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Trip Report Introduction: Flying Six Airlines To Thailand

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Trip Report: Flying Six Airlines To Thailand

While I’m generally interested in publishing useful individual airline product reviews that will help readers make the best travel choices, I couldn’t help but write a trip report series out of my latest trip to Thailand, where I went to meet my family for Lunar New Year’s. I live in London and my family lives in Hong Kong, so I was able to get them on a direct flight on Cathay Pacific, while I flew the airlines I wanted based on price and availability. What ensued was a 6-month process to get the ideal itinerary which would maximise the number of airlines that I could make useful reviews out of.

My final itinerary involved seven flights – five on the outbound, and two on the inbound – and four hotels, including the JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort Suites, where we spent our five-day vacation. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to provide the best review of the JW Marriott Khao Lak – I’ll try my best, though I arrived our hotel on the second day of our family vacation, and genuinely wanted to wind down and relax during my time there.

a pool with trees and buildings in the background
The beautiful JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort

In this post, I’ll overview the flights, hotels, and airport lounges I’ll be reviewing. I’ll briefly overview how I booked these flights, though will provide more detail in each of the posts. The hope is for you guys to see how the trip came together.

An AAdvantage Redemption I Didn’t Actually Fly: How It All Started

When my parents asked whether I wanted to come on this trip to Thailand, I tried to get creative with an AAdvantage redemption. I ended up piecing together the following two one-way itineraries to get to and from Asia:

10/02 Finnair 1983 Stockholm – Doha dep. 15:10 arr. 23:50 [Business]
11/02 Qatar Airways 948 Doha – Singapore dep. 02:05 arr. 14:55 [Business]

17/02 Qatar Airways 841 Phuket – Doha dep. 00:35 arr. 03:40 [Business]
17/02 Qatar Airways 1050 Doha – Abu Dhabi dep. 14:10 arr. 16:15 [First]
18/02 Etihad Airways 85 Abu Dhabi – Rome dep. 02:25 arr. 05:45 [Business]
18/02 British Airways 551 Rome – London Heathrow dep. 07:45 arr. 09:35 [Business]

These both cost 75,000 AAdvantage miles each, which would’ve been a good deal, especially given the number of cabin products I’d get to try. This would’ve given me a flight in Finnair’s new A330 business class, Qatar Airways’ A350 QSuite, their ex-Virgin Australia 777 configuration, and their 737 MAX first class, Etihad Airways’ 777 business class, and British Airways’ A321neo business class. Additionally, I would’ve had the chance to visit Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa lounge in Doha, as well as the new Etihad business class lounges in Abu Dhabi.

This was great, though I’ve largely got an idea of what each product is like, and felt like I wasn’t really adding value – all of these have been extensively reviewed online, and I’ve done Finnair’s new A350 business class, Qatar Airways’ QSuite, Etihad Airways’ 787, and British Airways’ Club Europe recently. For a comprehensive review of Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa lounge or Etihad’s new business class lounge, check out these reviews by One Mile At A Time.

two beds with pillows on a bed
It would’ve been nice to fly the QSuite again, though I’ve flown it before, and have flown Qatar Airways fairly recently as well

I share this because it affected the positioning flights I decided to book, many of which I followed through with. I’ll share these in the order of which I booked them, not the order of which they were taken.

The Airlines I Did Actually Fly On This Trip

Based on the trip above, I had to position to Stockholm (Qatar Airways actually did have award space out of London as well, though I would’ve had to pay the UK Air Passenger Duty tax for premium tickets out of London, which I wanted to avoid). This worked out well, as there was a flight from London Gatwick to Stockholm on Norwegian the night before my Finnair flight was meant to leave, so I booked a Flex ticket on Norwegian’s 737 (this was before I knew for certain I was coming to Thailand, and Norwegian’s Flex fare came with priority boarding and a carry-on at a reasonable premium).

This worked out well, as it’d be a nice continuation to my journey of finding the best low-cost airline in Europe, since I’ve now reviewed Wizz Air, easyJet, and Ryanair.

