Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport Reopens News Feed

The first day of October saw lots of activity and smooth operations at Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) in Bangkok, as the airport reopened with excitement and many events to herald its new beginning after closing for months following much damage in 2011’s record flooding. Airport officials proudly announced an initial 281flights (73 international and 208 domestic), with expectations for an increase to over 350 flights a day, soon. This is great news for international travellers, as the airport offers a superb second option to the often-crowded larger hub airport, Suvarnabhumi.

At present, DMK’s Terminal 1 should be able to serve 16 million passengers, with Terminal 2 scheduled to open in the coming year, say officials. This is convenient to both domestic and international travellers, as several regional airlines have now relocated to the smaller airport. Notable among them is AirAsia, the region’s largest low-cost carrier. Other scheduled airlines to be based at DMK are Nok Air and Orient Thai; non-scheduled airlines planned include Solar Air and Nok Mini.

For passenger convenience, Airports of Thailand (AoT), the country’s public airport authority, is providing free shuttle service between Suvarnabhumi and DMK and vice versa; this is key for travellers moving between both airports due to cross-scheduled flights. Initial reports from passengers were almost all positive, with comments on various websites noting short lines at airline counters and immigration, quick service overall, ease of movement through all passenger areas and even in queues for cross-town transportation like cab service.

Luggage X-ray took only two minutes per passenger, as opposed to the norm of 10-15 minutes at Suvarnabhumi, according to Tassapon Bijleveld, the chief executive of Thai AirAsia (TAA). With a nod to increasing numbers of travellers from China to Thailand, Mr. Tassaporn also cited plans to increase Chinese signage in the terminal. First-day operations saw about 2,000 passengers on TAA checked in from 4-7am at DMK, with five passengers mistakenly going to Suvarnabhumi. Overall, the shift of AirAsia alone will greatly relieve congestion at the larger airport, taking away about 10 million passengers annually, or 180 daily take-offs and landings with up to 25,000 passengers.

Keeping urban travellers from Western and key Asian-area cities happy, DMK authorities and its private counterpart, The Mall Group have dedicated up to 3,800 square metres to seven duty-free stores, and visitors already are seeing many of the planned 50 leading global brand name stores, such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, Burger King and others. Worth noting is the 15% higher price customers will pay for goods sold within DMK, especially food and drinks. Stores already opened and planned have a fresh and contemporary Thai theme; early travellers seemed very pleased by all the facilities and decor, including new carpeting and furniture, huge electronics displays, excellent signage and counter placement, and so forth.

Nearby businesses to DMK will greatly benefit from the restored and improved facilities, which will translate into improved services for travellers opting to stay nearby before or after flights. Promotional campaigns for area hotels have already begun, creating lower room rates and other specials. Phranakhon Grand View Hotel, attempting to lure greater  numbers of Japanese and other international travellers, offers low room rates overnight, 200-250 THB discounts for prior-stay customers showing receipts, and even short-stay visits with shower or nap for around 500 THB according to hotel officers. Amari Don Muang Airport Bangkok Hotel is promoting 15% discounts, and now has an overhead connecting bridge to DMK’s Terminal 1.

In addition to the free ToA shuttles between airports, other area transport options are plentiful for travellers wanting to move either between airports or from DMK into the Bangkok central area, as taxis abound. The taxi stands are on the first floor, located in front of the Arrival Halls at both International and Domestic passenger terminals. Fares are meter-based, and an additional 50 THB airport surcharge will be added. Also, if taking the Uttaraphimuk Tollway, which runs parallel to the DMK grounds, passengers will be required to pay the tollway fee. (Riders should keep part 4 of the taxi ticket for any service complaints they might have.)

Options, with distance, rough travel times (depending on time of day, so allow plenty of time if during peak hours) and approximate costs, include:

PUBLIC BUSES No. 554 & 555, to Suvarnabhumi, 47.5 km, 1-2 hrs, 23 Tb.

TAXIS: to Suvarnabhumi, 47.5 km, 45 min - 2 hrs, at about 350 Tb; to central Bangkok, 23 km, 30 min - 1 hr, 200 Tb; to Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong), 25 km, 30 min - 1 hr, 210 Tb;

BTS & MRT Transit Systems (Mo Chit), 14 km, 30-45 min, 150 Tb.

There’s also a railway station (service hours: 06:00-20:00) right opposite the airport building, where you can board a train bound for Hua Lamphong (Central Railway Station), located near Bangkok’s Chinatown, then transfer to a taxi or the MRT underground train.

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