Bargain fares, free snack and friendly service – Nok Air, Thai low-cost carrier

If you have traveled in Thailand, you might have noticed the colorful planes with a bird’s beak – they belong to Nok Air, a low-cost carrier based in Thailand. After more than 15 years of visiting Thailand, I finally flew with them and I was pleasantly surprised: Despite their low fares, they are a step up compared to AirAsia and other low-cost carriers and I’d be happy to fly them again. Read my NokAir review to find out the Facts & Figures, what experience to expect at Nok Air and how to earn points with NokAir’s reward program Nok Fan Club!

Facts & Figures: NokAir serves 26 destinations from their hub at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport (DMK). They also offer 8 flights to Singapore and 6 flights to China and Taiwan as NokScoot with their new partner Scoot Air! There new slogan “Smiling Across Asia” is indicative of their intentions to grow across Asia as a regional airline.
NokAir uses a fleet of 20 Boeing B737 and 8 ATR72/Q400 turboprop planes. Each of them has a name and a unique design, making for great selfies in front of the planes!
NokAir currently has an Airline Safety Rating of only 2-out-of-7, due to downgrade of Thailand’s FAA country rating to a category 2 as well as their own safety issues in the past!
SkyTrax rates Nok Air as a 3-star airline, on par with other low-cost carriers as well as the big US airlines, like Delta or United!

The Experience: NokAir started as a low-cost carrier (LCC), looking to differentiate itself with a fun approach to flying and service that’s a step up! You can book your tickets and check-in online and the website works reasonably well, including credit card payment!
Similar to other LCC, you have to pay extra for check in luggage on domestic flights, but 20kg are free on international flights to Vietnam or Myanmar! You always get a standard-size carry-on up to 7kg for free. Nok Air offers bundled fares with luggage and other perks, but be prepared to pay a lot more! With any fare, seat assignments are free.
Onboard, the hard product is similar to a low cost carrier, with an all-economy 3-3 layout on B737 and a seat pitch of 30-32 inch – a tight fit for tall people. The seats are leather-clad, slimline seat similar to other LCC and are comfortable for short flights. There is no entertainment, but NokAir has started to install WiFi on their planes.
Flight attendants are friendly and attentive, making the experience more pleasant than average. You also get a free water and snack in a nicely decorated box, even on short domestic flights, certainly better service than AirAsia or other low-cost carriers! You can also purchase meals onboard, although on the mostly short flights, you can probably do without!

Rewards: NokAir has a loyalty program, called Nok Fan Club. You have to purchase a membership card for 200THB ($6). As a member, you earn points towards free flights, get an additional 5kg baggage allowance and even a special check-in line in Bangkok! Surprisingly, there is even an “elite” level – Nok Smile Plus – after earning 15,000 points or 35 flights. It’ll get you reduced redemption rates and additional perks. The website is in Thai and the program only makes sense, if you live in Thailand or travel very frequently!

Bottomline: NokAir offers bargain basement fares on domestic and international routes from Thailand and better than average service with free water and snacks onboard, making them an attractive alternative to other low-cost carriers in the region. I wouldn’t hesitate to book them again on short flights around Thailand. If you are connecting from an international flight, Thai Smile Air and Bangkok Air can be attractive, more upscale alternatives.

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