THAI Smile Airways yesterday became a connecting partner in Star Alliance, which was celebrated during a ceremony in Bangkok. The airline thus becomes the second connecting partner in Star Alliance, following in the footsteps of Juneyao Airlines.
THAI Smile flies to 32 destinations in nine countries and regions, of which ten were previously not served by any Star Alliance member carriers. In total the airline offers 396 weekly flights.
Charita Leelayudth, CEO of THAI Smile Airways, said, “Today marks an important milestone for THAI Smile Airways, and we are delighted to become a Connecting Partner. It brings tremendous value to our customers and the region we serve and is a strategic step that positions THAI Smile Airways as an important regional player”.
What does connecting partner mean?
Connecting partner is not the same thing as being a full member in the alliance, so THAI Smile Airways is not and will not become a member in Star Alliance in the traditional sense under the current agreement.
The connecting partner model means pretty much what you think it means. It means extended benefits when transferring between the connecting partner airline and a member airline on a single booking. It means that passengers can transfer between certain Star Alliance member airlines and THAI Smile on a single booking and get for example passenger and baggage through check-in.
Star Alliance Gold and Silver members also get extra benefits but these are not standardised in the same way as when you fly on a member airline and it is up to each connecting partner to negotiate the agreements. So in order to know the exact rules when travelling on THAI Smile you need to read on their webpage. But usually the connecting partner agreements include extra benefits such as priority check-in and lounge access, but you may need to bring your physical plastic card to show at the lounge.