April 2019 (Last updated in March 2022)
Airline: Thai Smile Airways
Route: Bangkok (BKK) – Siem Reap (REP)
Class: Premium Economy/Smile Plus Class
Seats: 31K + 31H (row number 31 is the first row on the plane)
When we were planning our short trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap, our main goal was to find the smoothest way possible to get to our destination. With plenty of flights to choose from, we eventually booked an evening one with Thai Smile Airways.
We wanted seats up front to be one of the first to get into the customs and immigration lane in Siem Reap, as well as flexibility in case we needed to change the date. Although it is more expensive than a economy saver ticket, we decided to book a Plus ticket, which is Thai Smile Airways’ premium economy class.
The trip started well at Thai Smiles priority check-in at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Then after a swift security check, we were inside the terminal.
Our tickets included access to the pleasant Thai Airways Flagship Royal Orchid business class lounge. We spent an hour there enjoying a great selection of food and drinks.
As our boarding time approached, we started walking towards the gate. Boarding was bang on the scheduled time, 40 minutes before departure. Although we had priority boarding, this was of little value as our gate was a bus gate. Getting first on the bus did get us seats on it, however, which we appreciated given the quite lengthy bus ride to the aircraft stand.
Walking into the plane, we were instantly greeted by three very friendly flight attendants. Since we were seated in the front row, we loaded our hand luggage into the overhead bins and found our seats in no time.
Cabin and seat:
The seats in the front row were very comfortable with plenty of legroom and a blocked middle seat. The seats also had a flexible headrest, enhancing comfort significantly, as well as a small pillow. Because the tray table was stored inside the armrest in the first row, the seat width was slightly reduced.
The Thai Smile Airways Plus class consisted of 4 rows with a 3-3 configuration, all with the middle seat blocked by a small table. The legroom in rows 2-4 was not as generous as in the front row, but still not bad. As the only passengers flying in premium economy, we had the opportunity to check out the 33-inch seat pitch in the rows behind us.
Food and beverage:
We were given a warm towel and served grape juice and nuts just seconds after settling into our seats. Soon afterwards, a flight attendant stopped by to take our orders for food and drinks. We had a choice of shrimp or fish for the main course, while the starter and dessert were set.
After a short taxi and a smooth take-off, we were handed a tray with a salmon starter, our main course and dessert with white chocolate and mango. Everything was served on a white cloth with proper cutlery and glasses. The food was tasty, though a bit on the spicy side for us Norwegians. We just had coffee and soft drinks, so we are not quite sure if alcohol was on offer.
The onboard service was friendly and relaxed, yet extremely efficient. During the very short flight, we had multiple interactions with the crew who were all smiling and forthcoming. Upon receiving the immigration papers, we were also proactively offered pens, which was a nice touch.
Thai Smile Airways impressed us greatly with their Plus class experience. The service level was far better than what we have experienced in short-haul European business class with leading flag carriers, and we would love to see them learn a thing or two from the Thai Smile Airways crew.
Serving a 3-course meal during such a short flight is quite ambitious, but the crew pulled this off with a smile.
We felt that the extra money spent on premium economy was well worth it. The lounge access, the generous legroom, and priority boarding made for a very pleasant trip. Being the first to get off the plane also meant that we saved time getting through customs, which was much appreciated given the late evening arrival.
All in all, Thai Smile Airways Plus class was our best short flight ever!
Overview of the benefits of flying Thai Smile Airways Plus class:
- Airport lounge access (at Bangkok Airport this includes access to the Thai Airways Flagship Royal Orchid business class lounge).
- Miles earning with the Thai Royal Orchid Plus frequent-flyer program.
- 30 kg of checked baggage allowance on domestic routes — 40 kg on international routes.
- Priority boarding.
- Free seat reservation and seating in the first rows of the plane.
- Comfortable seat with 33-inch seat pitch (standard economy class has a seat pitch of 28-31).
- Blocked middle seat.
- Welcome drink and full-service meal with hot and cold beverages.
- Priority baggage (priority baggage is the first lot that comes on baggage carousel).
- Rerouting (destination change) is permitted without a fee.
- Flight and date changes are permitted without a fee.
- Cancellation is permitted within 4 hours before departure time (fee of THB 500/USD 17 for domestic routes and 1500/49 for international routes).