Category Archives: Bangkok Airways

Lounge Review: Bangkok Airways Domestic Lounge BKK Airport

To get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, I flew Bangkok Airways. I’ve also taken the overnight train, which is a decent way to get between the two cities as well.

Bangkok Airways markets itself as a boutique airline, and one cool amenity is that all passengers get “lounge” access. In some airports, this doesn’t mean much (e.g., Koh Samui, where Bangkok Airways has close to a monopoly), but at BKK, there was a proper lounge.

Friendly bear at the entrance

Friendly bear at the entrance

The lounge is essentially a long room with lots of seats. There were plentiful electrical outlets for the counter seats along the edges of the lounge. When you enter, you get a wifi code printout, and the wifi was decently fast for an airport lounge in Southeast Asia.

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Beyond the typical lounge seating, there was also a children’s play area, although I didn’t see any children using it.

Children's area

Children’s area

In terms of food and beverages, there are lots of small desserts, popcorn, coffee, and drinks. One thing that I do appreciate is that some of the snacks are foods that are more common to the local area like sticky rice in banana leaves. Really, I just like sticky rice.

Coffee machines

Coffee machines

Thai desserts

Thai desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Drinks and snacks

Drinks and snacks

Popcorn and coffee

Popcorn and coffee

Overall, there’s nothing fancy about this lounge, but it’s a place to sit, eat some snacks, charge devices, and get on wifi. Surprisingly, even though all Bangkok Airways passengers get lounge access, it’s not completely overrun like some other lounges that I’ve been to. Perhaps not all passengers realize that it’s a perk that everyone can enjoy!

Thailand 2014: Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok (USM to BKK)

Introduction
Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco
Cathay Pacific First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge The Pier Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Millennium Hilton Bangkok
Cooking with Poo
Overnight Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Le Meridien Chiang Mai
Patara Elephant Farm
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai to Ko Samui
Conrad Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Check-in and Lounge Bangkok
EVA Air Evergreen Lounge Bangkok
Louis’ Tavern First Class CIP Lounge Bangkok
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Lounge Hong Kong
Thai Airways Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Suites Seoul to New York
United Airlines Business Class PS Service New York to San Francisco


Koh Samui has one of the coolest airports that I’ve been to. It feels like a resort, with almost everything being outdoors. Of course, the flip side of this is that it can be extremely hot and humid if your flight is departing in the middle of the day, but hopefully you’re somewhat adjusted to the temperatures by the time you’re leaving Koh Samui.

Koh Samui airport

Koh Samui airport

One tip if you’re flying Bangkok Airways is to make sure that you check-in online prior to your flight. It doesn’t matter if you can’t print out your boarding passes or you need to check in bags, but if you check-in online prior to arrival at the airport, you can skip the normally lengthy economy class line and use the much shorter (i.e. non-existent) online checkin line.

Security is a breeze, and you can actually go through customs at Koh Samui even if you’re just on a domestic flight depending on your itinerary (make sure to keep the sticker they give you!). The gates are all open air and because Bangkok Airways is a “boutique” airline, there’s free snacks, drinks, and wifi for all passengers. This gives the whole thing a much more civilized feel, where even economy passengers get decent amenities. Again, one potential downside to the open-air concept is that there are mosquitos, so don’t think that you can abandon your bug spray even though you’re at an airport.

Bangkok Airways waiting area

Bangkok Airways waiting area

Seating in the waiting area

Seating in the waiting area

Food options

Food options, including some attempts at authentic Thai snacks

More food options

More food options

To get to the plane, you take a tram, which adds to the whole resort feel. I enjoy the trams because they allow for better close-ups of the planes.

Walking up to the plane

Walking up to the plane

On board, the flight was unremarkable, which is how I like my economy class travel. Of course, since this is a foreign airline, they serve a meal on a 50-minute flight, and they even cater special meals. Given how short the flight was, they served cold meals, and neither my VGML or my friend’s normal meal was appetizing. Both of us picked at the fruit and left the rest uneaten.

All economy seating

All economy seating

VGML

VGML

Normal meal

Normal meal

Bangkok Airways dominates flights to/from USM, but at least their product is decent and they try to provide amenities to all passengers, so you don’t feel completely gouged by their monopolistic prices. I’d happily fly them again, and in many cases, flying is much more practical than any other form of transport in Thailand.

