Thai A380 “First” impressions

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I am currently engaged in a rapid fire First Class round the world trip where I have the opportunity to try out 4 First Class products for the first time.  The first two flights on Cathay Pacific First class 777 and 747 were discussed here.  I just stepped off the Thai A380 in Frankfurt originating in Bangkok and wanted to share my first impressions.

Thai A380

The hard product is very solid but has some quirks

The Thai A380 seat is very solid.  The seat is both spacious and private similar to the new Lufthansa First Class seat.  The IFE entertainment is enjoyable and there was certainly enough content to keep someone entertained for 10+ hours.

One of the highlights of the hard product for me was the amount of easily accessible storage compartments of the seat. I love the ability store my toiletries , personal Bose headphones, pajamas, change of clothes and water bottles near my head for sleeping all at an arms reach.

Thai A380

Thai A380

 

Onboard I absolutely loved the very spacious First Class bathroom which was missing from Cathay Pacific’s offering.  Instead of a second large bathroom up front they have installed a lounge which went completely unused during my trip except for people using it to wait for the larger bathroom. I think a second large bathroom like on Lufthansa A380 is the way to go.

Thai A380

There were a few quirks I found as well.

First off, the design aesthetics are noticeably dull.  The color scheme looks outdated even though the product is brand new.

Thai A380Thai A380

There was a weird screen to my right that illuminated though I am not sure what purpose it served.

Thai A380Thai A380

The table is fixed and cannot be retracted which really is a design flaw.  When sleeping if you try to adjust your legs they will likely smash into the table which makes things a bit claustrophobic.

Thai A380

The A380 is a big BIG differentiator

I believe an average product on an A380 exceeds a superior product on any other widebody for longhaul overnight flights.

Thai A380

The very best part of flying an A380 can not be captured in pictures. Flying in a quieter cabin that is pressurized more closely to sea level makes a world of difference for overnight long-haul flights. While the Cathay Pacific seat was far more spacious and comfortable as a bed, I slept sounder and woke up feeling much more refreshed on the Thai A380 because of this fact.

The onboard services didn’t quite match the immaculate ground services

The ground services at BKK blew me away which I will cover in another post.  The flawless coordination in the First Class Lounge at BKK was not quite there onboard though still very good.  I loved the service onboard and thought they made my flight great but there was some confusion on who was helping which guest during several moments during the flight and other minor service flaws.

Where to sit

There are 12 equally sized seats in First Class.  If flying solo, I would recommend sitting towards the front and at the windows.  I was in 3K and there were minor disturbances from the galley throughout the flight.  The larger bathroom at the front is on the A side so I would say 1K and 2K are best since no one seemed interested in using that forward lounge. Unlike my opinion of Cathay Pacific, this flight would be great for couples.  The middle seats have the proximity I prefer for First Class couple travel.  Again the front two rows would be best because of the rear galley noise.

The bottom line

First Class on the Thai A380 is a great product. There were a lot of goods and a few bads. I strongly believe a pretty good product on an A380 exceeds a superior seat on any other widebody for longhaul overnight flights.  Thai is one of the few Star Alliance carriers that releases a high quality first class product months out so I would suggest keeping them in mind the next time you are looking for an aspirational award trip to Asia.

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About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. I echo your comments about the wasteful “lounge” seating area. I would much prefer they install a shower? That would give it the WOW factor and with such long flights it may be used more often than the sitting area.

    I thought the glowing light was a “night light” well that’s what I used it for 😉

    The best seat IMHO is 2K. 1K is short a window and 3K does get some galley noise. The other-side A seats gets the bathroom traffic as its located on that side of the aircraft.

    Ground services in BKK are amazing! I actually took a video from the golf cart 🙂

  2. It’s speculated that the mini side-screen is expected to become the control panel for the seat in the future (like the 77W) but the software isn’t ready yet.

  3. How much better is the cabin pressurization than a 747? I had heard that the 787 had this feature, but not the a380.

  4. @Paul – I read this exact same article before publishing. I was not overwhelmed with the sample of six flights on the A380 and the collection method of a wristwatch you can buy for a couple hundred bucks on Amazon.

  5. Did you read anything that suggests that the pressure is different on an A380 or are you just going by how you felt? I’ve flown in an A380 4 times (twice back-to-back with 77Ws after short layovers) and haven’t felt a difference.

  6. @Paul – I thought I had read repeatedly that A380 had lower pressurization than its predecessors but after doing some more digging I can’t find any support of that. I personally have noticed a difference on A380 but now I am starting to wonder if that was the placebo effect…. Thanks for pointing that out.

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