Flying around Southeast Asia, you have a lot of options for travel destinations, but, inevitably, most travelers usually touch down in Thailand at some point. Whether they’re stopping in Bangkok for a quick layover before heading out to Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, or Bali, Indonesia, etc. or they plan on sightseeing around Thailand, the vast majority of Asia visitors put flip-flop to floor in Bangkok’s two airports.
What You Should Know About Thai Air
There are also plenty of choices for flights and airlines for travelers in and out of Thailand, including Cambodia Air, Angkor Air, Cathay Pacific, Philippines Airline, CebuPacific Air, Etihad, Singapore Air, Asiana, LKM, Air Asia, Tiger Air, and about 100 discount Chinese airlines. But one of my favorites in Thai Air, and I take it every chance I get.
I’ve taken Thai Air probably about a dozen times in the last few years, and have always found them clean, professional, on-time, polite, and generally offer a good flying experience. I’ve taken several trips with them: to and from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Bangkok; Siem Reap, Cambodia to Bangkok; Manila in the Philippines to Bangkok, and Bangkok to Phuket or KohSamui in Thailand, and back.
First off, Thai Air isn’t always the cheapest – when searching on Skyscanner, Google Flights, CheapTickets or other airfare ticket aggregators, you’ll usually find the discount carriers like Air Asia, CebuPacific, and any of the Chinese carriers to be the cheapest. Often, it looks like they are much better deals, possibly saving you $100 – $200 or more on the route.
But dig a little deeper, and there are three reasons why the discount air carriers aren’t always the lowest price nor the best option, especially when flying in and out of Bangkok.
First off, the connections and layovers on the discount airlines usually suck. I commonly see layovers for like 20 hours in countries far away from both my departure and destination nations! Thai Air, however, has way more direct flights (including from Cebu and Manila in the Philippines), and connections and layovers are logical and reasonable when they’re necessary.
Second, while the discount airlines definitely have better initial pricing, they will rake you over the coals on luggage fees. Typically when flying Thai Air, you’ll be allowed a backpack, a carry-on, and a suitcase up to about 35 kg usually – which is huge.
The discount carriers will charge extra for anything about a backpack or carry on, and also charge for meals (or you won’t get one). The food is awful anyway, travel insurance, and reserving a seat so you’re not crammed in right next to the bathroom in a seat that can’t recline.
Third, Thai Air has a far far better record of being on time and a nominal cancellation rate. Many of these discount carriers, like Air Asia and CebuPacific, are a cluster-you-know-what of a business model, so about 75% of flights are delayed or even canceled. Guess who gets screwed if you don’t get there in time for a connection or to use that hotel you booked? You do!
So I highly recommend you consider Thai Air when you’re flying those routes, and all things being equal, you’ll probably appreciate their quality and the flying experience!