The Thai Airways lounges in Bangkok have been oft regaled. Their first class passengers, particularly, are well spoilt with hour-long massages and excellent dining options. Alas, my trip was only departing in business class so I was relegated to the lesser service. I know that the first class treatment must be nicer but the business class option was pretty darn impressive.
Check-in was handled well, with the added bonus of having seats at the check-in counters rather than having to stand while dealing with bag tags and seat assignments. I would have been happier if they tagged my bags all the way through to my final destination rather than just to Johannesburg, but that ended up not making a difference as I had to claim and drop the bags again anyways after clearing customs. And the private security and immigration facilities just for premium passengers was terrific, not in the least because I was the only one in line as I passed through.
Thai operates a bunch of lounges at Suvarnabhumi Airport covering First and Business Class passengers as well as Star Alliance Gold elite members. But they reserve access to the largest lounge for only premium cabin passengers. The services were, in my experience, nearly identical at the main lounge as in the others. Most notable was the presence of a duty free shop inside the biz lounge. And the dedicated lounge was much larger. None of the lounges were particularly crowded while I was there, but I attribute that mostly to my off-peak departure time (6pm) more than anything else. I can imagine that the *G lounges would get quite crowded at peak departure times.
All of the lounges offered up plenty of beverage options as well as various snack foods, ranging from soup to steamed buns to shumai to noodles. I’m drooling again just remembering them.
All the talk I’d previously heard about the first class departures spa and massages neglected to mention that business class passengers also get a complimentary treatment. No, it isn’t an hour long nor a full body work over, but you do get a choice of four half hour treatments. I didn’t realize this until I’d already spent an hour – and most of my preflight lounge time – sitting in the dedicated business class passenger lounge. Whoopsie. Fortunately there was just enough time for me to get my shoulder and neck massage prior to the flight. But shame on me for not doing the research I should have.
Following my massage it was time to meander out to the gate area – about 15 minutes away – and prepare for the flight itself. Thanks to the quality of the pre-flight pampering I was afforded in the lounge and the spa I wasn’t too worried about the in-flight experience.
I’ve been in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal and their dedicated First Class Lounges. I’ve been in the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class lounge. And I’ve been in any number of lounges operated by other carriers for elites and business class passengers. Putting aside the cool factor of the drive from the FCT to the airplane, I’m not sure that much out there beats the quality of the pre-flight pampering that Thai offers is pretty impressive. In the heat of the moment, relaxing following my massage with a glass of tea, I was convinced that it was the best ever. I’ve backed down from that a bit, mostly because the dining options that Lufthansa offers for the FCL/FCT are better by far than the business options that Thai has.
But I could quite reasonably argue that the Thai product is the best Business Class option I’ve experienced. Up against Virgin’s flagship Clubhouse in London‘s Heathrow I’d say that Thai does a quite respectable job. Less crowded, easier access to the spa treatments and better tasting food, if not quite the same variety. No waitress service but the open self-service bar didn’t suck.
- Across the pond in Lufthansa First Class (Part 1: MUC First Class Lounge)
- Flying home with Virgin Atlantic
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