Note from the editor: Citi Premier® Card is no longer available to new applicants 

The Southeast Asian country of Thailand has recently become a major travel destination for U.S. citizens. However, flights from the U.S. to Thailand can be very expensive when booked with cash. Fortunately, you can travel to The Land of Smiles without breaking the bank by joining Thai Royal Orchid Plus, the frequent flyer program of Thai Airways, and start earning miles toward an award flight.

Because Thai Airways is a member of Star Alliance, you can both earn and redeem Thai miles with any other member of the alliance, including Air Canada, United Airlines and many other major airlines around the world. You can also accumulate Thai miles by transferring points from Citi ThankYou Rewards earning card and Marriott Bonvoy (and American Express Membership Rewards in certain countries excluding the U.S.), meaning you could earn your next award flight redemption without ever stepping on a plane.

When it comes to redeeming Thai miles, you can find solid deals on short-haul award flights within the same region. Plus, you have the option to add one stopover in each direction and one open-jaw of turnaround or origin to any award flight (including one-way flights), though you may be required to pay a modest fee to do so. There are also several sweet spots for flights with Star Alliance partners that are worth looking into.

For most readers, Thai Royal Orchid Plus probably isn’t going to be their primary frequent flyer program. However, if you have a Citi ThankYou credit card (or if you have an Amex Membership Rewards credit card and you’re an Australian citizen), you may want to consider transferring your points to Thai Royal Orchid Plus for a specific redemption. Understanding the ins and outs of this program can help you get the most value for your miles.

We’re going to cover everything you need to know about the Thai Royal Orchid Plus program, including elite status, how to earn miles, how to redeem miles and which redemptions offer the most value per mile.

Thai Airways

Thai Royal Orchid Plus Program Overview

Thai Airways, the flag carrier of Thailand, was formed in 1961 as a joint venture between Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) and Thai Airways Company (which was a preexisting domestic carrier in Thailand). The purpose of the venture was to create an international component of the Thai Airways Company’s business. SAS provided Thai nationals with marketing, operational and managerial training, and the Thai nationals were able to gradually take over every aspect of the business. By 1987, less than 1% of the company’s staff were expatriates.

In 1997, Thai Airways founded Star Alliance alongside Lufthansa, Air Canada, SAS and United Airlines. This was the world’s first airline alliance and is still the largest. Thai Airways is still a member of Star Alliance today, meaning that Thai Royal Orchid Plus members can both earn and redeem Thai miles with any of the 26 member airlines. Here’s a full list of all Star Alliance members:

Aegean AirlinesEthiopian Airlines
Air CanadaEVA Air
Air ChinaLOT Polish Airlines
Air IndiaLufthansa
Air New ZealandScandinavian Airlines (SAS)
All Nippon Airways (ANA)Shenzhen Airlines
AsianaSingapore Airlines
Austrian AirlinesSouth African Airlines
AviancaSwiss International Air Lines
Brussels AirlinesTAP Air Portugal
Copa AirlinesThai Airways
Croatia AirlinesTurkish Airlines
EgyptAirUnited Airlines

Thai Airways uses a single award chart to price all Star Alliance award flights, which means that it’s a good program for booking premium cabins with airlines like Lufthansa and United Airlines (if you’re able to find availability). You can also book Star Alliance Round The World awards through Thai Airways but at higher prices than you’d have to pay through other programs such as ANA Mileage Plan or EVA Air Infinity MileageLands.

You can earn qualifying miles toward Thai Royal Orchid Plus elite status by flying on any of the 26 member airlines of Star Alliance. However, unless you live in Thailand, you might be better off working toward a different airline elite status.

ANA as Star Alliance partner with Thai Airways

Thai Royal Orchid Plus Elite Status

The Thai Royal Orchid Plus elite status program includes four tiers: Basic, Silver, Gold and Platinum. By simply enrolling in the Thai Royal Orchid Plus program, you’ll achieve Basic status and be able to accrue and redeem miles. Basic members also receive regular communications from Thai Royal Orchid Plus.

