Many studies in herringbone grooved thrust bearings are focused on searching for the optimal groove parameters to improve the load capacity, but none of them adopt different grooves in different sections. In this study, a novel optimization method of herringbone grooved thrust air bearings is proposed for maximum load capacity by seeking the optimal groove parameters in each section of the bearing independently. An example of an optimized thrust air bearing is presented, and its performance is compared with a non-optimized bearing and a conventionally optimized bearing without dividing grooves into sections. The resultant herringbone grooves are found to have different parameters in the inner and outer sections, which is uncommon in existing grooves. Numerical results show that the novel bearing has a higher load capacity than the non-optimized reference bearing and conventionally optimized bearing. The study shows that the new design can increase load capacity by 30.77%, verified by experiments.