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Tuesday 16 February 2016

The Jewel of Thai Aviation: Bangkok Airways (Krabi to Bangkok BKK)

Welcome To My Trip Report On Bangkok Airways!

*Aircraft photos are credited to the respective photographers from Airliners.net 


Before this trip, I had this airline in mind for a long time. Somehow it didn't happen until now. I wasted the opportunity to fly with this airline's Boeing 717 and during the time when the airline was operating both Boeing 717 and the Airbus A319. Unfortunately for me this time, I was 'PG-ed'! My original scheduled A319 aircraft was changed to a very common type, the A320, which I have flown countless times. How disappointed I was and the only thing I could hope for was to fly one of the A320s in a special livery.

Here are some examples of the special liveries: 

This is the standard livery (Airbus A319)

The aircraft (below) is an ATR-72-500 turboprop plane

What do you think of the special liveries? 

History of Bangkok Airways 

Bangkok Airways is based in Bangkok, Thailand as its name suggests. It is one of the more highly rated airlines in Asia as the airline rating website - Skytrax gives this airline a 4-star rating. Established in 1968 with its name originally known as Sahakol Air. This company operated as an air-taxi for various organisation and it was only in 1986, it became the first privately owned airline to start scheduled flights. 3 years later, it was renamed to Bangkok Airways. The owners of this airline also own the airport of Ko Samui, opened in April 1989 and flies on regional routes such as Hong Kong and Singapore. 7 years later, it opened a 2nd airport at Sukhothai Province. With the company growing, a 3rd airport was set up in Trat Province and that took place on March 2003. 

This airline used to operate the Boeing 717, Dash-8, Shorts 330 and Fokker 100 in the past but now is operating a fleet of ATR-72 (-500 and -600 series), Airbus A319 and A320. This airline had plans to operate 4 A350-800s, however, the order was cancelled in 2011. 

My biggest regret so far is not flying the airline's Boeing 717 when they were around. 

Bangkok Airways Boeing 717 just landed (Photo: Sam Chui)

Route map of Bangkok Airways (February 2016) - (From the airline's website)

Krabi Airport 

The Airport Control Tower 

Apron view 

Airline's website 

The airline's website is basic but is easy to use and more importantly no issues at all when I did my booking. The mobile app is available but I didn't use it. 

The main reason I chose Krabi was to fly the Airbus A319. 

The seat map of the A319 

My flight was confirmed after making the payment. 

Online check-in

2 emergency windows confirmed my fear; my aircraft was changed to Airbus A320, at least my original seat assignment was not changed. 

After arriving from Singapore with Thai Air Asia, I had a few hours to spare. Initially, I was thinking of heading down to town to explore. However, I decided to stay put at the airport, exploring it and doing some work at one of the restaurants with WiFi. This airport consists of 2 terminals, check which terminal your airline is departing from. 

(February 2016 update)

Terminal 1 (International) 

Air Asia
China Eastern
China Southern 
Hong Kong Airlines 
Juneyao Airlines
Korean Air 
New Gen Airways
Okay Airways
Pegas Air 
Shanghai Airlines 
Sichuan Airlines
Spring Airlines 
Thai AirAsia
Thai Lion Air 
TUIfly Nordic

Terminal 2 (Domestic)

Bangkok Airways
Nok Air
Thai Air Asia
Thai Airways
Thai Lion Air 

International terminal

 No Free Wifi available at the airport. If you are staying in Thailand for a few days, get yourself a pre-paid card - it is cheap.

This is the arrival hall

A couple of souvenir shops 

Car rental is also available just outside of the international arrival hall 

Sitting area but it was pretty warm at this section, not to mention the lack of WiFi made me decide to head elsewhere.

There is a couple of telecom stalls selling pre-paid sim cards near the entrance.

The entrance to the airport 

Car park just outside the terminal 

The exterior of the airport 

Duty-Free shop inside the air-side area

Heading up to the Departure Hall

Departure Hall has more shops and air-con is cooler 

Departure Hall (Land Side)

The airline lounges are located at the 3rd level.

Check-in counters for international flights 

Terminal 2 is for domestic flights 

The overhead bridge connecting both terminals 

The exterior of Terminal 2 

Interior of terminal 2 

This is where I checked in for my Bangkok Airways flight. Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed with the service. More of that in the latter part of the trip report.

