SEOUL, 5 June 2019: Star Alliance confirmed at the weekend it has approved the application of THAI Smile to join the alliance as a “connecting partner.”
The airline is the fully owned subsidiary of Thai Airways International, which is a founding member of Star Alliance.
It will take Thai Smile until the end of the year to work its way fully into the Star Alliance system to ensure seamless connections and loyalty programmes are synchronised.
Star Alliance’s chief executive board held its meeting on the sidelines of the 75th IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul.
Connecting partner status was established by Star Alliance in June 2016 to complement its core membership model.
In contrast to full membership that requires the building of commercial ties with all full members, connecting partners must engage in commercial relationships with a minimum of three carriers.
Usually, connecting partners are regional airlines as is the case of Thai Smile, which serves routes in Asia mainly to leisure or secondary destinations.
Customers travelling on an itinerary, which includes a transfer between a Star Alliance member airline and a connecting partner will be offered standard Alliance benefits such as passenger and baggage through check-in. In addition, customers who have achieved Star Alliance Gold Status in their frequent flyer programme will enjoy premium customer benefits.
Once all entry requirements are fulfilled, which is expected by the end of the year, THAI Smile Airways will become the second connecting partner, joining Juneyao Airlines that entered in 2017.
THAI Smile Airways will add 11 new destinations to the Star Alliance network, many of which were previously in the alliance network
Benefits will filter through to Star Alliance passengers in early 2020 such as Star Alliance Gold Status passengers travelling on connecting itineraries will enjoy priority check-in, Thai Smile lounge access, and priority baggage delivery.