Thai First Class: 9 Hours for 40,000 United Miles Wide Open


Thai Airways First Class on its 747 operates daily between Bangkok and Sydney. Thai Airways First Class is luxurious with renowned Thai service, awesome Thai food, and free hourlong Thai massages for First Class passengers departing Bangkok.

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The price for 9+ hours in Thai First Class: only 40,000 United miles!

For whatever reason, when United jacked up the prices of flying Business and First Class on partners in February 2014, it dropped the premium-cabin prices between Southeast Asia and Australia/New Zealand.

I flew First Class on the Thai A380 in September 2013–unfortunately I lost my camera, so I never wrote a trip report–and I was sufficiently impressed by the bed, food, massage, and service that I would happily fly Thai First Class again. On that trip, I even got an hour in First Class on a Thai 747 from Phuket to Bangkok, and I found this specific seat/bed combo to be very comfortable as well.

The Massage

Most international First Class, at least on Asian airlines, is going to have a great bed, great service, and delicious food. What sets Thai apart is the ground experience.

I connected in Bangkok and was met at the plane door by a Thai employee who escorted me to the lounge. Once there, I was handed off to another employee who took my food, drink, and massage order.

First Class passengers departing Bangkok get a free massage. You have four options, and I went with the hourlong Touch of Silk oil massage. I’m not much of a massage guy, but the time flew by, and I came out feeling relaxed and fantastic.

All else equal, you really want to fly Thai First Class out of Bangkok instead of into Bangkok to take advantage of Thai’s ground service.

Award Space

Award space is very good from Bangkok to Sydney for two passengers in Thai First Class. You can search on Here’s a search for November and December for only the direct Thai flights.

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There’s premium cabin award space several days a week. There’s no way to distinguish from the calendar which days have Business and which have First Class, but my experience is that a lot more of the space is First Class than Business Class.

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From Sydney to Bangkok, there is even better award space in February and March for two passengers.

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Some days feature two flights between the cities on Thai. On February 4, there is award space on both flights in all three cabins for two people!

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In Bangkok, you can connect throughout United’s South Asia regions for zero extra miles:

  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

In Sydney, you can connect to New Zealand on Air New Zealand for zero extra miles.

Thai First Class could connect SE Asia and Australia into one trip. I’d look to fly to Australia in Etihad First Class on its A380,  Qantas First Class on its A380, or Virgin Australia Business Class with Delta miles. I’d look to fly to SE Asia in Cathay Pacific First Class with American Airlines miles.

Bottom Line

I mainly use my United miles these days for economy awards and United Business awards, but there are a few gems left on the chart for partner First Class. Thai First Class, nine hours in luxury preceded by a one hour massage, is available between Bangkok and Sydney for only 40,000 United miles. Award space is excellent in both directions.


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  1. I’m looking to book F for 40,000 SYD>BKK>DPS. The BKK in F stopover arrives in the afternoon and departs in J (no F class) for DPS in the morning. Should I assume no massage and no FC Lounge in the morning because my onward travel is in Biz Class?

    • I flew PEK-BKK (F)-BNE (J) //MEL-BKK(J)-PEK(J).

      The ticket was booked in F, even though some segments were in J.

      Both on the way to BNE and on the way back they allowed me into Thai F lounge.
      Just make sure to point out that it’s F ticket, but there is no F cabin on the next flight.

  2. Hi Lively, I flew this exact route, SYD-BKK in November with a connection in Thai J to ICN. Upon arrival, i was met at the gate and driven to the F lounge. Only thing was that I was given the 30 minute massage instead of the full hour. They told me it’s because my onward travel is in business class.

  3. I have exact same question as Lively. Flying SYD-BKK-ICN where SYD-BKK is in F but the BKK-ICN is in J (2 cabin plane). Will I get a first class escort meeting me on arrival in BKK and will I get access to FC lounge?

  4. Lively I seem to recall one or two reports where people went to the 1st class lounge upon arrival and were able to get access and the 60 minute massage, but as for returning the following morning yes it should only be the biz class 30 minute massage.

  5. This is great that BKK to SYD is available for 40K miles. Now the only issue is how do I get to BKK from the US?


    • Mentioned in this article: Cathay Pacific First Class or Business Class with link to article on the subject

  6. Thanks for the answer. You guys are amazing. I don’t know who is smart…Scott or his readers! I’ve been to so many great places because of Scott! Thanks!

  7. Newbie here and so am not sure if I understand this correctly – “In Sydney, you can connect to New Zealand on Air New Zealand for zero extra miles.”….you mean as a stopover or simply a connecting flight ?

    • One way award with United miles = zero free stopovers
      Roundtrip = 1 free stopover

      So one a one way, a connection. On a roundtrip, you can stopover in Sydney en route to New Zealand.

  8. Just booked NRT-BKK-SYD on TG first class for 50000 lifemiles. That’s 15hrs of luxury plus 4hrs in BKK lounge. All for $750!

    • Fantastic! (He’s referring to the fact that LifeMiles can be purchased for around 1.5 cents each.)

  9. Was just looking into KUL-BKK-SYD in July 2015, and United’s website is telling me 65k miles per person. Did they increase their award prices since this post Scott?

    • I’m seeing 40k on July 16 for First Class. I think you’re searching KUL-BKK and BKK-SYD separately. All connections on one way United awards must be less than 24 hours for it to price as one award. If you want to see KUL and BKK, book KUL-BKK on a low cost carrier, probably for under $100, and book BKK-SYD in First Class for 40k miles.

  10. Hi Scott, good morning. Just wondering if the ‘Think big’ option of flying to other countries in the South Asia regions for zero extra miles still applies? I tried to look at SYD-BKK; BKK-SIN on United, and it priced out at 30k+25k (in J). I was assuming that it would just be 30k. Both are Saver Awards. Thanks!


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