Your plane flight to Thailand is probably going to be one of the most costly expenses of your trip. It is worth spending the time doing research to find not only the cheapest fares to Thailand possible but also the one that meets your needs according to your schedule, comfort level, and travel duration. Not all airlines are the same, and some brands really do outshine the others.
Most international flights fly in to Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. There are a few international flights that fly into Don Muang Airport (DMK) and even fewer into UTAPAO in Pattaya (mainly from Russia and China) You should focus your search on Suvarnabhumi (BKK).
Where to Begin
I prefer to begin my search using a travel search engine that covers a wide variety of airlines. While you can search each individual airlines website, I find that to be the most inefficient method when starting out.
I’m constantly trying out the travel sites to see which ones work the best for flights to Thailand. What. Sites like Priceline, Travelocity, and Expedia aren’t really comparison engines, but booking sites trying to sell you inventory and don’t often give you the best deals or choices. I’ve found is that starting with Kayak seems to give me the best results. It gives me a wide range of choices across a vast number or airlines and displays prices from a number of different sites selling the same fare.
Some other options to consider searching are Skyscanner and Hipmunk. They each have a unique user interface and display the information in a different way that maybe more valuable to some users. I really like the way Hipmunk displays the total travel time for the trip as that is an important factor for me, but I find the interface very hard to use otherwise.
Vayama is a search engine focused on international travel, but I’ve heard it’s customer service has a bad reputation for handling flight changes and the last time I tried to use them the site produced an error so I’ve decided to take them off my list.
Things To Consider When Searching Flights
Before you go searching for the cheapest flight to Thailand you can find, it is wide to decided what other criteria is important to you. Thailand is a long flight from most places around the world, and especially from the United States.
Total Travel Time. This is huge for me. My best case scenario for flight times to Thailand is a full 24-hours door to door. Yes, I can find flights that would save me hundreds of dollars, but they usually range over 35+ hours of travel time. That doesn’t even cover the time spent getting to the airport and waiting around for the first leg to take off. I’d rather spend the extra money and save the time.
Comfort. Not all airlines are created equal on international flights. I’ve found the U.S. airlines and the Legacy European carriers are the worst for comfort and amenities. They fly older planes and have been systematically been reducing legroom and seat comfort in pursuit of profit.
Carriers like Eva Airways, Singapore, Etihad, Qatar, and Emirates to name a few fly newer planes and have better service. If you can afford several hundred extra try the Premium Economy class, I find it worth every penny on a long flight to Thailand. It is better than flying First Class on any domestic airline back home.
Booking Your Flight
While I use Kayak as my first step in finding flights within my price range and schedule, I don’t book with them. I take the flights I’m interested and check the airlines home page directly and compare fares.
Booking through a third party site often incurs commissions and service fees that you won’t pay when booking direct and often levels the prices that seem cheaper at first glance. Some of these sites require that they are the ones that you have to deal with if any problems arise or you need to make changes. You then have to abide by there terms and conditions in addition to the carrier you are flying.
I prefer to book directly with the airline as it adds peace of mind knowing they will better serve me if there is a problem or I need to make changes or run into any unforeseen issues.
When to book airfares to get the best price is anyone’s guess. If booking for high season in Thailand I always try to book my flights around 6 months out. You can sometimes get cheaper prices by waiting till a month or so our, but there is no guarantee especially in high season when the flights are quite full. When flights start to sell out prices go up. Plus, you also miss out on seat choices, which can be important on such a long journey.
Pick your seats early
If you are like me you don’t like being stuck in a middle seat, especially when the ride is for 12 or 16 hours in one leg. I’ve even been known to cancel a reservation if the only seat available would put me in the middle seat. I always book my seats as soon as I get my ticket so I can get my preference of an aisle seat.
Sometimes when you pay for your ticket well in advance – 6+ months the seat reservation system is not open yet. Mark an alert in your calendar to the day that seat selection opens and go to the select your site as soon as you are able. Flights are better when you are seated where you want to be, instead of the middle seat, that doesn’t recline, next to the lavatory. Pick your seat early.
Review change and cancellation policies
Every airlines cancellation and change policy is different. Depending on the fare you book, it even be different for the same airline. U.S. airlines seem to be the worst and most inflexible of the bunch, yet another reason I don’t fly them internationally.
I’ve had great experience with EVA Airway. The most it cost me was $100 to cancel a flight, and they’ve even waived a change fee without me asking when I need to come home early once. I usually try to call the Thai office of the airline if I need to make any changes, but sometime you need to call the office back in your home country. Which is one reason to have a few dollars in Skype credit on your mobile phone.
Don’t buy a ticket where you can’t change or get your money back – there are too many great airlines that don’t screw the customer and you never know when your plans might need to change/
Review all your ticket info carefully before pressing the purchase button
This is simple but important. Review all of your flight schedule before you click that buy button. Review the dates, times, total travel time, your name and passport number, and make sure it is correct. Most airlines use the 24 time so you don’t mistake 1am for 1pm like I did once. If you book incorrectly you will have to pay a change fee to get it sorted out, even if your purchase was a few minutes old.