The ticket cost £90.70 (HK$907) including taxes, and the flight I booked was as follows:

09/02 Norwegian Air Sweden 4460 London Gatwick – Stockholm dep. 20:10 arr. 23:30 [Standard]

a row of seats in an airplane
Norwegian 737 Interior

My outbound flight left me in Singapore, so I booked Singapore Airlines’ 737 MAX business class from Singapore to Phuket. Unfortunately there wasn’t any Saver availability available at the time, so my Advantage ticket cost 40,000 KrisFlyer miles and SGD 64.20 (£37.92/HK$372) in taxes. That’s not great value, though it was a flight time that worked for me, and I had expiring KrisFlyer miles on hand.

I recently flew Cathay Pacific’s A321neo business class for the first time, and also generally wanted to see what Singapore Airlines’ regional business class was like (I’ve only flown their longhaul business class once on the fifth-freedom route from Barcelona to Milan), so this worked out really well for me. The flight itinerary was as follows:

12/02 Singapore Airlines 726 Singapore – Phuket dep. 08:25 arr. 09:15 [Business]

inside an airplane with seats and monitors
Singapore Airlines 737 MAX Business Class

Young Travelers of Hong Kong had a bit of a strategy change in early 2024, and we’re taking a more focused approach to reviewing Europe-Asia business class and premium economy products. Having just reviewed Swiss and Lufthansa premium economy, I was thrilled to see that KLM was offering a decent premium economy class fare one-way from Stockholm to Singapore via Amsterdam for £897.56 (HK$8,802), so decided to jump onboard. Unfortunately the Amsterdam to Singapore leg was swapped to a 777 without premium economy, so I asked if they could swap me to a flight to Kuala Lumpur instead, and they obliged. (They would’ve put me on a Malaysia Airlines economy flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore instead, though I said I’d be able to figure myself out from Kuala Lumpur.)

The flight from Stockholm to Amsterdam was operated by a KLM 737, and I decided to put myself up in Economy Comfort class, as it was a reasonable premium over economy. The itinerary was as follows:

10/02 KLM 1110 Stockholm – Amsterdam dep. 13:30 arr. 15:35 [Economy Comfort]
10/02 KLM 809 Amsterdam – Kuala Lumpur dep. 20:35 arr. 15:35+1 [Premium Comfort]

I should’ve credited these miles to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, where I’m already currently collecting miles – though in absent-mindedness I credited these miles to Flying Blue (still a very good programme, though I didn’t have any miles with them), where I earned 3,778 miles.

an airplane with seats and a sign
KLM 787 Premium Comfort Class

This meant I had to get from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. Batik Air Malaysia was offering a fare of just MYR 499 all-in (£83/HK$811) for this one-way flight in business class, so I couldn’t help but take them up on the offer.

the inside of an airplane
Batik Air Malaysia 737 Business Class

Meanwhile, on the way back, I had my eye caught by another airline that flies between Europe and Asia. Specifically, I sought out Qantas’ A380 premium economy, which flies between Singapore and London on the famous “Kangaroo Route”. I’ve never flown Qantas before (despite visiting a couple of their excellent lounges in Hong Kong and London), and they were offering a THB 33,920 (HK$7,423/£753) one-way fare from Phuket to London. I credited miles to American Airlines’ AAdvantage, where I earned 6,764 miles.

a plane with seats and people in the background
Qantas A380 Premium Economy

Obviously Qantas doesn’t fly to Phuket, so the itinerary involved one leg on Jetstar Asia from Phuket to Singapore. I’ve never flown Jetstar before, so was also excited to fly them.

a row of seats on an airplane
Jetstar A320 Interior

The itinerary for this leg was as follows:

16/02 Jetstar Asia 538 Phuket – Singapore dep. 21:55 arr. 00:50 [Standard]
17/02 Qantas 1 Singapore – London Heathrow dep. 23:25 arr. 06:15+1 [Premium Economy]

I’ll be reviewing all of the airlines I mentioned above, which means you can expect reviews of:

  • Norwegian’s 737 from London Gatwick to Stockholm
  • KLM’s 737 Economy Comfort from Stockholm to Amsterdam
  • KLM’s 787 Premium Comfort from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur
  • Batik Air’s 737 Business Class from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore
  • Singapore Airlines’ 737 MAX Business Class from Singapore to Phuket
  • Jetstar Asia’s A320 from Phuket to Singapore
  • Qantas’ A380 Premium Economy from Singapore to London Heathrow

