Long Haul Flight on Thai Airways Boeing 777-300 Economy Class [Trip Report]

In a ranking released last July by Skytrax, Thai Airways not only bagged the World’s Top 10 Airlines (Link) for 2018, it was also recognised as having the best airline for Economy Class (including meal catering for Economy Class). As I had just taken Economy Class on Thai Airways, for a 12h30min redeye flight, the news made me recall all the good and bad about the trip I made.

Thai Airways aircraft parked on the apron

The objective of the trip? Get myself to USA from Singapore at the lowest possible price without spending a month in the wilderness. The plan was simple: Fly to Oslo via Bangkok, and then transfer to a Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) flight for the onward leg to Washington D.C, via Copenhagen.

The first 2 legs of the trip (and last 2 on the return voyage) was made on Thai Airways (TG), which was also part of the Star Alliance together with SAS. This meant that should anything happen, like a delay of flight on any of the sector, it would be easier for us to be put on an alternate onward flight (though I must stress that this is not a failsafe plan, as they are still independent airlines protecting their own interests).

The long haul sector between Bangkok and Oslo vv was made on Thai Airways’ B777-300. On the flight up to Oslo, N and I took the Economy Class at 43A and 43B, which were window seats, but over the wing, hence the view was rather restricted. However, considering it was a red-eye flight (we took off at 0020hrs from Bangkok and landed at 0650hrs in Oslo), there was not much to see outside the aircraft for the most part of the flight.

For the 10h 50m return flight, we left Oslo in the middle of the day and arrived at Bangkok in the morning. Although we were at the window seats (53H and 53J), we quickly flew into the night and only managed to catch up with the sunrise nearer to the end of the flight.


Trip Overview

SIN – BKK
Flight: TG410
Aircraft Type: B777-300
Cabin Class: Economy
Seat: 52D
Seat Configuration: 3-3-3
Flight Time: 8.53am – 10.15am
Flight Duration: 2hh 22m

BKK – OSL
Flight: TG954
Aircraft Type: B777-300
Cabin Class: Economy
Seat: 43A
Seat Configuration: 3-3-3
Flight Time: 12.47am – 6.08am (Delay of 2 hours from STD of 0135hrs)
Flight Duration: 11h 21m

OSL – BKK
Flight: TG955
Aircraft Type: B777-300
Cabin Class: Economy
Seat: 53H
Seat Configuration: 3-3-3
Flight Time: 1.27pm – 5.59am
Flight Duration: 10h 32m

BKK – SIN
Flight: TG4403
Aircraft Type: B747-400
Cabin Class: Economy
Seat: 43A
Seat Configuration: 3-4-3
Flight Time: 8.22am – 11.44am
Flight Duration: 2hh 22m


Onboard Thai Airways Economy Class: Seat pitch was good, seat pocket was spacious
Onboard Thai Airways Economy Class: Seat pitch was good, seat pocket was spacious

Seats

The EY cabin was in a 3-3-3 layout, which was generous considering that there were actually airlines that try to fit 10-abreast into the same space (think Cathay Pacific, Etihad, KLM and Emirates) This meant slightly more space within the seats and along the aisle (which is important when you have to move past people in the middle of the night, or if you are seated near the toilets and would appreciate the extra few inches from the people queuing up for bio-calls).

Pitch wise, I was glad that there was still ample space between my knees and the back of the seat in front when we’re seated for take-off and landing. There was no foot rest, which made sleeping in a reclined position a little difficult, since it would be very easy to slide down the seat and end up in a very uncomfortable position mid-sleep.

However, N and I were very happy with the huge seat pocket, which meant that we could keep everything we needed for the night right in front of us, without having to keep reaching for the locker above. Keep in mind that we were not seated at the aisle and that if we filled up the space below the seat in front of us, we would also have limited space for our feet while sleeping.

Entertaining myself while waiting for take-off…

The cushioning of the seats was also rather decent. In recent years, it became apparent to me that when I tried to sleep in economy seats for long haul flights, my tail bone would start to hurt about 3 hours into the sleep. That still happened to me on my TG flight, though it was not as painful, considering that we were cooped up there for 12 hours.

There was also a USB port beside the screen; this has become a norm for airlines, though not every airline thought of having a recess or pocket near the USB port for passengers to put their devices while charging. Therefore, remember to bring a longer wire (at least 30cm), so that your phone can be placed in the seat pocket at the lower end of the seat instead of hanging precariously below the screen.

Onboard Thai Airways Economy Class: Inflight entertainment system was not the most advanced, as it did not have touch screen features, but the picture quality was decent and the variety of entertainment was vast.

Inflight Entertainment System

Speaking of the screen, it was rather backdated especially when compared to SIA’s latest products. The IFE screen on TG was neither touchscreen nor did it have vivid colours. However, the selection of movies and TV shows were varied and updated, which kept me entertained during whatever time I had in between sleeping.

Meals

Even before TG was recognised for its best-in-class meal catering, the food served onboard TG flights was already much talked about.

For our SIN-BKK sector, despite the short flight duration of 2 and a half hours, we were still served dinner. The noodles served were not too soggy or hard; the chicken and fish we ordered were also tender and flavourful.

On the Oslo-bound sector, despite the late night departure, we were served supper (though it looked like dinner, because for SIA, their supper will definitely be served on a smaller tray with lesser items). For me, it was a simple meal of braised chicken with rice and vegetables. The measure of its goodness lies in its vegetables, which was cooked about just right and maintained its vibrant green.

