Often forgotten in Thai Airways' network of lounges at Bangkok Airport is the Royal Orchid Lounge in Concourse E for international flyers. It's neither a Royal Silk Lounge (business class) nor a Royal First Lounge (first class), but instead has space for both flyers under the one roof in two distinct zones.
It's often a quieter choice than Thai's main Royal Silk Lounge at Concourse D before the evening Thai Airways flights to Australia, and is also home to seven 'slumber rooms' for travellers on longer stays – although the rest of the amenities aren't as impressive, and lag behind other Star Alliance lounges at Bangkok Airport.
Australian Business Traveller stopped by before a late-night Thai Airways Bangkok-Brisbane flight to bring you this review of the lounge's business class section.
Location & Impressions
It's a cosy lounge of just 91 seats, plus a small section reserved for first class passengers, which our business class ticket naturally didn't unlock.
We stopped by at around 8pm local time, and found the lounge dimly lit: perfect for passengers planning to drift off to sleep in the sky soon after they leave the lounge. During the day, external windows provide plenty of sunlight instead.
- Business class and first class passengers of Star Alliance airlines Thai Airways, Air China, Air India, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, SWISS and Turkish Airlines, plus Oneworld members Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian by special arrangement
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus Platinum and Gold cardholders prior to Star Alliance flights
- Other Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers prior to Star Alliance flights
- Paid lounge members of Air Canada Maple Leaf Club (Worldwide plan only) and United Club, also before Star Alliance flights
- Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire frequent flyers (including Qantas Platinum and Gold) prior to flights with Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian only
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus Silver and Basic members spending 6,500 ROP miles for one-off entry, or as additional accompanying guests with ROP Platinum and Gold members for 5,500 ROP miles per one-off entry
This lounge also has a dedicated section for first class passengers, who may also access the Thai Airways Royal First Lounge at Concourse D, as can Royal Orchid Plus Platinum frequent flyers travelling with Thai Airways.
The food offering here is a mirrored, yet scaled-down version of the larger Thai Airways Royal Silk Lounge at Concourse D, with hot items at the buffet including deep fried chicken rolls, chicken tikka and vegetarian spring rolls... ... plus miniature spinach quiches and oven-baked chicken-filled rolls: That's the extent of the hot food, and while the items we tried were tasty enough, we've come to expect far more from international business class lounges: particularly those in an airline's home hub.
Also on offer were sandwich triangles, fresh fruits and salads... ... juices and sweet bites for dessert... ... and a slightly more premium range of pour-it-yourself alcohol, in which the entry-level Smirnoff vodka looks out of place. Soft drinks and other mixers can be found in the fridges nearby, with ice to the side, plus bottled water and a condiment shelf. As with all the Star Alliance business class lounges in Bangkok, Champagne – or any other form of sparkling wine – is absent.
When your visit calls for a quick email on your laptop, most of the chairs here are up to the task, with cocktail shelves on either side to balance your drink or snack... ... and some – but not all – of the seats having access to AC power outlets embedded into the floor nearby. There's no USB power, and these outlets only accept European, USA and Japanese-style plugs (not Australian pins), so remember to pack a travel adaptor for these countries even if jetting off elsewhere. For more serious work, follow the main pathway along and then around to the left to find computer stations and other desk space for using your own device... ... with wireless Internet available throughout the lounge (connect to THAINetwork_E2). A password is required, but you'll normally receive this when your boarding pass is scanned for entry at reception.
We measured download speeds of 25.2Mbps, upload speeds of 9.5Mbps and ping speeds of 4ms during our visit, which is more than adequate for streaming HD video, sending and receiving large email attachments or other large files with minimal lag.
Kick back and wait for your flight while enjoying tarmac views along the windows... ... or face away from the view (or the sun during the day) – these are your options. Particularly useful before overnight flights are private shower suites, which were clean and stocked with the usual amenities when we stopped by... ... and if you have a long layover, there are seven open-door 'slumber rooms' here too, tucked away in the far corner. All things considered, we like that Thai Airways has a network of lounges at Bangkok Airport to help ease the squeeze at peak times – and to provide lounge options close to specific departure gates for people who want to settle in – but none of those lounges for business class passengers are particularly remarkable.
While the selection of spirits and liqueurs here is reasonable, the WiFi acceptable and the showers and slumber rooms being welcome as well, the rest of the lounge leaves much to be desired: and it has us wondering why travellers would choose to visit this lounge compared to the nearby EVA Air and Singapore Airlines lounges, which are open to many of the same guests.
Certainly, if you're flying business class, make a beeline for the Royal Orchid Spa to enjoy a half-hour pre-flight massage – but once that's done, consider relaxing in one of Bangkok Airport's other, more modern Star Alliance lounges.