People make such a big deal about the free massages doled out for premium cabin passengers by Thai Airways at the Bangkok airport. Bloggers galore expound upon how the Thai Airways ground experience is one of the best in the world, even if their in-flight product doesn’t measure up (note: I don’t believe that their in-flight product doesn’t measure up, but this is also a meme that has spread due to certain bloggers). As far as I can tell, this praise is almost always due to the 1-hour massage provided to first class passengers departing from BKK, which I really don’t understand.
Thailand is of course known for their massages. Presumably, if you’re departing from BKK, you’ve spent some time in Thailand. And if you’ve spent some time in Thailand, you know that you can get an hour-long massage for a couple of US dollars. I think the last massage that I got in Thailand cost me 600 baht (~$19, including a generous tip) for a 2-hour long massage, and that was at a fancy spa place. You can find massage for much, much less.
So why do people go orgasmic over something that costs less than $10 USD? And why do they expect Thai Airways, a company in the business of transporting people from one place to another, to provide great massages? The Thai food in the lounges isn’t even very good, so why would the massages be?
It’s also not like Thai Airways is the only airline to offer massages to premium cabin passengers. I think they’re the only ones to offer hour-long massages, but I’ve gotten massages at DXB (via Emirates), LHR (via British Airways), and DFW (via Amex).Granted, I think they were all 15-minutes or so, but it’s not like my massage at the Thai Airways Spa was stellar. I’ve had better massages from massage chairs (which I admittedly am quite fond of).
I guess the other thing that Thai does that is actually unique is buggy rides for first class passengers. So everyone at the airport can stare at you as your driver narrowly misses plowing them down. Yes, BKK is quite large, so this is actually a somewhat nice benefit, but seriously, it’s just a buggy ride. I wonder what would happen if an airline started offering free wheelchairs and pushing to first class passengers…
This post isn’t to say that I don’t like Thai Airways–I actually like them a lot. I’ve had great experiences on the ground and in the air (although the food has been disappointing given that Thailand is possibly my favorite food country), but I’m just gobsmacked whenever I read someone being like, “OMG, Thai is the best evarrr (but their in-flight suxxx)” because of an hour-long massage. And to get that hour-long airport massage, you need to specifically depart from BKK in first class, which is non-trivial, and arrive at the airport with enough time to make sure that you can get an hour-long massage, which means potentially cutting into your time on the ground.
Anyway, what this is to say is that Thai Airways is nice. Getting massages is nice. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to get one, and you’re probably better off paying for as many massages as you want when you’re actually in Thailand rather than paying extra to depart out of BKK in Thai First Class to get a “free” hour-long massage at the airport.