THAI Airways has launched an interesting new promotion called “Time to Gold”, which offers upfront Royal Orchid Plus Gold status for two years in exchange for purchasing THB350,000 (~S$14,000) of travel credits.
Think of it as providing an unsecured loan to the airline, where interest is paid in the form of elite status.
THAI Airways Time to Gold promotion
From 25 May to 31 July 2022, THAI Airways is selling a Time to Gold package for THB350,000. Customers get the entire THB350,000 back as an airline credit, together with a Royal Orchid Plus two-year Gold membership (the equivalent of Star Gold status).
- Must be spent by 31 December 2023 (the travel date can be after that)
- Can only be used for revenue flights on THAI Airways or THAI Smile (i.e. you can’t use it to pay the surcharges on an award ticket)
- Can be redeemed for the purchaser, or other travellers (but cannot be used for child or infant fares)
- Cannot be combined with another Time to Gold package’s airline credits
- Will accrue mileage on eligible fares
You’ll need to be a member of the free-to-join Royal Orchid Plus programme to purchase a package, and 6,200 bonus Royal Orchid Plus miles will be awarded to purchasers who are already Royal Orchid Plus Platinum or Gold members (who would presumably be buying the package as a gift for someone else- you can specify who at the time of purchase).
If you purchase the Time to Gold package with a Mastercard, you’ll receive a 5,000 bonus Royal Orchid Plus miles. All bonus miles will be credited by 31 August 2022.
It will take three working days for your account to be upgraded to Royal Orchid Plus Gold status. Members enjoy perks such as:
- Priority waitlisting
- Guaranteed Economy Class seat
- Priority check-in
- Extra 20kg baggage allowance
- Access to Royal Silk Lounge and Star Alliance lounges (+1 guest)
- Priority boarding
- Complimentary round-trip THAI upgrade
- Complimentary air award yearly discount
One particularly interesting benefit is the “air award yearly discount”, which is 50% off an award ticket of the member’s choosing. That could save you a big chunk of miles, although:
- You’ll need to have miles with TG in the first place; the only two card issuers in Singapore which offer TG points transfers are AMEX and Citibank
- You’d still be on the hook for YQ, which on TG can be substantial (R/T SIN-BKK-LHR in J would cost S$779)
Status is valid for two years, and subsequent requalification follows THAI’s usual rules (50,000 qualifying miles during 12 month period, or 80,000 qualifying miles during a 24 month period).
Is it worth it?
Like I said at the start, think of this as extending a THB350,000 unsecured loan to Thai Airways.
In a best case scenario, you’ll get 100% of your money back in the form of air tickets, and the net upside to you is two years of Star Gold status (you’d probably have earned that by spending THB350,000 on airline tickets anyway, but this promotion gives it to you upfront).
In a worst case scenario, THAI goes into restructuring (again), and your airline credits are no longer recognised by the new entity.
If it’s any consolation, THAI Airways’ most recent restructuring exercise saw it post a full-year net profit in 2021 for the first time in five years, though that figure was goosed by one-time contributions like asset sales and cuts in employee benefits. With Thailand now fully open to tourists, the hope is that 2022 will see even bigger improvements, and the airline hopes to move into positive shareholder’s equity territory in 2024 (thereby avoiding a possible delisting).
The other thing to consider is that THAI’s international network is rather limited, with only 63 destinations at the time of writing. It does not offer any service to North or South America or Africa, although it does serve 12 European destinations and four cities in Australia.
What card should you use?
Assuming you’ve decided to go ahead and buy a Time to Gold package, these will code as foreign currency airfare spend.
These are normally the cards you’d use for such transactions…
|UOB Visa Signature|
|4 mpd||Min S$1K max S$2K FCY spend per s. month|
|DBS Woman’s World Card|
|4 mpd||Max S$2K per c. month|
|UOB Lady’s Card|
|4 mpd*||Max S$1K per c. month|
|UOB Lady’s Solitaire|
|4 mpd*||Max S$3K per c. month|
|4 mpd||Max S$1K per c. month|
|SCB Visa Infinite|
|3 mpd||Min. S$2K spend per s. month|
|DBS Altitude AMEX or Visa|
|3 mpd||Max S$5K per c. month|
|S. Month= Statement Month | C. Month= Calendar Month|
*Must declare travel as quarterly 10X category
…but given the quantum of the charge, you’ll bust the mostly caps of most of these cards. Since you can’t split the cost among multiple cards, you may consider using:
- UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard paired with Amaze for 1.4 mpd and 0% FCY fees
- DBS Altitude AMEX or Visa for 3 mpd on first S$5K and 2 mpd subsequently, with 3.25% FCY fees
- SCB Visa Infinite for 3 mpd on entire transaction, with 3.5% FCY fees
THAI Airways is offering upfront Royal Orchid Plus Gold status for two years to anyone willing to float THB350,000 in the form of airline credits.
If you already had plans to travel with THAI, then it’s a way of securing status upfront for a somewhat more comfortable journey. However, I’d be very hesitant to commit to that kind of spend- and hopefully some of you will have secured Star Gold status until 2025 already!
Would you buy a Time to Gold package?