Thai Airways Plans Non-Stop Flights to the U.S. Next Year

Thai Airways used to operate a flying gas can Airbus A340-500 non-stop from Bangkok to Los Angeles and also to New York JFK (May 2005 – June 2008). Both of those flights were eventually eliminated as uneconomical. Thai has also flown one-stop between Bangkok and Los Angeles, such as via Seoul and via Osaka.

But they no longer serve the U.S. at all, having suspended operations last fall as they worked to stem financial losses.

Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport

And they aren’t allowed re-start service, either. That’s because the US downgraded the country of Thailand’s safety rating. It found the country’s safety regulators lacking. The International Civil Aviation Organization raised safety concerns as well. Specific criticisms seem to center around the ability of the country’s regulators to certify and supervise airlines, considering that the staff to do so hasn’t grown as the nation’s airline sector boomed.

Thailand-based airlines have been allowed to continue existing flights, but not add new ones. And since Thai Airways isn’t currently serving the U.S. market, they cannot start — until their nation’s civil aviation regulator is re-certified. There hasn’t been a concern expressed about the safety of Thai Airways, which is a member of the Star Alliance and partner of airlines like United, Air Canada, and Lufthansa.

Thai Airways Boeing 747

Thai Airways President Charamporn Jotikasthira expects the ban on new flights to be lifted next year and says that he plans to restart service to the U.S. — only not to Los Angeles. Instead “they would likely be routed through either Seattle or San Francisco.”

Since he suggests that “[t]he opening of the new route to the US would come when THAI receives two new Boeing aircraft next year” it’s clear that the flights would be operated by Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

  • The only aircraft they currently have on order are Airbus A350s and Boeing 787-9s

  • The two 787-9s they’ve ordered are scheduled for delivery next year.

These long range aircraft could certainly operate the route, and offer the only non-stop service between the US and Thailand.

While especially convenient for US travelers flying to Bangkok, or to smaller cities in Thailand that require a connection in Bangkok, Southeast Asia connecting traffic is more efficiently carried by Cathay Pacific which operates a significant route beyond Hong Kong and flights to several US gateways already — New York JFK, Newark, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco (as well as Toronto and Vancouver in Canada).

Street Food in Bangkok’s Chinatown

San Francisco would be the logical city to fly to given Star Alliance partner United’s significant hub presence which could provide feeder traffic to the flight — offering one-stop travel to Bangkok from a variety of US cities. Seattle, on the other hand, would rely much more on local traffic and on connections provided by Alaska Airlines and Delta — carriers Thai Airways doesn’t currently partner with.

Regardless, I’m excited at the possibility of a non-stop to Thailand on a new plane and where I’ll be able to use Star Alliance miles for the inevitable unsold premium cabin seats.

(HT: @DailyTravelTips)

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 »

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  1. This must clearly be done as a marketing gig.
    The route, based on whatever equipment they end up using, will be impacting the P&L sheet in a negative manner.
    For those being West-Coast based, this is probably a beautiful way of redeeming Star-alliance point, as the revenue tickets will most probably be leisure marketed, that being said from what I know, the number of Americans residing in Bangkok, could make this work

  2. While I love Thai and their first class product, part of me hopes the 787 is configured with Business as the top-most class—that would allow for less costly redemptions through United, while insuring that you get the best service, food and experience on board.

  3. Yes miss Thai air going direct to BKK . But should fly out LAX not Seattle . In L.A we have the biggest population of Thai people .

  4. you fly 700 300 you be full every time nice plane inhabale for humans to set and new no ash trays did two flight week you make money and i be happy with lovly yhai people good food and comfortable seat eat your heat out y\the life

  5. I worked 20 years in the airline business before I retired. Have studied airline routes over the years. Because of the number of different airlines that fly into this hub, an a380 would be perfect for a DFW-BKK route.

  6. If I have the choice to choose among Thai Air Ways and Singapore Air Lines between two, deviding 3 classes, First Class, Business Class and Economy Class. Thai’s all 3 classes are tremendous. IF First Class 50/50, If Business definitely 70% Thai’s better than Singapore Air Lines. Economy 60% Thai’s better more variety of alcohols offers as World Class i.e. BA standard, enough quantity of delicious foods. Other hands Singapore crews are more smarter like cheaters Emirates. In First Class airport lounge, immigration Thai’s is better. On flight cabin almost same, crew members Thai’s are more polite but Singapore’s more materialistic and more professionalisms entity ! I always love both Air Lines but more accurate fact findings my choice is Thai..unfortunately I am Canadian we have no more Thai’s flight from Canada unless from other destinations if I choose. Yes I did on my last Asian flight with Thai’s 31st January and 21st February 2019. I flew few segments to Canada when they use to fly BKK to Tokyo to Seattle to Toronto over than two decades ago. It was awesome..after than at least 50 segments I made with Thai’s like Hong Kong, Seoul, Tai Pei, Singapore, Dhaka, London. I wish they should fly again in Canada. Especially Vancouver and all Asian travellers can fly with connecting other destinations i.e. Bali, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh city, Kualalumpur, Dhaka, Singapore, Colombo, Calcutta, Kathmandu, Mumbai, New Delhi and Perth Australia. From Vancouver use star alliance i.e. Air Canada and United Air Lines to Connect passengers for North American destinations..Use 787 dream lines for less fuel consumption. You must make profit…I bet!

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