Thai Airways Wants To Bring Back Nonstop Flights To The US

Thai Airways Wants To Bring Back Nonstop Flights To The US

35

Thai Airways used to fly nonstop from Bangkok to New York and Los Angeles using their Airbus A340-500 aircraft, though in 2012 they cut those routes, given how much money the airline was losing on the routes. This was due to a combination of the A340-500 being a gas guzzler, and also the generally low yields on flights to and from Thailand.

Thai Airways used to operate a one stop flight between Los Angeles and Bangkok, which initially routed via Osaka, and then eventually via Seoul Incheon, before it finally got cut. When an airline only operates a one-stop routing to their home country, they don’t really have a competitive advantage, since there are a dozen airlines operating one-stop flights between the US and Thailand.

Thai Airways isn’t even allowed to fly to the US at the moment, given the poor rating Thailand scored in a safety audit. This caused the FAA to downgrade Thailand to Category II, which means they can’t operate flights to the US. However, I’d keep in mind that’s more a reflection of the regulation in the country overall (or lack thereof), rather than Thai Airways specifically.

Thai-Airways

Anyway, it looks like Thai Airways is looking to change their safety image, and even wants to restart flights between Bangkok and the US. Per the Bangkok Post:

THAI targets non-stop flights to San Francisco or Seattle with easy transfer to other destinations (no other carriers offer this service) once flights are resumed to US.

Non-stop flights would be offered on the routes, which is a major selling point as no other carriers offer this service.

In the past, THAI operated flights to the US with a stop in either Japan or South Korea.

The opening of the new route to the US would come when THAI receives two new Boeing aircraft next year.

While I wouldn’t necessarily take this as fact yet, it does look like Thai Airways seriously wants to restart service to the US, and San Francisco or Seattle are the likely gateways. They’ll be taking delivery of some Boeing 787-9 aircraft next year, so I suspect that’s the plane they’d use for the route (that’s what United flies from San Francisco to Singapore).

United-787

San Francisco and Seattle are both logical options:

  • Seattle is the closest US gateway they can operate to nonstop, though it’s not a Star Alliance hub, so there would be limited opportunities for connecting passengers
  • San Francisco is 500 miles further, so would be more expensive to operate, but also makes more sense, since it’s a United hub

SFO-BKK

Using a 787-9 rather than an A340-500 should at least help keep the operating costs of the flight down, but even so, I have a hard time imagining they’d turn a profit on the route, given the cost of operating an ultra longhaul flight, and that Thailand is a fairly low yield market.

Then again, that’s even more reason to root for the route, since award space would likely be plentiful. 😉

Bottom line

Thai Airways is seriously considering launching flights to the US, and I suspect if they do, San Francisco is the most logical choice. Quite a bit has to happen before they’ll be able to operate the route, so I suspect it could be 2018 before it launches, if it happens at all.

It would be great to see the return of nonstop flights between the US and Thailand.

Do you think Thai Airways will restart nonstop US flights? If so, would you fly with them?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Conversations (35)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. SIMON BIN ABDUL KUDUS Guest

    Question ; Thai Airways Int first flew from Tokyo to the USA-SFO or LA, when was the first flight?

  2. JOHN HARRINGTON Guest

    ABOVEARTICLE SAYS,"since there are a dozen airlines operating one-stop flights between the US and Thailand"WHICH DOZEN AIRLINES?I CAN THINK OF ONLY:1)UALNONE OF THE OTHER US AIRLINESOPERATE ONE-STOP ROUTING TO THE US MAINLAND

  3. RKAviation (LAX Spotter) Guest

    I hope they start service back to LAX International Airport. LAX has completed a new Midfield Concourse just a few months ago. If they come back to LAX, I'm sure they will use the concourse for their flights. If not, then I'm okay with that. I just wanna fly to Bangkok one day!

  4. Jim Pearson Guest

    Surely there would be plenty of demand to restart US flights in the future, once their financial situation has improved and current travel restrictions have been lifted. The "low-yield" part I don't agree with, especially when United and Northwest used to serve Bangkok for years, albeit via a one-stop service. I think part of the reason for the lack of current flights in addition to the already established reasons (wrong aircraft type, kickbacks and free...

