I was excited to travel in first class on Thai Airways because I’d heard great things about the airport lounge. The Thai Airways Royal First Lounge is supposed to be one of the best in the world, in part because it provides access to a separate spa with a complimentary one-hour treatment session (business class passengers receive a 30-minute treatment). In addition, Thai provides a personal escort within the terminal.
My taxi from the Grand Hyatt Bangkok dropped me off at the curb at the economy class area, so I made a short walk back to Door 1 for first class check-in. I was met by an agent at a roped off area who confirmed my name and my flight to Tokyo-Haneda before letting me in, where I was invited to sit down and offered a bottle of water.
I don’t have many pictures of the check-in process because it all moved so fast, but it was extremely attentive. For example, I did not yet have a seat assignment, so the agent brought over a laminated seating chart and recommended a couple seats with the best location. That’s great service. I’m used to agents who reference specific seat numbers on their terminal even though I have no familiarity with the cabin.
The entire time there was a porter standing by with my bag. I don’t think I touched my suitcase once between arriving at the airport and the end of my spa treatment. After my boarding pass and passport were returned to me, I was escorted down a dedicated escalator in the back, where a buggy was waiting to drive me through the business class lounge to the Royal Orchid Spa.
I was asked during check-in if I wanted a full body massage or a combination foot, neck, and shoulder massage. The full body massage requires you to undress, so keep that in mind. In any case, the attendant was already waiting for me when I arrived at the spa, and we went back to the treatment area immediately. It was very calm area with a comfortable chair despite occasional background noise from the terminal.
So how was it?
I’m not a massage guy. My wife gets all the spa credits when we stay at hotels, so this was actually the first massage I’ve ever had.
I can say that recent events had heaped a lot of stress on me, and I definitely felt more relaxed after leaving. But personally it is not a reason for me to connect through Bangkok. Otherwise, I was happy enough to enjoy the other features of the lounge.
My wife and I took the same route again two months later in business class. I think part of my objections to getting a massage is just that I get bored, and sitting for an hour without any work to do is not my idea of a good time. The neck and should massage for 30 minutes on our second trip was plenty. Of course, she loved it.
After completing the massage, I was escorted to the Royal First Lounge across the hallway. There is a main sitting area, a dining room, a small buffet, and several private rooms with a chair, sofa, television, and workstation. I had one of these private rooms all to myself. Shortly after sitting down a lounge attendant came by to offer a menu and ask what I would like to eat or drink before my flight.
It was about lunch time, so I had a mojito and some pad thai. Both were very good.
I didn’t want to fill up too much before meal service on the flight — first class meals usually offer far more than I can eat anyway. Fortunately the dishes were small enough that I didn’t have to worry. I eventually ordered a second drink and went to explore the buffet, where another lounge attendant gave me suggestions on her favorite desserts.
Both the spa and the lounge were relatively empty, so I was one of the few people there for a couple hours before my flight. Slowly a few guests trickled in, most occupying their own private rooms.
After about an hour and a half in the lounge, my flight was getting ready to depart. Another guide came to retrieve the other passengers and me from the lounge and escort us to the plane. Unfortunately we drove for only a few minutes before reaching security.
We were escorted to the front of the line but had to walk the rest of the way to the end of the E pier — not the longest walk in this notoriously large airport, but at a quick pace. I think I would have preferred to go myself to the plane and enjoy the scenery, but I appreciated the effort.
In sum, I agree with those who say that the Thai Royal First Lounge is among the best in the world. Unique amenities such as the spa and private rooms are wonderful ways to set a lounge apart from the competition and create a memorable experience. I also thought the escorts were a good touch. Does everyone need this level of service? No. But I recommend trying it at least once during your travels through Asia.