July 23, 2020

Bangkok Airways: What to know before you fly

You’ve never felt more jet-set than whipping out your sunglasses as you step down a Bangkok Airways plane staircase into the sunshine. You’re on vacation and you’ve finally arrived.

This post may contain affiliate links, from which I receive a small commission on any resulting purchases at no cost to the customer. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. It keeps The Koh Samui Guide ad-free, never sponsored and 100% independent. See privacy policy for more details.

Bangkok Airways: Your Total Guide

After 20 years’ flying on this fab little airline – I'm sharing my best tips. Here’s what to know before you fly with Bangkok Airways. What happens after landing? Whether you want to plan your perfect itinerary in advance or see where Samui’s winds beach breezes take you, use The Koh Samui Guide to find the island’s very best (in the easiest, most stress-free way).

Why is it only Bangkok Airways into Koh Samui?

It’s not anymore, but that was the case for many years. When you own the airport, you get to make the rules. Fun fact: Bangkok Airways owns Koh Samui Airport.

Is Bangkok Airways reputable?

And then some. If you’re new to Thailand you might be surprised that the airline will celebrate its 55th anniversary in 2023. What’s more, Bangkok Airways wins things. Find any award with the words “boutique”, “best”, Asia” and “airline” in its title and Bangkok Airways has it in the bag. They’ve placed in the top 3 for Asia’s best regional airline since 2004. Apparently, flying doesn’t have to suck.

What is Bangkok Airways carry-on baggage allowance?

Check your itinerary to see which plane you’ll be flying, as their propeller planes (ATR72) have less room and thus a slightly smaller baggage allowance. The weight allowance is the same – 5 kilos (11 pounds) – for both prop planes and Airbus planes:

  • ATR72 (props): 50 x 36 x 23 centimeter or 19.68" x 14.17" x 9.00"
  • Airbus: 56 x 36 x 23 centimeter or 22.04" x 14.17" x 9.00"

That's pretty little, so if you have a monster carry-on spinner suitcase (approved for international flights on larger planes) expect it to be gate-checked. Otherwise, a squashy backpack, tote bag, satchel or messenger bag is ideal.

The following bags fit within the carry-on size limits for ALL Bangkok Airways planes:

Some slightly larger options that fit the Airbus size requirements:

Strollers/buggies and car seats are gate-checked – don't worry, Bangkok Airways is really used to families travelling with these.

Bangkok Airways baggage allowance?

Bangkok Airways’ maximum baggage allowance, as currently stated, is:

  • 20 kilos per adult or child in economy (approx. 44 lbs)
  • 40 kilos for business class (approx. 88 lbs) but a max of 32 kg per bag
  • 10 kilos per infant in either economy or business (approx. 22 lbs)

Tip: Double-check this information before you fly – things change.

U‍pdate: Joining Bangkok Airways's frequent flyer programme, FlyerBonus, used to give you 10 more kilos (22 lbs) of luggage allowance, for free. However, this policy has changed since the pandemic. That said, it's still worth joining (especially if flying in your birthday month).

Is Bangkok Airways tough on weight?

Yes, very. They definitely pay attention to checked luggage weigh and excess baggage fees are in place on a per-kilo basis. It's not that they're not nice people – planes are small and often fully booked.

  • No bag can exceed 32 kg (70.5 lbs), period.
  • Expect digital luggage scales at any Bangkok Airways check-in

Excess baggage fees, per kilo, are THB 180 for domestic flights and more for international flights (depending on point of origin). This is roughly US$2.25 per extra pound, or £4.25 per extra kilo. You can pre-pay online or at check-in. Remember, though, that you want to avoid overweight luggage as much as the airline – it’s hot! Way too hot to struggle with heavy stuff.

Tip: If you're a chronic over-packer (and no judgment here), a digital luggage scale is a great friend in the panicked last five minutes before departure.

What’s included in Bangkok Airways economy class?

