BANGKOK – Today we will investigate what flying on Thailand’s quirkiest route from Chiang Mai to Hua Hin is like, and why it operates.
Thai Air Asia flies the route 3 times a week from Thailand’s largest city in the north Chiang Mai to the popular seaside town of Hua Hin (3 hours’ drive from Bangkok).
Thai Air Asia is the largest low-cost carrier in Thailand, with its hub at Bangkok Don Mueang Airport. Chiang Mai Airport has become a prominent base for the airline as the country gradually re-opens to tourists.
My flight begins early at Chiang Mai International Airport. I had the preconception that this route will be a total flop, without any passengers. But boy was I wrong, the flight was 95% full.
My flight to Hua Hin is now boarding as FD3900.
My seat today for a 1 hour 15-minute flight to the seaside town of Hua Hin! My seat today 8A!
View from my seat 8A. The plane felt worn and beaten up, and you can see the marks and scratches on the window as well.
My aircraft was a 13-year-old A320-200 with a registration of HS-ABM and a manufacturing serial number of 4278.
Take off from hazy Chiang Mai. In the picture, you can see Doi Suthep (Mountain Suthep). We had a long take-off run due to the aircraft being heavy.
Onboard menu, I was flying during Chinese New Year’s hence the Chinese theme.
As has been mentioned before, nearly all Asian airlines serve instant noodles. It’s the ‘bread and cheese’ of Asia.
Onboard meal options on this flight. I was craving Uncle Chin’s Chicken Rice, but to my very sad knowledge, the airline did not load any hot meals on this flight.
More option – neither the Shokupan sandwich was loaded!
More options – sadly none were loaded.
Merchandise on board.
Touching down at Hua Hin Airport. The airport is ride by the sea-side.
A small regional Airport.
Our plane from Chiang Mai
Baggage claim. There was only 1 carousel, I do not understand why they had to number the belt.
After exiting the carousel, I was met with old abandoned offices of former operators. This one is Cassia Air, an airline I’ve never heard of.
Also an old relic, Kan Airlines was somewhat successful during its beginnings in early 2010. The airline operated from then until 2017. During its peak performances, it operated a single ATR and 2 Cessna Caravans.
‘VIP’ Terminal of MJETS. Mjets is Thailand’s leading Private and General Aviation handler and operator. Mjets is based at Bangkok Don Mueang Airport with a world-class FBO.
I saw this poster in the Arrivals hall. It shows the grand plan of Hua Hin aspiring to be a more competitive airport. The plan includes expanding the tarmac region for business and general aviation, and also the main terminal building.
Before the pandemic, Hua Hin Airport receive scheduled flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with Air Asia Malaysia, but ceased until now. The airport hopes to attract greater international tourists from abroad, namely from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and southern China.
Hua Hin beach, after spending days up in chilly and mountainous Chiang Mai.
Why does this route exist?
Chiang Mai is one of northern Thailand’s economic hubs and home to just under a million inhabitants, Hua Hin is a sought-after destination for many northerners as they can escape the mountainous region to the beach.
Thai Air Asia also operates direct flights to Phuket from Chiang Mai on a daily basis, but the flight time to Hua Hin is at least nearly a half shorter, presenting as an attractive route for northerners to go. FD3900 flies to Hua Hin in Chiang Mai on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.