Thai

Thai Airways Wants To Bring Back Nonstop Flights To The US

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Thai Airways used to fly nonstop from Bangkok to New York and Los Angeles using their Airbus A340-500 aircraft, though in 2012 they cut those routes, given how much money the airline was losing on the routes. This was due to a combination of the A340-500 being a gas guzzler, and also the generally low yields on flights to and from Thailand.

Thai Airways used to operate a one stop flight between Los Angeles and Bangkok, which initially routed via Osaka, and then eventually via Seoul Incheon, before it finally got cut. When an airline only operates a one-stop routing to their home country, they don’t really have a competitive advantage, since there are a dozen airlines operating one-stop flights between the US and Thailand.

Thai Airways isn’t even allowed to fly to the US at the moment, given the poor rating Thailand scored in a safety audit. This caused the FAA to downgrade Thailand to Category II, which means they can’t operate flights to the US. However, I’d keep in mind that’s more a reflection of the regulation in the country overall (or lack thereof), rather than Thai Airways specifically.

Anyway, it looks like Thai Airways is looking to change their safety image, and even wants to restart flights between Bangkok and the US. Per the Bangkok Post:

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What Makes A First Class Lounge Exceptional?

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Earlier today I wrote about the opening of the much anticipated Etihad first class lounge. The lounge opening was delayed by over a year, so many of us have been anxiously waiting for it to open. I’m excited to check out the lounge myself soon, and will reserve final judgment until then. Etihad claims this is “a lounge like no other.”

As someone who has experienced many of the world’s best lounges, it got me thinking… what makes a first class lounge truly spectacular?

I’ve shared what I consider to be the world’s seven best first class airline lounges:

— Air France First Class Lounge Paris
— Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt
— Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge Hong Kong
— Thai Airways First Class Lounge Bangkok
— Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney
— Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge Doha
— Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai

When I really boil it down, what makes an international first class lounge experience exceptional? I figured I’d share the six elements of a perfect lounge. For what it’s worth, no lounge boasts all of these features, so this lounge exists only in my imagination. 😉

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A Drug Smuggler’s Dream Come True: Thai Airline Will Now Sell Seats To Dolls

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Thai Airways has a low cost airline called Thai Smile, which operates many of their regional services. And that airline will now sell seats to dolls. Those seats come with food and drinks for your doll, though the dolls can’t sit in the exit row, regardless of how old the spirit inside them is.

Via BloombergBusiness:

“Thai Smile Airways, which is a part of national carrier Thai Airways International Pcl, said in an internal memo that dolls with tickets will be served snacks and drinks, though they will be barred from sitting in exit rows. Owners who take dolls on the plane without tickets will have them treated as carry-on luggage.

The dolls known as Luk Thep, or Child Angels, have become increasingly popular in Thailand after several celebrities extolled their benefits. The dolls, which can sell for hundreds of dollars, are thought to possess the spirits of child angels and their owners pamper them with brand-name clothes and accessories due to the belief that a well-cared-for doll will bring good fortune.”

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The World’s 7 Best First Class Airline Lounges

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Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to fly a lot of the world’s best airlines, and I’d argue visit all of the world’s top airline lounges. Last year I shared what I consider to be the world’s six best first class products, so today I’m going to share what I consider to be the world’s seven best first class airline lounges.

Most people dread waiting at airports, though with access to the right lounges, waiting at the airport can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the flying experience. From hour-long full body massages, to restaurants with Michelin star chefs, to being driven to the plane in a Porsche, some of these lounges have it all.

While I shared my six favorite first class products in no particular order, I’m going to do it differently with lounges — I’m going to rank them in order, from my seventh favorite to my absolute favorite airline lounge.

Before I do so, let me share what’s important to me in airline lounges, so you guys have some sense of what I’m basing my rankings on:

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Are Thailand’s Airlines Unsafe?

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The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recently completed an audit of Thailand’s Civil Aviation Authority, during which they found some troubling policies.

