Review of Nok Air flight Chiang Mai Bangkok in Economy

Airline Nok Air
Flight DD8317
Class Economy
Seat 46A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 01:10
Take-off 21 Apr 18, 16:10
Arrival at 21 Apr 18, 17:20
DD   #103 out of 132 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 24 reviews
Eric V P
By GOLD 558
Published on 30th April 2018
Report #30: DD8317 - Flying with a bird

This will be my report on flying on Nok Air economy class from Chiang Mai to Bangkok DMK, a short-haul domestic flight within Thailand, on board their Boeing 737-800. This is the lightest report of all the 6 reports for the trip as I wasn't in an especially great mood to review (plus, it's a change from the usually long reports - mind you this is a part of the aviation tour)

Here are the 6 parts of the trip (which magically enough could be crammed into 3 days):
KUL - BKK on Malaysia A330-200 business class: Read here
DMK - CNX on Thai Lion Air 737 MAX 9 economy class: Read here
CNX - DMK on Nok Air 737-800 economy class: You are here
DMK - HKT on Thai Lion Air A330-300 premium economy class: Read here
HKT - BKK on Thai 777-200ER economy class: Read here
BKK - KUL on Malaysia A350-900 business/first class: Read here

Background


Since I wanted to try Thai Lion Air's new Boeing 737 MAX 9, I needed to return to Bangkok in time for my flight to Phuket. I had wanted to take Thai VietJet as it's cheaper, but I figured out it would be better to take Nok Air as it came with free water on board (seems minor, except that it's a part of the flights marathon so everything free counts) and advance seat selection and would be more convenient for me to enjoy the Saturday evening in Bangkok, which costed me ฿985 (US$32).
photo dd8317 21042018 receipt

Fun fact: Nok in Thai means bird, hence the report title (plus, how many bird-related things can you see later?)

I also availed myself of the free basic seat selection and opted for the one just behind the exit row (notice the bird image used to represent me there (1)).
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Trip to CNX and check-in


Technically my trip to CNX was the one on SL earlier, so there would be no review on how did I get to the airport.

After exiting the public/check-in area I needed to go through security again.
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The terminal had started showing some age.
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Since I still had some time, I decided to check in at the counter, which was done in ~1 minute as there was no queue and I had no checked luggage. Notice the bird beak logo they use (2).
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The boarding pass, which was flimsy and more like a receipt.
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CNX's layout is rather weird that they put the escalator to the departure level in the middle of the check-in counters.
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Apart from that, there were quite few signages around.
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I passed through the dingy, narrow, and crowded corridor to go to the domestic departure area.
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I happened to see the same signage on HKT as well the day after, so did TG have some nationwide domestic lounge renovation going on?
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Security was also fast and I was done in ~1 minute. Needless to say, though, the amount of stanchion used are rather excessive.
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CNX transit area and departure


Boarding for SL513 (that is, the return flight for the same flight as I took before to DMK) was in progress.
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The waiting area was very basic, to say the least. I focused on reviewing the KUL-BKK flight earlier, so I took the rearmost seat and used two of the very few power plugs available to also charge my phone and laptop for the upcoming review.
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Either the airport was noisy or messy, but I didn't notice my flight was boarding (which was behind the larger queue for another flight's boarding).
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I used my mobile boarding pass to board, where the ground staff then noted my sequence number and let me board.
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I walked through the interstitial corridor past the domestic terminal through the international terminal.
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FD A320.
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The international departure from the corridor, which looked more respectable than the domestic one.
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My plane of the late afternoon, emblazoned with the bird beak logo (3; counted as it doesn't have the Nok text) and the bird-like livery (4).
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The walk was so far since my plane was at the far end of the international terminal (the plane previously operated as DD8316, so its gate positioning simply made barely any sense).
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After the walk through the international terminal I walked through the glass aerobridge.
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The plane of the day was HS-DBX, a 1 year old B738. Note how -DBX, like all DD and XW planes, have bird beak painted on the nose (5).
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There was a minor queue leading to the plane aisle and I soon went through.
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On board


