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Thai Airways is increasing miles-earning rates but also redemption costs

8 Apr 2019 by Craig Bright
Thai Airways

Thai Airways is making its first adjustment to its awards chart in 25 years in a move that will bring a mixed bag of pros and cons for members of its Royal Orchid Plus frequent-flyer programme starting October 1.

Thailand’s flag carrier made the decision to adjust its miles earning and redemption rates in order “to be in line with other airlines’ frequent-flyer programmes”, Thai said in a press release.

On the plus side, miles earning rates for certain fare classes are set to get a boost, though on the flip slide redemptions on certain routes will also become more expensive. Here’s what the changes mean for you:

The bad

Let’s start with the negatives – Thai Airways has said that the number of miles required to redeem award tickets “on certain routes” is set to increase by an average of 24 per cent. The airline cites a Royal First Class award ticket on its Bangkok-Tokyo-Bangkok route, which requires 110,000 miles to redeem at the moment but will rise to 135,000 miles from October 1.

Some routes and fare classes will remain unchanged. For example, the cost of award tickets in any class on flights to and from Indochina, the Philippines and Indonesia will remain unchanged, as will economy class tickets on flights to and from India, Japan and South Korea.

But, take a Royal Silk Class (business class) fare on a route like Bangkok-Perth and things look noticeably grimmer. At the moment, Bangkok-Perth is classed in the same redemption tier as Bangkok-Tokyo based on distance, but from October 1 it will adopt the same rates as all other Australia routes, which are notably more expensive.

As such, a one-way Royal Silk Class award ticket on Bangkok-Perth will go from 52,500 miles to 65,000 miles, while round-trip will go from 75,000 miles to 130,000 miles.

The good

Passengers travelling on tickets booked in the more expensive fare classes in Royal First Class (first class), Royal Silk Class (business class) and economy class will receive more miles from October 1 onwards.

For example, Royal First Class passengers booked on full-fare “F” tickets will receive 250 per cent miles, while those booked on “A” or “P” fares will earn 200 per cent miles. This is up from the current 150 per cent that “F”, “A” and “P” fares all receive.

Royal Silk Class passengers flying on “C” or “D” class fares, meanwhile, will go from the current 125 per cent accrual rate to 150 per cent. “J” and “Z” fares will continue to earn 125 per cent of miles.

Finally, passengers booked on “Y” and “B” economy class fares will earn 110 per cent of miles, up from 100 per cent at the moment.

Here is Thai’s miles-earning chart before and after the October 1 changes:

Thai Airways Miles Earning Chart

Royal Orchid Plus members also will now receive further bonus miles depending on their tier: Platinum members earn an additional 20 per cent; Gold members earn an additional 10 per cent; and Silver members earn an additional 5 per cent.

The mixed

Thai is also changing how members can redeem their miles, with one-way redemptions becoming available for 50 per cent of a roundtrip award ticket compared with the current 68 per cent.

Members will also be able to redeem multiple one-way tickets in different classes and on different routes, provided the destinations are in the same time zone. Some examples would be in Australia, redeeming on a Bangkok-Sydney departing flight and a Perth-Bangkok return flight, or in North Asia redeeming a Bangkok-Tokyo departing flight and a Seoul-Bangkok return.

This means that round-trip award tickets will no longer offer any better value than one-way tickets.

For example, at current rates Bangkok-London one-way in Royal Silk Class costs 89,000 miles, while a round-trip award ticket costs 130,000. After the changes, this will rise to 90,000 miles one-way and 180,000 miles round-trip.

For some routes, the changes will make one-way redemptions cheaper than they are now. Taking the earlier Bangkok-Tokyo-Bangkok as an example, a one-way Royal First Class fare at the moment costs 77,000 miles compared to 110,000 miles for a round-trip fare. Under the new award chart, this will cost 67,500 miles one-way and 135,000 miles round-trip.

But as we saw with Thai’s Bangkok-Perth route, both one-way and round-trip fares have the potential to significantly increase.

See the full redemption table here.

The takeaway? Royal Orchid Plus members would do well to redeem their miles on round-trip itineraries before the September 30 cutoff date in order to do so at the current, cheaper rate.

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