(Program Reviews - Side by Side Comparison - Website Reviews)
Rated: August 2006- Better, stronger, faster. No, we're not talking about 1970s television cyborgs. We're talking about the Web presence of THAI's Royal Orchid Plus frequent flyer program. It's come a long way since we last reviewed it.
You'll still find the rich, vibrant colors you remember, that stand out like a shining Buddha at the international terminal. And you'll still find the same reasonably simple navigational layout. In addition, though, you'll find increased loading time, and a few more options.
One major improvement is that you'll find much more of the information you want in an HTML format. To the technically challenged, that means that you won't have to wade through a clumsy PDF document, or download any extra software just to see what's new. There are still PDF documents like the members' guide, should you desire a print-out, but it's not really necessary.
Partners are readily accessible and are broken down by industry. Previously, each partner was marked with either an "A," "R" or both, to distinguish its status as an accrual and/or redemption partner. We thought that was a nifty approach, but since then THAI has opted to simply list partners under either "Earning Miles" or "Redeeming Awards." Well, it was fun while it lasted.
Another change: The Royal Orchid Plus newsletter has gone back to being strictly in a PDF format. Normally, we'd gripe about that, but in this case, it makes little difference. THAI has instead listed all current promotions on their own Web page.
Online enrollment is available, but be prepared to spend a few minutes completing the necessary steps. The form, while simple enough, is lengthy, and will inquire into your marital status, program memberships, income level, educational level, and more. And yes, that information is required, so the tinfoil-hat crowd might want to steer clear.
Should you wish to use THAI's online functions but NOT join Royal Orchid Plus, you may do so, but you still need to enroll as an "eCustomer."
Terms and conditions are still tucked away at the bottom of the enrollment form (and absolutely nowhere else) -- a no-no for fans of disclosure. Still, they're fairly standard, you'll find nothing all that surprising or unconscionable within them.
There is, as far as we can tell, no way to contact Royal Orchid Plus online. Instead, you'll be directed to a comprehensive list of offices and telephone numbers.
THAI is not a large airline by any means, and while that may have some drawbacks, the upside is that there are fewer awards to decipher when compared to the gargantuan lists provided by the majors. Royal Orchid members can easily view the available awards, compare and contrast and find redemption procedures. It's that simple.
And now, most awards can be redeemed online -- a major improvement that is most welcome.
At minimum, THAI's Web site provides a springboard for finding out more. Nearly all basic functions are there. For a relatively small program, one could easily expect a great deal less.