Many global airlines have retired their Boeing 747 planes or are retrofitting them to freighters. They’re just not as economical as newer generation Dreamliners or A350s. But the Queen of the Skies is still running on some global carriers. Thai Airways flies it from Bangkok to Beijing which is a great route to enjoy a 747 for old time’s sake.
Most of the Chinese carriers which fly between the Thai and Chinese capital use well worn 777s or 737s with standard reclining seats. And because most of the travel is leisure and landing slots are in high demand in both airports they tend to have late night or early morning schedules. Enter Thai Airways and their 747. Thai offers a mid-morning departure from Bangkok and a late afternoon return from Beijing which is far more convenient.
Thai’s 747 is of course an older product so it features angled-flat seats and a bit of a dated IFE but the service and experience is typically Thai. This means it’s friendly, attentive and professional. The food out of Bangkok was quite delicious with choice of Chinese, Western, Vegetarian or Thai options. Take the Thai meal as catering at Suvarnabhumi usually (as you’d expect) excel at Thai cuisine.
Some of Thai’s configuration feature First Class in the nose of the main cabin with a few Business Class seats. The majority of the Business cabin is on the upper deck. This means the overhead lockers are small by today’s standards but it creates a nice quiet and very exclusive feeling. On long haul flights from London or Frankfurt the upper deck always seemed more refined than the main deck. Even on this short 5.5 hour flight it was a better choice.
If you’re an AV geek this is a great chance to fly a truly great aircraft. If you’re not, it’s still a great way to travel regionally in Asia. The Boeing 747 is not the newest plane in the air but her grace and finesse (and probably some of opur memories) still make her feel like the Queen of the Skies.