Bali-Tree: Thai Airways First Class BKK-NRT, UA First Class NRT-SFO

a seat in an airplane


We left the lounge and headed to the gate and the boarding process was a breeze.  From check-in through to boarding, Thai really does the best job of acknowledging premium cabin passengers, and could be somewhat of a case study for some of our airlines at home.  I’m looking at you, United.

TG 642
Seat 2A

The flight from BKK-NRT was scheduled for a brief 6 hours and while I went in thinking I was going to stay up and really enjoy the experience, tiredness and food coma quickly took a hold of me and I spent the majority of the flight asleep.  The sum total of the time spent awake during this flight couldn’t have been more than 45 minutes to an hour.  It’s actually a good learning experience, since in the future if I really want to experience a specific airline, I’ll need to make sure it’s a daytime flight.

The reason that I wish I had spent more time awake was due to the fact that this particular flight would be on one of the 777-300ER’s leased from Jet Airways.  That meant that the first class cabin would feature suites with closing doors.  While there’s certainly a “cool” factor with having your own private door on a plane, we both felt like the cabin seemed quite dated and lacked some of the updates found on the newer TG first class cabins.  However, the bed on the plane was very comfortable, and in the end I really did appreciate the closed suite as it gives everything a different feeling that allows you to relax without anyone looking in or being distracted by foot traffic going by.

Shortly after takeoff we were served a small snack of an appetizer and soup, but I wasn’t hungry at all having eaten half of the things on the lounge menu already.  Shortly before landing, another light meal was served, although it must not have been very memorable since I can’t recall how a single thing tasted.

One final thought on Thai – I’m curious if anyone knows just how many different amenity kits they have in circulation. On four different flights (2 in first, 2 in business), I received four completely different brands of amenity kit bag, filled with four completely different brands of toiletries.  I guess TG isn’t big on any exclusive partnerships from the amenity kit standpoint.

a seat in an airplane
777-300ER first class suite
a tv on the wall
a menu of a restaurant
a plate with food on it
small meal served after takeoff
a close-up of a door
do not disturb!
a ceiling with stars on it
mood lighting

After landing, we had a long 8+ hour layover scheduled in NRT and while my friend decided to check out the city, I was more than content to park my butt at the lounges.  The first stop was the United Global First lounge, which is located on the upper floor of the United Club.  Given the early morning arrival, I was one of the first people there and was nice having the place to myself for a couple hours. However, I didn’t find the food spread here very appetizing, and eventually made my way over to the ANA Suites lounge.

Once there, I grabbed a private cubicle and was actually quite impressed as it’s probably the nicest cubicle I’ve been in at an airport lounge.  There is a very large TV and workspace area and comfortable seat with footstool, which provided a great place to relax and nap on/off.  The food options at the lounge are also pretty decent, with a full noodle bar and some hot options such as curry and stir fry available, along with finger foods such as sandwiches and sushi.  I also took a shower and was given a small shower amenity kit with Shisheido shampoo/soap to use.  I ended up using the small packets of generic soap they provided and added the nice stuff to the stockpile I had already accumulated along the way.

a room with white furniture and a black carpet
United Global First lounge
a long shot of a room
a kitchen with a large countertop
minimal food spread at United lounge
a desk with a black and white desk
ANA Suites cubicle
a desk in a room
an airplane on the tarmac
entertaining view from the ANA lounge

UA 838
Seat 2K

My flight from NRT-SFO was the last flight of my trip, and also the one that I had been checking non-stop during my trip to see if I could swap out for something better.  In true first-world problems fashion I was dreading the flight because it’d be on United, albeit in first class.  I was even looking for alternative routings up to the minute I left the lounge for boarding, and as you can probably tell had really low expectations for the flight.

Well, to my surprise, United blew away my expectations for this flight.  Does that mean it was as good as my ANA or TG flights?  Not even close.  But the food, seat, and amenity kit, were much better than I was expecting.  And to top it off, the part I was worried about was the service, ended up being the best part of the flight as I found it to be especially good and left me pleasantly surprised.  Perhaps I’ve become a bit jaded or influenced by the number of negative things I’ve heard recently about United, but I personally have yet to encounter anything in-flight that left me scathing (only thing in recent memory was on the ground which was a 12+ hour delay for a SFO-LAX flight when United’s computers decided to take the day off).  Hopefully this doesn’t jinx me for any upcoming flights, but I thought that I’d thrown in a good word for United when it was certainly deserved.

a tv on a seat in a plane
making a mess in my seat
a close-up of a blue bag
fully stocked amenity kit
a menu of a restaurant
a menu of a flight
a plate of food on a table
United’s attempt at a Kaiseki meal
a plate of sushi on a table
a salad on a plate
a tray of food on a table
a bowl of ice cream with almond flakes
can’t go wrong with an ice cream sundae

One Comment

  1. NIce report ( accurate)

    I have a few days to decide on using some united miles for a return trip in october from hkt to san, and can choose united or eva for the longer portions of the trip, any suggestion as to united first or eva business class

    so far the eva looks better.

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