This is rather sad news. As of January 15, 2013, Thai Airways will be cutting their twice daily service between Bangkok and Koh Samui.

This sucks because Thai is the only airline that belongs to one of the three major alliances that offers service to Koh Samui. As some of you may know I’ve been eying a trip to Koh Samui, given that I was hoping to redeem an AXON award for a villa at the amazing Conrad Koh Samui for only 145,000 Hilton HHonors points for four nights. Beyond the amazing redemption value, Koh Samui looks beautiful and has plenty of amazing hotels.

While this change doesn’t make a trip there impossible, it does mean I’d have to purchase a separate ticket from Bangkok to Koh Samui, which certainly adds to the cost of a vacation when the segment would have otherwise been included at no additional cost on an existing award ticket.

I’m also kind of curious to see what Thai Airways does for those with existing award bookings through partner airlines on the Bangkok to Koh Samui route. In this case it’s not just that they have a schedule change, but they’re cutting the destination altogether. If I had to guess I’d say they’ll just tell those with partner award bookings to pound sand, though I hope that they’ll instead rebook them on Bangkok Airways.

Anyway, I know I’m not the only one that has been eying Koh Samui, so I figured this was worth a heads up.

  1. September 2nd, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Gary said,

    BKK-USM was a pretty hard route to get award seats on. Always assumed though never verified that the two daily flights went out pretty full, and my guess was the route was being pulled for reasons other than that they weren’t economical at least in terms of revenue.. The USM airport is privately owned (by Bangkok Airways, I believe).

    Bangkok Airways is actually a great flying experience. A ‘lounge’ o sorts for coach passengers. I saw them provide tarmac transfer service to COACH passengers connecting to international. They have a lounge (of sorts) at USM for business class. Thai doesn’t do alcohol domestic, PG does. And you’ve never seen so many forks and spoons and knives in your life as the silverware on a meal service domestic flight with them. Give ‘em a try sometime.

    Sadly the BKK-USM route can be pricey, but at least paid business isn’t much of a buy up at all over coach.

  2. September 2nd, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Kim said,

    As of last week I was still able to pull up awards to USM. I’m eyeing an award in Feb. But, noticed this week all availability gone. This explains it. If we end up doing this trip I will probably end up trying to get an award to Surat Thani and then ferry. I’ve flown Bangkok airways and it’s fine.

  3. September 2nd, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Ric said,

    Even though it’s a disappointment regarding using awards I am seeing return flight from BKK to USM on Bangkok Airways for USD240 return. Believe Bangkok Airways still own the airport. For many years they were the only airline to fly to USM.

  4. September 2nd, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Bill @ CCT said,

    Any reason for this end of service? It sounds like the flights were mostly full (anecdotally) and award space was difficult to come by, so this is a bit unusual, no?

  5. September 2nd, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Bill — Apparently Thai is retiring their 737s, and that’s the only aircraft in the fleet that could fly to Koh Samui.

  6. September 2nd, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Nathan said,

    I never had an issue getting BKK to USM service. I booked seats for 8 just a couple months ago. USM is a dump anyway, so good riddance. The W Resort there on the other hand is amazing.

  7. September 2nd, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Nathan said,

    As mentioned the flights are full and unlike nearly every other route in thailand they was not even one Thai person to be found on my flight in or out.

  8. September 2nd, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    snic said,

    USM (the airport) is not a dump; it’s quite pleasant.

    USM (the island) is dumpy in places, but those aren’t that hard to avoid. There are some very nice resorts.

    And Koh Phanagn (easily accessible by ferry from Koh Samui) is mostly beautiful.

  9. September 2nd, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    bob said,

    Flying from Bangkok to Koh Samui will only cost about $180 round trip, so using points to get to BKK is still a pretty good option.

  10. September 3rd, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Hamurabi2001 said,

    While I understand the sadness around disappearing TG award space to USM I must admit that I always purchased Bangkok Airlines tickets for cold hard cash. I really like them and would prefer to fly them over domestic TG every time ….

  11. September 3rd, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Ace said,

    Silver lining: Bangkok Airways partners with Etihad…:)

  12. September 3rd, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Euan said,

    Bangkok Airways do own USM.

    USM is a great airport and I loved the service on Bangkok Airways.

    They also serve BKK with over 20 flights a day.

    In addition, if you are flying economy sign up for their FFP, as a basic member you get an increased luggage allowance free.

  13. September 3rd, 2012 at 10:04 am

    CanadianMillionMiler said,

    Something looks fishy here. The Thai flights from BKK to USM is almost always fully booked everyday. Thai claims that Bangkok Airways who owns USM airport has increased landing fee from $3,000/flight to about $ 5,000 per flight leading them to make a loss. It doesn’t make sense that they are making a loss on this route as this is the most expensive route for domestic flights in Thailand, fares run from $250 – $300 r/t for about an hour flight.

    Thai is state run and it looks like the owner of Bangkok Airways who has a political might just got Thai to retreat from the market so they can gouge whatever they want.

    The alternative to paying high landing fees is for Thai to construct a second Samui airport themselves. With such high fares they can easily recoup the invesment in no time. But they won’t be doing because Bangkok Airways paid off Thai executives to make a bad decision to Thai’s detriments.

  14. September 3rd, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    BrewerSEA said,

    I really love USM, such a great little airport. PG is a wonderful airline and if you’re poor at planning like I am business class is only around $100 more than the last-minute coach fares I’ve seen.

  15. September 3rd, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Ripper3785 said,

    Have a res to USM next april on a United award. The USM segments are simply dropped. Lovely.

  16. September 4th, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Dave said,

    Thanks Ben. Right in the middle of planning this and nice to not be caught off guard. Looks like it is about $100 US one way in coach.

  17. September 4th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Nathan said,

    As CMM said, this is already the most expensive domestic route in Thailand. Being able to book it with miles was a godsend. It looked like it was going to cost me $600 a seat otherwise for coach. Instead I flew business on miles. USM airport is not a dump, that’s right. Koh Samui the island is an absolute tourist hell hole, with some nice, very expensive resorts sure, but everything outside of those resorts is the most expensive in Thailand. Prices there are 400-2000% higher than an normal non-farang tourist site.

  18. February 11th, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Tig said,

    hey Lucky,
    What am im missing here, just booked to koh samui in march with no issues?

  19. February 11th, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Tig — You’re not missing anything, these flights were reinstated in the schedule.

  20. February 24th, 2013 at 12:20 am

    palooza said,

    as you mention, the flights were reinstated, but wow talk about skimpy award availability! may even have to pay cash for the flights from bkk to burn my hilton points @ Conrad KS!

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