Fly Economy to Thailand With Etihad and Get a First Class Flight Experience

The temptation to choose the cheapest flight to Thailand is an option many people take up. I went down that route many years ago, but five years back, after booking a slightly more expensive flight with Etihad Airways and enjoying first class travel in an economy seat, I questioned whether cheap flights to Thailand are really worth it at all. I decided the answer was not, and I’ve flown with Etihad ever since.

The beauty of flying with the same airline is the rewards on offer. Etihad, like most major airlines, have a loyalty program and after enrolling to Etihad Guest you immediately start earning air miles from take-off. Points may make prizes, but Etihad Guest air miles do just that and more.

The rewards include access to their airport lounges, redeeming miles on flights, extra baggage allowance, a Reward Shop, and after progression to the second-level Etihad Guest tier you’re  guaranteed an economy seat on any Etihad flight up to 48 hours before departure. If all that sounds too good to be true then read on because it gets even better.

Etihad Airways website allows you instant access to your Guest account and from there you can redeem your ‘air smiles’ on flight upgrades, free or part funded flights and cash in your well-earned miles via their Reward Shop. Guest members also receive monthly account balances and newsletters by email. And those newsletters are where things really do get better.

Etihad’s regular newsletters to its guest members include the latest hot deals on their worldwide flights which include cheap flights to Thailand.

A London to Bangkok flight via Abu Dhabi can sometimes be booked for as little as £419 (as at September 2012). That’s amazing value, and the booking period can stretch to a three-month window. Flights have E-BOX on-board entertainment allowing you to relax between meals watching the latest films, TV shows and documentaries, listen to music and play interactive games.

Flying as a Guest member also allows you use of Etihad’s guest lounges, and they are first class. You do need to be a Silver Card member to use the lounges but that is easily achieved.

Two flights from the UK to Thailand earns you enough air miles to gain Silver Card status, and on your third flight, you can relax at Etihad lounges in the UK, Abu Dhabi and Bangkok.

Flying from most other countries also affords you the use of Etihad’s luxurious guest lounges.  The free comforts in most Etihad guest lounges include food, drinks, shower facilities, massage (at some lounges), TV, newspapers and free internet. Can you find a cheap flight to Thailand to match that lot?

Summary of Etihad Guest member benefits

  • Each flight collects air miles (25% extra for Silver Card, 50% Gold)
  • Extra baggage allowance (All membership levels)
  • Guaranteed economy seat 48 hours before scheduled flight time (Silver Guest upwards)
  • Use air miles to upgrade flights, book free or part funded flights or bargain hunt at the Reward Shop
  • Guest lounge access (Silver Guest upwards)
  • Waitlist Priority (All membership levels)
  • Fast-track Immigration (exit in Thailand – Silver Guest upwards)
  • Airport chauffeur service to selected hotels (Silver Guest upwards)
To sign up for Etihad Guest membership, or to view flight offers, click on the banner below and you too can enjoy a first class flight to Thailand in an economy seat at a price that could be just right for you.

Etihad Logo

Etihad Airways are the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates and in 2009, 2010 and again in 2011 they picked up the World Travel Awards most prestigious prize as the World’s Leading Airline.

New Etihad Early Bird Fare: Washington-Bangkok $1296 (Departure period 29 Oct 12 – 05 Dec 12)

Top Photo source: Arpingstone


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

10 Responses

  1. How says:

    Hi Martyn. The man you photographed must be close to being 6 foot tall, yet the legroom looks pretty decent. Is that a regular economy or economy deluxe seat ? My carrier options are limited between BKK and Penang. I usually just look for the least wait time connecting on onward flights to Ubon. The best so far is 7 hours, but I could save 2 hours if I catch my flight to Ubon from Don Muang. But it doesn’t seem worth the hassle for 2 hours. I have heard a lot of favorable comments on Etihad as well.

  2. Martyn says:

    How – That’s a regular economy seat and right at the back too. I always try and get a seat at the very back because you can see if the toilet is empty and you have instant access to the galley and drinks. Plus I was once told that there’s never yet been an aircraft that has backed into a mountain.

    Etihad Airways are a top class airline and I’m more than happy to blow their trumpet.

  3. DanPloy says:

    Singapore air every time for me, but I have lost my Gold card status with them as I don’t fly much these days, (which is nevertheless good).

    But you are very wise Martyn (bet you don’t hear that much).