Via Reuters:

“One aviation source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that significant safety concerns had been uncovered during an audit of Thailand’s civil aviation authority by the Montréal-based International Civil Aviation Organization.

The source said the ICAO’s concerns revolved around the issue of operator certificates to carriers by the Thai authority. While the ICAO cannot “downgrade” states, its audits identify concerns that could lead countries to take steps such as banning flights.”

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How To Fix Thai Airways First Class Downgrade

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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.

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.

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Redeem Miles For Flight Simulator

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As an aviation geek there’s nothing cooler than a full motion airline flight simulator. Given that they cost millions of dollars, it’s kind of tough to get into them unless you have an “in” at an airline or training center.

There are a few airlines that actually let you redeem miles for flight simulator rides, though it’s usually prohibitively expensive. For example, you can redeem EVA Air InfinityMileage Land miles for a 1.5 hour flight simulator ride. The cost is 100,000 miles, and you have to be a Gold or Diamond member in order to qualify. You have to complete a form before the 15th of the month prior to the one where you want to schedule your session, and you can only do it Tuesdays or Thursdays between 2PM and 3:30PM.

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Thai Airways Aircraft Changes

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I’ve written in the past about how unreliable Thai Airways’ scheduling and aircraft planning is. People think I’m joking and exaggerating. I’m not. I don’t think it would be unfair to say that Qatar Airways’ A380 delivery schedule was executed with more precision than Thai Airways’ aircraft planning.

Thai Airways’ aircraft planning is so unreliable that it has its own verb which can be used in lieu of your preferred cuss word — “TGed.” Used in a sentence — “My flight is scheduled to be operated by a 747 with first class as of now… hopefully I don’t get TGed.”

So how much “TGing” has Thai been doing lately?

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Changes To Star Alliance First Class To Sydney

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Australia can be a rather difficult destination to get to using Star Alliance miles, in particular in first class. Finding nonstop award availability between the US and Australia/New Zealand is difficult, given that United releases very little saver premium cabin award space. Air New Zealand is even worse, and releases virtually no premium cabin award space between the US mainland and New Zealand. It has literally been years since I’ve seen a business class award seat on them out of Los Angeles or San Francisco.

That’s why historically the best way to redeem Star Alliance miles for travel to Australia is by routing through Asia, as there are quite a few airlines with service between the continents, and they do seem to release more award space.

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Thai Airways Starting Bangkok To Dusseldorf Flights

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Thai Airways has announced that they plan to discontinue their second daily Bangkok to Frankfurt flight (TG922/923), as of December 1, 2014.

What makes me want to slam my forehead against a desk is the route that they’ll be launching with the aircraft they were previously flying to Frankfurt. Thai Airways will be launching four times weekly 747-400 service between Bangkok and Dusseldorf as of December 2, 2014. They used to fly this route up until 1990, so I guess you could say they’re resuming the route, almost 25 years later.

The flight will operate with the following schedule:

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Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus Devaluation Postponed

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In mid-June I wrote about the drastic award chart devaluation announced by the Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus program, which was supposed to kick in for redemptions made starting September 1, 2014.

When I first saw the new award chart I said “hmm, this doesn’t look so bad, what’s everyone complaining about?” And then I quickly realized that the award chart was going from displaying roundtrip redemption costs to displaying one-way redemption costs, and the rates remained roughly the same — ouch!

For example, an award ticket between “Asia 1” and North America presently costs 264,000 miles roundtrip, while under the new chart it would cost 264,000 miles one-way. That’s right, the saver award cost between Asia and the US would be 528,000 miles roundtrip. That’s insane!

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Thai Airways 787 To Perth And Tokyo Haneda

While I always try to stay on top of the latest route announcements for new aircraft, sometimes they slip through the cracks. What I missed is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that Thai Airways would be taking delivery of their first Boeing 787 “Dreamliners” in a few months, and beginning longhaul commercial service…

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