In order to move up to higher status tiers, you’ll need to earn a certain number of qualifying miles in a 12- or 24-month period. Qualifying miles can be earned on flights with Thai Airways, Thai Smile Airways (Thai Airways’s regional low-cost subsidiary), and any Star Alliance partner. All Thai miles earned on these airlines are qualifying miles with the exception of elite status tier bonus miles.

For instance, Thai Royal Orchid Plus Gold members earn 10% bonus miles. So, for a 1,000-mile flight, a Gold member would earn 1,100 miles (1,000 base miles and 100 tier bonus miles). However, only the 1,000 base miles would count toward achieving the next elite status tier.

Additionally, you can achieve Gold status by completing a certain number of international sectors on Thai Airways and/or Thai Smile Airways in a 12-month period.

 

Thai Airways economy seats

The following chart includes the required number of qualifying miles you need to achieve each status as well as the benefits you’ll enjoy at each status tier:

Status tierQualifying miles or sectors requiredBenefits
Silver• 10,000 qualifying miles in a 12-month period
• OR 15,000 qualifying miles in a 24-month period
• 3,000 bonus miles when you achieve this status tier
• 5% bonus miles on flights
• Priority baggage handling and additional baggage allowance up to 10 kilograms on Thai Airways
• Priority reservations waitlisting and airport standby on Thai Airways and Star Alliance
Gold• 50,000 qualifying miles in a 12-month period
• OR 80,000 qualifying miles in a 24-month period
• OR 40 international sectors on Thai Airways or Thai Smile Airways in a 12-month period
• All benefits included with Silver elite status
• 5,000 bonus miles when you achieve this status tier
• 10% bonus miles on flights
• Up to two complimentary round-trip upgrades to the next higher class of service on Thai Airways
• Guaranteed seating in Economy Class for reservations made 72 hours prior to departure
• Complimentary access to Thai Royal Silk Class lounges and Thai Smile-operated lounges worldwide for member and one guest
• Dedicated Gold member check-in counter at Suvarnabhumi Airport
• Extra baggage allowance of up to 20 kilograms (or one additional piece of luggage) on all Star Alliance airlines
• Gold Track Priority Lanes at security and immigration at select airports when flying with Star Alliance
• Complimentary access lounges displaying the Star Alliance Gold symbol when flying with a Star Alliance member
• Priority boarding, priority baggage handling and priority reservations waitlist and airport standby on all Star Alliance airlines
Platinum• 80,000 qualifying miles in a 12-month period (all miles must be earned from Thai Airways Royal First Class or Royal Silk Class only)• All benefits included with Gold elite status
• 10,000 bonus miles when you achieve this status tier
• 20% bonus miles on flights
• One complimentary round-trip upgrade to the next higher class of service on Thai Airways
• Receive an additional upgrade for every 50,000 qualifying miles earned from Royal First Class and Royal Silk Class in excess of the 80,000 miles required for Platinum status
• Top priority reservations waitlist for fully booked paid flights with Thai Airways and Thai Smile
• Guaranteed confirmed seating on Thai Airways Economy Class (fare codes Y, B, M) and Premium Economy, Royal Silk and Royal First Class (fare codes U, C, D, J, F, A, P) for reservations made 72 hours prior to departure
• Selected Royal Orchid Plus service fees waived
• No expiry of miles while Platinum status is valid
• Dedicated Platinum check-in counter at Suvarnabhumi Airport
• Extra baggage allowance of up to 30 kilograms (or one additional piece of luggage)
• Complimentary access to Royal First Class lounge for member and one guest (regardless of the ticketed class of service)
• Priority check-in at all desks displaying the Star Alliance Gold symbol

Each elite status is valid for 24 months from the day that you achieved that status. To retain your elite status, you’ll need to accrue the requisite number of qualifying miles or sectors again within that 24-month period.

As you can see, achieving Silver elite status is fairly easy compared to Gold and Platinum elite status. All you have to do is earn 10,000 qualifying miles (which you can earn by flying with any Star Alliance member airline) in a 12-month period or 15,000 miles in a 24-month period. This is fairly easy to reach. Unfortunately, Silver elite status doesn’t offer any impressive perks.

