Thai Airways has continued to cut down their capacity on intra-Asia flights due to weakened demand and also put a change fee waiver in place allowing customers to make adjustments to their travel plans for free.

The policy however doesn’t appear to have a cancellation fee waiver and per the language of the announcement only changes are permitted.

Issuing a waiver policy that allows customers to make amends to their bookings is a good step but doing date changes likely pushes problems just further down the road while an end to the COVID-19 problematic isn’t in sight.

As published on the Thai Airways website and their social media channels the new policy is as follows:

Updated : 19 February 2020

Mr. Nond Kalinta, Vice President, Sales Department, Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI), said that due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) the company is offering a change fee waiver and reroute for passengers holding THAI tickets, details as follows:

THAI roundtrip tickets and roundtrip codeshare flights with THAI Smile to Tokyo (Narita, Haneda), Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Sendai, Seoul, Busan, Taipei, Kaohsiung and Singapore

Roundtrip codeshare flights with THAI Smile to and from Chiang Mai – Kaohsiung

Passengers with tickets issued by THAI on 18 February 2020 or before, with travel date between 18 February 2020 and 31 March 2020 may change flights or reroute within ticket’s expiry date and/or issue for extension of ticket’s expiry date to 30 June 2020 whereby change fee will be waive, terms and conditions apply.

Bookings must be changed prior to the date of flight departure and passengers may make ticket changes at any THAI Sales Office, on thaiairways.com, or through the THAI Contact Center Tel. 0-2356-1111, 24 hours a day.

I call this a half hearted policy at best. For one, why only round trip tickets? What happens to people who booked one way and no longer wish to travel to these destinations, why should they be forced to fly or eat the cost?

Secondly the matter of cancellations. It would be much easier to allow customers to cancel their tickets and receive a refund instead of moving ticket dates around. Nobody knows when this situation will improve and while I presently have no concerns whatsoever to travel to the countries listed here I respect that not everybody might share the same sentiment.

At the same time Thai Airways has cut down their capacities within Asia drastically to avoid flying empty planes around.

1. Reduced flights on the Bangkok-Seoul-Bangkok route from five flights per day to four flight per day between 26 February and 28 March 2020
2. Canceled flights on the Bangkok-Busan-Bangkok route on 27 February 2020 and on 5-6 March 2020
3. Reduced flights on the Bangkok-Singapore-Bangkok route from five flights per day to four flight per day between 20 February and 27 March 2020

This makes possible changes even more difficult.

Thai Airways passengers that have tickets touching mainland China can make use of the following waiver policy which also includes a refund option (published on January 30th):

THAI roundtrip tickets from Bangkok to six destinations in the People’s Republic of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Xiamen, and Chengdu

– Roundtrip codeshare flights with THAI Smile from Bangkok to three destinations in the People’s Republic of China: Chongqing, Changsha, and Zhengzhou

– Roundtrip codeshare flights with Shenzhen Airlines to and from Bangkok – Shenzhen / Phuket – Shenzhen

– THAI domestic flights and codeshare flights with THAI Smile that connect with flights to the People’s Republic of China

Passengers with tickets issued by THAI prior to 28 January 2020 valid for travel during 24 January 2020 to 29 February 2020 may change flights or get a refund before 29 February 2020,terms and conditions apply.

Again only the mention of Roundtrip tickets. I would however not be discouraged by this and demand to receive the same treatment as Roundtrip passengers. If Thai Airways doesn’t relent I suggest a complaint to the local aviation regular or consumer affairs agency.

I have already published an article two weeks ago about my experience cancelling flights due to published health notices by the government and how I successfully claimed a full refund for two tickets (Thai Airways & Singapore Airlines) by pushing them for a refund.

Conclusion

We see airlines across the board reducing capacity and allowing passengers to take advantage of waiver policies. I can see this expanding rather than going back to normal anytime soon.

For carriers, flying aircraft nearly or even half empty around just to keep their original schedule doesn’t make any sense economically and as we have covered on multiple occasions Thai Airways isn’t doing very well financially at the moment (neither are many other airlines). I wouldn’t be surprised if the fallout of COVID-19 is going to break the neck of some…

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