LONDON – Nok Air is one of Thailand’s first locally-owned low-cost airlines founded in 2004, 18 years ago. Today the airline tries to position itself as the ‘premium’ low-cost carrier as the Thai market is saturated with a low-cost carriers.
Nok Air, synonymous with its fun, cheque, boutique and quirky brand tries to differentiate itself from other airlines by offering a lounge for its Nok Max passengers.
Nok Max is the most expensive fare, with lounge access, flexible ticket, free seat selection, and free snacks and beverages on board, and lounge access.
This trip report follows my flight on one of Nok Air’s most profitable and busiest routes from Bangkok Don Mueang to Chiang Mai International Airport aboard Flight DD132.
I was greeted by the Nok Air lounge sign. Nok Air Lounge was opened on November 2022, at Bangkok Don Mueang Terminal 2 and it is open daily from 5.00 a.m. -9.00 p.m. between Gate 41-46 and Gate 50-56
For Nok Max passengers, we were given priority lane. You don’t see much on offer from low-cost carriers.
A Busy Mid-Day at Don Mueang Airport
I’m greeted by a modern, sleep and company lounge. I nearly missed it as there are no clear visual signs marking the lounge. Very understated.
A Nok Air Model on display at the reception area.
Thai salad with a Vietnamese twist.
Overview of the pantry, with pastries, Asian, Thai and Western options.
Refreshments – in Thailand its common to infuse lemon into the water jar, good for your digestion.
Coffee machine by Douwe Egberts.
Chilled water bottles.
The ‘western’ option – a classic pizza Margherita.
After indulging and working at Nok Air’s lounge, I headed to my gate where I was greeted by my aeroplane up to Chiang Mai.
My aircraft was a Boeing 737-800 with registration of HS-DBO. The aircraft is 16.8 years old with a manufacturer serial number of 33621. The aircraft was delivered to Nok Air in 2013, by its previous owner Ryanair.
My seat is 4K. It was so-called the ‘premium seat’. These seats had yellow covering with the word ‘Nok Premium’. The seat pitch was mediocre, I am 179cm tall and had some legroom.
Blast off from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport – we used up the entire runway (21L) as the flight was completely sold out! Very dirty and scratchy window!
Banking right heading up north to Chiang Mai.
Free snacks on board for Nok Premium/MAX passengers. We were given a bottle of water, a marble cake and a cinnamon roll.
Approaching Chiang Mai, an excuse for the scratches and marks on the window. This 737 has seen better days.
Arrived – walking down the arrival hallway to claim my luggage. Welcome to Chiang Mai.
I appreciate Nok Air’s effort to differentiate itself from other low-cost carriers, like Thai Air Asia, Lion Air and Thai VietJet.
The opening of the lounge exerts the position of Nok Air being a ‘hybrid’ carrier as it allows passengers to opt-in for a premium experience while flying a low-cost carrier.
A dedicated check-in counter and a lounge, service make the Nok Max an attractive package. This lounge service however is only available for domestic routes and has no plans to open for international routes.
Most domestic flights in Thailand are less than an hour, which will make travellers question the service with extra cost after all. This premium or hybrid concept may enhance the ground experience rather than on-board.