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We find it exciting to walk through an airport and catch a glimpse of a specially painted airplane gliding by the windows, or even sneak a peek at vibrant liveries while taxiing to our gate in a foreign land. Thankfully the airline world is chock full of super quirky, stand-out airplane designs and, while some make us raise an eyebrow and tilt our head, all bring a smile and make us reach for our camera.
Here are some of the more flamboyant aircraft paint jobs::
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It takes a special sort of person to be a flight attendant. In the early days of airplane travel, flight attendants were a cross between nurses and bellboys, then the jet era called for them to be glamorous representatives of the airline. Today, flight attendants are recognized as service professionals who often undertake a full career in the skies.
Thailand's budget airline Nok Air is still seemingly stuck in that early jet age mindset, however, as they've just launched a recruitment drive via Facebook, with requirements that read more like Barbie's resume than a job posting.
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What is the turn of a new year without a flight attendant calendar controversy? This year, the award for naughty airline calendar goes to Thai budget airline Nok Air, whose slogan is "We Fly Smiles."
They also apparently fly scantily clad, as Nok's Facebook previewed three photos from the calendar as part of a contest to win a free copy. Each of the teaser photos (shown here) are now angering the Thailand Ministry of Culture, on the grounds that the image doesn't promote the country in a proper, positive light. That doesn't mean the Ministry of Culture can stop Nok from printing their calendars, though, so the contest to give away 300 of them continues.
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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).*
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In our Prime Plane Spotting series, we've discovered quite a slew of odd places to get right up near the big jets; there've been coffee shops, a pool, Venetian water taxis and even an IKEA, but never before have we found a golf course.
At Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport, an entire 18-hole, par 72 golf course sits between the two runways. It's called Kantarat. Seeing it is believing it, and even better is crossing from hole to hole in a golf cart, waiting for a red light to change so you can drive across the tarmac for your next shot.
So this is a new take on dealing with soaring fuel prices: Thai LCC One-Two-Go will ground its entire fleet starting today, through September 15. At that point, the carrier says, it will resume service.
One-Two-Go is the country's second-largest low cost carrier, and rival carriers are more than happy to snap up displaced customers. Right now, domestic flights on AirAsia start at just $63 all-in, and Nok Air also has a bunch of good-looking "Smile Fares."
So far this year, two smaller Asian carriers have shut down, and Qantas and Thai Airways have announced capacity cuts.
This week's award for cutest budget carrier name with the funkiest looking plane goes to Thailand's Nok Air. It's partly owned by Thai Airways, and it's based at Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport. Flights with Nok Air are largely around Thailand but also go to Bangalore, India. And since "nok" means "bird" in Thai, the name's not as silly as it sounds.
Service to Hanoi has just started, and Nok Air is offering flights from just 3 Baht between Bangkok and north Vietnam. Unbelievably, 3 Baht is less than 10 cents, although a pesky little asterisk does tell us that some taxes or charges will be payable on top. Still, the total fare comes in around $50.
Unlike most budget airlines, Nok Air also has a kind of business class section called Nok Plus. An upgrade costs 535 Baht ($17). Of course it's not true biz class, but it is one step up from budget flying: You get a newspaper, snacks for free and a higher baggage allowance. Can't knock that.