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  1. #1
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    Wallace's Avatar
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    Suvarnabhumi Airport

    Well, I had the fortune (or misfortune) to use the new airport yesterday and simply couldn't wait to share my experiences so here they are:

    From my home in Phra Kanong it took only 20 minutes in a METERED cab!! Yes, despite all my attempts during the week to find a taxi driver who would take me to the airport on a meter instead of coming out with the mantra of '500 baht, farang, airport, fixed cost', I simply wandered out of the apartment at 5.00 in the morning and the first cab just put his meter on and went. It does feel like you're driving round the place about 3 times before you stop outside the entrance, but of course at that time in the morning the roads are free.

    During the week I realised that the state railway line runs about 100m north of the airport perimeter. I asked myself why they didn't just upgrade the tracks (or build a new one alongside) and then use this route into the airport. Seems silly to build an extension to the skytrain when there's a railway line already there. Thai logic I guess.

    Check-in procedures are pretty quick and the building does have a nice open, airy feel. Anyone who's used Stansted will feel at home. So far, so good. I walked right past the guard before passport control, who was fast asleep so didn't ask me for the 500 baht departure tax coupon (it's still 500 baht, goes up next February, I believe), so I didn't bother paying for it. No one else asked me to show proof so my tip is: look bewildered, have lots of pieces of paper in your hand, hide behind some even more looking confused asians, and simply walk through to passport control. There didn't seem to be a single sign suggesting that you had to pay departure tax, so why bother?

    After that the airport is a real let down. I thought I was in Emporium. They must have bought all the leftover floor tiles (those brilliant white marble ones), so you have to put your sunglasses on to cut down on the glare and reflected light. From gates D down to C it's just boutique after boutique and nothing you can't buy in town for a lot less money. What's the point? I don't think I saw any shop with more than 2 people in. And other than the two overpriced, swanky coffee bars, The Reef and another one, they've decided to put all 6 of the coffee and snack outlets together right at the end of the departure lounge in area C. There may be others but quite frankly I couldn't be arsed walking any more. Typically bloody Thai and so stupid. I had to walk about 3 km just to find out that a cappuccino goes for 120 baht. And that's a small one!!! Yes, there's Coffee World, next door to Doitung, and across from Black Canyon, etc., etc. You get the picture. I settled for Doitung cos I'm a cheapskate and they have the cheapest coffee. Total rip off by any standards. And again, all the outlets seem hastily put together with not enough seating.

    The lack of toilets is not just a myth. They are so short that they've opened up some staff ones behind the shops. You get to see behind the scenes and believe me, it's not pretty. Not only that, the signs in the main lounge on the toilet entrances look like a kid's just printed them out at home on his first PC. The whole thing looks and feels cheap. There are not many public phones, because everyone has a mobile. Really? Well, check out any UK airport and there are phones everywhere. This is another area that needs to be sorted. I found 2 public phones altogether and 1 was out of order! Appalling.

    But it wasn't until my transfer in Singapore that it really hit me how cheaply finished the Thai airport is. So they have lots of expensive shops, but this doesn't really add to customer service. As soon as I arrived in the departure lounge at Singapore I realised just how easy it would have been to place the coffee bars at regular intervals throughout the building, turn more of the crappy shops into toilets, remove the thousands of signs advertising King Power Duty Free and replace them with signposts, maps and more toilets and snack bars and generally turn the airport into what it should be instead of an extension of Emporium or Paragon.

    Yes, indeed. Faced with the prospect of showing the world just how brilliant Thailand is and how switched on they are when challenged to exemplify their excellent customer service skills, they open another bloody expensive shopping centre, which has dirty toilets, staff sleeping in the corridor, and nowhere for the average person to get a decent drink and a snack without using a credit card.

    And as for that monstrosity of a sculpture as you go through passport control? Well, you'll have to take a look for yourself..........
    The truth is out there, but then I'm stuck in here.

  2. #2
    diaw
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    Excellent post, Wallace... makes for some interesting reading... Thai design skills at their very best...

