Airport Agony

Ok, it's official. The new airport in Bangkok sucks. I've passed through three times now, and it seems to be getting progressively worse.

It took me over an hour to check in for my flight this morning. In part, this was due to the fact that there were only two check-in lanes available for the flight. In contrast however, there were eight airline personnel attending each of the two lanes: One to check people in, the other seven to get in the way, generate confusion and maximise the time required to check in.

Then I had the good fortune of having a family/ group of eight Singaporeans in front of me, who seemed hell-bent on being stupid. One of the airline staff walked along the long queue of passengers, kindly informing everyone that each person was required to pay airport tax of Baht 700. The head of this family in front of me argued, insisting that for some unfathomable reason, he and his family were exempt. Forty minutes later, another airline person came along to remind everyone about the need to pay the airport departure tax, and again, Mr. Annoying confidently tells his family he's got things under control, no need to pay.

So of course, having now waited about 50 minutes, with plenty of time to go get cash to pay the airport tax, the family in front of me finally reached the check-in counter, at which point they were asked for the departure tax, 8 x Baht 700 = Baht 5,600.

And of course, Mr. Incredibly Annoying again insisted that he's not required to pay. So he argued. He stalled. The airline staff (all eight staff at the check-in counter) politely drilled this one simple concept into his head — Baht 700 per person. No exceptions, even for a**holes. Eventually he sent someone in his family to get the required cash, mumbling something incomprehensible under his breath while everyone waited.


Speaking of which, the airport departure tax has been Baht 500 per person for as long as I can recall. I've been travelling to Thailand for about 20 years now. I guess since the new airport is clearly much more chaotic than the previous airport, in a sense, you're getting more value for your money, hence the increase in departure tax.

If you're planning to travel to Thailand soon but haven't been to the new airport yet, you may not have to suffer through it though. Having opened only just last September, the airport already has serious problems. The runways are cracking, and there are serious building-safety issues. The airport's safety license hasn't been renewed. Some flights are being moved back to the old airport.

Yup. 700 Baht. Worth every satang.

If you end up at the new airport, keep this in mind: the airport has basically been designed and built as a shopping mall. Check-in and immigration have been tacked on to one end, and the gates added at opposing ends, as far away from everything as possible, almost as if they were an afterthought. So if you want to shop for a few hours, there are dozens of stores, shops, eating facilities, etc. If you want to check-in and get on a plane, forget it. Oh, and if you need to find a toilet once you're in the departure area...good luck.

The only saving grace is that there appears to be a Wifi network accessible throughout the airport, though by the time you make it through check-in and immigration and navigate the kilometre or two to your gate, you won't have any time or energy to log on.