THAI Smile Airways is expected to join the Star Alliance network as connecting partner by the end of this year, joining Juneyao Airlines that entered in 2017.
Connecting partners allow Star Alliance to close network gaps that may exist of a regional basis. THAI Smile Airways will add 11 new destinations to the Star Alliance network, which already comprises over 1,300 airports in 194 countries.
The Bangkok-based airline has begun to implement the necessary technology and commercial links which will allow THAI Smile to begin serving Star Alliance connecting passengers in 2020. Once that is complete, the airline will be able to offer privileges to qualifying Star Alliance Gold Status passengers, including priority check-in, Thai Smile lounge access and priority baggage delivery.
The programme was established by Star Alliance in June 2016 to complement its membership model.
In contrast to full membership in the alliance, which requires the building of commercial ties with all full members, the more regional connecting partner scope calls for commercial relationships with a minimum of three carriers only.
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.