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Ratings & Reviews

(Program Reviews - Side by Side Comparison - Website Reviews)

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus

(401 ratings)


This program was reviewed and rated by our editors in February 2010. Changes in the program past this date are possible, especially program partner information. We recommend you subscribe to the #1 source of frequent flyer information, Inside Flyer Magazine, to get the most current information possible.

Smooth as Silk

THAI Airways is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The airline began operations in 1960, flying from Bangkok to nine international destinations within Asia. The carrier launched its first intercontinental flight from Bangkok to Sydney via Singapore in 1971, followed by flights to Europe in 1972 and North America in 1980. Today THAI Airways flies to over 70 destinations worldwide and as a founding member of the Star Alliance, passengers have access to the 1,077 airports in 175 countries served by Star Alliance member airlines.

The national carrier of Thailand launched its Royal Orchid Plus program in 1993 and over 200,000 passengers from 115 countries registered for the program in its first year. Today, the program has over two million members.



Royal Orchid Plus members earn actual miles flown on THAI Airways and Star Alliance flights, with a 25- and 50-percent bonus for business and first class, respectively. THAI Airways also has a Premium Coach Class where members earn a 10 percent bonus. Short-haul flights earn a minimum of 500 miles. Some discounted fares earn fewer or no miles and as of Jan. 1, 2010, G class earns 50 percent of miles flown. V and W class are not eligible to earn miles. Some Star Alliance booking classes earn less than 100 percent of miles flown or are ineligible to earn miles.

THAI offers a generous online-only flight bonus to new members. Enroll and book online and earn 2,500 miles for your first flight.

Royal Orchid Plus partners with hotels, car rentals, credit cards and communication partners allowing members to accrue miles in the air and on the ground. The program has dozens of bonus offers available throughout the year, such as double or triple miles for partner activity.



THAI offers quite a few travel awards, including flights, hotel stays, magazines and excess baggage. Car rental awards are not available.

Awards on THAI are capacity controlled, and THAI does not offer the option to redeem more miles to have access to additional seats, which means members need to make a point of planning ahead for award tickets.

Domestic roundtrip awards within Thailand run 15,000 miles in coach and 20,000 miles in business class. For international flights, mileage amounts are organized by zones that are determined by the flight distance.

Flights up to 1,000 miles (Zone 1) run 25,000 to 30,000 miles in coach and 40,000 miles in business class; flights from 1,001 to 2,000 miles (Zone 2) are 35,000 to 45,000, 55,000 and 70,000 in coach, business and first. The most expensive flights from 12,501 to 15,000 miles (Zone 7) are 120,000 miles in coach, 205,000 in business and 265,000 miles in first.

One-way awards on THAI are also available but they are more expensive than half of the miles required for a roundtrip. Some award ticket service fees, such as award cancellations or other changes, can be paid with miles. For example, if you cancel a domestic award, you can redeem 10,000 miles to pay the 3,800 Baht fee.

Royal Orchid Plus members may also opt to redeem Star Alliance awards, which have a separate award chart. Star Alliance awards are used for award travel with one Star Alliance airline, excluding THAI, or two or more Star Alliance airlines, which may include THAI. Awards start at 35,000 miles for a coach roundtrip Star Alliance award within Asia. Round-the-world awards are available for 220,000 miles in coach, 340,000 miles in business and 480,000 miles in first.

Upgrade awards on THAI are sold on a one-way basis, and range from 16,000 to 69,000 miles, depending on the flight distance and class of service you are upgrading from and to. Star Alliance upgrade awards are available from Y or B booking classes to business class or D or C booking classes to first. Star Alliance upgrades range from 25,000 to 80,000 miles.

Royal Orchid Plus also offers hotel awards with select hotel partners in the Asia Pacific region and worldwide. Hotel award stays in Asia Pacific range from 12,000 miles for one night to 32,000 miles for three nights. For other locations, hotel stays start at 14,000 miles for one night, 28,000 miles for two nights and 42,000 miles for three nights.

Members with heavy bags can redeem miles to pay for excess baggage. The prices vary according to flight zones and start at 4,000 miles for up to 10 excess kilos and 2,000 miles for each additional five kilos if you are flying to Zone 1 (Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore or Vietnam). For travelers flying to the U.S, it will cost 25,000 miles to bring up to 10 excess kilos. This option is only available when departing from Bangkok on THAI.

The THAI Shop offers a few products that can be redeemed for miles, although the redeemable items are limited and do not include everything available to be purchased in the shop. For example, you can redeem 3,500 miles for a THAI Airways yellow polo shirt or 6,000 miles for a Golf umbrella with the THAI logo.

Magazine redemptions start at 5,000 miles and include National Geographic, Time, Fortune and Sawasdee (THAI's in-flight magazine), among others.

Travelers flying through Don Meaung and Suvarnabhumi Airports can redeem miles for meals at Yellow Orchid restaurants starting at 3,500 miles for up to 500 Baht.



THAI is a member of the Star Alliance and also has codeshare agreements with a few airlines where members can earn miles on codeshare routes. Members flying on the following routes can earn miles on eligible booking classes: Malaysian Airlines between Thailand and Malaysia, Emirates Airlines between Bangkok and Dubai, El Al Israel Airlines between Tel Aviv and Bangkok, China Airlines between Kaohsiung and Bangkok, China Eastern Airlines between Shanghai and Bangkok and Royal Brunei Airlines between Bandar Seri Begawan and Bangkok.

