Thailand is obviously pretty far from the U.S. and Europe so what better use of frequent flier miles than to treat yourself to business or first class flights for the 15+ hour journey? One of the best redemptions out there is Alaska Airlines partner deal with Cathay Pacific. For just 42.5k (from Europe) or 50k (from U.S.) Alaska Mileage Plan miles (plus a minimal amount in taxes) you can fly through Hong Kong and then onwards to Bangkok in Cathay's really nice business class. You can even plan a multi-day stopover in Hong Kong for no extra cost. It’s a great deal and certainly one of many reasons to sign up for Alaska’s generous program, even if you don’t fly on their metal.
In this case, I needed to get back to Chicago from Bangkok (after flying over on Qatar Airlines in a Q-Suite, which was quite nice) so I went ahead and booked flights for September 17th and eagerly awaited my departure. Well, at least that was the idea, until Super Typhoon Mangkhut stepped in and scuttled those plans a couple days before departure. Instead, I had to cancel the Cathay flights (they allowed refunds and cancellations, etc. due to the severe weather) and make last-minute use of another great-value points redemption with Alaska Mileage Plan: flying with Japan Airlines through Tokyo. One-way JAL business class flights from BKK to ORD (via Tokyo NRT) run 65k Mileage Plan points but more interestingly, the same JAL flights in first (well, in this case, business to Tokyo then first to Chicago) run just 75k Mileage Plan points. Kind of a no-brainer to spend the additional 10k points to fly in first class for 12 hours, right? So here we go!
I arrived at Suvarnabhumi about 90 minutes before the scheduled 11:30pm departure. The business class line in check-in row R was completely empty so it was a quick process checking my bags and self onto the flight. They provided directions to the JAL lounge along with a pass for the priority immigration line, which was also extremely quiet and quick. The whole process ended up taking like 10 minutes in total which allowed for some time to chill and not be rushed. I checked out the JAL lounge which is nice for BKK (all the lounges here leave something to be desired, frankly) but really nothing to get all that excited about. A few bits of hot and cold food, some soft drink and booze, some snacks, and an okay view of planes isn’t a bad way to chill before your flight. Turns out there are several overnight flights that depart BKK for Japan at this late hour so the lounge was actually rather full.