Anatomy of an Award: Thai Dreamliner Business Class Japan to Thailand

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I have a big Asia trip coming up in January. I’m going to go from Hawaii to Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and India before returning to Los Angeles.

I need to get from Japan to Thailand to meet a friend there, but I wanted to beat her to Bangkok by as little as possible, so I didn’t have a lot of date flexibility.

Since I am flying into Tokyo, I wanted to fly out of a different Japanese city, preferably one near Kyoto since that is where I want to spend several days.

The closest international airports to Kyoto are Osaka-Kansai (KIX) and Nagoya (NGO), which are both about two hours away by train. Both have direct flights to Bangkok on Thai Airways, which I discovered on Wikipedia.

Searching on United.com

I searched for award space on united.com because united.com displays Thai award space, and any space I find there I should be able to book equally with all partners.

Award space was good on the Osaka-Bangkok route in First Class on a Thai 747. I’ve flown that cabin before for one hour from Phuket to Bangkok, and it was very nice.

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I couldn’t find economy or Business Class space on the Osaka flight on the day I needed to fly.

On the Nagoya route, I found Business Class award space on the two daily Dreamliner flights. I have never flown Thai Business Class or the Thai Dreamliner.

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Deciding Which Miles to Use

Thai Airways award space can be booked with any Star Alliance miles. I compared the award charts with United miles, Avianca LifeMiles, Lufthansa miles, Singapore miles, Asiana miles, Copa miles, and Aeroplan miles, all of the big eight Star Alliance miles except ANA since ANA requires a roundtrip award.

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The best award option was to pay 36,000 LifeMiles and no fuel surcharges to fly Thai Business Class. Thai First Class was only 50,000 miles, but I have flown it on the 747 and A380, so I wanted to try out Business Class on the Dreamliner instead.

I went to lifemiles.com to make the booking. I searched for the award space I had already found on united.com and brought it up easily.

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The award costs 36,000 LifeMiles + $47, $22 in taxes and a $25 award booking fee.

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I had the option to pay fewer miles by paying more cash at a rate of $15 per 1,000 miles or 1.5 cents each.

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That’s a bad option because you can currently buy LifeMiles for 1.32 cents each. If you bought 36,000 miles for 1.32 cents each, the award would cost $522.31 all in after taxes and fees. That’s well below the retail price for nearly seven hours in a flat bed on a Dreamliner.

I paid the award taxes and fees with my Citi Prestige® Card to earn 3x points on the airfare purchase. If I hadn’t already used up my $250 Air Travel Credit in 2015, the $47 would have even been refunded to me. No worries, that credit resets for me in January. The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open

I booked the award and got an email confirmation. I went to thaiairways.com to confirm that they saw the booking and to select a seat. It is always smart to contact the operating carrier after making an award booking to make sure they see the booking on their end. I was able to input the Avianca Reservation Code on thaiairways.com. Putting in the booking carrier’s code does not always work, and when it doesn’t you may need to call the booking carrier to get the operating carrier’s code.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 12.44.56 PMSince thaiairways.com recongnized my reservation code, I was able to select a seat. Because its Dreamliner is 2-2-2 in Business Class, I went for a middle seat, so I had aisle access and no one would have to climb over me in flight.
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Bottom Line

I will be flying Business Class on a Thai Dreamliner from Nagoya to Bangkok. I hope to sleep most of the flight and to show up relatively refreshed to meet my friend in Bangkok.

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The award cost 36,000 LifeMiles + $47. I searched on united.com and booked with LifeMiles because they offered the best deal among Star Alliance carriers on Business Class from Northern to Southern Asia.


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8 COMMENTS

    • The Chase United card offers more economy award space on United flights. This is Business Class space on a partner flight, so it would not have helped.

      • I see , thanks for the tip. Is that the norm with airline cards (more visibility with Y space)? Btw thanks for writing the “Anatomy of an award” series, its really amazing info.

  1. Another great post Scott! Please let me know if you do decide to swing through Tokyo. I’d be happy to give you the royal tour. Cheers!

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