Achieving Gold status is significantly more difficult as you’ll need to accumulate either 50,000 miles in a 12-month period, 80,000 miles in a 24-month period, or 40 qualifying sectors in a 12-month period (all of which can be earned on any Star Alliance airline). However, at this tier, you’ll start receiving much more impressive benefits, including airport lounge access (for the member and one guest), two complimentary upgrades that bump you up one cabin class, 10% bonus miles, and preferential treatment at the airport.

To earn Platinum elite status, you’ll need to accumulate 80,000 qualifying miles. However, all of those qualifying miles must be earned from flying on Thai Airways in either Royal Silk Class or Royal First Class. Platinum elite status doesn’t offer much better perks than Gold status with the exceptions of 20% bonus miles, a 10,000-mile bonus for reaching the tier and a few other decent benefits. Considering the difficulty of attaining Platinum status, as well as the lackluster benefits, it may not be worth your while to attempt this tier. In any case, unless you fly in Thai Airways premium cabins often, you’re unlikely to achieve this status anyway.

Thai Royal Orchid Plus Program with Thai Airways

How to Earn Thai Miles

There are many ways to earn Thai miles, between flying with Thai Airways (or Thai Smile), flying with Star Alliance partners, booking stays with hotel partners, dining at restaurants, and doing your taxes to making a phone call and more. However, for most of our readers, the easiest way to accrue Thai miles is going to be to transfer them from Citi ThankYou Rewards.

Nevertheless, we’re going to cover all of the different ways that you can earn Thai miles and start saving up for your next redemption.

Flying with Thai Airways

Of course, the most straightforward way to earn miles is by taking flights on Thai Airways or Thai Smile. The number of miles you earn per flight is based on the actual distance of the flight in miles, the booking class and your status in the Thai Royal Orchid Plus program.

For Thai Airways-operated flights with a distance of less than 500 miles, all members earn a minimum of 500 miles. On Thai Smile-operated flights, Platinum and Gold members earn a minimum of 500 miles, and Silver and Basic members earn a minimum of 200 miles.

The following chart includes the amount of Thai miles you’ll earn in each booking class based on the actual distance of your flight:

Class of serviceBooking classPercentage of actual miles flown
Royal First ClassF250%
A, P200%
Royal Silk ClassC, D150%
J, Z125%
Premium EconomyU110%
EconomyY, B110%
M, H, Q100%
T, K, S75%
G50%
V, W25%
L0%
Ineligible booking classesO, I, X, E, N, R0%

You’ll also earn bonus miles based on your elite status tier. Silver members earn 5% bonus miles, Gold members earn 10% bonus miles, and Platinum members earn 20% bonus miles.

For instance, if you took a Thai Airways flight with an actual distance of 1,000 miles in Royal Silk Class (fare code C) and your membership status was Basic, you’d earn 1,500 Thai miles (1,000 miles flown X 150% = 1,500 Thai miles). However, if you took the same flight and your membership status was Gold, you’d earn 1,650 Thai miles with the 10% tier bonus.

It’s worth noting that any miles earned from elite status bonuses don’t contribute to earning your next elite status. In the previous example, the 150 bonus miles earned from having Gold status would not be considered qualifying miles toward earning elite status.

Flying with Star Alliance Partners

You can also earn Thai miles for flying with any Star Alliance partner. Thai Royal Orchid Plus has one earnings chart that applies to all Star Alliance partner flights and works pretty much the same way as its own earnings chart:

Class of servicePercentage of actual miles flown
First Class150%
Business Class125%
Economy Class100%

For example, if you were to take a flight with United Airlines with an actual distance of 2,000 miles in Business Class, and you were a Thai Royal Orchid Plus Basic member, you’d earn 2,500 Thai miles (2,000 miles flown X 125% = 2,500 Thai miles). However, elite status bonuses also apply to Star Alliance partner flights. So, if you were a Platinum member, you’d be entitled to 20% bonus miles, which means that you’d earn a total of 3,000 miles on this flight.