It was definitely busier at this terminal 

Some coffee while waiting for the check-in counters to open 

I decided to grab some food at this restaurant

While seated, I spotted Thai Smile's Airbus A320 heading for Bangkok (DMK). 

My glass of watermelon juice 

Favourite Thai Dessert: Sticky Mango Rice 

After enjoying the dessert, I made my way to the check-in counter. It was still closed and after 20 minutes of waiting, I went back and the counters were opened. There were 2 queues; one for premium passengers and web check-in and the other for normal Economy Class passengers. Seeing the former is vacant, I joined that queue. I wasn't sure what was going on, but after this passenger in front did her check-in, she went off, so did the counter lady who closed the counter without saying a word to me. She could at least ask me to join the other line (it was vacant at that time). For the normal queue, 2 counters were opened and I thought since my queue was a priority one, the staff at the other counter would serve me ahead of the others. A few minutes later, the passengers at the normal queue increased and I was feeling a bit worried. The counter where I was queueing up was still closed so I was keeping fingers crossed that I didn't have to join the normal queue since I had already waited for 20 minutes or so. 

After a while, one of the counters was available and the staff waved to a passenger at the normal queue. I waved at him and he told me to stayed at my line, but I told him my counter was closed. He ignored - terrible of him to do so. The main issue was the lack of service. I was concerned because I didn't want to spend more time queueing up! Fortunately, the staff at my counter returned and I got my check-in done not long after. She wasn't friendly but at least informed me that the lounge was available and how to get there. 

The boarding pass 

According to the staff, all passengers are invited to use the airline's lounge regardless of class. That's great so after checking in, I made my way to the airside via security check. 

The Airline's lounge 

After showing the staff your boarding pass, you are allowed inside. Do note that the staff will not inform you of your flight departure, so check your watch. 

The lounge offers light snacks, juice, water and hot beverages. 

One thing good about these seats is you can look out for your flight status (boarding time)

There are computers available to check your emails and surf the internet while waiting 

I settled for the corner so that I could charge my cell phone. It was a good thing I came early because the lounge was full not long after. 

The lounge is not big so its best to come early to get the best spot. 

Free Wifi is available and the access code is given with an expiry date. The internet connection is strong. 

Light snacks - I tried all of them, they are pretty good

Hot and Cold Drinks available 

Photo of a Bangkok Airways Airbus A319

My snack and a cup of pineapple juice 

Log into Bangkok Airways internet network to enjoy the free access 

Once I was done, I made my way to the gate which was changed to 6. The announcement was made and why the change of gate is because the aircraft was parked at the remote parking lot. 

Checking Flightradar24, HS-PGW was my ride to Bangkok!  

A few flights were departing around the same time, so the waiting area was quite packed. 

Unfortunately, our flight was delayed due to the late arrival of the aircraft, so we had to wait a bit longer, at least the announcement was made. At around the scheduled departure time, boarding commerced but we waited for a while for the airport bus to arrive. Why call us when you are not ready? 

My ride: HS-PGW

Flight route: KBV-BKK

Miles: 402 

Date of departure: 30th January 2016
Airline: Bangkok Airways
Route: KBV-BKK
Aircraft: Airbus A320 
Registration: HS-PGW
Delivered on 30th August 2005 
Configuration: Y162
Aircraft name: Samui 
Delivered: 30th August 2005
MSN: 2509
Engines: 2 X IAE V2527-A5
Gate: 4 changed to 6
Load: 90%
Seat: 19A
Flight level: 330
Duration: 1 hour 
Scheduled departure: 2010
Boarding: 2013 (by bus)
Push back: 2048
Take off: 2057
Scheduled arrival: 2130
Actual arrival: 2156
Departure runway: 23
Arrival runway: 19L 

Our ride was less than 5 minutes from the terminal. I was puzzled about something since a few aero-bridges were vacant and Air Asia (Low-Cost Carrier) was using one of them, why wasn't our aircraft parked there to save time especially after arriving late. 

We stopped in front of the aircraft and only the front door of the aircraft was opened for boarding, so it took a while before all of us were seated. This process made boarding even slower especially it was a full flight.

Here are some photos of the cabin 

A few rows of Economy Class seats with more legroom space in the front 

Beyond the curtain is the standard Economy Class 

 Legroom space is around 33' inch - quite comfortable 

This is my seat, 19A. Unfortunately, a South American couple sat beside me not too long after. Still, the legroom space was more than adequate for this short hop. 

