraft changes for Sydney as follows:

Bangkok – Sydneyeff 26OCT14 747-400 replaced by following aircraft, resulting in cancellation of First Class Service:
TG471/472 3 weekly 777-300
TG475/476 1 daily 777-300ER

Good news for the daily flight with the A380 style business class which is great hard product!

There is another update in this ridiculous saga where Thai looks to have back flipped and has reinstated the 747, I don't think they themselves have any idea what they are doing so what chance do the travelling  and booking public have? I think you should also do an article on the craziness of Thais booking system where they don't actually display their cheapest fares in the normal search.

09 Apr 2014

Total posts 11

Looking at the seat maps for December it appears TG476 has the older style first class product in place. This leads me to believe that they are trying to figure out if they can still charge full first prices for an inferior product.

In my eyes this is worse than them running the 777-300ER on the route. Very disappointing.

17 Feb 2012

Total posts 121

I travelled on the 747 back in March in First, and it was indeed their old product.  And a very odd downstairs business class where that cabin only occupied the left hand side of the aircraft with a galley occupying the right hand side windows.   Flight was nice though - can't go wrong spending 9 hours with the Dom ;)


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