Despite just an hour’s flying time from Bangkok to Samui, Bangkok Airways will feed you and you’ll probably want to eat it (United, Delta, Air Canada… we’re thinking bad things about you). Where airlines’ tightened budgets have meant the decade-long demise of “thoughtful extras”, Bangkok Airways comes through as top in class. Rumour has it that Bangkok Airways flies a little slower from Bangkok to Koh Samui to have enough time to serve your meal (it's usually pretty good).

Do you need a locking suitcase for a flight to Thailand?

Have you seen Bridget Jones 2? As far as recommended luggage for Bangkok Airways, and any airline to any country, I recommend luggage locks and an easy-to-identify luggage strap or brightly coloured tag.

Tip: Find out exactly what to pack for Thailand: toiletries, clothes, electronics, shoes and more. It's insanely comprehensive – the work of 20 years' nonstop packing practice.

Does Bangkok Airways have jet or propeller planes?

They have both. In addition to larger Airbus planes, Bangkok Airways’ fleet does include small prop planes (ATR 72s). Their flight time is slightly longer, and you'll have to be bused from the terminal in BKK to your plane (whereas the Airbuses are walk-on in BKK). Both prop and jets have trolley transport to the gate in Samui. It's very tropical.

Do you need a printed ticket or itinerary for flying Bangkok Airways?

As much as I love the lightweight freedom of paperless – I recommend having a printed copy (or two) of your entire flight itinerary – especially if it involves connections on other airlines. (And your 'electronic copy' is somewhere in your email history… on a dead laptop … with no WiFi connection. Just saying I might have tried and tested this for you…).

Will Bangkok Airways transfer luggage to/from other airlines?

Here's some not-so-great news. A brand new policy from Bangkok Airways means the end of simplicity re. multiple connections and your luggage. Now, unless you jump through some ticket-booking hoops you'll have to re-check your bags when connecting on other airlines.

Tip: Find out exactly what's involved with Bangkok Airways's baggage policy(and how to get it around it). And before you ask: No, I have no idea why an airline proud of its 'boutique experience' has chosen to take a step backwards in its customer experience.

Do flights leave from Bangkok to Koh Samui in bad weather?

In really bad weather, no, flights are grounded until the storm/wind/whatever clears.

Check-in times for Bangkok Airways?

The Bangkok Airways’ check-in queues and transfer desks at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) can be quite long at busy times of year. As a failsafe, give yourself the full time that Bangkok Airways recommends, whether it’s 90 – 120 minutes (depending on whether you’re flying domestic/international). Three tips to make sure you enjoy the experience:

1. Pay attention: If you arrive at the airport to check-in, and things look a little chaotic (a little Thai) – don’t worry! You’ll make your flight. When flight times get close, staff walk around the queues with signs for the next departing flight. You’ll have to pay attention, but you will be allowed to jump the queue. Just be sure to pay attention and keep smiling.‍

2. Dress nicely: Another trick that never hurts? Dress nicely – it really doesn't take much to meet Thailand's dress code, a few quick tips to immediately set yourself apart from the fray. I swear you'll get better service as a result.‍

3. Upgrade? If you can’t stand to wait in lines, an upgrade to business class is often surprisingly affordable.

Your arrival with Bangkok Airways

Have your sunglasses and camera ready on landing. You’ll be whisked from plane to baggage claim on Koh Samui Airport’s colourful trolleys – a perfectly tropical segue from the real world to relaxing holiday. As far as I'm concerned, flying Bangkok Airways to Koh Samui is as good as puddle-jump travel gets. Honestly – it’s a delight. You’ve survived the long-haul, you’re in Thailand, your vacation is nigh. BKK to USM with Bangkok Airways is short, sweet – it’s a Disneyland ride.

From arranging your airport transfer to every bit of sun and sand to follow – The Koh Samui Guide will keep you happy, safe, and totally stocked with mojitos. Enjoy!