Thai Airways: Not An Airline Or National Carrier Thailand Should Be Proud Of

Thai Airways awful food


Thai Airways is Thailand’s national airline. A source of pride to some in Thailand, to other Thais it’s a huge embarrassment. Taking into consideration the poor level of service given to passengers, the price, the way they treat Thai passengers and the food, that’s really no surprise.

In fact, I’ve lived in Thailand for a decade and flown from the US on Thai Airways three times. After the third time, I decided I would never fly on Thai Airways from the United States to Thailand again and, so far, I haven’t.
Reliability of Thai Airways – Although my review of Thai Airways overall is negative, I must say each flight I have taken has been on time. When it comes to getting organized and getting in the air, Thai Airways seems to do a better job than other Asian or western airlines so, on that, I have to score them high. Unfortunately, I can’t maintain that positive review on most other aspects involved in flying on Thai Airways. 

Price of Thai Airways – The price Thai Airways charges for tickets is ridiculous. So expensive that they are double or treble the cost of other airlines flying the same routes, why anyone would pay such a high price is beyond me. When I flew on Thai Airways from the United States to Thailand, they were running a special promotion so ticket prices for that year were fair.

Fast forward a couple of years and the same flight from LAX to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport was more than $675 more expensive on Thai Airways than their closest rival. Yet their service was worse.Yesterday, I ran a search online for flights from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Round-trip on Air Asia and Lufthansa was less than $150. On Thai Airways, a similar ticket was over $470 and this was a ‘promotional rate’.

Needless to say, I booked yet another flight on Lufthansa and avoided Thai completely. This ridiculous cost is probably why Thai Airways has been reporting record losses for the last two years. Even the high-society Thais I know don’t fly on Thai Airways. They might have money but they don’t believe in wasting it. 

Service – When you first board, particularly if you haven’t been to Thailand before, being greeted by beautiful exotic-looking flight attendants wearing traditional Thai dress is lovely. Half-way through the 17 hour flights when, for the third time, one of them has forgotten to bring your glass of Coke, it’s not so lovely. Service on Thai, in fact, is distinctly average. No frills on these flights and with their flight staff being a bit ditzy or simply misunderstanding what you want, it can make that 16 hour flight seem a lot longer. 

Thai Airways Food – Although the cost of the food is included in the price of the ticket, it’s ultimately pretty awful. Mostly Thai food or sandwiches, it’s so unremarkable, there’s little to say about it except it’s bland and barely edible. Coming from a country that’s renowned for its spectacular food, you’d think they could do better. Particularly for the expensive price. 

In-Flight Entertainment – In-flight entertainment on Thai Airways flights is poor. While every other airline I fly has individual TV screens on the seat back in front of you with tons of movie and TV choices, Thai only has small TV screens above the seats every 3-4 rows. Annoying as you can’t choose what you want to watch and the quality is low.

Treatment of Thais on Thai Airways – One thing I’ve heard consistently about Thai Airways is how poorly they treat Thais. I have several Thai friends who will never fly Thai Airways again, due to being ignored for long periods of time while the flight attendants ran around helping westerners instead.

My best friend is Thai and she won’t set foot on a Thai Airways flight again. Not after seeing an Italian man next to her being treated so well then experiencing incredibly rude treatment herself from a flight attendant just a few minutes later. The only reason? She’s Thai.

I don’t believe in giving poor reviews to airlines I’ve only flown on once. Any airline can have an off-day or circumstances beyond their control can cause your experience to be poor. But, I’ve flown six times on Thai Airways and had negative experiences every time. Now that I can get similar flights for 60% of the cost of Thai and better service, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, for me, Thai Airways will never be the right choice.

Photo – Thai Airways’ disgusting food in economy class.