Thai Airways Is Reducing Flights To Australia

Filed Under: Thai

While airlines adjust their schedules regularly, traditionally most airlines will make the most network changes twice yearly, usually commencing in late October and late March or April. They will usually announce these changes a few months in advance to accommodate affected passengers and promote new and increased routes.

For those airlines based in the northern hemisphere, they will often schedule service reductions during the quieter northern winter months (i.e. October to March), when there is less leisure demand, and they can also perform aircraft maintenance during this time.

Then for the busier northern summer period, they may announce service increases (or seasonal routes) to commence from March or April onwards, to match demand.

Thai Airways has just announced some significant adjustments to their Australian flights. Their destinations in Australia include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Thai Airways is an airline infamous for making seemingly irrational network decisions without warning, which they often then change their mind about, just as randomly. I have written before about my adventures when Thai Airways decided to eliminate first class from Sydney (downgrading my first class redemption in the process), and then changed their mind. We had the first class cabin to ourselves on the Sydney to Bangkok flight, which was wonderful, but it was a stressful experience!

Despite their unusual decision making, their award availability has always been very good and as a result I’ve flown Thai Airways in first and business class more than any other airline.

Thai Airways has announced that several Australian services will be reduced from October 28, 2018.

Bangkok – Brisbane

Thai currently operates daily flights between the two cities, using a two class Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft spread across two flight number pairs (TG473/474 and TG477/478).

Flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, in both directions (TG477/478) are cancelled.

Thai 787 (Source: Thai Airways)

Bangkok – Melbourne

There is currently a double daily service between Melbourne and Bangkok using a two class Airbus A350 aircraft.

From October 28, the service will reduce from 14 to 11 flights per week, with TG461 not operating from Bangkok to Melbourne on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and the return TG462 not operating from Melbourne to Bangkok on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Thai A350 (Source: Thai Airways)

Bangkok – Sydney

Sydney is Thai Airways’ most interesting route, because it’s operated by Boeing 747 aircraft. The upside of this is that the aircraft feature Thai’s excellent first class product, which Ben recently reviewed here.

The downside is that the business class seats on these aging aircraft are 2-2 angled flat, which are very uncomfortable for sleeping on (I’ve tried) and are neither fully-flat, nor do they have direct aisle access like Thai’s 777-300s and A350s.

Thai currently operates 11 747 services a week to Sydney. The daily TG475 and 476 services remain unchanged, but the additional four weekly flights (TG471 operating from Bangkok on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and TG472 from Sydney on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), are cancelled from October 28.

Perth services remain unchanged.

There is likely to be less demand for Australians flying Thai Airways during the Australian summer period, both because there is less demand to connect onto European destination during the northern winter, and Australians have less need to ‘escape’ to a warm climate like Thailand during the Australian summer where the Australian weather is ideal for holidaying anyway.

Thailand (and Asia) does remain a popular destination for Australians holidaying over the Christmas and New Year break, however.

Bottom line

It’s pointless making any long-term predictions about Thai Airways and their network and timetables, because many decisions they make seem so irrational. I hope (and trust) these adjustments are only seasonal and the current full schedule returns for the northern summer next year.

Thai has not given a timeframe for the reductions, other than to say they are from October 28, 2018.

Given routes are being reduced and not cancelled altogether, if you are booked on one of the flight numbers being cancelled, you should automatically be rebooked onto another Thai Airways flight on the same route either leaving the same day, or the day before or after. Thai Airways’ Australian offices are used to passengers being stuffed around by Thai’s scheduling decisions, so are a good place to discuss your options.

Are you flying on Thai Airways to or from Australia?

  1. From Sydney to Bangkok the 4pm flight is canned and now there’s now only the 10am flight, meaning that if you are headed to London or Europe you’ll have a 7 or 8 hour layover in Bangkok to connect to any of the the midnight departures. Or a 20 hour layover to the next day’s midday flights. Ugh.

    Coming back to Sydney, all the midday/afternoon departures from Europe will land in Bangkok around 8am and require a 12 hour layover to connect to TG475 departing Bangkok at 8pm.

    And these long layovers are a pain to try to book as awards eg on Lifemiles.

