Bangkok Airways, Thailand’s largest regional airline, announced that it will be launching the Elite Card – an unlimited flight pass allowing for uncapped domestic economy travel in for an entire year.
The Card is on a limited run being only available for purchase November 2020 costing a reasonable 100,000 Thai Baht ($3,200 / £2500) excluding 7% VAT. This while in conjunction with its revamped Flyer Pass promotion which aims to offer 4 one way tickets at a fixed price.
While in the press release, Mr. Chulin Kocharoen, Vice President – Sales and Acting Vice President – Marketing of Bangkok Airways said, “Bangkok Airways Elite Card is our most “one-of-a-kind” product ever offered…” and while it is good to see products like this out there it is hardly innovative. American Airlines is known to have pioneered the concept with their lifetime unlimited travel AAirpass and more recently Air Asia released its unlimited travel voucher for their domestic market.
What Do You Get With Elite Pass?
Surprisingly, for what you are paying for, the elite pass is quite generous. You will be entitled to:
- Bangkok Airways Premier status (entry-tier elite status)
- preferred seat assignments
- priority airport standby status,
- reservations waitlist,
- premier check-in Counter (at available airports),
- free unlimited reservation modifications (travel date changes, flight changes)
- 10% discount for Bangkok Airways inflight shopping.
- Blue Ribbon Club lounge access with extra Blue Ribbon Club lounge vouchers for companions (5 vouchers) valued at 4,750 THB ($152.59)
- extra baggage allowance of 10 kilograms (from normal 20 kilograms)
Bookings can be made starting December 16th and can be made throughout all of 2021 for travel in 2021.
What Are The Headline Terms?
- Unlimited travel with Elite Card on economy class one-way or return tickets to any domestic destination operated by Bangkok Airways
- Book and travel for an unlimited number of times on economy class one-way or return tickets; eligible to travel on/after 01 January 2021 – on/before 31 December 2021
- Eligible for FlyerBonus Premier membership status throughout year 2021
- Free unlimited reservation change
- Unlimited travel [bookings] with Elite Card is only valid for the base fare and do not include ancillaries, add-ons, airport charges, taxes and regulatory fees, or other applicable charges, if any, which shall be payable by the passenger at the time of booking.
- Passengers are allowed up to five (5) no-shows. In the event a passenger exceeds the number of no-shows permitted, Bangkok Airways have the right to cancel their Elite Card entirely including any future flight(s) booked and/or confirmed, without any liability on the part of Bangkok Airways.
Is The Elite Pass Worth It?
That is a loaded question, and the answer is always… it depends.
Taking the assumption that as long as you book in economy, there is no reason not to book the most flexible ticket possible. As such, if you can take 2 trips a month, totalling 24 a year, it would cost approximately £100 ($133) ish for each return flight plus what other applicable taxes are charged. Add in the fact that you are not limited by a minimum booking timeframe, you could effectively book a same day one-way tickets in full fare economy. Doing so would cost £115 ($150) for a one-way ticket by itself.
If you aren’t able to make 24 trips, you could effectively lose money over the year. Weighing up the costs and knowing if you are going to be travelling quite frequently will help you decide if this is worth it or not. Under utilise the card enough times and you can see how the up front charge and taxes work against you in breaking even.
Furthermore, every ticket earns miles and elite status. If every full fare ticket earns 500 miles, you would need to fly at least 25 domestic sectors in a year to maintain your elite status after the promotion ends for an additional year. If that doesn’t take your fancy, the terms and conditions don’t appear to exclude crediting the flights to a partner frequent flyer program namely Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Qatar, or Emirates. Although the caveat is that you would give up status miles with Bangkok Airways as a result.
In reality though, the average Thai resident will never be able to utilise this card and get the maximum benefit from it. It is targeting very specific frequent flyers such as business travellers or local residence who want to take a year off and tour the country – as international travellers are still barred from entering Thailand.