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It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's...Flying Nok Air, the Planes That Look Like Birds

August 31, 2012 at 11:50 AM | by | ()

Don't knock Nok Air. Their planes may be painted like tropical birds, their flight attendants young enough to feel more like candy-stripers, and their hub airport of Bangkok's Don Mueang International empty enough to inspire more smirks than all that "we fly smiles" claiming they make, but our own flight on Nok was actually pretty great.

First off, a little background. Nok Air is a Thai low-cost airline that started up in 2004 and now runs routes out of Bangkok to a slew of popular vacation destinations typically no more than several hours' flight time away. View all their routes right here. Flights start around 1,300 THB ($41) on average, which even includes an in-flight snack and one free checked bag up to 30kg.

We hopped onboard, flying from Bangkok-Don Mueang to Phuket International, a 1.5-hour flight that cost us only around $51 USD total (and it was a last-minute booking).*

Taking a taxi from the city out to Don Mueang (DMK) begins the experience, really. It's a shorter, cheaper ride than heading out to Suvarnabhumi (BKK-the current main international airport), though Don Mueang is the OG Bangkok Airport, closing after BKK debuted, only to reopen with the growth of low-cost carriers such as Nok. Bright yellow check-in counters greet passengers and, just past security, so does a traditional Thai sala, right inside the terminal.

Planespotting at DMK is just all right; there's always that curious betwixt-runways golf course, but with only a few airlines operating out of one terminal of the giant airport, activity is minimal. On the plus side, you'll likely never encounter crazy queues.

Meanwhile, onboard our 737-400 to Phuket, passengers were greeted by the slim flight attendants in their retro yellow jumpsuit-ish dresses, the safety demonstration (with English translation) was completed and we set off into the haze above a 98-degrees and crazy-humid Bangkok.

Onboard the short flight, the only entertainment came from reading the ads plastered on overhead bins and meal trays which didn't try to sell you anything, but instead attempted to convince you to attend the surfing competition Nok Air would soon be sponsoring in Phuket. A light bag lunch of a pizza-danish-thing and water, and we looked out the window to see the verdant pokes of island beginning to emerge as we neared Phuket (HKT).

We must admit that landing at HKT was something of a relief, in that it felt nice to see some major airlines parked next door to our little 737 with a beak. Further relief: the knowledge that we paid far, far less than passengers on those other flights and we still got the bag lunch, the checked bag allowance and cute flight attendants. Yep. Nok Nok. Who's there? We are, to hopefully fly Nok again soon.

*Note: This flight was in September 2011. We've held off on this review since, shortly after our flight, the autumn '11 flooding around Thailand turned Don Mueang airport into Don Mueang lake and Nok limped along operating out of Bangkok's main airport, Suvarnabhumi. Now that they're back to normal in Don Mueang and even Air Asia Thailand will be joining them out there, it's time to bring 'em up again.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

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