Thailand or bust
July 9, 2008 3:22 PM   Subscribe

I want to go to Thailand. I have a lot of airline miles. Alas, I can't find an award ticket to Thailand for November or December at all. OTOH I can get to Singapore and pay to fly onward. Is Singapore a good choice or is there somewhere better?
posted by smackfu to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (10 answers total)
Singapore would work well. Also check prices from Kuala Lumpur. Keep in mind: you could take a train from either of those destinations into Thailand. This will most likely be cheaper and quite a bit more interesting.
posted by nitsuj at 3:30 PM on July 9, 2008

Actually, KL might be better if you plan on definitely flying. AirAsia flies direct to Bangkok from there, but not Singapore. Looks like it'll cost about $33 one-way -- quite a bit cheaper than the train (~$70USD). Surprising.
posted by nitsuj at 3:41 PM on July 9, 2008

KL is the central AirAsia hub, having its own separate terminal, so you can get pretty much anywhere from there, at a very reasonable rate. You will have to transfer from one terminal to the other, the bus cost 2 Rs or something like that...

On the other hand, if you want to go to Thailand, it could be pretty cool to stick some of Malaysia in their too; heading north from KL, there is rainforests and stuff to visit, as well as the archipelago islands. Then you will end up in southern Thailand and you can work your way up to Bangkok and then all the way north after that. That would be a great way to get to see a whole range of different sights and cultures in a short trip... Though that's just my thoughts on what I'd enjoy.
posted by lukeo05 at 4:04 PM on July 9, 2008

Bangkok Airways has a nonstop flight from Singapore to Ko Samui. I loved that little island when I was there last year. After Sumui, you can go on to Bangkok and other places in Thailand.
posted by birdherder at 4:47 PM on July 9, 2008

I'd suggest checking flyertalk's forums for the specific alliance / airline program you have miles in for more specific advice, although getting award travel during the holiday season may be a tough proposition.

It's not that much of a surprise that award tickets for November/December are not available. Award tickets are "capacity controlled" so even though there's space on the flight, you might not be able to book a flight with miles.

Besides that general advice, are you trying all of the "partner" options? If your miles are on United, you should be looking for a "Star Alliance" award, which lets you book flights on Air China, ANA, Asiana, Lufthansa, SK, TG (all of which fly into BKK), and other Star Alliance airlines. Skyteam (Delta/NW/Continental) options are smaller -- looks like you're limited to Air France and Korean Air; Oneworld (American) partners that fly into BKK are British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, JAL Japan Airlines, Malév, Qantas, and Royal Jordanian Airlines.

My understanding is that United often does NOT make partner flights "automatically" available, and a call to the international award reservations desk is sometimes necessary to release the award inventory. (They may only do this for 1K's, though.) This is definitely a case where what's shown as available on the website is not the final answer.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 5:01 PM on July 9, 2008

If you do end up in Singapore, take the train from there too Thailand. I did this trip in the other direction and it was a blast. Good luck...
posted by chromatist at 6:48 PM on July 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks all. Singapore seems like a decent enough option. KL is also interesting, but I'm running into the problem QuantumMeruit described where I can't see any availabilty because it's taking me on the European route, and there's a segment from Amsterdam to KL probably on KLM. And I've found the # of seats for awards on these flights is so low it's not worth getting your hopes up. Maybe I'll call them.

(If anyone wants to get really obsessive about finding award flights, is great. Not free, but a small investment that shows you a lot more availability details than Northwest's website, and lets you check 7 days at a time for departure and return.)
posted by smackfu at 7:06 PM on July 9, 2008

Train from Singapor to Thailand is a great experience!!
posted by starfish at 7:36 PM on July 9, 2008

While BKK ex-AMS doesn't qualify as award travel "to" Asia, have you considered a RTW (Round The World) award ticket? Seems it's very poorly documented on (it's not on the chart) but there is apparently such a beast, bookable via phone only, for 140,000 miles (coach) or 220,000 miles (business). Fare rules are that travel must take place in one continuous direction, east or west, and no backtracking is allowed. Six stopovers are allowed with a maximum of three stopovers per continent.

Some people don't know/realize that unlike many other fares, the stopovers on RTW fares/awards can be months long...

See here (flyertalk thread) and here (InsideFlyer).

(Using those miles for a "wrong way" RTW just to get to BKK might not be the most efficient use of your NW miels, but you DID say you had a lot of miles.)
posted by QuantumMeruit at 7:46 PM on July 9, 2008

Actually, KL might be better if you plan on definitely flying. AirAsia flies direct to Bangkok from there, but not Singapore.

This is wrong. AirAsia flies Singapore-Bangkok direct. So does Tiger Airways and JetStar Airways. These are budget airlines, however; I'd advise you to check your partner airline options first.
posted by hellopanda at 6:52 PM on July 10, 2008

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