Breakfast was served just before landing, and I chose the conservative option of Omelette with Sausage and Potatoes. Compared with the omelette I had during my redeye flight into Tokyo via SIA, TG’s eggs were soft and juicy, which was definitely refreshing after a tiring flight!

On our return flight from Oslo, we departed in the afternoon and arrived in the morning; therefore, we were served dinner and breakfast, almost like our journey up North.

My dinner was Chicken Curry with rice and I chose omelette for breakfast again. I must say the look of the curry chicken was not that pleasing. For someone like me who does not like to take spicy food especially on flights, the curry was adequately tingling without stirring up a storm in my guts.

What was interesting to note, however, was the cake they served as desserts. They looked very simple, and yet tasty and moist (yes, on the flip side, cakes served on flights tended to be dry and too sweet). Therefore, be sure to leave room for the cakes!

Onboard Thai Airways Economy Class: The cabin seats were decked in signature red seat cover. Seen here, the cabin crew were carrying out meal service.

Service

The Thais were known in general for their warmth, so nothing less was expected of their cabin crew. We noted how speedily the crew acted without making passengers feel rushed. For example, the passengers only started boarding just 20 minutes before take-off and yet we managed to take-off on time; some other airlines would definitely be late given this tight time frame!

Meal service was also conducted expeditiously. I liked that mainly because movement along the aisle becomes restricted during meal service (imagine trying to go the restroom with the cart in between you and the carols!). And of course, since ours were red-eye flights, I would rather spend more time snoozing than waiting for my food. (Shout out to Singapore Airlines, your meal service at Economy Class takes waaaayyy too long. It was not as if you are setting up tables like you do in Business Class)

In our instance, a speedily served meal also meant we get to sleep earlier and wake up later. Therefore, I appreciated how efficient the crew was and how they did it all with a smile on their faces.

Duration / Tips to survive

Our flight up to Oslo lasted 12h30min, which took off shortly after midnight. Factoring the meal services after take-off and before landing, I estimated we had only about 8 hours of sleep, which was good enough for a flight. (I mean, who really sleeps for 8 hours these days?)

Practically, we had a shorter time than that (even if meal service was completed within 2 hours after take-off, there’s still this need to settle bio-breaks and waiting for the whole cabin to settle down before the lights were dimmed).

To have sufficient and proper rest (after our marathon flight to the US, we would be starting our holiday in the morning, meaning we couldn’t afford to rest to catch up on lost sleep or to iron out the jetlag), it is important to follow the strict discipline of making yourself go to sleep as soon as you can after take-off. This meant fighting the urge to browse through the IFE selections and then end up catching up on an episode of Big Bang Theory in sacrifice of sleep.

Nope.

Onboard Thai Airways Economy Class: View over the wing of the blue skies outside over European skies.

The tricky part about resting was on the trip back; We had left the States in the evening, reached Europe in the morning and departed Oslo in the afternoon. Technically, we would have slept our fill on the transatlantic sector (that would be a story to be told at another time), so it would difficult to sleep again. However, we would have landed in Bangkok and Singapore in the morning; to fight jetlag, we can only sleep about 12 hours after we landed, so we MUST catch up on the sleep between Oslo and Bangkok. Unfortunately, our bio-clocks were quite screwed up by then, so we only had short naps instead.

There was also this dilemma of balancing the need to stay hydrated on redeyes, while minimising the need to visit the toilet, especially with the 3-3-3 seating arrangement. Perhaps the best option was to select the seats at the last 2 rows, where the body of the aircraft narrows and could only allow 2 seats by the windows, especially if you are travelling in twos like N and I. That had its downside, of course, being near to the toilet and galley meant more activity and noise. Why didn’t we choose to take those seats? Well, we took the lowest fare class, which only allowed us to select seats upon check-in, so we were unable to score those seats well beforehand.

Onboard Thai Airways Economy Class: View over the wing before take off

The airline didn’t provide amenity kits, so be sure to bring your own eye shades, ear plugs and socks if you need them. Toothbrush and toothpaste were provided in the toilets, so that would be one thing less to bring with the carry-on. And according to N, he loved the toothpaste provided, because it was huge and lasted him for a few days into our holiday!

Another interesting I noted was the stability of the flight. If you fly Singapore Airlines SIN-Europe, you would have noticed how bumpy the flight would get when you are over Bay of Bengal or around the Himalayas. The TG flight to and from Bangkok skipped that bumpy sector and actually gave us opportunity for a good sleep!

In the general scheme of things, the flight time from Singapore to Oslo on TG isn’t actually too bad, as it takes only 2 more hours than when you take a non-stop flight on Finnair. However, couple with good food, entertainment, decent seats and a not-bumpy flight (on top of the cheap fares), this is actually an option worth considering! In fact, I think it would also be a good idea to fly TG to Europe!

Flight Time for BKK - OSL

I will be updating my blog on my travel to US East Coast, which started with my heartfelt experience at Washington DC, adventures in the neighbourhoods of New York City and Brooklyn (Part 1), exploring the skyscrapers of the Big Apple, and my immersion of old English ambience in Boston, including an overview of the Lobster Rolls I found in Boston.

I have also blogged about my trip experience onboard Scandinavian Air Systems (SAS) for our Europe to America leg of our trip! Subscribe to my blog for further updates of my trip!

If you find my sharing enjoyable (and useful, perhaps?), please like and share my post for the world to know!

Till then, stay wanderlust !

All photos and videos were taken using Olympus TG870 and Google Pixel XL, and edited with Snapseed.

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