No international arrival lounge at Bangkok hub degrades Thai premium passenger experience

Just completed an eight segment trip that took me from Bangalore to Thailand and Korea on Thai Airways.

Thai Airways has upgraded its daily Bangalore Bangkok service to Boeing 777-200ERs, five times a week, the other two days remaining an Airbus A330-300.

The Thai B772ERs are equipped with the lay-flat Recaro seats in business class in a 2-2-2 configuration with an AVOD (Audio Video On Demand) in-flight entertainment system. This allows Thai to offer a similar cabin product as its other Star Alliance partner and competitor at Bangalore, Singapore Airlines.

I was impressed by the extremely good service of the cabin crew across all the flights, including domestic (flew both business and economy). Something hard to do, as I have been spoilt over the years by being an uber-frequent flyer of Singapore Airlines.

One area that Thai Airways fails, and rather spectacularly is at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport, its home base. Virtually all the Star Alliance member airlines and even SkyTeam and oneworld members, based out of Europe and Asia, offer some form of arrivals lounge for their international premium passengers. These lounges offer a much desired, sometimes much needed, shower facility, basic breakfast, and for those us addicted to tobacco, some form of smoking room if not in the lounge, nearby.

At Suvarnabhumi airport, Thai Airways operates no less than seven lounges and a separate spa, none of them in the international arrivals area. With the exception of one lounge, in the domestic concourse, all the other lounges and the spa are in the international departures area, which is inaccessible unless you are connecting to another international flight from Bangkok on the same day.

Consequently, premium passengers arriving in Bangkok on Thai are denied this small bit of relaxation and comfort. A rude and unhelpful Airports of Thailand staff, only further degrades an arriving passenger’s euphoria after a flight with good on-board service.

The lounge in the domestic concourse while decent, is a far cry from its cousins in the international departures area, and offers no shower facilities. If you have a six hour connection like I did, you have no choice but to sit and stew in your stinky sweat, and due to local laws, there is no smoking permitted anywhere in the domestic concourse.

One can only wonder why the airline has chosen such an imabalanced lounge infrastructure at its home base. An imbalance that degrades the airline’s otherwise Smooth as silk service experience for hard to obtain premium class passengers.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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