Thai Airways is one of my favorite airlines for traveling in premium cabins, with a fantastic Business and First Class that stand out with friendly service. Thai Smile Air is the regional subsidiary of Thai Airways, designed to compete with low-cost carriers like Air Asia or Nok Air, while bridging the gap to the full-service airlines! Find out the facts & figures, what experience you can expect and what rewards you can earn!
Facts & Figures: Thai Smile serves 28 destinations in China, India and Southeast Asia from their hub in Bangkok with a fleet of 20 Airbus A320. The new planes are configured with two cabins, Economy and Thai Smile Plus, a “light” Business Class!
Thai Smile has a 4-out-of-7 safety rating, same as Thai Airways, due to concerns about the Thai civil aviation rating – something I am not too concerned about. Find out more here!
The Experience: While Thai Smile is designed to compete with low-cost carriers, the experience is a step up – more like Virgin America than Air Asia. You can book your tickets online and check-in online as well, which works reasonably well. Different from low-cost carriers, you can select your own seat and bring 20kg check-in luggage for free. SmilePlus guests also get priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling.
Onboard, the hard product is similar to a low cost carrier, with a 3-3 layout and a seat pitch of 28-31 inch – a tight fit for tall people. SmilePlus has 33in pitch and the middle seat is kept empty, similar to a European Business class. You do get the same friendly service you’d find on Thai Airways, maybe even better with usually very young and friendly flight attendants! You also get a snack and drink included in your ticket, even on short flights. It’s not a great meal, but something you won’t find on most US full-service airlines these days! While the A320 has the typical ceiling flip-down LCD screens every few rows, there was no entertainment on the flights I took, so bring your own!
Rewards: Thai Smiles participates in Royal Orchid Plus (ROP), the rewards program of Thai Airways. You can earn miles and redeem them on Thai Smiles flights and you also get the perks of ROP status, for example lounge access. You earning is depending on the booking class and deeply discounted fares will not earn any points. Unfortunately, similar to Singapore Airline’s Silk Air, you won’t get points and perks as a StarAlliance Gold member!
Bottomline: If you are planning a trip with Thai Airways and end up on one of their domestic Thai Smile flights, you are in good hands. The planes are new, service is friendly and the experience is very similar to Thai Airways.
If you are booking an independent trip, I’d prefer Thai Smile over Air Asia or other low-cost carriers due to the better service, free luggage, snack and drink – not much but enough to differentiate the airline.