The Airport Lounges I Visited On This Trip

Since I only flew two legs in business class and one didn’t even come with lounge access, I didn’t visit many lounges on this trip. However, I did visit the below lounges, which I’ll be reviewing:

  • KLM Crown Lounge (non-Schengen) at Amsterdam Airport (AMS)
  • Plaza Premium Lounge Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
  • Singapore Airlines Business Class Lounge T3 in Singapore (SIN)
  • Singapore Airlines Business Class Lounge T2 in Singapore (SIN)

a room with glass walls and tables and chairs
I purchased access to KLM’s gorgeous non-Schengen lounge in Amsterdam, which I’ll be reviewing

The Hotels I Stayed At On This Trip

As I mentioned earlier, my family booked this trip to stay at the JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort Suites. This hotel was a pleasure to stay at, though I didn’t bring my A-game in terms of trying to get review content, as I was trying to relax and spend time with family. I may still write a post about it, though won’t try and write as detailed of a review.

a room with two beds and a tent
The JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort Suites, where we stayed in a Loft 2-Bedroom Suite

During my crazy itineraries to and from Phuket Airport, I had a night in Stockholm, and two nights in Singapore – one on either side of the trip.

In Stockholm I decided to stay at the Blique by Nobis, which is a Marriott Design Hotel. This was a stunning hotel just north of the city center, and delightfully cost just 1190 SEK (£91/HK$904) for my one-night stay.

a bedroom with a bed and a mirror
Blique by Nobis Stockholm Superior Room

Meanwhile, in Singapore I was intrigued by a new hotel that I found on Facebook during their “soft” opening – the 21 Carpenter. Turns out they were also a Marriott Design Hotel. They were running early bird 30% off rates at the time, which meant that my room cost 419.66 SGD (£246.38/HK$2444) including breakfast.

a room with a bed and a table
21 Carpenter Singapore Urban Luxe Room

My last night in Singapore was only a very quick overnight, especially because my delayed Jetstar Asia flight only got in at 3 AM. I wasn’t originally planning to review the hotel I put myself up in, the JEN by Shangri-La Orchard Gateway. However, I’ll definitely at least share a couple of thoughts regarding the JEN hotel brand, which I found interesting. This cost me £181.40, which I booked through Avios Hotels.

a room with a bed and a desk
JEN Hotel Singapore Orchardgateway Superior Room

Do expect full reviews of at least the two Marriott Design Hotels properties, and I’ll try to write up as much as I can about the other properties as well.

This was such a fun trip

The outbound routing I flew from London to Phuket was by far the craziest routing I’ve flown post-COVID. I remember flying from London to Doha to Hanoi to Hong Kong last year and finding it enjoyable but exhausting, but between the five-segment itinerary, the multiple delays, and the fact that four different airlines were involved, I definitely consider this a wild ride. Although the inbound segment was much “tamer”, I still got to try two airlines I’d never flown before, which was super exciting.

I also enjoyed being able to spend time in Khao Lak with family, without feeling like I had to squeeze out every bit of energy to maximise the destination. Part of the aim of our trip was to spend time as a family relaxing by the beach; outside of family time, parking myself by the beachside bar at the Marriott sipping on a coconut and doing some life admin on my laptop was genuinely a much-needed break from the stressful first few months of starting work.

I was also so happy to book-end my trip with two nights in Singapore, one of my favourite cities. I still feel the same way after having visited it a couple of times this year, and can’t wait to be back.

a laptop on a table with a palm tree and a city in the background
Unlike last time, I can drink in Singapore now – here’s me with some Bible reading, blog post editing, and a Mai Tai from the JEN Shangri-La rooftop bar


In this post, I outlined how my trip to Phuket came together, which involved seven flights on six different airlines (none of which I set out to fly), four hotels, some relaxing time by the beach in Thailand, and two nights in one of my favourite cities. I’m excited for you guys to follow along – while I’ll mostly be reviewing flights and hotels with a focus on comparing against their respective competitors (as I usually do), hopefully I’ll be able to share some of the 3 AM wakeup times, many hours wandering around an airport, and snippets of a good time with family.

Which review are you most looking forward to reading?

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