    I go to shoppiiiiing...

  3. #3
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    aging one's Avatar
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    Such a damn pity, And it will not go without problems cropping up around th world. All King Power is up and hogging space, but the VIP lounges are missing, there is no wifi in the airport, and the luggage is being lost at the rate of 1 bag evey 10.

    Pride, nothing like pride. Thanks again Toxin for opening something 6 months to one year early. Pity you cant be hear to eat shit. It tastes worse than crow.

  4. #4
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    Dougal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aging one
    Thanks again Toxin for opening something 6 months to one year early.
    I thought it was two years late.

  5. #5
    RDN
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    Khun Marmite
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougal View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by aging one
    Thanks again Toxin for opening something 6 months to one year early.
    I thought it was two years late.
    Well, yes. But he means it'll be ready to use in another years's time. Maybe.

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by aging one View Post
    there is no wifi in the airport
    I've been told that there are plenty of free wifi connections floating around there.

  7. #7
    Newbie Freddybear's Avatar
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    I am already dreading my trip in March. Any tips for Suvarnabhumi "first-timers"?

  8. #8
    Tonguin for a beer
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    I just came through for the first time and was disappointed.

    It seemed very unfinished and industrial for a supposed world class airport. All bare concrete with utilities in plain view and although I wasn't searching for coffee like I would be if departing it sounds like a total nightmare ripoff and duty free? Give me a break. King Power must be feeling very royal.

    The toilet that I did use was very grubby as well.

    Give me Hong Kong anytime.
    Fahn Cahn's

  9. #9
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    Plenty of people got rich from building this Airport

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freddybear View Post
    I am already dreading my trip in March. Any tips for Suvarnabhumi "first-timers"?
    Don't stand here!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by hillbilly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Freddybear View Post
    I am already dreading my trip in March. Any tips for Suvarnabhumi "first-timers"?
    I wondered why the fares with Somchai Budget Airlines was so cheap.

  12. #12
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    I left yesterday, totally unimpressed, more like a shopping centre, overcrowded! The floor tiles? the shoes I had on may as well have been ice skates.
    Air con on the warm side, this is the cool season.
    Miles to walk anywhere! who says big is better?
    I had access to lounge, it was crowded! no English reading material - just ridiculous.
    It's light years behind any other airport that has been opened in the last ten years.
    Reopen Don Muang and refurbish Suv.... and make it an airport not a shopping centre.
    On the positive side the information people they have posted (very required!) are very helpful, just a shame they don't know the airport better.
    Better luck next time Thailand, it's a shame as I have to use it frequently, people who have the choice may well opt to go elsewhere?
    Cheers

  13. #13
    BlueMan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bung View Post
    I just came through for the first time and was disappointed.

    It seemed very unfinished and industrial for a supposed world class airport. All bare concrete with utilities in plain view and although I wasn't searching for coffee like I would be if departing it sounds like a total nightmare ripoff and duty free? Give me a break. King Power must be feeling very royal.

    The toilet that I did use was very grubby as well.

    Give me Hong Kong anytime.
    This is the exact description of the airport. I arrive at night back from Chaing Mai and the building seems half lit. I suppose it was brighter in the daylight but how come they did not turn on more light after dark??

  14. #14
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    I'm in the EVA lounge now. I find nine open wireless networks. But, the signal strength on all the open ones is low. The EVA WiFi requires a password, but has good signal strength.

    AOT seems to have an open network on every WiFi channel.

  15. #15
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    ^ Have a nice flight!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog
    ^ Have a nice flight!
    I haven't been able to resist the free booze in the lounge here so I'll either have a nice flight or pass out.

  17. #17
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    oh and Merry Christmas in case you can't get connected when you get home...

