The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Low cost air travel in Thailand

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jun• 02•10

These are exciting times for visitors electing to travel by air within Thailand, as three low-cost airlines are vying for low-cost domestic fares, flying out of Don Muang airport, and offering fares to destinations such as Chiang Mai for as little as 500 baht ($13 USD).  While offering lower prices than traditional carriers such as Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways, there are a number of caveats.  Low-cost seats can be limited on each flight, and planes do not fly every day. To save on agency fees, low-cost carriers generally do not provide information to online travel agencies such as Travelocity, Orbitz, or Expedia. As these carriers are increasingly competitive with each other, promotions tend to change several times a year. Visit the carriers’ websites for full scheduling and fare information. 

Here is a brief overview of each of the three low-cost carriers, Air Asia, Nok Air, and One-Two-GO: 

1) Thai Air Asia.  Users must register at the airline’s   website to purchase tickets.  The website has a good user interface, and is relatively quick.  You may also order tickets by telephone at +66 (02) 515-9999. You can also book by travel agent, and fares are based on how early you book, prior to departure dates.  Fares also vary depending on the day of the week you travel, Tues-Wed-Thurs being the cheapest.  You are not allowed to bring food or drink on the plane, but you can buy them on the flight, at prices higher than in convenience stores.  Air Asia has 30 planes in all, flying Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and China. As only eight are allocated for Thailand, a glitch in the schedule of one flight may affect others down the line.  The fee to change your travel day after ticketing is hefty, roughly $20 USD, and their baggage allowance of 12 kg is not competitive. 

Caveat emptor!  If you miss a flight, even if it’s due to your first AirAsia flight arriving late, you will lose your money!  AirAsia sells relatively cheap travel insurance that will protect you, but it must be purchased at the time you buy your ticket.  Air Asia flights do have delays, so be prepared!

Our experience with Thai Air Asia: we took the Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani route, and paid 1,411 baht each way (Thai Airways was 2,600 baht for the same time & date).  Our flight left roughly thirty minutes late.  Our return morning flight was cancelled (bad weather in the north had affected routing.)  The Ubon station chief drove us into town herself so we’d be occupied during our delay, exceptional customer service, especially given the fact that she didn’t know we were travel writers. 

2) Nok Air is a subsidiary of Thai Airways, and is generally 100 baht or so more expensive than Air Asia or One-Two-GO.  Nok Air, however, will put you on a Thai Airways flight if your Nok flight is delayed by three hours.  For an extra fee, Nok will have a limited  selection of business class seats at the front of each craft.  You can book via the website at and pay by credit card, or call to its reservations center at extension 1318.  If you book by phone, you can pay at ATM machines at the Siam Commercial Bank, or at selected 7-Eleven stores.  For best fares, book at least three months in advance.  Food and drink can be purchased on the flight.  

3) One-Two-GO.  Owned by Orient Thai Airlines, this airline allows online booking at     or by simply arriving at the airport and buying your ticket.  You’ll be charged an extra 100 baht fee if you book online, which requires a three-day advance prior to flight date, and also 100 baht extra of you book by telephone at +66 (02) 267-2999.  Be prepared for long wait times if you book by telephone.  This airline does serve snacks and drinks free of charge. 

Recently, One-Two-GO announced an all-inclusive fee structure of 1,700 baht for non-holiday weekdays to all Thailand destinations, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Surat Thani, and Krabi.  You’ll pay 500 baht more on weekends and holiday weekdays.  You can also change your travel day after initial booking for no additional fee.  Their travel allowance of 20 kg is generous, by low-cost air standards, and you will get an assigned seat.

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  1. Art Remedy  says:

    i always avoid cheap travel because the service isn’t great at all;;”

  2. Xavier Watson says:

    there are lots of companies that offer cheap travel but buyer beware.::

  3. Katherine Campbell says:

    i always avail of Cheap Travel due to economic recession, gotta save some dollars”~,

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  7. Bonnie Rind says:

    How much is your life worth? I believe that no one looking out for you when you fly a low cost Thai airline. Not the airline, not the pilots and not the Thai government. None of these has a reputation to protect; none of these people believes your right to life is more significant than his right to a bribe, a job, or a order from his boss.

    My brother was killed in the crash of Orient Thai’s One-Two-Go OG269 on Sept 16, 2007. In my opinion, the flight was illegal, the pilots untrained, the Thai Government aided the cover-up. Amazingly, Orient Thai One-Two-Go continued to fly the same methods for nearly a year after the crash and deaths of 90 people.
    You can read details and proof, including the NTSB report for yourself at at:

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