    Surely there would be plenty of demand to restart US flights in the future, once their financial situation has improved and current travel restrictions have been lifted. The "low-yield" part I don't agree with, especially when United and Northwest used to serve Bangkok for years, albeit via a one-stop service. I think part of the reason for the lack of current flights in addition to the already established reasons (wrong aircraft type, kickbacks and free flights for military and the elite) could be political reasons - THAI would need to purchase more Boeing planes and suddenly the country would receive a top FAA rating.

    There are plenty of Thai expatriates in LA, many of whom have American spouses. In recent years between 600,000 and 1 million Americans have visited Thailand per year (plus all the expat Thais), more than enough to warrant one or two direct services to the USA (such as SFO, SEA or LAX). There is some business travel potential in both directions (American investors coming for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and Thais to the USA) but there's also another obvious one: connecting traffic to Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam and Malaysia, markets few of the major Asian carriers servicing North America serve (other than Vietnam and Malaysia). Even potentially as an alternative to Chinese carriers for less popular Chinese gateway cities (Kunming, Chongqing, Changsha, Xiamen, Macau) that THAI or THAI Smile service. After all, THAI Airways offers a superior product to pretty much any of the Chinese airlines and on Chinese routes at least, there is always at least one or two Chinese speaking cabin crew on board (most of whom are Chinese nationals).

    Even Vietnam Airlines has stated it intends to serve the US market in the future, and having very similar market characteristics to Thailand (mostly leisure including serving the diaspora market, but also some business, mainly manufacturing related rather than banking/finance - similar to Thailand). Like Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City was once served by United Airlines on a one stop service via Hong Kong (Bangkok was served via Tokyo) and both flights were suspended in 2012, around the same time as each other.

  5. [email protected] Guest

    When will it happen.?
    I would fly in a heartbeats with any airline direcly fromTiland to Sanfrancisco

  6. RBC Guest

    Thai Airways currently has passenger size restrictions in their business class between some city pairs. I'd only fly them if they:

    1. Resolved this issue (apparently related to seat belt restrictions;

    2. Improved their method of screening passengers who are too large to fly business class; and

    3. Re-instated flights from Japan to the US.

  7. Michael Earith Guest

    Thai thought seriously hard back in the early 1990s at introducing a route to New York via Europe (CDG & LHR were possibilities) probably on a 747 as a similar exercise to what Singapore Airlines were doing when they were flying SIN-FRA/AMS-JFK (this route still operating now) in 1992/1993.

    It finally became a reality in 2005 when Thai launched BKK-JFK nonstop with either an A346 or a 777-300.

  8. Victor Guest

    I would like to see Thai Airways bring back JFK-BKK nonstop. I flew that route with them many times. Unfortunately, they have discontinued it. With the introduction of new planes 787-9, 777-200LR & A350-900ULR it is possible.

    Also, their business class seat configuration of A340-500 was terrible. It was a flat bed, but with a huge incline angle, so you would always slide down and could not relax at all.

  9. Brian Guest

    Any mention of Star Alliance and United gives me anxiety. Boy I hate that airline. I would welcome a non-stop from Bangkok to the US though. Unfortunately it still means a stop for me from the east coast. Ideally NY would be perfect but it doesn’t sound like that is in the cards. My next trip to BKK is on Cathay via HKG from EWR. First leg is just under 16hrs. Uggg.

  10. Jeff Guest

    Jeff again from. The east coast, still hosed but if you're a delta FF, then its Norfolk or richmond to Atl or Detroit, to Inchon then Bkk. That's not to bad but no more Comfot pluss, now it's the big bucks using Premium select or Delta One. Oh ya I don't think you can use or Combo points either???? Help

  11. Eddie Guest

    Why not just do BKK-HNL ?

  12. Jennifer B. Guest

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this article is wrong. The main reason Thai Airways shut down their nonstop flights to LAX is due to money but not because of low yield. In fact, their yield was over kill and The a Thai Royal and military personnel took advantage of this route. They HAD to let these people fly for free or at least the cost was comped in a way...