    Let’s hope they change their minds again

  2. While the Perth schedule indeed does remain unchanged, there is an equipment swap from a B787 to an A330 with the newly retrofitted 1-2-2/1-2-1 business class cabin starting October 28. Just got the notification from ExpertFlyer and scrambled to select a “throne seat”. Excited to see how the new cabin is!

  3. While agreeing with you about Thai’s unpredictability of scheduling, they still hold a special place in my heart for being the first airline I travelled on internationally, the first airline I travelled on in ‘lie-flat’ business, and the first airline I flew on in first class. Like you, I was the only passenger in the cabin.

  4. @James- What is the best way to check availability for First or Business Class and what points are the best to use? Thanks!

  5. @ Sam – I’d use United’s search tool and then depending on where you are going, Lifemiles or Aeroplan miles will probably be your best miles to use.

  6. So what engines does Thai use on their B787?

    Cutting routes to allow engine maintenance?

    Or it’s just a case of moving planes to northern hemisphere routes?

    Unless they are just planning to park the planes, where will the planes end up

  7. Slightly off topic but in the same update Thai is ending 747 service to Europe from October. The last 747 route is Munich and it will switch to 777 300ER.

  8. @James: The article implies that Thai’s 787 offers direct aisle access like the A350 but it does not. To my knowledge, all of Thai’s 787 are 2-2-2 seat in J. My flight earlier this year between BNE and BKK was as such.

    @No name: I think that Thai’s 787s are also affected by the engine issues, so I suspect that that could play a role in things. And if you want access to a Thai route, your closest airports to East Coast US would be CDG, LHR, or FRA/MUC. The first three are served by their A380s. From the West Coast, Osaka (KIX) or Tokyo (NRT) might be your closest (both are also served by Thai’s A380s).

  9. @EChid

    Actually Thai has 2 types of >B787 J seats, 2-2-2 on 6 B787-8 and 1-2-1 on 2 B787-9.

    The B787-9 looks like Reverse herringbone from seat maps and a video online. Try googling Thai Boeing 787-9.

  10. @EChid

    Also if you are suggesting connecting on *A award from the US it might be worth looking at the Scandi Capitals CPH/ARN/OSL since Thai operates B777W with the same J seats as the A380. No F on these routes of course.

  11. For some bizarre reason , best known to themselves, Thai believed they could charge a significant premium on these routes relative to the competition. Also, they started playing games with fare classes, making it more difficult to maintain status in ROP. Thai is not a bad airline by any means…but when they want to charge 25, 40, even 50% more than decent competitors, it’s not going to work.
    I stopped using Thai as much partly because of the higher fares but also because they don’t look after their own frequent flyers, eg, no fast track in or out in Bangkok for Gold members. Incredibly dumb but probably reflecting the fact that so many Thai hangers-on get gifted Gold status for being ‘hiso’ or someone’s cousin or other nebulous connection.

  12. @No Name: Good point, I didn’t know that. Thai only serves Australia with -8 varients of the Dreamliner though, so none of the routes will see the 1-2-1 layout you describe. Thai’s best service is probably out of MEL, since it gets their newest product.

  13. @Paolo

    Thais are probably the new crazy rich Asian country.
    Crazy enough to charge a premium even they are mediocre.
    Rich enough to afford an overpriced airfare.
    Asian, well they are Asians right?

    I was in BKK a few months back and can say, the line for Thai nationals are VERY SHORT. I would even bet it is faster than Fast Track. I got stuck when ONLY 1 immigration officer was there in Fast Track for at least 2 A380 flights. I don’t think TG or gifted status has anything to do with it, since I don’t see Thais are affected by immigration. The Airport management itself is the problem.

  14. I’m booked from HKG to SYD on TG in 2 weeks. Booked the 40k United deal before the devaluation. TG already bumped HKG-BKK down to business only. I’m hoping nothing else happens!

  15. That line should read “Thai Airways is an airline infamous for making irrational decisions without warning”


  16. “There is likely to be less demand for Australians flying Thai Airways during the Australian summer period, both because there is less demand to connect onto European destination during the northern winter, and Australians have less need to ‘escape’ to a warm climate like Thailand during the Australian summer where the Australian weather is ideal for holidaying anyway.”

