Trip Preview: To Phuket for Spotting Onboard a Variety of Star Alliance Business Class Products

When, during a spotting trip to Sapporo, Yukihiro asked me whether I would join him for a spotting trip to Phuket about three weeks later, I half-jokingly said yes. Having seen some great photos from the airport recently, upon my return from Sapporo, I decided to make that half-joke a reality.

Finding Suitable Flights to Phuket

First, I looked at some of the paid fares between Tokyo and Phuket. And, while most of them were quite pricey given that I was booking the trip fairly late, there was one search result that stood out.

A ticket with Air China via Beijing for about 700 dollars. What made the fare stand out was the fact that one way of the trip was in business class.

Air China Airbus A330-200

However, as I wanted to keep the costs to minimum and I had several thousand ANA miles expiring, I thought that would be a better way to get there. And, so I started playing around with ANA’s award ticket booking system.

After spending a couple of hours (spread over a couple of days) looking at the various options, I settled with the following:

  • Tokyo – Seoul onboard Asiana Airlines A380-800
  • Seoul – Bangkok via Taipei Taoyuan onboard Thai Airways 777-200
  • Bangkok – Phuket onboard Thai Airways 747-400
  • Phuket – Beijing onboard Thai Airways A330-300
  • Beijing – Tokyo onboard ANA 777-300ER

Besides that, I was also able to add on a quick Tokyo – Singapore – Tokyo – Sapporo side trip to the ticket, but more about that separately when I actually take it.

Asiana Airlines A380-800

All of the above cost me 63,000 ANA miles and a bit less than 300 dollars in taxes in business class (except for the Tokyo – Sapporo flight which is in economy).

While I flew on both an Asiana Airlines A380 and ANA 777-300ER in economy class, this trip was the first time for me to fly them in business class. The trip also presented me with the chance to fly Thai Airways for the first time.

What is more, the Seoul – Bangkok flight changed from a 777-200 to a 777-300ER, and so I had a chance to test three different Thai Airways products: angle-flat business class on its A330-300, lie-flat staggered business class on its 777-300ER, and first class (sold as business class) on its 747-400.


Booking the Accommodation

With the above itinerary, I needed to arrange accommodation for two nights – one in Bangkok and in Phuket.

In Bangkok, for the sake of review, I decided to book The Phoenix Hotel instead of BS Residence Suvarnabhumi that I reviewed not long ago.

As for Phuket, I left it up to Yukihiro – and he booked Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach as he was in process of an IHG challenge to get some extra points. He also booked a second night at Grand West Sands Resort and Villas Phuket since he was departing a day later.

I had a chance to check out the room, and it offers great views of the airport, and so I will review it in detail in one of the installments of this report.

Phuket Airport from Hotel

Stay Tuned!

All in all, even though it was a short trip, it gave me the chance to try five new airline products, several lounges, and a couple of hotels worth reviewing. Separately, it also gave me chance to spot at Phuket airport for a day and a half, and at Beijing airport for a day.

Phuket Spotting

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting detailed reviews and reports about the trip, so stay tuned!

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