Thailand 2014: Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai to Ko Samui (CNX to USM)

Introduction
Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco
Cathay Pacific First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge The Pier Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Millennium Hilton Bangkok
Cooking with Poo
Overnight Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Le Meridien Chiang Mai
Patara Elephant Farm
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai to Ko Samui
Conrad Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Check-in and Lounge Bangkok
EVA Air Evergreen Lounge Bangkok
Louis’ Tavern First Class CIP Lounge Bangkok
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Lounge Hong Kong
Thai Airways Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Suites Seoul to New York
United Airlines Business Class PS Service New York to San Francisco


To get from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui in any reasonable amount of time, your only option is to fly. And, well, there’s only one nonstop flight per day, and it’s on Bangkok Airways, so you’re probably going to be flying them if you want to do it quickly.

Bangkok Airways advertises itself as Asia’s Boutique Airline, and there are some things that make it unique. Er, or rather, there’s one thing that makes it unique, which is that all passengers get lounge access, regardless of class of service. Besides that, I’m not sure what’s boutique about it?

One reason Chiang Mai is great is that the airport is so close to the city center, and it was about 10 minutes and 150 baht to get from Le Meridien Chiang Mai to the airport by taxi. Since we had checked in online, we could skip the long normal queue and instead use the business class queue to check our bags, which was great (as an aside, there was no business class cabin on the flight from Chiang Mai to Ko Samui).

We then headed upstairs to the Bangkok Airways lounge, which is located outside of security.

Bangkok Airways Lounge at CNX

Bangkok Airways Lounge at CNX

When checking into the lounge, we were given wifi codes to use. The lounge was pretty busy, but there were still some empty seats. I’m not sure that all passengers realize that they all have lounge access, because Bangkok Airways has many more passengers than were using the lounge, and there really isn’t that much to do in the terminal, so I’m not sure where the other passengers were.

Seating in lounge

Seating in lounge

More seating

More seating

There was a small snack selection, and the food was edible but not particularly inspiring. The chips in the jar were pretty interesting, though, as they were tom yum flavored.

Snacks

Snacks

Drinks

Drinks

It’s nice that they have a complimentary lounge for all passengers, and there was a separate section for business class passengers or Bangkok Airways elite members that is hopefully nicer. But this isn’t the sort of lounge that you should get to the airport early for, and it’s more that it’s a place that you can sit with free wifi.

They made a boarding announcement in the lounge, so we made our way through security (super fast, even though the line was long) to find a long line to board with zero Thai people in it (I guess locals don’t have much of a reason to fly from CNX to USM?). For this flight, there were two zones, with people in the back half of the plane boarding first. Boarding order probably doesn’t matter much since everyone checks their bags anyway, so you’re not racing to find overhead space.

Boarding the all-economy flight

Boarding the all-economy flight

This flight had an all-economy cabin, so there really wasn’t anything special to see. They cram the seats in pretty tight, but the flights are so short that it didn’t matter that much to me.

Economy class seats

Economy class seats

Pretty narrow pitch

Pretty narrow pitch

The flight time was about 90 minutes, and since this isn’t the US, they served a hot meal. I had previously requested a vegetarian (VGML) meal, and it was simple, but reasonably tasty. Rice with vegetables in a tomato sauce. My friend had one of the normal meal options, which was duck with some steamed vegetables.

Vegetarian meal

Vegetarian meal

Normal meal

Normal meal

Upon landing, we got off the plane to board the buggy/trams that are used at the Ko Samui airport since there aren’t exactly boarding gates anywhere. It’s nice and scenic, but it can be pretty hot out, and there’s no air conditioning, so watch out for that.

Buggies to take you to the terminal

Buggies to take you to the terminal

Overall, flying Bangkok Airways was an enjoyable experience, and you’re almost certainly going to fly them if you want to go to Koh Samui since they operate the majority of the flights out of USM. The employees seemed happy, all passengers get lounge access, and they feed you on very short flights. The “boutique” aspect of Bangkok Airways seems like just a marketing ploy to justify the outrageous prices that they charge for such short flights, but I’d happily fly them again.