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Best airlines and membership programs in Southeast Asia?

Best airlines and membership programs in Southeast Asia?

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Old Feb 9, 19, 11:35 pm
  #1  
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Lightbulb Best airlines and membership programs in Southeast Asia?

Hi folks (wow, it's been a while, so much has changed) - what are the top airlines and mileage programs for travel within Southeast Asia?

I'm normally a "medium frequency flyer" Oneworlder on BAEC who typically flies between my home in London and Asia via HK, but will soon be based in Southeast Asia, most likely flying within and between Thailand (mostly), Cambodia, Vietnam, maybe 1-3 times a month.

I travel for my own freelance work so no employer to invest in First/Business for me and I don't expect to reach any higher status tiers. More likely want to collect miles faster.

More importantly perhaps I am a very fussy person I [wholeheartedly, abnormally irritably] hate queues, delays and measuring hand luggage sizes (P.S.: for genuine personal/health reasons), and I know that some airlines will treat you a tiny little bit better just because you pay them a tiny little bit more or you're a member of their mileage program, regardless of your status. (I don't remember exactly with whom - I think a Oneworld airline - but I was extremely pleased when I was granted priority boarding once, and a premium economy upgrade another time, just because I had bothered to register for their program!!)

Anyway, which airlines and/or mileage programs should I consider for good service and those quick wins in benefits, comforting moments and convenience?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and considerations!
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Old Feb 9, 19, 11:45 pm
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Originally Posted by TanyaHelenaP View Post
..but will soon be based in Southeast Asia, most likely flying within and between Thailand (mostly), Cambodia, Vietnam, maybe 1-3 times a month.

I travel for my own freelance work so no employer to invest in First/Business for me and I don't expect to reach any higher status tiers. More likely want to collect miles faster.
<snip>
Check what airlines fly the routes you want to travel.
You are likely to find low cost carriers will offer better value for money than legacy/alliance airlines
From Thailand TG may have the routes you will fly.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 12:26 am
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
Check what airlines fly the routes you want to travel.
You are likely to find low cost carriers will offer better value for money than legacy/alliance airlines
From Thailand TG may have the routes you will fly.
Thanks - I just heard/read that most/all low cost airlines don't have online check-in, that their gates are really far away (or you need to walk a lot to get there), plus long immigration queues, hand luggage size restrictions, etc. I know some people can live with that more than others. I am "others" - especially because I have some minor (non-visible) muscle/structure disabilities and various other health issues which can make those little things a real nightmare compared to the average person...

Would therefore appreciate some insights on those service factors
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Old Feb 10, 19, 12:42 am
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Generalisations cannot be made about Asian low cost carriers or old legacy airlines.
All airlines have rules on hand & checked luggage. LLC's will enforce.
Some(all?) LCC have on-line check. They save money by not employing people.
Same with seat selection. You can buy a better seat allocation with many airlines, including BA
Would expect immigration & customs queues to be the same for all airlines operating an terminal/airport.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 11:17 am
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My colleague flying between Bangkok and Cambodia on LCCs recently reported not having any online check-in.

How do Thai Airways/Smile and Bangkok Airways compare, in your opinion?

Thank you
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Old Feb 10, 19, 12:48 pm
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Originally Posted by TanyaHelenaP View Post
My colleague flying between Bangkok and Cambodia on LCCs recently reported not having any online check-in.

How do Thai Airways/Smile and Bangkok Airways compare, in your opinion?

Thank you
They, at least Air Asia and NOK Air, have online check-in, so not sure what airline your colleague is talking about. Like someone else said, I'm sure they all do as that's obviously the cheapest alternative for them. For some reasons I can no longer remember, sometimes I were not allowed online check-in, other times I was. Something to do with how I paid? Not sure.

Bangkok Airways have a lounge that, last time I flew with them, is available for all their passengers. They also have another lounge, at least at some airports, that's only available to those that have some status
with them. The "for all" lounge is not much, but it's a place to sit down and have a cup of coffee/water/tea and some cookies, and thus far better than nothing. I used to prefer Bangkok airways for some years due to the lounge, before they stopped checking through baggage to/from Thai airways for connecting international flights (or Thai airways stopped. Not sure who it was who was no longer happy with the agreement).

Don't think Thai smile has any lounge, but since it's more or less owned by Thai airways, my impression is that quality may be a bit better than other LCCs, though only flown with them a handful of times.

I don't second-thought flying with Thai Smile or Bangkok airways if that's the schedule/price that's best for my trip, but prefer to stay away from Air Asia and the other LCCs if possible. I'm sure that Air Asia will provide little to no assistance if something unexpected happens, and the same for the other LCCs (Nok Air, Lion Air, etc., with the possible exception of Thai smile due to the Thai airways link).

Thai airways is my first choice. If there is a problem, they will at least try to help you, and in my experience (I have had a few minor airport issues through the years), they seem to employ some competent staff who know their way around the airport and will walk with you, unlike e.g. Air Asia which seems to be more-or-less attractive window dressing without any clue.
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Old Feb 10, 19, 4:28 pm
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I speak only of Bangkok here, but Bangkok airport is extremely big so no matter how you plan this, it is more than likely will have a long walk to some of your gates. Also, if you hate queues, Bangkok airport is not the most efficient when it comes to travel. I have arrived in BKK and gone straight through immigration with no problems, but if I land when it's really busy (which is more often than not), immigration can take a really really really long time. This is both exiting and entering the country. If you're flying within Thailand, then this isn't an issue.
If you want to avoid this (and are willing to pay), there are various options such as a tier of Thai Elite (which allows fast track escorted access through immigration plus airport transfers).