Discounted fares on Star Alliance partners may not earn full miles or may not be eligible for mileage accrual at all. For instance, below is the specific mileage accrual chart for United Airlines:

Thai Royal Orchid-flying with star alliance partners

As you can see, the discounted Business Class fare earns fewer miles than the normal Business Class fare, the discounted Economy Class fares earn fewer miles than the normal Economy Class fares, and certain fares don’t earn any miles at all.

Each Star Alliance partner has its own specific mileage accrual chart (which you can view on the Thai Royal Orchid Plus website here). Using these charts, you can determine how many Thai miles you could earn for each fare class on each airline.

Thai Airways Co-Branded Credit Cards

There are a number of different Thai Airways co-branded credit cards out there from several different issuers (including two Citi-issued cards known as the Citi Royal Orchid Plus Preferred Credit Card and the Citi Royal Orchid Plus Select Mastercard® Credit Card and one American Express-issued card known as the THAI American Express Platinum Credit Card). Unfortunately, none of these co-branded credit cards are available to U.S. citizens.

These co-branded credit cards allow you to earn Thai miles for making everyday purchases on your card. However, if you’re a U.S. citizen, you won’t be able to sign up for any of them.

Transfer Partners

U.S. citizens can, however, earn Thai miles for everyday spending with a card that earns Citi ThankYou Rewards and then convert those points to Thai miles. Citi ThankYou points can be converted to Thai miles at a 1:1 ratio.

When it comes to which cards earn Citi ThankYou points, you have several options (including cash back cards like the Citi Double Cash® Card and the Citi Custom Cash® Card). However, if you want to access Citi’s list of transfer partners (including Thai Royal Orchid Plus), you’ll need to have the Citi Premier® Card, which has an annual fee of $95.

The Citi Premier Card is the only currently available Citi card that allows you to transfer ThankYou points to their full list of transfer partners. However, if you have the Premier card, you can combine points earned with other cards (such as the Double Cash card or Custom Cash card) and then transfer those points to transfer partners as well.

You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Thai Royal Orchid Plus at a transfer ratio of 3:1. So, if you were to transfer 6,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, you would receive 2,000 Thai miles. Plus, you’ll receive a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer. So, if you transferred 60,000 points, you’d receive 25,000 miles.

Booking Hotel Stays

Thai Royal Orchid Plus has a number of hotel partners with which you can earn up to 750 Thai miles per qualifying stay. In general, if you make your booking online or over the phone directly with one of these hotel partners, you simply have to add your Thai Royal Orchid Plus membership number, and you’ll be able to earn Thai miles for that stay. You should also present your Thai Royal Orchid Plus card at check-in and confirm that the miles will be credited to your account. Discounted rates, group tours and bookings made through travel agents are often not eligible to earn miles.

Hotel stays in Thailand

Here is a full list of the Thai Royal Orchid Plus program’s hotel partners:

  • Accor Live Limitless (ALL)
  • Dusit Hotels & Resorts
  • InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG)
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Okura Nikko Hotels
  • WorldHotels
  • World of Hyatt

The number of miles you’ll earn for a particular booking depends on the hotel brand that you’re staying with as well as the rate you paid.

In order to earn Thai miles with some of these partners, you’ll have to be enrolled in that hotel’s loyalty program as well. Hotels with this requirement include Accor Live Limitless, IHG One Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, WorldHotels Rewards and World of Hyatt.

You can also earn up to 20X miles per $1 spent on hotel stays through Kaligo.com. To do so, select Thai Royal Orchid Plus as your preferred loyalty program when making your booking.

Car rental agencies in Helsinki Airport

Car Rentals

Like most other frequent flyer programs, Thai Royal Orchid Plus gives you the opportunity to earn miles for booking car rentals with certain companies. When booking with these rental partners, you can earn between 250 and 500 miles per eligible rental. There are routinely promotions that offer discounted rates for Thai Royal Orchid Plus members or double or triple miles earnings for certain rentals.

Here is a full list of the Thai Royal Orchid Plus program’s car rental partners:

  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Hertz
  • Sixt

If an eligible rental was not credited to your Thai Royal Orchid Plus account, you can submit a claim online or over the phone with that car rental company.

