I recently wrote about how operationally unreliable Thai Airways is, given how many last minute equipment swaps they have. If you book a flight a year out, it’s not unusual to have the equipment type changed a handful of times. It’s what I (not so) endearingly like to refer to as “getting TGed.”
Most recently, Thai Airways cancelled first class service to Sydney, by changing the plane they fly on the route from a three class 747-400 to a two class 777-300. This ended one of the only realistic Star Alliance first class award options to Australia, which was terrible for everybody who had booked first class awards on this route.
Thai Airways’ previous generation 747 first class cabin (10 seats)
Earlier this month, Thai reversed course by rescheduling a three class 747-400 on the Bangkok to Sydney route, once again offering a first class product. But this time the issue isn’t what Thai did do… it’s what Thai didn’t do.
Go figure they downgraded all the first class passengers to business class, and now they’re still confirmed in business class even though the flights once again have first class.
Taking a look at ExpertFlyer, I can see that Thai Airways is theoretically offering a first class cabin, but none of the seats for close in travel are for sale (F, A, and P fare buckets are all zeroed out). But how can that be if they downgraded everybody who was in business class?
Thai Airways flight availability
Of course the seat map tells a different story — all the seats are unassigned. Those that show a blue “X” are actually blocked seats, whereby an assigned seat would show as just blue.
Thai Airways 747-400 first class seat map
Several trips I had booked through my award booking service had been downgraded, with most booked through United MileagePlus pre-devaluation. Calling United led to no help, so I tried my new trick of being my own liaison.
I called Thai Airways reservations, explained the downgrade, and the agent immediately knew what to do. While she admitted first class had no seats available for sale, she also mentioned the cabin wasn’t booked at all.
She waitlisted the segment for “O” class (the Star Alliance first class award fare code) and it was immediately viewable on United.com. She then sent off a message to Bangkok reservations, asked for my phone number, and told me I’d receive a call the next day letting me know the outcome.
Not even a day later, Thai had called to let me know Bangkok-Sydney was once again in first class. After that it was just a quick call over to United to re-issue the ticket.
While ExpertFlyer might show first class as being sold out, it’s almost certain that Thai has just blocked the sale of first class for the time being. Because it took a call on my part, it doesn’t appear that Thai is being proactive with upgrading downgraded customers. Or maybe they’re still not actually decided on which plane they want to fly in the market, and are just erring on the side of caution by not selling first class.
Have you been downgraded from first to business class on Thai’s Sydney route? If so, hopefully this trick gets you back in first class!