    What a load of crap. NH winter is peak travel time for Australia/New Zealand due to Christmas and summer holidays, and most airlines add (not reduce) capacity during this time. VFR traffic (both ways) make up the bulk of the traffic, but high leisure traffic due to long school holidays as well. More than 20% of Sydney’s annual international traffic occurred during January 2018:

  17. @ Alex – your link only really discusses increases in domestic travel. As I said in the article – Australia is a great place to holiday during the southern hemisphere summer period.

  18. @James, isn’t the Southern hemisphere summer period one of the busiest for Aussies traveling to Thailand? I say this for two reasons:
    1) As @Alex mentioned, it’s the long school holidays in Australia and a lot of families go overseas, especially in the period from Christmas to January 31.
    2) The Southern summer also happens to coincide with the peak season in Thailand with generally the most ideal weather for most of the country.

    Anyway, I suppose the fact that Thai are cutting these services does indicate a drop in demand.

  19. @James
    Could you please clarify whether these route dates are ending as of October 23, or if they are simply closed to further sales as of this date (as the announcement link seems to indicate)?

    I have January flights between BKK-MEL on TG461 and 462 on days being phased out, but they still display as always on the Thai Airways website. I have also contacted Thai for clarification.


  20. @James
    True that Australia is great for vacation over southern summer but equally true that the peak demand for Australians vacationing in Thailand is December-February…making the timing of the implementation of this all the more strange.
    Thai is in a desperate financial situation, after years of huge losses ( not helped by the crazy fleet situation, with so many models).
    Thai used to be one of the main choices for “kangaroo route” travel, but in recent years Vietnam, China Southern, Sri Lankan, Air India, Air China, PAL, Garuda, China Airlines, have all grabbed some market share, in addition to the more traditional choices of Qantas, Singapore, Cathay, Malaysia, JAL, MEAs. Competition is intense and Thai hasn’t kept pace with either price or product .
    It’s a pity because it used to be a very good choice.

  21. Flew them in May from Sydney….NEVER again. I thought Thai were supposed to be one of the best. Left terminal in Sydney turned back to terminal after reaching the runway. Tech problem, told would take 20mins, took an hour(hey I understand it happens, better to be safe than sorry). Felt the service onboard (in economy) was very average. Arrived in Bangkok and had to walk down air stairs and catch a bus for onward flight then run for the gate to not miss flight. Onward flight in A 380 (economy) was very cramped ( thought there was supposed to be more room) ,and very humid. Again service on board very average, didn’t even seem like they checked to see if seat belts were fastened.

    Return flight from Paris gain very cramped but service seemed a bit better. Again aircraft very humid. Arrived Bangkok, went to gate to be told change of aircraft, tech issue…AGAIN !!!! Had o go by bus again and climb more air stairs. Crew again seemed very poor and disinterested.

    Four flights, 2 tech issues very humid cabins and crew who seemed like they didn’t want to be there. I expected so much more from Thai. All good though. I will spend my money elsewhere.

  22. I recently used to fly back and forth to BKK from Aus every fortnight for a period of 4 years, Mainly on Thai to begin with and This is about the 3rd time Ive seen noticable resheduling so don’t count on it being permanent.
    Thais ROP program is decent they allow you to exit BKK fasttrack but not enter.
    Singapore consistency and timetable schedule kills them at the end of the day even though direct is convenient the times never were. (from Perth) I opted for 1 of the 4 SQ flights all the time.
    I’ve flown Thai from every Australian city to BKK I dont recall or can remember turning upto a gate its always onto tarmac and on the bus which is such a pain. Still love Thai im heading there tomorrow for 3 days but going via Taipei to check out what China airlines is like.

  23. @Kyall
    No, they DO NOT allow ROP Gold members to exit via Fast Track. Platinum only, so not ROP Gold or Star Alliance Gold.
    @Campbell. Bus arrival and departure is par for the course for all Australian flights. I would say it’s 1/20 to/from a gate ( at least for the evening arrivals at BKK and the late night departures, I can’t speak for the others).

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