Bangkok Airways is a regional carrier based in, you guessed it, Bangkok. They have partnership agreements and code shares with many international carriers, so you might find yourself on one of their planes on a trip to Thailand, the Land of Smiles! Find out who they are and what to expect!
Who are they? Bangkok Airways (PG) is a privately owned airline based at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi (BKK) International Airport. They call themselves “Asia’s Boutique Airline” and are positioned above other regional or budget carriers. They serve a total of 24 destinations in 10 countries, mostly in Thailand and neighboring countries. Interestingly, they operate three of their own airports in Thailand: Ko Samui, Sukhothai and Trat (Ko Chang), giving them a number of exclusive routes to these destinations. You can see their route network, including code share routes below.
Bangkok Air promises to operate a new fleet of planes, with all planes being replaced after 5 years of service. All their routes are short-haul and they utilize a mix of 19 Airbus A319/320 jets and 11 ATR72 turbo-prop planes.
Most of Bangkok Air’s flights only offer economy class (all ATR and A320 planes). They recently introduced their “Blue Ribbon” class, comparable to a domestic US first class or regional Asia business class. The economy class is positioned above competitor offerings, with all passengers having access to a lounge, food and drinks included even on flights under 1 hour and exceptionally friendly service.
SkyTrax rates Bangkok Airways as a 4-star airline (out of 5), putting them on par with Thai Airways, Lufthansa and ahead of the big US carriers.
AirlineRatings gives them a 4 of 7 rating, which is due to an accident in 2009 where an ATR72 skidded of the runway, killing one pilot, and the operational concerns of the ICAO country audit of Thailand. They have successfully completed their own IOSA audit, which many low-cost carriers don’t have, and I have no safety concerns flying with them!
Bangkok Airways runs their own rewards program, FlyerBonus, and partners with AirBerlin, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Japan Airlines to earn and redeem points!
Why should I care? If you are planning to visit Ko Samui or Ko Chang, Bangkok Airways is your best bet for flights to these private airports. They offer a number of daily flights to each and have partnership agreements with numerous airlines to connect foreign visitors to these popular destinations. Chances are, if you are heading there, you’ll end up on one of their planes.
Their slogan is “Fly Boutique. Be Unique” and they are trying hard to differentiate themselves from the low-cost airlines in Thailand as well as from Thai Airways, the flag carrier. The best comparison is probably Virgin America, which also offers a better experience at competitive prices. If you are planning a special trip and are arriving in Bangkok in a premium class, it’s worth connecting on Bangkok Airways to continue to premium experience – instead of flying on Thai AirAsia or Nok Air! You can read my review of their Economy Class, Boutique Lounge BKK and their Blue Ribbon Lounge on Ko Samui (coming soon) to get a better idea of the experience to expect!
What else should I know? When you are connecting from an international flight to Bangkok Airways, make sure you understand what exactly you are getting! We booked a flight on a Philippine Airlines ticket, but while they have a ticketing agreement, they don’t have an agreement to handle luggage or immigration, so you have to pick up your luggage, exit, re-check your luggage and re-enter through security and immigration each way! I recommend to book through the airline directly (not an online travel agency, like CheapTickets) to avoid such issues!