  18. #18
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    I left a couple of weeks ago. My overriding impression was how sterile the place seems. lacks any feel whatsever, my experience wasn't helped by the rude fat stuck up bitch that we encountered at emigration. I fronted up to the Thai counter, she said, you cannot read? Thai only! I said my daughters are Thai. So she threw out her hand for their passports, processed these and handed mine back. I said now I have to go through the foreigner que? What do I do with my daughters in the meantime? As ungraciously as she could manage she said OK give me back your passport. What a fvcking horrible bitch. She had snarl on her fat fvck face all the time as if she had shit in her pants, bet thats the only thing she ever got in there.
    There canít be good living where there is not good drinking

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterpan
    What a fvcking horrible bitch. She had snarl on her fat fvck face all the time as if she had shit in her pants, bet thats the only thing she ever got in there.
    You didn't get her tel. number did you? my ex would get along great with her by the sounds

  20. #20
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    We flew through Suvarnabhumi Airport earlier this month, and I must say that they certainly don't care too much about first impressions......


  21. #21
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    Trip Report

    I went through Suvarnabhumi last week on my way to Mom's house for Christmas.

    I was coming from Korat and it was surprisingly difficult to sort out the transport options. The bus from Korat stops at Mor Chit and I was never able to sort out whether or not there is a shuttle or van from Mor Chit to the airport. I did find out that there is a shuttle from Don Muang to Suvarnabhumi, so I got off the bus from Korat there. (The highway buses from Korat discharge passengers at Rangsit and Don Muang before arriving at Mor Chit.)

    The shuttle service from Don Muang to Suvarnabhumi has been set up mainly for airport workers who still live in the Don Muang area. The vans are nice new ones, the fare is only 40 baht and the trip takes about a half hour. There are banners along the main highway advertising the service. The route number is 555. I think the vans just wait until they are full and then leave. I saw no schedule posted.

    Because this was my first time and had no idea how long the journey would take, I left Korat quite early and ended up at the new airport almost five hours before my flight on Eva. Unfortunately, the Eva check in counter doesn't open until three hours before the flight so I had two hours to kill.

    This was tough because there's really not much to do in the vast hall where the check in counters are located. There are a few mini-marts, some overpriced restaurants, a couple of Nai In bookstores (few English books) and that's about it. There are several fast food outlets down on the arrivals floor, but they were overflowing with people waiting to eat.

    I ended up buying some peanuts and a Pepsi-Max instead of paying 200 baht for a simple Thai meal.

    There are not many places to sit in this part of the airport and only a few TV's scattered about for entertainment. And, it's hot. Even though it was cold enough for a jacket outside I was hot and sweaty just lugging my bag through the terminal.

    I thought of leaving my bag somewhere for a little more freedom, but the fee is 100 baht per bag per day.

    Luggage carts are free and there are ramps and elevators so you can move your cart from floor to floor. But, there's really no place to leave a cart if you decide to enter a restaurant or shop.

    Once you get past outbound Immigration you're in to the real meat and potatoes of the airport. Endless King Power duty free shops all selling the same junk at inflated prices. And, there are plenty more fast food type restaurants.

    I gave all that a miss and headed straight for the Eva lounge.

    I still don't know how I'll get from the airport to Korat once I get back. I've heard there is a shuttle van from the airport to Mor Chit, but I don't know this for sure or from where it might depart.

    Anyone?

  22. #22
    ding ding ding
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    I recently took the car to the airport and collected some pals, i parked the car right outside the arrivals area and the staff there could not have been nicer. The incoming flight was 90 mins late and i left my car parked outside for free and he staff could not have been more relaxed about my extended stay.
    I ate some food in the "food point" below area "C" arrivals and it was excellent and the average cost of each dish on offer was 30 baht. I also noted that the 2 different toilets i used were easy to find and not dirty,the electronic taps were a pain in the arse though....
    There were millions of hot looking teelacs waiting for thier boyfriends and that made the time pass by quickly as I waited and enjoyed the view.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helicopter
    I recently took the car to the airport and collected some pals, i parked the car right outside the arrivals area and the staff there could not have been nicer.
    Which contrasts nicely with the scene I observed at LAX while waiting for a bus: A guy in an SUV drives up to the loading zone to pick up what looked like his Mom. No parking spaces available so he double parks and gets out to open the rear hatch. A motorcycle cop drives up and orders him to move the car. The guy argues a bit when a patrol car drives up. He keeps arguing and the motorcycle cop quickly writes and hands him a citation and then orders him to move the car. The guy does and leaves his confused Mom standing curbside. His only option at that point would be to drive the long LAX loop (20 minutes?) and hope for a spot next time around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Helicopter
    I ate some food in the "food point" below area "C" arrivals and it was excellent and the average cost of each dish on offer was 30 baht.
    Definitely the place to go if you have some time to kill. But, terribly hard to negotiate the eating areas there if you have luggage and it's crowded. I gave up.

