Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in South East Asia, attracting north of 40 million visitors yearly. Typically, visitors coming to Thailand opt to take buses, trains, and boats to get around the country. However, booking domestic flights in Thailand is actually a faster and easier way to travel.
Thailand is a big country, so much so that bus trips from the capital city of Bangkok in the central region to Phuket in the south take an average of 13 hours. This does not account for traffic and any other causes of delay. That’s plenty of hours spent travelling instead of experiencing the wonders Thailand offers.
That being said, booking domestic flights in Thailand isn’t as easy as choosing dates and times. With over six airlines, each of which seems to have different policies, it can be overwhelming to choose the airline to fly with.
In this article, we will break down the main airlines in Thailand and include information you need to know before deciding on an airline to fly with.
* Please note that the information here is subject to change without prior notice. It is still recommended to recheck with airlines before deciding.
As mentioned above, there are six airline companies offering domestic flights in Thailand. Each company targets different types of customers.
A full-service carrier (FSC) is an airline that offers a wide range of services, including first-class and business-class cabins, in-flight entertainment, meals, and baggage handling—all of which are included in the ticket price. These airlines typically operate on long-haul routes and cater to both leisure and business travellers.
The only full-service airline in Thailand is Thai Airways. The airline offers a free checked-in baggage allowance of up to 30 kilograms for economy class. Passengers in all classes are provided food, drinks, and in-flight entertainment.
In addition to their services, Thai Airways have spacious seats measuring 32 inches. It’s at least three inches wider than seats for other airlines. They are also only one of three airlines that allow pets.
Thai Airways is a national airline. That being said, it only flies to four areas, namely Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket. From there, travellers would need to hop on other connecting flights to their destination.
Thai Smile does not call itself a full-service airline but it offers very similar services to Thai Airways. Thai Smile is a subsidiary of Thai Airways and sells cheaper seats. That being said, ticket prices include in-flight meals and 20 kg. of checked baggage allowance.
Thai Smile’s domestic flights only go to 11 routes, all of which are major tourist destinations. In fact, it covers all of the country’s major destinations except Koh Samui.
Typically the cost of Saver and Value tickets change based on the date and length of the flight. Longer flights are cheaper. That being said, deals for Saver tickets are better when booking flights at least four months in advance.
Like Thai Smile, Bangkok Airways does not categorise itself as a full-service airline despite offering similar services. This boutique airline sells seat tickets that come with a 5 kg carry-on baggage allowance, 20 kg checked baggage allowance, in-flight, and access to their lounge.
Bangkok Airways is one of the top options among locals as they have great service-minded policies. For instance, passengers can reserve seats in advance without any extra cost. Their seats are also 19.8 inches wide and around two inches larger. Their lounges are also available to any of their patrons, regardless of the ticket class they bought.
That being said, their carry-on luggage is limited to only 5 kg. Ticket prices are also the second highest, lower only to Thai Airways.
Do note that ticket prices will likely increase once seats for that specific route are running out. Travel insurance is also automatically included in Bangkok Airways at an extra cost, but passengers can opt out during booking.
Domestic flights in Thailand are very competitive in terms of pricing. Cheap domestic flights only come with 7 kg of carry-on baggage. Cheap tickets do not include the cost of meals, drinks, and seat reservations.
AirAsia is one of the most affordable domestic flight options in Thailand. It also typically has the lowest fares, with plenty of special promotions each year.
As mentioned above, ticket prices only come with a 7 kg carry-on baggage policy. Credit card surcharge, seat reservation, meals, checked-in luggage and travel insurance all come with additional costs.
If you want to save more on plane tickets, booking together with a hotel on AirAsia’s website helps save an additional 10% to 50%. During promotional periods, prices for hotels and flights can go down by as much as 70%.
AirAsia has recently been expanding its domestic routes. This low-cost airline has direct flights to all major destinations, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. It also has bus and ferry transfers to Koh Lanta, Ko Samui, Ko Lipe, and Koh Phangan.
Without a premium flex option, passengers can change flight details (date & time) for a 750 THB fee up to 48 hours prior to the departure. This is only applicable when the tickets were not bought during promotional periods.
Nok Air Thai is one of the top low-cost airlines in Thailand. In fact, this Thai airline promotes itself as a “premium low-cost airline.” Nok Air offers budget flight tickets with a 7 kg carry-on luggage allowance, in-flight snacks, water, and advanced seat reservation. In some routes, free Wi-Fi is available.
Nok Air has the highest number of domestic services, covering at least 20 provinces across Thailand. The airline also offers bus and ferry transfer services to nearby destinations.
Nok Air has had a bad reputation for flight delays. Some travellers have reported between 30-minute to over five hours.
Nok Air’s ticket prices are subject to change. The price costs significantly less when you book a ticket weeks in advance.
Thai Lion Air
Thai Lion Air is another low-cost airline that comes with 7 kg of carry-on baggage. One of the things that set Thai Lion Air is that all plans come with 10 kg checked-in baggage. Additionally, passengers can choose how many extra kilograms they want for their checked-in baggage which begins from 150 THB per 5 kilograms.
Thai Lion Air only flies to 13 provinces, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Krabi, Surat Thani, Phuket, and Pattaya. The airline also has international flights. Some of the international destinations include Mumbai, Singapore, Taipei, and Kathmandu.
Similar to other budget airlines, Thai Lion Air increases ticket prices the closer the departure.
Thai Vietjet Air
Thai Vietjet Air is a budget airline from Vietnam and one of the newest airlines for domestic flights in Thailand. Because Vietjet Air is relatively new, the airline flies limited routes, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Krabi, and Phuket.
Vietjet Air is the only budget airline that flies to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport (Suvarnabhumi Airport). Their flights are almost always on time and the services are comparable to other airlines flying in Thailand.