Also, if you don't like delays and you want to take a taxi into town, then most likely you will be delayed in the taxi going into the city. If you don't want delays, the other way is to take the airport rail link, but then you will need to queue with the rest of crowd.

With respect to the locations you are flying to, you might find the only cheaper options, as previous posters have pointed out, are LCCs (or low cost arms of the legacy carriers).

In Asia I generally fly the legacy carriers as they generally provide a little more wiggle room in the part of the world. Say you miss your flight, you could easily be put on the next flight at no extra cost (though this is dependent on your ticket). LCCs will always charge you for missing a flight.
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Old Feb 11, 19, 3:08 am
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Another important issue to consider is which airport would you prefer to fly in and out of . Suvarnabhumi being the main airport caters for Thai smile , Bangkok Air and vietjet. Don muang have the option of Air A s__t ( just my personal feeling ) , Thai Lion and Nok . Getting in and out of both is easy , the express train from Suvanabhumi to town or the A1 bus ( very frequently) from entrance 12 arrivals level to Mo Chit SkyTrain station from Don Muang . Thai smile gives you access to Thais Royal Orchid plus membership , and Air Asia have the big points programme ....Personally I would pick Suvanabhumi Airport anyday , avoiding the herds of Chinese following the flag , and extremely long queues in Don Muang
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Old Feb 11, 19, 3:13 am
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Originally Posted by TanyaHelenaP View Post
Thanks - I just heard/read that most/all low cost airlines don't have online check-in, that their gates are really far away (or you need to walk a lot to get there), plus long immigration queues, hand luggage size restrictions, etc. I know some people can live with that more than others. I am "others" - especially because I have some minor (non-visible) muscle/structure disabilities and various other health issues which can make those little things a real nightmare compared to the average person...

Would therefore appreciate some insights on those service factors
Request a wheelchair and fly through the queue's
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Old Feb 11, 19, 3:13 am
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Originally Posted by TanyaHelenaP View Post
My colleague flying between Bangkok and Cambodia on LCCs recently reported not having any online check-in.

How do Thai Airways/Smile and Bangkok Airways compare, in your opinion?

Thank you
Why ask the question then, then your colleagues know so much?

VietJet has online check-in
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Old Feb 11, 19, 3:39 am
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Originally Posted by wxman22 View Post
Why ask the question then, then your colleagues know so much?
“Don't think about why you question, simply don't stop questioning. Curiosity is its own reason."
- Albert Einstein

I'd hope that a forum with thousands of different travelers surely can share more insights and experiences than 3 people who do very specific routes and airlines?
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Old Feb 11, 19, 7:10 am
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I don't think there really is a best membership program in that region. Just keep adding to whatever program you use at home, Star Alliance or Skyteam (there's not much Oneworld action).

But if you're based in Bangkok, then I would take this advice regarding airlines and choosing where to live:
Originally Posted by tommy123 View Post
Another important issue to consider is which airport would you prefer to fly in and out of . Suvarnabhumi being the main airport caters for Thai smile , Bangkok Air and vietjet. Don muang have the option of Air A s__t ( just my personal feeling ) , Thai Lion and Nok . Getting in and out of both is easy , the express train from Suvanabhumi to town or the A1 bus ( very frequently) from entrance 12 arrivals level to Mo Chit SkyTrain station from Don Muang . Thai smile gives you access to Thais Royal Orchid plus membership , and Air Asia have the big points programme ....Personally I would pick Suvanabhumi Airport anyday , avoiding the herds of Chinese following the flag , and extremely long queues in Don Muang
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Old Feb 13, 19, 4:40 am
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Thanks everyone, this is very helpful.
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Old Mar 15, 19, 1:27 pm
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Bangkok Airways is a full service airline. Thai Smiles is the low cost version of Thai Airways. Suvarnabhumi(BKK) is the main airport and the Don Muang(DMK) is the airport for the LCC. It is a disaster at Don Muang as another member has said. I will also try to avoid Air Asia if I can but their fares are very low compared to the full service airlines like Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways. You get what you pay for. Bangkok Airways has a separate lounge for all their passengers and the service on board is very good.
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Old Mar 17, 19, 5:42 am
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I’m in the middle of a bunch of travel in SE Asia.

I've posted reviews with pix and video for

Bangkok Airlines: https://readyjetroam.com/2019/02/03/...nese-new-year/

AirAsia (3 reviews):
CNX-KUL: https://readyjetroam.com/2019/02/24/...-kuala-lumpur/
KUL-CNX: https://readyjetroam.com/2019/02/26/...to-chiang-mai/
CNX-HAN (premium flex): https://readyjetroam.com/2019/03/07/...ll-chiang-mai/

and Vietnam Airlines (specifically walking through choosing it over vietjet): https://readyjetroam.com/2019/03/14/...oi-to-da-nang/

https://readyjetroam.com/

In terms of earning points and miles, we’ve simply made that a secondary consideration. $32 flights earn 0 points or miles BUT ONLY COST $32!!

On many airlines you can pay a small fee to jump queues, get better seats, etc. we have done so.

YMMV!
LIH Prem and eponymous_coward like this.

Last edited by kokonutz; Mar 17, 19 at 10:39 pm
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