Much better legroom space than my previous flight with Thai Air Asia. 

The drop-down screen is available on this aircraft. The safety video was shown on the screen. Can you see one of the TV screen (blank)? It was not functioning. The crew tried to restart it but failed. 

Fly Boutique, Feel Unique - Bangkok Airways' slogan 

The 11-years-old Airbus A320 was certainly showing its age. 

Passengers disembarking 

Emergency windows - better legroom space 

That's a lot of legroom space!

Time to leave the aircraft! It was a great flight. 

More photos of my seat 

Comfortable legroom space 

Advertisement on the back of each headrest cover

The audio system was not in use.

Fasten Seat Belt While Seated and Life Vest Under Your Seat!

In-flight experience 

After stepping into the aircraft, the good looking cabin crew welcome and bowed at each of us while we were walking along the aisle towards our seat.  After all of us were seated, the cabin crew came to check and make sure all of us were settled. They were young and energetic, smiles on their faces especially to those who needed to be sorted out (seat back not upright, closed window shade ...etc). 

Once the engines were started, we taxied quickly to the runway and take off. None of the flight crew made any announcements, so it was left to the chief purser to do so and she gave an apology message to us for the late departure but assured us that we would fly as fast as we could to make up for the lost time. 

After takeoff, about 10 minutes after the seat belt sign was turned off,  the in-flight meal was served with a choice of Fish or Chicken, I chose the Fish option which consists of Curry Fish with a mixture of Brown and White rice - it was pretty good. The crew had to do it quickly since the flight was just an hour. A choice of water, orange juice or coke was served followed by a choice of tea or coffee. The crew had done very well to handle the full load. 

Orange Juice 

After the crew cleared the tray, the drop-down screens showed some comedy series and you can hear laughter around the cabin. This probably made the flight more relax and time passed fast for some of us! The flight was slightly bumpy during mid-flight but nothing bad, other than that it was a smooth ride to Bangkok. Apart from the delay, I have certainly been impressed with the airline's offerings. What impressed me most has to be the lounge access even for Economy Class passengers. For the airfare I paid, it is a bargain.

What's inside the seat pocket? 

Disposal Bag 

Safety Card 

In-flight shopping magazine 

In-flight magazine 

So far for this flight, I was quite satisfied. The in-flight service certainly made up for the poor service at Krabi Airport. 

The airline's fleet 

 The airline's flight route 

Some window shot photos (From departure at Krabi to arrival at Bangkok BKK)

The ride to Bangkok was smooth for most parts except during mealtime, it was slightly bumpy. 

 Just took off, and not long after we changed heading. 

Started our descend into Bangkok (BKK) Airport

 Landed and spotted a Thai's Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the remote parking lot. 

This was the last flight for our aircraft as it parked at the remote parking lot for a well-deserved rest. 

I wished I was on the Airbus A319 instead. 

After the flight, I managed to snap some photos of the aircraft 

Thanks for the ride, HS-PGW!

It was my first time flying to Bangkok (BKK) on a domestic flight. Here are some photos of the domestic arrival hall.

Arrival Hall (Land Side)

I made my way to the taxi stand 

Took a taxi from here 

I took the queue number at the ticketing machine and found my cab waiting for me. Took it to my favourite hotel (for plane spotting) - the Phoenix Hotel just a 10 minutes drive from the airport.

My rating:

Airline's website: 6/10
Krabi Airport Experience: 5/10
Check-in counter staff: 3/10 
In-flight service: 8/10
Cabin interior: 7/10
Seat comfort: 8/10 (Good legroom space)
In-flight meal: 8/10
Airline's livery: 10/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
Punctuality: 3/10
Overall rating: 68/100


My main objective of this trip was to fly with Bangkok Airways and I got it finally. While the airport customer service at Krabi was disappointing, the lounge access and the in-flight service on board made up for it. Among the Thai airlines flown so far, this has to be the best experience. The crew on board did well for the short flight with a full load. Furthermore, a hot meal was served and everything went well without any hiccups. This airline certainly has many different beautiful special liveries which attract the general public, and also the crew's uniform and cabin interior certainly match each other. I am glad to have flown one and would certainly fly with this airline again in the near future. It is a pity that the airline cancelled its wide-body order, so, for now, it would just be operating Airbus A319/A320 and ATR-72 aircraft on domestic and regional routes. Overall, I like this airline and is on the list of my recommendation. 

Thanks for reading!



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