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this article is wrong. The main reason Thai Airways shut down their nonstop flights to LAX is due to money but not because of low yield. In fact, their yield was over kill and The a Thai Royal and military personnel took advantage of this route. They HAD to let these people fly for free or at least the cost was comped in a way that was costing Thai Airways millions. They CANNOT say "No!" So instead, they ended the route and stopped these folks in Thailand from taking advantage of free flying or "low cost" flying. With the exceptional service they put out and great food, can you imagine? Sad but true. I'm half Thai and have spoken too many Thai people about this. But under the radar hush hush talk like in taxi cabs and with relatives.

  13. Jeff Guest

    Amazingly this leaves those of us on the east coast still hosed , it wasn't that bad flying from mid Atlantic say Norfolk, Richmond to Atlanta or DTW, then to NRT then to BKK. But when Delta stopped we were left to Korean Air from Dulles to Inchon then to BKK, which is a great flight, but getting to those cities is a hassle, if you aren't fortunate to live near a big city you are double hosed

  14. JCB2001 Guest

    I personally prefer a couple hour stopover in Japan or Korea to stretch my legs and break up the flight. A 17 hour flight on Thai's A340 from LAX-BKK is brutal, even in premium economy. On one flight, we couldn't land at BKK due to fog. We ended up diverting to Chang Mai adding 3 1/2 more hours to our already long 17 hour flight. My body just can't handle this much flying.

  15. Tom Guest

    I fly to Thailand 3 or 4 times a year and I would most definitely fly a non stop route.

  16. Ryan Guest

    @peter when you older a map your seeing things very different than they are. Your looking at a flat picture and not a sphere. The flight from BKK-LAX would head pretty far north to make it near the top of the circle before heading south, passing SEA and SFO along the way. Circles have a much later circumference towards the center and flight distance would be far longer if they didn't follow the great circle...

    @peter when you older a map your seeing things very different than they are. Your looking at a flat picture and not a sphere. The flight from BKK-LAX would head pretty far north to make it near the top of the circle before heading south, passing SEA and SFO along the way. Circles have a much later circumference towards the center and flight distance would be far longer if they didn't follow the great circle route. Eastbound flights do sometimes stay farther south to take advantage of prevailing winds , especially in winter time so it's possible the east bound flight wouldn't take much longer to get to LA but it's still farther.

  17. Christopher Wice Guest

    BKK-SFO would be prefect for us.

  18. Adam Guest

    A direct non-stop route to BKK would be music to my ears.

  19. SK Guest

    Flew the JFK-BKK route round trip twice (2005 and 2008 I think?). Hard product was decent, soft product was excellent. I would fly them again... (I should note though, I'm a good sleeper on aircraft, so in each instance I slept 14 of the 17 hours in the air.)

  20. Nymeria Guest

    First off, I would definitely fly Thai. Their service and food is great and I also have their ROP card which is even better. Since Thai cut their US routes I had to fly EVA from Bangkok to JFK or LAX instead which was fine but I didn't really enjoy a layover in Taipei. I'm still wondering though, why don't they just use their 777-300ER, that would cover the distance right? Correct me if I'm...

    First off, I would definitely fly Thai. Their service and food is great and I also have their ROP card which is even better. Since Thai cut their US routes I had to fly EVA from Bangkok to JFK or LAX instead which was fine but I didn't really enjoy a layover in Taipei. I'm still wondering though, why don't they just use their 777-300ER, that would cover the distance right? Correct me if I'm wrong but I think the 777-300ER covers a longer distance than the 787-9 right?

  21. Mike Guest

    Can someone with knowledge of the matter comment on operating costs of this or a similar route with a 787 vs a 340? I'm curious to know how large the savings actually is, or isn't...

  22. Peter Michaelson Guest

    Can someone please explain to me how BKK-SEA distance can be 500 miles shorter than BKK-SFO. With SFO being further south and no further east, one would normally say SFO is closer to BKK.

    I guess I need to study up on this Great Circle thing.

  23. JP New Member

    The largest Thai community outside Thailand is in Los Angeles - this might be an incentive for Thai to consider re-introducing a flight between the 2 Cities of Angels.

  24. Archon1995 Guest

    @EVA Gold +1. There definitely is good demand SEA-BKK, and from YVR as well.