Making Phone Calls with Travelling Connect

Thai Royal Orchid Plus has a partnership with a company called Travelling Connect that allows you to connect your cellphone to mobile networks when traveling abroad. You simply need to register your phone with the program, and you can start earning miles every time you make an outgoing call in certain countries. In some countries, you can also earn miles for receiving incoming calls.

For instance, in Thailand, you can earn three miles per minute on outgoing calls. In India, you can earn one mile per minute on outgoing calls and one mile per minute on incoming calls. To see more details on this partnership, you can visit the Thai Royal Orchid Plus website here.

Earn Miles from Your Tax Refund

Thai Royal Orchid Plus is partnered with a company called utu that allows you to earn miles for your tax refund. In order to utilize this service, you need to download the utu mobile app and then choose Thai Royal Orchid Plus as your frequent flyer program of choice (or one of utu’s many other airline partners).

Then, you can shop tax-free in selected countries. For every $100 in tax refund that you receive through the app, you’ll earn 3,125 Thai miles.

Dining in Thailand

The Thai Royal Orchid Plus program allows you to earn miles for dining at certain restaurants in Thailand. You can view the list of partner restaurants on their website here. To earn miles for dining at any of these restaurants, you’ll need to present your Thai Royal Orchid Plus card at the time of payment. You’ll earn 50 miles for every 500 Thai Baht spent.

Have a Spa Day

You can earn Thai miles for booking paid treatments at Devarana Spa at certain Dusit Hotels & Resorts locations. The three locations that qualify are the following:

  • Dusit Thani Pattaya
  • Dusit Thani Hua Hin
  • dusitD2 Chiang Mai

You’ll earn 50 miles for every 500 Thai Baht spent on paid treatments from Devarana Spa’s a la carte menu.

dining in Thailand

How to Redeem Thai Miles

Now that you’re aware of all the different ways to boost your Thai miles balance, let’s discuss all of your different options for redeeming those miles. Of course, you can redeem your miles for award flights with Thai Airways as well as any Star Alliance partner. In general, this is the best way to maximize the value of your Thai miles.

However, there are several other options for redeeming your miles, including airport lounge access, hotel stays, merchandise and more. So, let’s take a look at all the different ways to spend Thai miles and which of these redemption methods offers the most value per mile.

Flying with Thai Airways

You can use Thai miles to book both domestic and international award flights on Thai Airways and Thai Smile Airways. Thai Airways publishes two different award charts on its website: one chart for one-way domestic flights within Thailand as well as one-way international flights between Bangkok and international destinations, and another chart for one-way flights between cities in Thailand and international destinations that connect through Thailand. Both award charts are zone-based.

Here is the award chart for one-way domestic flights within Thailand as well as one-way flights between Bangkok and international destinations:

ZoneOne-way travel between Bangkok and listed destinationsThai or Thai Smile Economy (Y, B, M, H, Q) to Smile Plus/Thai Premium EconomyThai Economy (Y, B, M) to Royal SilkThai Economy (H, Q) to Royal SilkThai Royal Silk (C, D, J) to Royal First
Destinations in Thailand7,5008,75010,00015,000
1• Cambodia
• Laos
• Malaysia
• Myanmar
• Singapore
• Vietnam
• China (Kunming)
• Bangladesh
12,50015,00020,00035,000
2• China (Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai)
• Taiwan
17,50022,50030,00042,500
3• Indonesia
• Philippines
17,500N/A27,50035,000
4• India
• Nepal
17,50022,50027,50037,500
5• China (Beijing)
• Japan
• South Korea
22,50030,00047,50067,500
6• Pakistan
• Saudi Arabia
22,500N/A42,50060,000
7• Australia27,500N/A65,00090,000
8• New Zealand42,500N/A85,000115,000
9• Denmark
• France
• Germany
• Sweden
• Switzerland
• Turkey
• United Kingdom
42,500N/A90,000112,500

Below is the award chart that applies to one-way flights between cities in Thailand and international destinations that route through Bangkok. For instance, a one-way itinerary from Phuket to Beijing with a stop in Bangkok would be priced according to this chart. Likewise, a one-way itinerary from Munich to Chiang Mai with a stop in Bangkok would also be priced according to this chart.

