Thai Smile to become StarAlliance Connecting Partner with (some) alliance benefits

Thai Smile, the short-haul & low-cost subsidiary of Thai Airways, is planning to become a StarAlliance Connecting Partner. While you won’t be able to earn or burn miles from another StarAlliance carrier like Lufthansa or United, Elite members will be able to get lounge and priority benefits on connecting flights that include a Thai Smile flight. Find out what to expect below!

Thai Smile was launched as a subsidiary of Thai Airways to defend agains low-cost carrier (LCC) competition and is a bit of a hybrid – offering low fares, but still serving free food and offering good service (read my review of Thai Smile for more). Over time, Thai Smile has taken over all narrow-body planes from Thai Airways and serves a number of short-haul routes across Thailand and Asia. 

With most domestic and regional routes now served by Thai Smile, this was a problem for StarAlliance partners that want to offer connecting flights with perks for their frequent travelers. Right now, you get no benefits as a StarAlliance Gold member on Thai Smile flights.
That will get a little better as a Connecting Partner: If you are transferring from or to a StarAlliance flight, Gold Elite will have priority check-in & boarding, as well as lounge access on their flights. This is especially important for longer connections in Bangkok or the sometimes chaotic check-in at smaller Thai airports. Unfortunately, those benefits still don’t apply for point-to-point flights with Thai Smile only!

Thai Airways Lounge Bangkok

Connecting Partners also don’t participate in the reward programs, so you won’t be able to earn  or redeem United or Lufthansa miles on Thai Smiles flights. That is especially inconvenient if you want to book an award flight to Thailand or South East Asia beyond Bangkok – StarAlliance can’t get you there on Thai Smile!
Thai Smiles does cooperate with Thai Airways Royal Orchids, so you can earn & burn those miles on Thai Smiles flights. And there is the option to partner with individual StarAlliance airlines for the same.

The (unnecessarily) complex structures some airlines have created are not customer friendly and Thai Smile becoming a StarAlliance Connecting Partner is a small step to improve the service for frequent travelers with no downside, so I’m all for it! I hope they create some additional loyalty partnerships beyond Thai Airways to make it more attractive for StarAlliance members! 

HT: Bangkok Post
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