    I read of regular travellers here choosing the most bizarre routes and airlines to save a few baht. For me, being able to turn up at the airport and laugh at the 33km check-in queue for economy with the screaming kids and passengers with 18 tonnes of check-in baggage and the old dears that have lost their tickets but are sure this is their flight and the group with terminal halitosis and the warring couple that have packed something in check-in they shouldn’t have and open all their luggage up and the suspicious looking person who asks you to take care of their luggage and place in the queue whilst they find a toilet and the group of ‘yuffs’ who are still drunk from the night before and smell of vomit and are loudly discussing their imagined sexual exploits; and instead waltz up to the Gold card check in, go through the Fast Track immigration (sometimes) and hide in the lounge with a nice glass of white wine, well that has to be worth paying for.

  4. Martyn says:

    Dan – I like your summary of the economy queue but I’m not so happy about the ‘thick’ reference to me. My old school reports certainly don’t point to that. Perhaps I’m just feeling a bit touchy today.

    I’m a Gold Card member with Etihad and like you I like nothing better than hitting the guest lounge for a JD or two. Etihad always gives me a fast-track immigration ticket when leaving Thailand but how I wish they’d give me one coming in.

  5. Catherine says:

    Martyn, I still haven’t tried out Etihad and I keep meaning to. You’ve raved about their comfortable flights before and I’m sold on the idea.

    I usually fly Qatar to the UK but when I popped over to Scotland for the Elvis Costello concert, to save money I flew Premium Economy with Eva Air.

    I regretted it all over again (wishful thinking, I was hoping my first experience was a one-off).

    Eva Air’s super-sized seats don’t have footrests so on both trips I spent the looooong flights fighting to stay in my seat. Those taller than I am shouldn’t have a problem (the 6′ + man next to me snoozed most of the way).

    And unlike Etihad, Premium Economy with Eva doesn’t get you a fast-track ticket.

    That’s a lot of pluses in Etihad’s direction.

  6. Martyn says:

    Catherine – Etihad are excellent, the only drawback for some people flying to the UK is the flight is via Abu Dhabi. Many people like to fly direct but I prefer a two-hour or so stop. It’s a chance to stretch the legs and have a smoke. And of course use the guest lounge. Etihad flights do have footrests and excellent in-flight entertainment.

    I have always been given a fast-track ticket when exiting Thailand, always as in when I achieved Silver Guest status. I’ve now been upgraded to Gold. Maybe they’ll carry me through next time.

    Spread the word, Etihad is a quality airline. And don’t forget to tell anyone and everyone to book via this site. Every little helps.

    Nearly forgot to add… this post is obviously a big plug for Etihad but I do use them myself. A plug with a giant lead attached to it and a generator on standby.

  7. Peter_M says:

    Hi Martyn,

    I discovered Etihad last year and have now done 2 return flights with them. So far I have absolutely no complaints. Like you, I prefer a layover in Abu Dhabi on the theory that two 6 hour flights are better than one 12 hour flight even with the extra transit time and the risk that a delay on the 1st flight could cause a missed connection for the second flight. I do not sleep on planes so find a 12 hour flight tedious in the extreme. The individual seat back flight entertainment is excellent. The food is quite reasonable and plentiful. They are a little bit tight with the free wine with meals but that is probably best for me and I do not have a complaint with that. I have yet to benefit from air miles but they are building up so I look forward to an upgrade soon. Etihad is definitely one of the better airlines and definitely a step up from European/US airlines.


  8. Martyn says:

    Peter – Perhaps you should have written the post for me, you’ve packed a lot of good things about Etihad into your comment.

    Etihad has no blackout periods for air miles flights so you can grab a free or part funded flight at Christmas and that saves a lot of money. Keep flying with them and you’ll soon be in the guest lounges and that’s where the real bonus kicks in.

  9. Peter_M says:

    Martyn, I look forward to those guest lounges! Great to hear there are no blackout periods, that must be unique among airlines.

    Catherine, I have heard good and bad things about Eva Air, the good being cheap(ish) flights, the bad being ‘you get what you pay for’. I have not flown with them so cannot comment. Give Etihad a whirl and let everyone know what you think.

  10. Martyn says:

    Peter – I flew with Eva Air years ago, they were good then but when I say years ago I mean in the good old ones when you could smoke on board.

    No blackout period and everything is free in the guest lounges. Etihad are quality with wings.

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