3-cabin Planes Sold as Two Class

I have a hard time understanding why Thai Airways runs their updated 3-class 747s with angled lay flat business seats and true flat first class seats on a short run like Bangkok-Phuket. Seems like poor fleet planning at first glance, though I haven’t looked at whether the planes also fly internationally and this is just a way to get a few extra hours’ of flying time out of them.

Asiana does something similar, flying 3-class planes sold as 2-class. (I flew Hong Kong-Seoul earlier this month, and an old style 747 was running the route on the day I traveled.)

Trick is just to request the first rows of the plane when traveling on a business class ticket. Worked no problem for me on both carriers.

Of course, American still does the same thing on certain domestic US routes (and sells two-cabin planes as all-coach on certain international routes) — a boon for American elites who can pre-reserve their upgrade while still unfortuantely receiving coach service.

Here’s the Thai Airways seat I had for less than 500 miles…


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I flew Bangkok to Phuket last year on a 3-class Thai 747. I bought the ticket a month or so in advance through their website and couldn’t find the flights I wanted in coach — but business had availability and was only $50 more ($200 r/t). I got to the airport in Bangkok and had the following conversation with the nice check-in lady:

    Me: “Do you have any seats on the upper deck?”

    Her: “You don’t want that.”

    Me: “Why not?”

    Her: “Because you’re ticketed in row 2…”

    Me: “Uhh huh…?”

    Her: “It’s a first class seat but it’s in the business class section for this flight.”

    Sweet. It was a fine way to spend 45 minutes. I even napped.

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