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Thai Airways abandons first class to Australia, downsizes Sydney flights

By Chris Chamberlin     Filed under: sydney, Thai Airways

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."

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:

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Until that happens, first class fares on the affected flights have been withdrawn from the booking system, with passengers who have already booked to be re-accommodated in business class.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

Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, an opera ticket and a glass of wine!


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 26/6/14 by davar98

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.

1 on 26/6/14 by LR

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 . . . .

2 1 day, 2 hours ago by AWA2602

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 :-(

2 on 26/6/14 by Steve

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.

1 1 day, 14 hours ago by gippsflyer

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).

2 1 day, 2 hours ago by Alvin

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.

3 8 hours, 6 minutes ago by Alexaqua

+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. 

3 on 28/6/14 by SYDspotter

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

1 on 30/6/14 by watson374

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

4 1 day, 14 hours ago by Lifestobelived

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...

5 1 day, 12 hours ago by GaryOak

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....

6 1 day, 11 hours ago by travelislife

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.

7 1 day, 10 hours ago by RR

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.

1 11 hours, 24 minutes ago by travelislife

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.


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