Flight: DD8317
Plane: HS-DBX "Nok Tawan" (in Thai, means eagle (6))
STD/ATD: 16.10/16.09
STA/ATA: 17.20/17.01
Load factor: 81% Y(153/189)
Seat type: Standard economy class (window seat)
Details: https://flightaware.com/live/flight/HSDBX/history/20180421/0910Z/VTCC/VTBD

I was welcomed on board, had my ticket checked, and proceeded to my seat. While DD provided advance basic seat selection for free, they also sell the first 5 rows and emergency exit rows seats for a fee. Besides free coffee or tea, the first 5 rows come with an adjustable headrest while the emergency exit rows, as expected, come with additional legroom.
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The recline capability of the seat as well as the difference between first 5 rows and the rest can be seen here - I went for the free one so expect the seat like on the left to be reviewed.
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Theoretically overhead bins above the paid seats were designated only for those seated in the paid seats, but the other bins were so full they ended up being used by the rest. Also note how empty the exit row seats - only 2 out of 12 seats on those rows were taken, and among those who did they sat at row 44, the non-reclining one.
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DD use a larger hole seatbelt.
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Legroom shot. Notice the curved seatback, which follows the seat shell inside. Despite the additional legroom, the seat was very hard, arguably the hardest I've ever flown on. Furthermore, there was no pocket in the usual spot, leaving only the literature pocket behind the headrest.
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The recline button, which was smaller than usual.
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Goodies in the seat pocket include the safety card (not counted, see (2)) and in-flight magazine which title (deliberately or otherwise) can be voiced to mimic a bird voice (7). I didn't bother with the magazine since inside it was almost all in Thai.
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Being an LCC, an in-flight menu and strangely enough a fare type brochure was present.
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Last but not least, the plain airsickness bag.
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View outside with the winglet also bearing the bird beak logo (not counted, see (3)).
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The cabin prior to pushback - see the bulkhead with the wing design, which symbolizes nothing but bird (8)
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We soon pushed back.
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Safety demonstration was done manually.
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Take-off was uneventful and we climbed on our way to DMK, where we were hit with some turbulences.
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Free water service then commenced.
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The water bottle once again sported the image of, you guessed it, bird (9). However, the water was so small (150 ml) it barely quenched any thirst.
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In fact, they went so far as putting the bird wings and tail design as well, which was cute.
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Coffee and tea service then commenced for paid seats passengers.
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Afterwards I figured out it would be the best time for a lavatory visit, which sported the same design as the ones on 737 MAX (that is, narrow and made my polo shirt wet again). At least it was clean, though, so that's a plus.
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Their front galley, which was unoccupied. Since I forgot to ask for the load of the day during check-in or boarding I went through the aisle to count the number of empty seats and from there found the load factor.
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The cabin from the back.
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Cruise was fortunately not bumpy.
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CNX-DMK was a short flight so we soon descended and proceeded back to the rather unclear sky above Bangkok.
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Fortunately the approach brought us through the busy Bangkok suburb to runway 21 (so no U-turn around DMK) and we landed at runway 21L.
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After landing the flight attendant gave the usual speech, but this time also noted the flight arriving 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

I thought I saw FD's King Power A320 earlier before I went to CNX?
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We then went to gate 42, which was good as it would mean a shorter walk out of the airport.
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Deplaning was uneventful.
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As usual, I thanked the flight attendant and deplaned through the aerobridge.
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Arrival at DMK and post-arrival trip


