Thai Airways remains one of the best airline options when it comes to first and business class award space on Star Alliance carriers. As a matter of fact, they’re one of the few Star Alliance carriers that releases first class award space in advance nowadays.
That being said, you may notice that Thai Airways never releases more than two first and business class award seats or four coach award seats at a time. What most people don’t realize, however, is that they do. You see, historically some airlines intentionally only released one seat at a time for reasons I can only speculate about (maybe they hope if two people are traveling together and one gets an award ticket, the other will pay). However, as soon as you booked the first seat, another one opened up. Singapore did this for years back when they actually released first class award seats to Star Alliance airlines, so the key was to put one ticket on hold, and then often just seconds later another one opened up.
Thai Airways is kind of similar, though I don’t think what they do is necessarily intentional. Take a look at the revenue buckets for their flights:
As you can see, the most seats they’re loading in any first or business class bucket is two, while the most seats they’re loading in any coach bucket is four.
And the same thing applies to award tickets. Despite being one of the most generous airlines with award seats, they’ll only display two seats at a time in first or business class. That being said, it’s a near sure bet they’ll have more than two seats actually available, especially for intra-Asia business class.
The way to work the system if you have a group larger than two is to only hold or book two seats at a time. As soon as the seats are in the reservation, more may very well appear.
To put this in the form of an example, I had a client a couple of weeks ago that needed eight business class tickets on Thai. As usual Thai was only releasing two seats at a time, so I called US Airways to put the first ticket on hold for two passengers. Once the ticket was on hold I asked the agent to build another record for two people. And again. And again. Each time the space “mysteriously” appeared. The reaction on the part of the agent was priceless, since she literally thought by total coincidence that Thai Airways was manually loading award space into their system the exact second we were on the phone, when in fact the space was there and just hidden.
So anyway, just figured I’d throw in the mention, since many people have the notion that three business or first class award seats are impossible to get on Thai. The reality is quite the opposite.