    And, as Mr. Copter reports, I had no problems finding toilets nor were they in any way dirty or unkept. Made me wonder where the reports of insufficient suka came from.

  24. #24
    Tonguin for a beer
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    Well, I just left and it seemed a lot nicer than when I arrived. Good parking and easy access but it is huuuge inside!

    A lot of stuff was broken down, all the revolving doors didn't work and you had to squeeze through the side doors and there was not enough seating at all anywhere.

    The food areas were popular but again nowhere to just sit down for a bit. Getting to the departure lounge was easy but it was very dim and felt cold and i don't mean cold as in the ac was turned up either! the ticketing area was stifling hot and I had to wonder how they would cool the place down when it really gets hot. this time I have to agree, the toilets were clean. when I arrived I used one right near immigration which was filthy, maybe being used by a lot of locals i guess.

    I liked the massive chrissy tree outside.

  25. #25
    Thailand Expat
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    from the melbourne age

    Thailand's shiny new state-of-the-art airport was designed to make a statement about this modern nation - that it is hip, sophisticated and ready to claim the mantle as premier regional aviation hub. In the three months since it opened, it has failed miserably.

    Allegations of substandard construction, poor design and poor management have dogged the airport. Initially, the issues were dismissed as teething problems, a result of flamboyant former leader Thaksin Shinawatra's insistence that the airport must open three months before it was really ready.

    In the days immediately after the September 19 military coup, just about anything could safely be laid at the door of Mr Thaksin and no one would question it.

    That time has passed. The three-month grace period ran out last Thursday and Suvarnabhumi Airport remains a shemozzle.

    The job of Airports of Thailand president Chotisak Asapaviriya is on the line, with the new Government telling him to solve the problems immediately or lose his job.

    A report released in December by an AOT-appointed working group lists a litany of problems. It identified lack of toilets in passenger terminals, passageways that are too narrow, waiting areas in the arrivals hall that are too small due to the extra space given to shops, and remote concourses that force passengers to walk too far.

    Some parts of the single terminal building are overheated due to poor air-conditioning and there are problems with the glass roofing, which has leaked in places.

    A separate investigation highlighted problems for staff such as insufficient lighting in the luggage sorting area and lack of facilities - two toilets for 1000 workers in one area.

    Toilets are in short supply for everyone, not just staff. There are plans to install at least 200 more but in existing toilets, fittings are already coming off the walls.

    More serious are the construction concerns. In the three months since the airport opened, a taxi-way and three parking bays have been closed for repairs.

    The airport as bold introductory statement for tourists has badly misfired. The number of arriving aircraft far exceeds the available gates, forcing many passengers to descend to the tarmac and take a magical mystery bus tour through the nether regions of the airport.

    Transport is also a problem. The light-rail link to the city is still almost two years away from completion and the airport was not designed to cater to public taxis, which are hidden away on the ground floor.

    Can these problems be fixed? According to Bangkok's Manager newspaper, the AOT board estimates it needs 1.4 billion baht ($A50 million) to deal with the problems. That money has yet to be allocated.

    Suvarnabhumi Airport is better than Don Muang, the airport it replaced, but not by so much.
    News is what someone, somewhere is trying to suppress - everything else is just advertising.

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