ZoneOne-way travel between Bangkok and listed destinationsEconomy ClassSmile Plus ClassRoyal Silk ClassRoyal First Class
1• Cambodia
• Laos
• Malaysia
• Myanmar
• Singapore
• Vietnam
• China (Kunming)
• Bangladesh
16,25019,50025,00042,500
2• China (Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai)
• Taiwan
21,25027,00035,00050,000
3• Indonesia
• Philippines
21,250N/A32,50042,500
4• India
• Nepal
21,25027,00032,50045,000
5• China (Beijing)
• Japan
• South Korea
26,25034,50052,50075,000
6• Pakistan
• Saudi Arabia
26,250N/A47,50067,500
7• Australia31,250N/A70,00097,500
8• New Zealand46,250N/A90,000122,500
9• Denmark
• France
• Germany
• Sweden
• Switzerland
• Turkey
• United Kingdom
46,250N/A95,000132,500

Once again, the prices in the award chart above apply to any one-way Thai Airways or Thai Smile flight that originates or ends in a Thai city other than Bangkok but is routed through Bangkok.

It’s worth noting that you can freely mix Thai Airways and other Star Alliance airline flights when booking an award itinerary. However, when doing so, the itinerary will be priced according to the Star Alliance partner award chart (which will be covered in the next section) rather than the Thai Airways award chart.

You can find pretty solid value by redeeming your Thai miles for flights with Thai Airways, particularly in premium cabins.

For instance, we found a one-way Thai Airways flight in Royal First Class from Bangkok to Tokyo for 90,185 Thai Baht (which is equal to about $2,506 at the current conversion rate).

Flying with Thai Airways

If you were to book this same flight with Thai miles, it would cost you 67,500 miles according to the Thai Airways award chart. Thus, this redemption would give you a value of about 3.7 cents per mile, which is great.

While it’s much harder to get good value from booking award flights in Economy Class on Thai Airways, if you’re willing to book premium cabin seats, redeeming your miles for Thai Airways flights might be a good idea.

Flying with Star Alliance Partners

As mentioned, you can also use your Thai miles to book award flights on any Star Alliance member airline. Thai Royal Orchid Plus uses a single zone-based award chart to price all Star Alliance partner flights, which you can view online here. The prices listed on this chart are for one-way travel. To get the round-trip price, simply double the value listed. Mixing of cabin classes in a single itinerary is permitted, but you’ll be charged as if the entire itinerary was booked in the higher class.

You can search for and book Star Alliance partner awards directly through the Thai Airways website.

When booking an award flight through Thai Royal Orchid Plus (with either Thai Airways or any other member of Star Alliance), you’re allowed one stopover in each direction and one open-jaw of turnaround or origin with no added cost. Stopovers can’t be in the country of origin and are not permitted on domestic travel. Backtracking is not permitted when adding a stopover to your itinerary.

If you have the time and flexibility in your travel plans, taking advantage of these free stopovers and open-jaws is a great way to maximize the value of your Thai miles and see more of the world. For instance, if you were to book a round-trip flight on Thai Airways from Bangkok to Paris, you could add a stopover in Istanbul on the way there and a stopover in Kathmandu on the way back, all for the same price as a normal round-trip itinerary.

To give you some ideas about how to maximize the value of your Thai miles, let’s take a look at some sweet spots in the Thai Royal Orchid Plus program.

Star Alliance Round the World Travel

If you have a lot of flexibility and time to travel, one of the best ways to get a lot of value out of your Thai miles is to book a Star Alliance Round the World award. However, it’s worth noting that Thai Royal Orchid Plus is definitely not the best program through which to purchase a Star Alliance Round the World ticket. Here are the Star Alliance Round the World awards through Thai Royal Orchid Plus:

  • Economy Class—350,000 miles
  • Business Class—725,000 miles
  • First Class—950,000 miles

These prices are absurdly high compared to what some other Star Alliance programs charge for similar awards. For instance, ANA Mileage Club prices its Star Alliance Round the World award based on how many miles your itinerary covers. However, the maximum that you could pay in Economy Class is 200,000 miles, the maximum in Business Class is 300,000 miles and the maximum in First Class is 450,000 miles.

