Bangkok Airways Business Class, Bangkok – Koh Samui: “Burn Avios, Burn” Cathay Pacific First Class and Amazing Conrad Suites


I had pre-arranged a car through Image Limo for our return trip to the airport, much earlier than necessary I had arranged it for 12:30pm and my flight didn’t depart until 2:45pm. But I wasn’t doing much around Bangkok in the morning, I was still recovering from the time change and a fairly long touring day the day before, and was a bit nervous about traffic after what I had seen on the roads on the day before (a Saturday!).

The car was there when we went downstairs at around 12:20pm, bags were loaded and we made the airport in 20 minutes.

This time it was just to the domestic side of things, usually I get dropped off at door 1 for Thai Airways first class sadly we’d just be walking over to the Bangkok Airways ticket counter. There was no line for business class, handed over the bags, and proceeded through the very short line for domestic security. There were only three or four people ahead of us, things were very relaxed, and we were on the domestic concourse in an instant.

We had nearly an hour until boarding so we made our first stop the food court.

Sure, we had eaten breakfast and there’d even be a snack of some sort on the plane, I wasn’t all that hungry. But it still seemed worth checking out, I had never stopped by the restaurant offerings on the domestic concourse.

Right next to the McDonalds…

… was a Thai fast food offering that was fairly pricey at around USR10 for a ‘combo’ but the food that others were taking away looked pretty good, I thought we’d give it a shot. We placed our orders and grabbed a table by the window overlooking a courtyard.

And the food was surprisingly tasty.

Not amazing mind you but pretty good, pretty spicey, better than expected for airport fast food. But since it was Thai food aimed mostly at Thais, I suppose that’s to be expected. It’s sort of like how impressed I was years ago with the fish and chips at the Taronga Zoo outside of Sydney. An Autralian (or Brit, for that matter) would have been aghast. But for an American, it was perfectly reasonable fish and chips! And so it was with the Thai fast food.

Next stop was the Bangkok Airways lounge. There’s an economy class lounge with separate offerings, I had never noticed the separate business class lounge before, I just knew that at Bangkok Airways everyone got a lounge! So I walked into the first one I saw, they looked at my boarding pass and turned me around telling me to go next door.

We walked inside and were warmly greeted, there were no other passengers in the lounge. We were handed a menu of food and drink (not hungry, and the food display counter didn’t look all that enticing I didn’t want to take them up on any of the offerings). There was wireless internet but I couldn’t manage to connect to the internet even though I could connect to the signal. And plenty of fairly comfortable furniture.

About half an hour before the flight we headed over to our departure gate. Here was the aircraft that was waiting for us:

The boarding area was fairly packed, it looked like it would be a mostly full flight. They queued up business class passengers separately from economy, and the best part was that we actually had a gate, I don’t remember the last time I flew Thai domestic where we didn’t have to get bused out to a non-gate position.

I had chosen Bangkok Airways mostly out of curiosity, Thai does have a couple of flights a day and I could have credited the Thai segments to United or bmi. But the Bangkok Airways flight schedule also worked much better for me, Thai has a 7:45am flight (too early) and 3:20pm which was only a bit later than this one. On the return it’s 9:30am (too early for what I wanted) and 5:05pm (to late to connect on to Hong Kong on Cathay). Bangkok Airways on the other hand offers a dozen flights a day, about half on an ATR-72 and the other half on an A319 with business class. Bangkok Airways was cheaper, too, and the buy up to business was only about $25 per person each way.

Legroom was pretty good, better than I get in first class on a domestic U.S. flight. Pre-departure drinks were served. One thing of note is that Bangkok Airways does offer beer, while Thai Airways is dry on their domestic flights. I didn’t go for a Singha, but I could have if I had wanted to.

Takeoff was uneventful and once airborne we were served a snack. Since it was a 2:45pm departure we were after lunch and before dinner, for an airline that advertises meals even in coach and even on one hour domestic flights, the offering was a quite modest “afternoon tea” which consisted of a couple of scones and some fruit.

For which Bangkok Airways provided plenty of utensils!

I was especially amused by the airsickness bag advertising their frequent flyer program, Flyer Bonus.

It’s a very short flight and the miles earned are slight, I was torn about where to credit them. I almost took less convenient flights with Thai in order not to waste the miles! Bangkok Airways partners with Etihad and Air Berlin, but the problem with those programs and with the Bangkok Airways program is expiring miles, I’d be unlikely to earn anything of significance in time to use the points. I ultimately joined the Flyer Bonus program because it affords an extra 10kg per passenger baggage allowance, though flying business class that wasn’t likely to be necessary in any case. Airsickness from their frequent flyer offering, indeed!

After the quick snack and a bit of reading the 288 mile flight was complete, and we landed at Koh Samui. It was raining slightly, and planes all park at an apron position, so they pulled up a covered set of stairs to walk down.

Then they take you the short distance over to the terminal in a tram, there’s a separate tram for business class and then several longer trams for coach.

We approached the terminal, went inside to collect our luggage, and walked over to the area where drivers pick up passengers to meet the representative from the Conrad Koh Samui who was waiting for us.

We made the 45 minute journey over to the Conrad, and the best part of the trip was about to begin…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Am I seeing that right? Your airplane was named the Hiroshima? I hope the plane at the next gate wasn’t the Enola Gay.

  2. PG’s planes are named after destinations they serve, and while they no longer fly to Japan in the past they flew to HIJ.

    I’ve flown PG intra-Thailand and am always impressed, even in Y. Due to timings I flew one way in J and the other in Y on the ATR from BKK. The quick hope between HKT and USM features beautiful views.

    I would always take PG over TG for Thai domestic unless flying a 744 on TG which is sold as 2 class and allows *Gs and everyone else at T-24 to snag the F seats. Enjoyed that for the super quick BKK-HKT back in July.

  3. Gary,
    Does the Conrad provide airport transport for everyone or was that something you paid extra for? Based on your recommendations, we’re going next July!

  4. Gary, next time you’re looking for food at BKK airport, try the Magic Food Point (landside on level 1, near the ticket booth for the Airport Express bus). There are a wide range of (Thai food) choices, quality is pretty good and it’s super cheap.

  5. I’m reading this page from beautiful Koh Samui, been relaxing on the beach with my laptop browsing the net. Can’t believe how hot it’s been, the weather is fantastic and the sunset as I look out to the horizon is awesome. I heard it’s freezing back home.

  6. >Bangkok Airways was cheaper, too, and the buy up to business was only about $25 per person each way.

    Does this mean just pay extra $25 will be upgraded to business class? Didn’t see this option on their website. Where to find it?

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