  25. Petter Member

    Not that many Hollywood stars with origins in Thailand ?

  26. Jake Ostrich Guest

    This is so great that there's the possibility of Thai Airways restarting non stops flights to the US

  27. EVA Gold New Member

    Eva is doing very well in Seattle. I am EVA Star Alliance Gold, and I can rarely get off the waitinglist for SEA-TPE. Almost 100% of the time I have Thai passenger sitting next to me on EVA flight. Also, it is standard to have Thai cabin crew on SEA-TPE. I think the demand between BKK and SEA is pretty high.

  28. kelt Guest

    @alexrg EVA Air does a pretty great job of that with connecting flights in Taipei.

  29. alexrg Guest

    One question: couldn't Thai generate a good amount of connecting traffic to other points in Asia? Unless there's something I'm missing, couldn't this route work out?

  30. eponymous coward Guest

    It would be cray-cray to fly into SEA without a partnership with DL or AS from such a low-yield ultra-longhaul destination like BKK, and an AS or DL partnership would be a thumb in UA's eye as a *A partner. UA could retaliate by starting SFO-BKK, and my understanding is *A is much less inclined to get into bed with airlines like AS; consider that AS has ST partners like DL/KL/AF and OW partners like...

    It would be cray-cray to fly into SEA without a partnership with DL or AS from such a low-yield ultra-longhaul destination like BKK, and an AS or DL partnership would be a thumb in UA's eye as a *A partner. UA could retaliate by starting SFO-BKK, and my understanding is *A is much less inclined to get into bed with airlines like AS; consider that AS has ST partners like DL/KL/AF and OW partners like BA/LA/CX/QF, but zero, zip, bupkiss, nil, nada in the way of *A partners.

    Thus, SFO-BKK, since that reasonably covers LAX, PHX, CHI, SEA, DFW, NYC with one-stops on UA, and realistically pre-empts UA from starting SFO-BKK.

  31. deelizzle Guest

    @kelt the reason is that LA is further than SF, which is further than Seattle from Bangkok. The difference between flying to LA versus Seattle is about the same as flying from LA to Denver at 811 miles. That means tacking another 2 hours of flying onto an already very stretched flight.

    With that said, BKK-LAX is slightly less flying than SFO-SIN, but the margins have to be significantly better on the latter.

  32. kelt Guest

    Thought excited, I do not understand why Thai Airways don't consider LA as a destination, wouldn't they have much potential on that route? Also, I would fly Thai Airways to the US in a heartbeat, just to mix the experience up with my frequent journeys with EVA Air.

  33. Washeelers747 Member

    wondering if UA will make first move by launch SFO-BKK, and persuade TG to take care of LAX-BKK traffic. Big upgrade over flying to Tokyo then another 7 hours to BKK...

  34. Robert Hanson Diamond

    Who wouldn't want more flights with available award space? Also the biggest problem with Thai is that they are notorious for equipment swaps, and that wouldn't be possible on this route. I'm hoping they get this done.

  35. Eric Guest

    Yes I would and I'm rooting for Seattle. Thai flew to Seattle back in the 80s and I'd like to see the service restarted.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

SIMON BIN ABDUL KUDUS Guest

Question ; Thai Airways Int first flew from Tokyo to the USA-SFO or LA, when was the first flight?

0
JOHN HARRINGTON Guest

ABOVEARTICLE SAYS,"since there are a dozen airlines operating one-stop flights between the US and Thailand"WHICH DOZEN AIRLINES?I CAN THINK OF ONLY:1)UALNONE OF THE OTHER US AIRLINESOPERATE ONE-STOP ROUTING TO THE US MAINLAND

0
RKAviation (LAX Spotter) Guest

I hope they start service back to LAX International Airport. LAX has completed a new Midfield Concourse just a few months ago. If they come back to LAX, I'm sure they will use the concourse for their flights. If not, then I'm okay with that. I just wanna fly to Bangkok one day!

0
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,988,713 Miles Traveled

29,627,500 Words Written

32,815 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT
  • August 18, 2019
  • Ben Schlappig
52
Review: Thai Airways A350 Business Class
  • February 26, 2019
  • Ben Schlappig
33
Thailand Fails FAA Safety Audit… Again