THAI's hotel partnership list includes Accor Asia Pacific, Centara, Global Hotel Alliance, Hilton, Hyatt, Imperial Hotels & Resort, InterContinental Hotels Group, Langham, Leading Hotels of the World, Mandarin Oriental, Meritus, Millenium, Shangri-La, Starwood and Worldhotels. Members can earn up to 750 miles per stay.

Car rental partners include Avis, Budget and Hertz, and generally offer 250 to 500 miles per rental, with frequent promotional offers of double miles.

THAI also offers a variety of credit card partners. With some partners, miles are earned and credited directly to your account, while others require a transfer from their own currency into miles. International card partners include American Express, Citibank, Diners Club and JCB. In Thailand, partners include American Express, Bangkok Bank, Citibank, Diners Club, GE Money, Kasikom Bank, KTC, TMB and UOB. THAI offers a co-branded AMEX Platinum Credit Card to residents of Thailand where cardholders earn one mile for every 25 Baht spent, plus a 10,000-mile sign-up bonus.

Royal Orchid Plus also partners with Travelling Connect and you can earn up to seven miles per minute when using participating phone networks, such as Wind in Italy or Turkcell in Turkey.



Only miles earned through flying on THAI or Star Alliance airlines count toward elite status. THAI offers a fairly unique means of attaining elite status and members have three chances to qualify. There is the express route option, which allows members to attain elite status based on miles earned from the date of enrollment to Dec. 31 of the same year (10,000 miles for Silver, 50,000 miles for Gold); the more traditional route, which measures miles earned throughout a complete 12-month period (same mileage requirements as the quicker method); and a longer-term, but more "costly" qualification period, from the date of enrollment to Dec. 31 of the following calendar year (15,000 miles for Silver, 80,000 miles for Gold). Once you qualify, Elite status is valid for a full two years.

Silver members can expect 3,000 threshold bonus miles on attaining Silver status, priority baggage handling, an extra 10 kilograms baggage allowance on all THAI flights, and Silver status in the Star Alliance, which includes priority reservation waitlisting and airport standby on all fully booked flights.

Gold-level members can add luggage tags, a 5,000-mile threshold bonus, one roundtrip complimentary upgrade to the next class of service on a paid ticket, guaranteed seating in coach class on international flights when contacting THAI more than 72 hours prior to the scheduled departure time and Star Alliance Gold status.

As Star Alliance Gold-level members, THAI's Gold members get top priority reservation waitlisting and airport standby on all fully booked flights, priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling, an additional 20 kilograms baggage allowance (or one piece of luggage) and access for member plus one companion to airport lounges displaying the Star Alliance Gold symbol.

A standard feature of most elite programs, THAI does not offer elite-level earning flight bonuses--bonus miles are reserved strictly for the class of service flown.



All miles accrued in one calendar year are valid until Dec. 31 of the third calendar year thereafter. Expiring miles appear on online statements to help you keep track of when your miles are set to expire.

Miles cannot be pooled or transferred but Royal Orchid Plus awards can be transferred to any of the member's five designated award nominees. Members can update their award nominee list at any time online for a fee of 3,800 Bhat in Thailand or US$100 in other countries. Members can also redeem miles to cover the fee--7,500 miles when making the change online or 10,000 miles at a Thai city office.

Members can purchase up to a maximum of 30,000 miles to top up your account in increments of 1,000, at 1,140 Baht per 1,000 miles (US$30).

Claims for missing miles should be made within six months of the earning activity and original boarding passes and receipts are required for partner flights and THAI flight claims that cannot be verified online.



Royal Orchid Plus has a long history of providing excellent customer service and is a three-time winner of the Freddie Award for Best Customer Service. We called the English-speaking Royal Orchid Plus customer service center in Los Angeles and spoke with a cheerful representative who fully answered our questions. The program has phone numbers for customer service locations in 20 countries and the contact center in Thailand can be reached 24 hours a day. You can also contact customer service via email.



Many awards, including flights, upgrades, magazines and hotels can be redeemed online, and you can update your nominee list and access your account online. For other flight awards that include partner airlines, you will need to contact the Royal Orchid Plus service center. Online enrollment is also available.

Royal Orchid members can easily view the available awards, compare and contrast the award charts and find redemption procedures. Overall, information is easy to find and the Web site is well-organized and intuitive to navigate.

Members report that flight and upgrade award availability is good and they are able to redeem miles for the awards they want when they want to travel. Members can qualify for elite in three different ways and elite status is valid for two years.

Once you've reached Gold, there is no higher tier for very frequent flyers who fly more than 50,000 miles per year. Miles have a shelf life and expire after three years. Royal Orchid plus offers only 125 percent and 150 percent of miles in premium cabins compared to the 200 percent to 300 percent offered by some carriers. Elite members on THAI do not earn flying bonuses and even a modest bonus--perhaps 10 or 20 percent--would create a more attractive elite program.

Thai Airways International
P.O. Box 567
Samsen Nai Post Office
Bangkok 10400

Air Travel Award Reservations
Tel: 66 2 3561111


  Earning Ability Award Choices Partnerships Elite-Level Rules & Conditions Service Support Online Services Overall Rating
7.50 8.00 7.00 7.50 7.00 8.00 7.50 7.50
9.44 9.37 9.57 9.42 9.33 9.34 9.26 9.39

(401 ratings)


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