Earlier this week, Thai Airways added the route from Los Angeles (LAX) to Bangkok (BKK) via Osaka (KIX) into their reservation system beginning January 2014. The Los Angeles – Osaka segment has already been added to the list of Fifth Freedom Routes (since the Thai carrier can carry passengers between the USA and Japan).
Thai used to run a non-stop flight from Bangkok to Los Angeles, but fuel prices pretty much shut that route down. We’re seeing a similar thing with Singapore Airlines ending their nonstop Los Angeles and Newark flights later this year.
Thai began flying to Los Angeles via Seoul-Incheon (ICN), which is another fifth-freedom route. In addition to that, they’re now starting this second route via Osaka. What’s great is that the route will be run 3x per week on the 777-300ER and availability is wide open. If you’re planning a trip to Asia with United or US Airways miles, look out for these flights:
Bangkok-Osaka 2:20pm-9:30pm MWF
Osaka-Los Angeles 10:45pm-3:50pm MWF
Los Angeles-Osaka 1:00am-6:40am (next day) TuThSa
Osaka-Bangkok 8:10am-12:40pm SuWF
The 777-300ER aircraft are newer deliveries for Thai, and are different from the leased aircraft they had with First Class suites. These planes only go up to Business class, with a 1-2-1 staggered setup that allows direct aisle access for all. Those traveling in a couple can have seats next to each other in the middle section, while solo travelers can choose an aisle or window with no neighbor.
I’m currently in the middle of a huge miles and points burn-a-thon for my family, as we’re celebrating a big family event at the turn of the year. All the flights I have to redeem are between India and the United States. From California, routes via Europe and Asia are pretty much the same distance, so I have a lot of options with United miles, which allow redemptions on plenty of partners and don’t limit routing rules like American Airlines does.
Most flights from Los Angeles to Bangkok have only 2 business class seats available at first, but I found that once I redeemed the first 2 business class seats, Thai released 2 more business class seats almost immediately. I was able to book 4 people on the same Los Angeles-Osaka-Bangkok flight, with 2 groups splitting up for onward connections from Bangkok.
This underscores the value of following a site like airlineroute.net, which I follow on Twitter and peruse for any information regarding new routes or routes that are adding flight capacity. There’s no doubt that availability will dry up as more people are able to redeem miles on a new route, so being one of the first to burn miles on a certain flight can really help get the dates you want.