Author : Lee Ah-Rin (January 17, 2017)
If you have been in Bangkok for a while, you will soon realize that most Bangkokians prefer to leave the big city during long weekends and holidays. Although travel websites like Expedia and Kayak are convenient, you will most likely get a better deal if you book with low-cost airlines directly through their websites. If you’re looking for suggestions on domestic airlines, look no further. Here is a list of Thai low-cost airlines and our review on each one! Undoubtedly these reviews are subjective, but will hopefully be helpful nonetheless.
A sister company of Thai Airways, Thai Smile is one of the more “full-service” ones on this list. People often assume that Thai Smile is more expensive than other low-cost airlines but this is not always the case. Since the price is all-inclusive (20 kg checked baggage allowance, in-flight food-drinks services, free seat selections), the total might come out even cheaper than some of the other airlines that charge extra for these services. Personally, I find that Thai Smile staffs are usually more professional compared to other airlines. However, their flight schedules are not as frequent since they don’t have as many customers. The good thing about this, though, is that the check-in counters are way less busy and there’s usually not a long wait.
I have only flown with AirAsia a few times, and personally I think it’s always a hit or miss with them. They are one of the super low-cost ones where the ticket price does not include anything. Anything. Expect to pay around 500 THB extra if you’re planning on checking your luggage and choosing your seat. They don’t allow outside food or drinks either since they’re trying to sell their own during the flights. I wouldn’t order anything unless I’m starving especially for short flights since their menu is overpriced. If I remember correctly a bottle of water would cost you 50 THB.
The staffs are usually pleasant, and I never had any bad experience with them. However, I have heard of incidences in which people who booked their tickets together as a family weren’t able to sit together unless they pay more. I would say AirAsia is only worth it if you get it for very very cheap. They occasionally have promotions on international flights where you pay next to nothing for the tickets, and only have to pay for taxes and gas.
Nok Air is somewhat full-service with 15 kg of checked luggage and complimentary snacks/water during the flights. They do, however, have other food items/merchandise that are available for purchase although I have never really seen anybody paying extra for them. Seat selection is also free, and even though they charge extra for special seats (emergency exit rows, first five front rows) I was able to get them for free at the check-in counter before.
However, it really depends on the staff at check-in since sometimes they wouldn’t give it to you unless you pay more. I have also been refused emergency exit seats because I am a woman (I know..), but overall I had a good experience with them. I also think it’s kind of cute and funny how all flight attendants refer to themselves as Nok **name** (Nok means bird in Thai). One thing I find annoying, though, is that the listed ticket price on the websites doesn’t include taxes and fees until you click ‘check out’.
Personally, I feel like Thai Lion Air is the most popular option for Thais. Not because they love the service, but because they think it’s the cheapest. A few years ago when Thai Lion Air first came to Thailand, the tickets were cheaper than bus fares. Because of that, people often associate them with the best deals. Over the years, however, they started raising their price as they have more customers. This past holiday I found that their price was even more expensive than Thai Smile. (I booked my tickets last minute though, so maybe that was an exception)
Personally, if I am flying out of DMK I would avoid Thai Lion Air since the lines are SO long at check-in. Their staffs are definitely not as professional as other airlines; Most of the ground staffs seem to be university student interns. They do, however, offer 15 kg of free checked luggage. Just be warned that the legroom is crazy limited, but it gets you there I guess.
I was debating whether or not to include Bangkok Airways on this list since they are not really a low-cost airlines. They do, however, have really good deals at times. The only thing is that they do not find out of DMK, so you would have to drive out to BKK (Suvannabhumi). Since they are a full-service airline, everything is inclusive. They also have a lounge for all passengers to use at BKK as well. Overall, they’re your typically Asian full-service airline.
So there we go, readers, my reviews of Thai low-cost airlines! Again, this list might not be comprehensive and all the comments are subjective since they’re based on personal experience. Nonetheless, I hope that was somewhat helpful. Feel free to leave other suggestions or comments on our Facebook page!