We’ve flown a lot of the low cost carriers, or budget airlines, while living in Southeast Asia. For us, it doesn’t make sense to splurge on a more traditional airline, or use our miles, for a quick one or two hour flight within the region. One of the benefits of spending time living and traveling in this region, is that there are so many great budget airlines in Southeast Asia. During a beach break from Bangkok we finally had a chance to experience flying Nok Air Thailand.
How to Fly Nok Air From “DMK”
On the surface, Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport, or DMK, isn’t much to look at. Built in the 1930s, the terminals are concrete and drab,. They are far from the modern glass and steel aviation palaces found around the world. Look outside the dirty and streaked windows and you’ll see something worth looking at. And, Nok Air Thailand has a lot to do with this.
Nok Air operates a fleet of Boeing 737-800s, Bombardier Q400s, and ATR-72 500s, for the #AvGeeks out there. Nok means bird in Thai and the airline carries the bird theme through just about everything. Nok Air Thailand is known for its bold, and certainly eye-catching livery. A signature bird beak nose is painted onto the nose of every plane. And, the main scheme of each plane is interesting and unique, some painted purple, and others looking like Nemo. Because DMK airport is such an unpleasant airport, the best way to fly any airline from DMK is to keep your focus on the fun Nok Air planes outside, rather than the drab interior inside.
As for flying Nok Air from DMK, I would recommend checking in online ahead of time. They line for online check in was a lot more quick than the traditional line. Also, Nok Air offers free wifi for passengers, but using the booking reference number on the boarding pass.
Flying Nok Air Thailand on a Domestic Flight
Nok Air operates routes mainly in Thailand, as well as to a handful of international destinations in Myanmar, Vietnam, and Singapore. Because there is a lot of competition across the region from other budget airlines like Air Asia, Tiger Air, and Scoot Air, Nok Air’s bread and butter is Thailand.
Nok Air Thailand serves 24 destinations around the country, the most of any other low cost carrier. It is the perfect airline for someone looking to head to the Thai beaches.
One of the perks of being based in Bangkok is that the Thai beaches are only an hour away. Nok Air operates up to seven flights per day between DMK and Phuket International. Priced on average around $30USD each way, it is a fast and cheap way to escape the heat of Bangkok.
On our flight down, we tested Nok’s Premium Seating, which funny enough are the first five rows of the aircraft. Funny because the first five rows on the 737-800 are rows 30-35, not 1-5. Not sure why this is, but you end up with a little extra legroom, priority boarding, and priority baggage. You can upgrade to the premium seats on board for the nominal fee of 300 Thai Baht, or approximately $8. This also applies for Exit Row seating.
Two things jumped out at me boarding our flight to Phuket. The first was how new our aircraft felt. Kitted out with Boeing’s space saving Sky Interior, the aircraft felt spacious and as if it just rolled off the assembly line. The only thing missing was the “new airplane smell.” Thankfully, Nok has decided not the follow the lead of fellow LCC Air Asia by wallpapering the overhead bins with advertising. It gave the airplane a much more clean feel.
Aside for airline food, the biggest complaint about the airline industry is service. For the longest time, low cost carriers managed to avoid being caught up in this, by providing warm smiles and pleasant service. In the past few years, as many of them have grown, they’ve forgotten to maintain good customer service.
When we boarded our Nok Air Thailand flight, we were greeted with genuine smiles and excitement to have us on board. This service was carried over to the complementary snack box and water distributed on board. Using the word complementary when referring to a low cost carrier is a foreign concept. Not sure how or why Nok is doing this, but I hope they don’t stop. Even though many of their flights are less than two hours, it’s a pleasant surprise to receive a little something to snack on.
Arriving on time in Phuket, we quickly deplaned having enjoyed our first Nok experience. For airlines like Nok, the challenge is how to compete against an Air Asia when they don’t have the economies of scale. For the time being, Nok is focused on providing better service to target routes throughout Thailand. Hopefully they’ll be able to expand their wonderful service to more international destinations in the near future giving travelers more options. It’s also a great way to save money when backpacking in Thailand.
Heading to Phuket?
Where to Stay in Phuket: Get hotel recommendations here.
What to do in Phuket: Go for a Thai yoga massage!
Find more Thai food tips in our Southeast Asia food travel guide.