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Travel Tips: Top low-cost airlines for Thailand 2022

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A Boeing 737-86J in flight for Nok Air. Photo courtesy of Anna Zvereva | Flicker

Thailand is an ideal country to travel to on a budget, especially when it comes to booking flights. Slightly larger than Spain, flying cross this tropical country is a breeze, ensuring short flights and cheap prices. Meanwhile, Thailand’s central location makes it the perfect launching pad for exploring Southeast Asia, with neighbouring Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam to the east and Myanmar to the west. You can also easily book cheap flights to other countries on the southern peninsula — Malaysia and Singapore — while Indonesia is but a stone’s throw away.

Located in the centre of the country, Bangkok is the bustling travel hub of Thailand. Most international flights fly into Bangkok before transferring to small cities around the country. International flights primarily fly into one of three main cities: Bangkok in the centre, Chiang Mai in the north and Phuket in the south. Flights from Chiang Mai in the North to Phuket in the south takes just over 4 hours and is one of the longest flights you could book.

Before we name the budget airlines for flights to and around Thailand, you need to know there are two airports in Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi Airport (pronounced Su-var-na-poom) located east of the capital in Samut Prakan province, is the big modern airport and most flights, especially international ones, arrive and depart from here. The “higher-end” domestic airlines are also located here. Don Mueang International Airport, located in Rangsit in North Bangkok, is much smaller and older, now used mostly for budget airlines and domestic flights.

Thai Air Asia

Thai AirAsia is a low-fare airline based in Bangkok. It’s a joint venture company of Thailand’s Asia Aviation and AirAsia, Malaysia’s largest airlines with more than 165 destinations in 25 countries. Founded way back in December 2003, Thai AirAsia is not only one of the most affordable ways to travel around Thailand, but it’s also a fantastic airline,It may be the most popular low-cost airline in Thailand and is used by a large number of people throughout the country, renowned for its inexpensive fares and quality service. It flies all around the country, as well as to a few neighbouring countries, servicing AirAsia’s regular international and domestic flights from Bangkok. This airline offers many flight options for popular routes, from early morning till late at night. They also provide you some passenger options and ticket customisation, which do come with a price. Pun intended. If you wish to have an in-flight meal or a specific seat, then you have to pay extra. Also, there is the option to upgrade to Premium Flex, but that will be a step up from the standard fare. Each passenger is allowed 7kg of cabin baggage allowance while the checked one is at 20kg. If your luggage exceeds the standard 20kg, then you’ll have to pay 100-200 baht extra. The airline arrives and departs at Don Mueang International Airport.

Nok Air

Nok Air is a Thai low-cost airline that was founded in February 2004. It began operations in July 2004. As the name suggests, everything the airline offers will be under one theme. Nok, or bird. The plane itself has yellow accents to look like a bird, meanwhile the flight attendants uniform, you guessed it, is in yellow. The airline provides complimentary refreshments: snacks, water, and Wi-Fi, and its service is excellent. The airline offers a variety of routes across Thailand, giving you many options to choose from. Nok Airways has three options for customers, Nok Lite, Nok X-Tra and Nok MAX. The difference depends on how heavy your luggage is, the seating option, and in-flight meals. Nok Lite only allows a 7kg carry on without a checked luggage option. Nok X-tra gives you extra checked baggage at 15kg alongside a 7kg carry-on. The Nok Max provides you with a nice meal along with 25kg checked baggage for local/domestic flights, 30kg for international flights, and a 7kg carry-on. The airline arrives and departs at Don Mueang International Airport.

Bangkok Airways

Bangkok Airways is a regional airline based out of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. It flies to local destinations in Thailand as well as neighbouring Asian countries. What makes Bangkok Airways stand out from the rest is what they offer in the same price range. It provides private lounges at many Thai airports. You can take advantage of free food, beverages, and Wi-Fi before you board the plane. Sometimes it might cost a bit more than other airlines, but if you value the lounge and the smaller details, this is the right airline. Bangkok Airways have a few options to choose from when you’re booking your flight. Every customer is allowed 20kg of baggage allowance.

Thai Smile

Thai Smile is Thai Airways’ low-cost brand, which only began flying in 2012. In May 2011, the Thai Airways board of directors announced plans to establish a new low-cost airline, Thai Wings, which was eventually renamed Thai Smile. You’ll get a 20 kilogram limit for your luggage, and this is a huge step ahead compared to the other competitors on the list. Customers will have 4 different fare options to suit their wants and needs. If you are fussy about where you sit on a flight, you will be happy to know that you can select your seat up to 90 days in advance. The ‘saver’ option is affordable without losing a lot of benefits. It flies to many destinations, both locally and internationally. Saver, value, and Flexi plan allow you with 20kg baggage allowance in Thailand and 30kg for International routes. For the plus plan, you are allowed with a 30kg baggage allowance in Thailand and 40kg for International routes. The airline arrives and departs at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Thai Lion Air

Next up on our list is Thai Lion Air, the affiliate company of Indonesian airlines Lion Air. Operating out of Don Mueang International Airport, this low-cost Thai airlines was established in December 2013 and has a fleet of 12 aircraft, as of 2021 — including three Boeing 737 MAX 100, which were grounded after the 737 MAX 8 employed in Flight 610 from its parent company Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta in October 2018. The Indonesian government has recently removed a ban on the aircraft, which could see Thai Lion Air’s fleet of 737 MAX return to the skies in 2022, after having received the required equipment updates. But Thai Lion Air is not the only airline eager to send their grounded birds back onto the skies. Two years into a global pandemic, the notorious aircraft is back in high demand by budget airlines the world over, which are betting big it will be key to staying competitive in an increasingly restrictive market. So don’t be surprised if your next budget flight to or around Thailand on a 737 MAX — and you end up enjoying the passenger entertainment system and plenty of legroom. For those who are curious about the baggage allowance, all domestic flights offer free 10 kilograms.

Thai VietJet Air

Wrapping up our list of budget airlines is Thai VietJet Air — the preferred airline of Thaiger CEO Tim Newton. Based out of Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thai VietJet Air is a low-cost Thai airline, established in 2015 in association with its Vietnamese parent company, VietJet Air. It’s renowned for its incredibly inexpensive flights on small planes, on which you might find yourself squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder with the strangers in your row like a pack of sardines. The airline primarily operates domestically, with no less than 12 domestic routes, while also servicing a handful of popular international routes to India, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam. But the cheapest flights often come with a caveat — beware of unexpected fees for checked and carry-on baggage, and occasional flight delays. Skyboss tickets on Vietjet Air flights offer allowance checked baggage of 30 kilograms; while, other tickets like Promo & Eco do not include allowance checked baggage.

What’s your take?

There you have it, our list of top budget airlines to fly to and around Thailand on the cheap in 2022. So what’s your favourite budget airline in Thailand? Did it make the list? And what has been your experience with the airlines mentioned above? Do you have a go-to airline for inexpensive domestic flights? Or maybe a tip for which ones to avoid, despite temptingly low ticket prices? Travel stories welcome! Please share your thoughts in the comments section down below and contribute your take to the ThaigerTalk travel community!

Note: Because this article is written during the pandemic, prices are subject to change. Before checking in for your flight, it’s important to check with your airlines for any announcements and to have all the necessary documents in hand. Each crew member should be wearing masks and gloves on duty for the safety of everyone on the flight.

 

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