This past fall (2017) I flew Bangkok Airways twice. Bangkok Airways brands itself as “Asia’s Boutique Airline”and has six pillars to “…offer the best personalized service to passengers…”
The pillars are:
- Boutique Lounges – open to all passengers with no hidden fees.
- Boutique Lounges Blue Ribbon Club – for premium passengers.
- Boutique Airports – the airline owns and operates 3 of its own airports.
- Appetizing Menu – meals on all flights and food in the lounge.
- Exclusive Service – “Friendly service with a smile”
- Colorful Aircraft
Does Bangkok Airways Live Up to the Hype?
Bottom line based on my two flights is that yes Bangkok Airways lives up to the hype (and its commitments). It is a refreshingly positive airline to fly. They reminded me of flying a few decades ago when each flight was a special event, regardless of your class of service.
- Bangkok Suvarnabh, Thailand (BKK) to Luang Prabang, Laos (LPQ)
- Equipment: ATR TURBOPROP (I think it was an ATR 72)
- Flight time: 2 hours – late afternoon flight
- Siem Reap, Cambodia (REP) to Bangkok Suvarnabh, Thailand (BKK)
- Equipment: AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A319 JET
- Flight time: 55 min – mid-day flight
Flying Bangkok Airways
How do they compare against their pillars?
Lounges for economy-class passengers? It almost sounds too good to be true. But yes these lounges exist. I used the lounge at both Bangkok Airport and Siem Reap Airport. Any passenger in any class is welcome. Everything is free in the lounge. The staff is friendly and polite and helpful. What do you get?
- Wireless – and it worked well and had good speed.
- Food and drink – the lounge in Bangkok had reasonable food and drink, and the lounge in Siem Reap had excellent food and drink, including a popcorn machine.
- A comfortable, pleasant seating area. Although a lot of people were in the lounge, it did not feel overly crowded.
- Lots of power ports for charging devices.
- A helpful staff for any questions or information.
Boutique Lounges Blue Ribbon Club
In Bangkok, the Blue Ribbon Club side of the lounge was pretty crowded, but I could not see in. In Siem Reap, they had a special area but it was not open (I do not think there were any premium passengers on the flight I was on).
On the 2 hour flight to Luang Prabang we had a hot lunch of sauteed fish in a tangy brown sauce and noodles with julienne vegetables. The fish and noodles were cooked properly and tasted great. The green-tea chocolate chip cake for dessert was a pleasant finish to the meal.
My test is to look at other passengers’ trays and yes it seemed that we all ate everything.
On the 50 minute flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok on a fairly full A319, the flight attendants managed to serve a cold plate to everyone for lunch along with a coffee or tea service. The food was pleasant, especially the chicken.
Exclusive Service – “Friendly service with a smile”
The first thing that struck me about Bangkok Airways is how polite their emails are. Frequent words in their emails: “Please” “Thank you” “We encourage you….” “Kindly be noted….” Somebody at that airline is clearly aware of the power of positive words.
The check in agents were consistently pleasant and smiled a lot. I knew my cabin bag was 2 kg (about 4 lbs) over their maximum weight for cabin bags, but they did not ask about it.
In Siem Reap, our flight was delayed about 2 hours because of bad weather in Bangkok (a lot of flights were delayed). They gave all customers in the lounge a coupon to get a hot lunch at any restaurant in the airport. Considering the food in the lounge, I thought this was exceptionally generous. They made frequent announcements of the flight status also.
One anomaly, Bangkok Airways recently changed their check-through policy that they will only check bags through if all flights are on the same ticket. So if you buy a round trip ticket from Europe or the Americas to Bangkok, and you then buy a different ticket to fly regionally, you can not check your bags through. But immigration, baggage claim, and getting through the airport was fast and easy so it was no big deal to me.
So all and all, yes the service was friendly, consistent, caring, and with a smile when appropriate. (For example, they did not explain the flight delay with a giant smile on their face – that would have reeked of insincerity).
The ATR aircraft was plenty colorful. The A319 was less so. Honestly, to me, this is not what I care about. I do care about how clean the aircraft is, and this airline gets bonus points on the cleanliness of their planes.
One caution – the cabin temperature is kept cold. I was glad I carried my jacket on with me and wore it the whole flight. Brrrrr.
Bangkok Suvarnabh Airport, Thailand
I think this airport is easy to navigate, fast to get through, and well-marked. They also have beautiful decorations inside. There are plenty of bathrooms and they are also kept clean.
Heads up though as Bangkok has two international airports: Bangkok Suvarnabh International Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang International Airport (DMK). Most long haul flights (from Europe and the Americas) come into BKK. Regional flights might come into either airport. If you are buying a regional ticket, be sure to check which airport you are arriving into/leaving from. Bangkok Airways uses BKK.
Bangkok Airways lives up to its promise and its pillars. I would readily fly them again. Their ticket prices seemed fair and reasonable and their customer service and professionalism gave me both confidence and comfort.