So, if you’re interested in transferring credit card points to a frequent flyer program in order to book a Star Alliance Round the World award, you’d be much better off doing so with ANA Mileage Plan or EVA Air Infinity MileageLands than Thai Royal Orchid Plus.

But, if you already have a large sum of Thai miles in your account, it’s definitely possible to get solid value from them by purchasing a Star Alliance Round the World award. Here are the requirements for booking this award:

  • May include flights with any Star Alliance airline
  • Flights must continue in one direction (east to west or west to east).
  • Itinerary must start and finish in the same city.
  • Minimum of 10 days and a maximum of one year
  • Maximum of 10 stopovers and minimum of three stopovers
  • One open-jaw is permitted.
  • Only one stopover per city
  • Only two stopovers per country
  • No stopovers in the country of origin
  • Backtracking is only permitted as required by the Star Alliance network.
  • Connections must be on the first available flight within 24 hours when required by routing and are not considered stopovers.

If you have the time, utilizing all 10 stopovers is the best way to maximize the value of your Thai miles when booking a Star Alliance Round the World award.

Fly Lufthansa First Class from the U.S. to Europe for 100,000 Mile One-Way

Another way to get great value out of your Thai miles is to book first-class flights between the U.S. and Europe on Lufthansa. Lufthansa’s first class product is widely considered to be one of the best in the airline industry, with amenities such as airport lounge access, lie-flat beds, washrooms, top-tier wine selections, high-quality on-board meals and more. Unfortunately, booking Lufthansa first class with cash can be outrageously expensive, especially on transatlantic routes.

For instance, we found several first-class flights from New York City (JFK) to Paris (CDG) on Lufthansa’s website for nearly $15,000.

Fly Lufthansa First Class from the U.S. to Europe

If you were to book a Lufthansa first-class flight between the U.S. and Europe with Thai miles, it would cost you 100,000 miles, according to the Thai Royal Orchid Plus Star Alliance award chart. So, if you were able to book one of the flights above with miles, you’d be getting a value exceeding 14 cents per mile, which is fantastic.

Unfortunately, Lufthansa first-class award availability is hard to find through Thai Royal Orchid Plus. To make matters worse, Thai’s award booking engine doesn’t allow you to search for awards unless you already have miles in your account, which makes it much more difficult to find an award and then transfer Citi ThankYou points into your Thai Royal Orchid Plus account.

But, if you already have miles in your Thai Royal Orchid Plus account and you’re willing to do some searching, you can get incredible value by booking Lufthansa first-class flights from the U.S. to Europe.

Fly United Airlines Polaris Business Class from the U.S. to the Caribbean for 27,500 Miles One-Way

United Polaris Business Class is heralded as being a great business class product, but it can also be rather pricey to book these flights with cash. Luckily, according to the Thai Royal Orchid Plus Star Alliance award chart, you can book business class flights between the U.S. and the Caribbean for just 27,500 miles one way, which can be a great deal.

For instance, we found several flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Nassau, Bahamas (NAS) that cost thousands of dollars in cash, with the cheapest flight on that date costing $2,659.

Fly United Airlines Polaris Business Class from the U.S. to the Caribbean

If you were to book that same flight with Thai miles, according to the Star Alliance award chart, it would cost you 27,500 miles. That means that this redemption would give you a value of at least nine cents per mile. As you can see, some of the other flights on that date are significantly more expensive, so you may get far more value than that.

Upgrade Awards

Thai miles can also be redeemed for upgrades on Thai Airways, Thai Smile and any Star Alliance airline. The Thai Royal Orchid Plus has one upgrade award chart for Thai Airways and Thai Smile and another upgrade award chart for Star Alliance partner flights.

