Thai Airways' flagship Royal Silk business class lounge at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport's Concourse D is smack-bang in the middle of the terminal in a location that can't be beat, with the airline's premium passengers enjoying speedy access after passport control and complimentary spa treatments nearby in the Royal Orchid Spa.
However, the Royal Silk Lounge itself could do with a major overhaul, with power points difficult to locate, carpet that's practically worn-out, identical furniture everywhere you look and some 'hot' items at the buffet served below temperature.
Australian Business Traveller brings you this review following a recent visit to Thailand.
Location & Impressions
If you're beginning your journey in Bangkok, enter the airport terminal via Thai Airways' dedicated Royal Silk and Royal First corridor and check-in area...
... clear security and passport control via Thai's private channel, and then take the first escalator down, which takes you directly into this Royal Silk Lounge.
If you're instead visiting the lounge before a connecting flight in Bangkok, proceed through international transfers and then head to Level 3 on Concourse D to find the 'airside' lounge entrance:
Once inside, you'll find an array of seating... ... joined by more of the same seating... ... and, you guessed it, more seats (314 in total, to be exact), with some located in well-lit areas and others in darker zones better-suited to passengers readying themselves for sleep on evening flights: The lounge is essentially one long rectangle, with a central walkway guiding you from one end to the other and then out into the terminal at the other end... ... with many zones exposed to natural light during the day through the 'open' design... ... but that same design also allows passengers walking along the public terminal concourse to gawk inside, so if privacy is important, we'd suggest grabbing a seat facing away from the central windows.
Boarding calls aren't made within the lounge itself, but boarding calls made within the terminal proper are relatively audible from many of the areas inside the lounge, as the glass panes pictured above don't stretch from floor to ceiling to act as a sound barrier.
- 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 Gold and Platinum 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
Star Alliance first class flyers plus Royal Orchid Plus Platinum members also receive access to the separate Thai Airways Royal First Lounge, while both EVA Air and Singapore Airlines operate branded lounges in Bangkok.
Given this is Thai Airways' flagship international business class lounge in its home hub airport, we'd hoped to find a solid selection of dining options for the airline's premium passengers, but the choice here is rather wanting.
That begins with vegetarian spring rolls that were luke warm at best with no heat source to keep these at temperature, aside salted and deep-fried chicken wings which we passed on after our experience with the spring rolls... ... continuing with mini spinach quiches and chicken-filled rolls, which were at least flavourful and hot enough, but which aren't a big step up from what you can purchase from the pie warmer at most Aussie petrol stations: More substantial mains like chicken tikka with rice were also available from the main buffet counter... ... with machine-made espresso coffee to the side... ... along with a range of fresh ingredients to make your own salad... ... and a line-up of finger sandwiches with chocolate treats aside: In the very far corner is a staffed bar, which has a reasonable selection of spirits but a lacking wine list, with only one white, one red and zero sparking or Champagne: The location of the bar also makes it easy to miss, being the furthest point inside the lounge for transit passengers to reach, and a sharp right after going down the post-passport-control escalator – despite the fact you're guided left from the same escalator to be scanned and welcomed into the lounge.
WiFi is available throughout the lounge – you'll receive a unique username and password when you arrive, which you'll need to enter after connecting to the THAINetwork_Silk(D) hotspot.
We clocked download speeds at 12.18Mbps, uploads at 6.72Mbps and ping speeds of 8ms during our visit: being roughly on-par with an ADSL2+ connection or entry-level NBN fibre plan in Australia for downloads, and faster than many household connections for uploads: useful when sending large email attachments or uploading photos from your trip to social media.
If you didn't pack your own device, follow the signs to "Internet" in the lounge... ... and perch yourself at one of six computers: As with any public computer, we'd suggest using these only for general browsing rather than for accessing confidential emails, data, banking or social media accounts, which require you to type in a password.
If you need to make a private phone call, two telephone rooms with closing doors are also available, and could also prove useful for some zoned-in laptop work: However, power points in this lounge are incredibly scarce, being only near a handful of chairs that happen to be against walls – and even then, some of those outlets are taken up by fans and other lounge equipment.
A highlight in Bangkok is the Royal Orchid Spa, exclusively for Thai Airways' international business class and first class passengers and located directly across from this Royal Silk Lounge. Business class guests can enjoy a complimentary 30-minute neck and shoulder massage or a foot massage, while first class flyers are treated to a 60-minute full body oil massage or a 'Royal Thai Massage', with spa sessions secured on a first-come, first-served basis.
We arrived early for our Bangkok-Brisbane business class flight and only had to wait about 10 minutes, opting for the neck and shoulder massage which was a great way to unwind after a busy week.
Back in the Royal Silk Lounge, a selection of newspapers and magazines are available... ... with a play room for children found in the middle of the space: Next to that are two VIP rooms which feature a privacy wall at the entrance and groups of slightly upgraded seats over those found within the main lounge... ... but we'd expect most VIPs to be next door in the Royal First Lounge, if not the Thai Airways Royal Exclusive Lounge elsewhere in the airport.
All things considered, Thai's flagship Royal Silk Lounge leaves a lot to be desired, particularly when it comes to basics like power points, hot food and sparkling wine, which are common of most modern business class lounges: some even pouring true (French) Champagne.
Accordingly, our approach on future Bangkok visits will be to use this lounge as a fast-track path from passport control to the Royal Orchid Spa for a complimentary treatment, before moving on to the Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge or the EVA Air lounge instead if there's time to spare before our flight.
These lounges can also be accessed by business class passengers of Thai Airways and all other Star Alliance airlines, plus Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers booked on the same under Star Alliance rules, and offer a much more modern lounge experience to the same flyers.