How to Book Deeply Discounted Awards Flying Around Asia

Back in March I wrote about one of the best award values for flying around Asia: Japan Airlines discounted award for travel on Bangkok Airways.

You may not have Japan Airlines miles, but they are a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest. (JAL is also the best way to many book roundtrip first class Emirates awards.)

The Bangkok Airways discounted awards were set to expire December 31. But it has been extended through December 31, 2014. (HT: @fotograaf)

The promotion applies to economy redemptions only:

These mileage bands are total trip miles (roundtrip, not one way, and including stopovers where relevant).

  • Any trip up to 1000 miles total flown normally runs 15,000 miles. But with this promotion it’s just 5000 miles. That’s 2/3rds off.
  • Travel between 1001 and 2000 miles are normally 20,000 miles. Through December 31 they are just 8000 miles. That’s 60% off.
  • Travel from 2001 to 4000 miles normally runs 21,000 miles, but with this discount is 18,000 miles. That’s about a 14% discount.

JAL points don’t transfer instantly from Starwood, plan on about a week. Bookings need to be made by phone with no award holds available. In general after a few calls to query availability it seems like things are pretty wide open (but I didn’t proactively check the highest season dates).

If you’re going to be traveling around Southeast Asia, have a look at the Bangkok Airways route map. This award sale certainly offers some bargains. They offer service to some interesting, underserved markets as well such as Luang Prabang and Ventiane, Yangon, Dhaka, Siem Reap, and Male.

And if you do travel on Bangkok Airways, join their FlyerBonus program because membership alone entitles you to an extra 10kg baggage allowance.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. I don’t have any financial relationship with Bangkok Airways but think they are an amazing carrier with which to fly economy class. It is a pleasant flying experience, and they even provide special meals on flights that are 45-50-minutes long, which is kind of amazing for people with dietary restrictions who are afraid to eat out while on vacation before flying. It also demonstrates a clear commitment to customer service. In contrast, I believe that United serves special meals on 2 domestic routes save Hawaii and then only in business class. I’ve only flown short routes in economy with the airline and don’t see how business class might be substantially worthwhile on any flight under 2 hours for anyone who isn’t overly tall.

  2. Okay, I’m getting somewhat excited about this concept. Are there any online searching tools or general indications of taxes and fees? This routing is barely less than 2,000 miles according to GCM: bkk-usm-sin-usm-bkk. BKK-LPQ RT on sample dates I tried was $335 and under 1,000 miles.

  3. Thanks Gary, this will save us a nice chunk of change getting from bkk to usm in feb. Too bad it’s coach. I guess we will survive. 🙂

  4. Thanks Gary, We are doing a USM run to burn all our Hilton points @ the Conrad over Thanksgiving. I need a one way back to BKK so I will use this and scrap the return. Perfect timing!

  5. wow, they extended it for another year? awesome!!!

    I booked two tickets for my wife and I from Bangkok – Koh Samui in May for our honeymoon for 10k JAL miles. Tickets normally go for around $300/pp. Saved us $$$$.

  6. Availability for BKK-USM was non existent when I checked a few months back, but this was for the period around Xmas

  7. @Gene Too bad it’s coach, for sure, but Bangkok Airways is quite reasonable even in coach — (1) they offer a ‘coach lounge’ in Bangkok! (2) when i flew them they did complimentary tarmac transfers for business and coach passengers alike on arrival in bangkok who were flying onward international, i had never seen that before!!

  8. Is there any tool that can be used to search online for award flight availability? What are the classes?

  9. You have to call Japan to find out availability. Last time I called Japan in late spring to check it for August there was no availability for the two weeks I wanted. Maybe you will find better luck this time around!

  10. We used this on our honeymoon to fly from Siem Reap to Bangkok and then a few days later from Bangkok to Koh Samui. Saved us about $400 a piece and unfortunately it was just over 1000 miles so it was 8k points, but still a good deal in my book.

    You have to call to find availability, but the phone reps were all really good when I called.

    Another important rule is that your flights must begin and end in the same country (so we booked flights from USM-BKK-REP and just didn’t fly them since we were continuing to Malaysia). When we were looking (Oct 13), availability from BKK->USM was great, but USM->BKK was pretty bad (usually only 6AM flights).

  11. USM-KUL and USM-BKK have VERY spotty availability unfortunately. The same is true for their other monopoly route REP-BKK. Air Asia has cheap tickets (but with a stop in KUL) every day for REP-BKK and gets you to Surat Thani as well easily.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *