Thursday, October 10, 2013

WOULD YOU WANT TO SIT HERE? - BKK AIRPORT



I still remember how exciting it was in October 2006 to fly out of Suvannaphum airport, or just BKK, Thailand's huge international airport. I even took that photo which every traveler seems to take upon getting to the first point in the departure/arrival wing. Churning of the Ocean of Milk, Visnu on Kurma, with the asuras on one side and the devas on the other side. I am sure most tourists don't really care, but it is a nice statue and (if I remember correctly) one of the most featured photos on Instagram.

Well, that excitement is long gone. Definitely after the first time I had to stand in line for an hour for meeting a very neutral immigration officer who stamped my passport without a word and for sure after getting outside the secure area for the first time where hundreds of people want to offer you a taxi ride to the city. 

I have turned to VIP limos and Fast Track Service since, which is quite costly but lessens the degree of airport frustration in my head. I have also spent most time in those nice Airline lounges and didn't mind to wait for long periods while I stuffed myself with yummy food and drinks, free WiFi and nice people around me. But since my ex-favourite airline United started not to credit my flown partner airlines miles anymore, I am out there with the backpackers and sex tourists, beating time. 



Well, coming from Singapore's Changi, my experience couldn't be any worse, despite the VIP limo transport and the nice lady's company who "smiled" my way through immigration and security. There I was, looking at Visnu and wondered if I turn to the devas or the asuras first. Shopping is not my thing at airport prices, but shopping is what Suvannaphum wants you to do!


There is not a single area to sit and have a meal or drink, or just to sit and relax for a mere 400 meters on either side of Visnu. I just found the sign telling you that eating and drinking is 400 meters either way. So you walk past the exclusive and overpriced shops until you get to the point where your gates start and the restaurants begin....well, not really restaurants, but more Starbucks, Subways and Coffee Shops. Though I did find one place to eat, which was Mango Tree. It was ok, actually. But after eating I tried to just sit and wait for my plane to board. Sit somewhere other than those rows of chairs at the gates, or do something at the airport which was not shopping. 



But compared to Changi, which tries to include passengers/tourists in fun activities or at least provide you with nice areas to enjoy, sit, relax, even lay down and rest, there is really nothing at Suvannaphum. The few "nice" things to see are all "fenced off/do not touch" photo opportunities. Once that is done, you can only go back to shopping, eating or wander around. 



Finally I remembered the seating areas with free WiFi/Internet access on the lower level, so I went there only to find bus loads of people who where sleeping like this was a youth hostel. Before you get to the gates (here at the gates C) there are "lounge areas". At least from far they looked like nice lounge chairs, but getting closer I thought to myself "yuk...I would not want to sit there without a blanket or cover". Those seats where the filthiest things I have ever seen. I certainly did not expect them at an Airport and most certainly not at Suvannaphum Airport, which just a week before was quoted in the paper as an airport which wants to play in the ranks of Changi and become the #1 airport!!  The free Internet stations where filthy. The reclining leather lounge chairs on the way back to the Airline lounges looked better but some where broken and dirty. Trash from other travelers had not been removed and there were plenty of critters walking the floor between the chairs. 


But it was my only option and here I could test the free 1 hour WiFi Service, which was actually great. The only positive experience for those 5 hours I had to spend here at the airport before my long delayed flight finally started to board. 

broken lounge chair


There were people working here. Well, they looked like staff, but they were just sitting around, doing nothing. But since this is a common thing in the LOS, I wasn't sure if they were just lazy or on strike (another common thing). If they got up and moved around, they certainly did not try to clean things up. 

So, have a look at those seats and tell me honestly: would you want to sit there?  BKK, if you want to play with the big guys like SIN, you better do your homework first!





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