Although you can earn THAI Airways Royal Orchid Plus miles through Citibank and AMEX credit cards, I haven’t written about the program before because I feel it’s completely underwhelming (and will only get worse from 1 October when it undergoes a massive devaluation).
However, there’s an ongoing promotion that runs from now till 30 September 2019. Royal Orchid Plus members can save 50% on round trip award tickets on THAI in all classes of service between Bangkok and the following destinations.
Travel must be completed by 31 Oct 2019, and awards booked are non-refundable.
Although I don’t think it makes sense to position to Bangkok just to get to most of the destinations on offer, Europe seems enticing at 50% off. Unfortunately, THAI does not operate First Class on any of these three Europe routes, but even Business Class pricing seems fantastic:
|Round-trip Economy||Round-trip Business|
Compare this to how much you’d pay to fly on Singapore Airlines via KrisFlyer:
|Round-trip Economy||Round-trip Business|
|Singapore-Moscow||76,000 + S$89.80||184,000 + S$89.80|
|Singapore-Copenhagen||76,000 +S$83.10||184,000 +S$83.10|
|Singapore-Stockholm (via Moscow)||76,000 +S$130.8||184,000 +S$130.80|
What’s the catch? Well, you need to position yourself to Bangkok (budget flights are available for S$100-150), and THAI imposes fuel surcharges on awards (the miles you save more than offset them), and you’ll want to watch out what aircraft you get.
From Bangkok to Moscow, THAI operates an ancient B777-200/200ER plane, where Business Class is an angled-flat seat with close to zero privacy. Just looking at it makes me feel sad.
However, from Bangkok to Stockholm/Copenhagen, there’s a much better B777-300ER with full flat, 1-2-1 configured seats.
It’s confusing because THAI lists these flights as B773 aircraft in their system (the B777-300s have the same dismal Business Class seat as the B777-200, but with an additional middle seat)…
…but checking the seat map will show you a 1-2-1 configuration, which means it’s full flat seats. Checks on FlightRadar24 further confirm that it’s the B77W that flies this route.
49,000 miles for round-trip Business Class to Moscow and 65,000 miles for Stockholm and Copenhagen are very compelling prices-it’s even cheaper than Economy Class on Singapore Airlines! Put it another way- for the cost of flying one person to Moscow in Business Class on SIA, I could fly three people on THAI, and still have 37,000 miles leftover.
If I were flying to Moscow, I’d grit my teeth and say that even the worst Business Class seat is better than the best Economy Class seat, and go in with the expectation that I’m getting Economy+, not Business-.
For flights to Stockholm or Copenhagen, THAI’s 777-300ER product is a lot more compelling, and although it may not be as good as Singapore Airlines’, you’re still getting a fantastic deal. Plus, you’ll get he full THAI Business Class experience on the ground in Bangkok, which includes a visit to the Royal Orchid Spa.
Just beware that THAI is notorious for equipment swaps- in fact, “getting TG-ed” is common shorthand in the frequent flyer community. I’m not saying it will happen, but if it does, well, my comment about the flight to Moscow still applies.
Searching for THAI award space
All this means very little if you can’t actually find award space, but I’m glad to report that it seems pretty abundant on these routes. From Bangkok to Stockholm, for example, I was able to find at least 2 Business Class seats for most of August and September
You’ll want to search for THAI award space using a website like United.com or Aeroplan, as the THAI website requires that you have miles in your account before you search.
How do I get THAI Airways Royal Orchid Plus miles?
THAI Airways Royal Orchid Plus is a transfer partner of both American Express and Citibank cards, but the best way to earn miles is through Citibank (as AMEX earn rates aren’t fantastic).
Transfer ratios to Royal Orchid Plus are the same as those to KrisFlyer, or any of Citi’s other 10 transfer partners (25,000 Thank You Points or 10,000 Citi Miles= 10,000 Royal Orchid Plus miles)
Remember that Citi is currently offering two sign up bonuses which run until 30 Sept 2019:
- Spend $7,500 in 3 months and pay the $192.60 annual fee to get a total of 30,000 miles on the Citi PremierMiles Visa
- Spend $3,000 in 3 months and get up to 22,800 miles on the Citi Rewards Visa
Both these offers are for new-to-bank customers, so you’ll have to pick one or the other.
If you want to fly to Europe for less but don’t fancy THAI’s Business Class product, then another good option is Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, which offers round-trip Business Class from Singapore for just 90,000 miles.
However, if you believe that “Business Class is Business Class”, then you won’t want to miss out on this deal, because 49,000/65,000 miles for round-trip Business Class to Europe is fantastic.
Even if you have no intention of visiting any of these three cities, you could tag on an additional flight to the rest of Europe (which, to be fair, would involve making two stops in total- one in BKK, one in DME/CPH/ARN).