After going out from the aerobridge I went through the dingy, narrow corridor for my pier, which looked way past its due.
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From there I went through the common walkway to the main building.
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Like on departure, the transit area marked the border between the renovated part and the old part.
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From there, it's an escalator ride down to the luggage claim area.
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Did I arrive at the correct airport?
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The luggage claim area was slightly crowded, especially on the SL carousel (they give free checked luggage allowances), but it was still manageable.
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I had no checked luggage, so I just left the area to the public area.
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The public transport signage for both bus and taxi point to the taxi bay - I accidentally just followed that sign and ended up going to the taxi waiting area.
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The tourist-targeted private bus service, which was way overpriced at ฿150 (US$4.75). When I said it was too expensive to my liking the staff said that it would be considered as cheap in my country (I'm based in Singapore where a 40 km trip by public transport would only cost a bit more than S$2 (US$1.33)) and offered me to haggle, but I was so fed up I went away.
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They happened to have a departure very soon, but otherwise they don't really have that many departures.
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Instead, I opted for the public air-conditioned airport bus service. It's more expensive than the non-airport buses, but it's way cheaper at ฿50 (US$1.6) or ฿30 (US$1) depending on the destination and operate with very limited stops. The buses were also more frequent at 5 minutes each for A1 and 30 minutes each for other buses.
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The interior of the public bus.
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I had the thought of having some mookata buffet for dinner quite away from the city centre, but between me still using Singapore/Malaysia time (which made me overestimate my departure time to HKT by 1 hour) and the rather few schedule padding I went to Khao San Road, which was noisy and crowded as ever.
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As expected, I went for some pad thai and (not photographed) mango with sticky rice.
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See more

Verdict

Nok Air

4.6/10
Cabin4.0
Cabin crew4.5
Entertainment/wifi4.0
Meal/catering6.0

Chiang Mai - CNX

4.1/10
Efficiency6.0
Access4.0
Services3.5
Cleanliness3.0

Bangkok - DMK

4.6/10
Efficiency5.0
Access5.5
Services4.0
Cleanliness4.0

Conclusion

Nok Air is an acceptable way to fly within Thailand, especially with the free advance seat selection and (albeit tiny) water. I should also applaud their consistency of using the bird theme throughout the flight. Other than that, though, I won't recommend it for longer flights especially due to their lack of free checked lugagge allowances, rock-hard seats as well as lack of entertainment (except for locals, of course - the magazine is almost all in Thai). In terms of the airports themselves, both CNX and DMK are more of a dump as CNX was way too cramped and had barely any amenities at the waiting room and DMK still sported the dingy corridors leading to the arrival hall.

Some thing done well for the trip:
+ Reasonable price (฿985 (US$32) one-way)
+ Fast hand baggage only check-in
+ Acceptable security
+ New plane
+ Free water provision (albeit small)

Things that can be improved:
- Drab, cramped transit area at CNX
- Few power plugs available at CNX
- Very hard seat
- Narrow sink in the lavatory
- Lack of reading material in English
- Dingy arrival area at DMK

Information on the route Chiang Mai (CNX) Bangkok (DMK)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 3 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Chiang Mai (CNX) → Bangkok (DMK).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Nok Air with 6.8/10.

The average flight time is 1 hours and 13 minutes.

  More information

2 Comments

  • Comment 443072 by
    Arq 34 Comments

    Dear Eric,

    CNX Terminal location is weird because it is so old with lots of addition to the building. We would like a new terminal but they are considering moving a commercial airport entirely (leaving only Chiang Mai Air Force base at current location) decision is not yet confirmed.

    Your understanding is right. Thai Airways is renovating all their domestic lounge, but note that they only fly to Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi nowsaday. All other domestic routes were transferred to Thai Smile, as a result, those lounge are to be re-decorated into Thai Smile Corporate Identity too.

    • Comment 443080 by
      Eric V P GOLD AUTHOR 119 Comments

      Thank you for reading!

      We would like a new terminal but they are considering moving a commercial airport entirely ....
      - They already have a differently designed international terminal, either added to the original one or just renovated - perhaps time to expand that further instead?

      All other domestic routes were transferred to Thai Smile, as a result, those lounge are to be re-decorated into Thai Smile Corporate Identity too.
      - Considering the rebranding, is there any chance of TG handing out all those routes to WE as well? If you notice carefully, BKK-USM seem to be a pretty interesting target since they're under TG and use the only narrow-body plane in TG's fleet (and they are already extremely outdated), but at the same time the fun would be gone if TG have the other major domestic routes (BKK-HKT/CNX/KBV) also handed out to WE.

      Once again, thank you!

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