Here’s the upgrade award chart for Thai Airways and Thai Smile:

ZoneOne sector upgrade between Bangkok and listed destinationsThai or Thai Smile Economy (Y, B, M, H, Q) to Smile Plus/Thai Premium Economy Thai Economy (Y, B, M) to Royal SilkThai Economy (H, Q) to Royal SilkThai Royal Silk (C, D, J) to Royal First
1• Cambodia
• Laos
• Malaysia
• Myanmar
• Singapore
• Vietnam
• China (Kunming)
• Bangladesh
12,00016,00018,00031,500
2• China (Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai)
• Taiwan
18,00024,00027,00038,500
3• Indonesia
• Philippines
N/A22,00025,00031,500
4• India
• Nepal
18,00022,00025,00034,000
5• China (Beijing)
• Japan
• South Korea
24,00038,00043,00061,000
6• Pakistan
• Saudi Arabia
N/A34,00038,50054,000
7• AustraliaN/A52,00058,50081,000
8• New ZealandN/A68,00076,500103,500
9• Denmark
• France
• Germany
• Sweden
• Switzerland
• Turkey
• United Kingdom
N/A72,00081,000112,500

Using Thai miles to book upgrade awards on Thai Airways is actually a fairly solid way to get a lot of value. You can also use Thai miles to purchase upgrade awards on Star Alliance partners. Here’s the award chart for Star Alliance upgrades:

DistanceEconomy Class (Y/B booking classes only) to Business ClassBusiness Class (D/C booking class only) to First Class
Zone 1 (up to 1,000 miles)25,00033,000
Zone 2 (1,001–2,000 miles)30,00040,000
Zone 3 (2,001–3,000 miles)46,00065,000
Zone 4 (3,001–4,800 miles)65,00087,000
Zone 5 (4,801–6,500 miles)87,000115,000
Zone 6 (6,501 miles and up)100,000140,000

Excess Baggage Awards

You can use Thai miles to pay for excess baggage on Thai Airways-operated flights departing from Bangkok only. In order to redeem your Thai miles this way, you need to go to airport check-in at least two hours prior to the flight departure to determine the amount of excess baggage. Then, you can go to the Thai Airways customer service desk and request to use miles to pay for your excess baggage. The required miles will then be automatically deducted from your account.

Thai Airways uses a zone-based award chart to price excess baggage awards. You can view the award chart for excess baggage awards on Thai Airways-operated flights from Bangkok on the Thai Airways website here.

Redeeming your miles for excess baggage awards provides a value per mile of about 0.6 cents, which is pretty poor. So, you’re probably better off paying for excess baggage with cash and saving your Thai miles for flight awards.

Lounge Access

Thai miles can be used to purchase lounge access at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. For Basic and Silver members, lounge access costs 6,500 miles for a one-time entry pass and 6,500 miles for each accompanying guest.

Gold and Platinum members receive complimentary entry to lounges at Suvarnabhumi Airport for themselves and one accompanying guest. However, they have the option to redeem miles for any additional guest entries at a rate of 5,500 miles per guest.

Thai Shop Products

You can use your miles to purchase a variety of Thai Airways-branded items from THAIShop at That Airways Head Office in Bangkok. These products include model aircrafts, travel bags, pillows, clothing, glassware and much more.

Currently, these redemptions can only be made in person. However, according to the Thai Airways website, online redemptions through THAIShop will be available soon.

The Bottom Line

All in all, most U.S. travelers aren’t going to use Thai Royal Orchid Plus as their primary frequent flyer program. However, if you consistently make trips to Thailand or you have a credit card that earns Citi ThankYou points (which is the only major rewards currency that transfers to Thai Royal Orchid Plus), it may be worth getting familiar with this program to explore the uniquely valuable sweet spots.

For one, because Thai Airways is a member of Star Alliance, you can use Thai miles to book award flights in Lufthansa first class, which is considered one of the finest first-class products in the airline industry. Thai miles is also a good currency with which to purchase United Airlines Polaris Business Class tickets.

On top of that, Thai Airways has generous rules when it comes to adding stopovers to award booking itineraries. You can add one stopover on one-way flights or up to two stopovers on round-trip flights without incurring any additional cost. You’re also allowed one open-jaw of turnaround or origin on any award flight. These options, though they can be a bit of a hassle to book, can help you get much more value out of your Thai miles.

So, while most U.S. travelers won’t use the Thai Royal Orchid Plus program all that frequently, it may be worth perusing the program’s award charts if you’re looking to book an award with a Star Alliance airline.