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Ongoing tale of two airports

After more than eight months, regular flyers have familiarised themselves with the existence of two airports in Bangkok.

Published on December 5, 2007

Some flights, all of them domestic, were moved to Don Mueang Airport late in March, and since then travellers have learned to ask agents precisely where their flights take off and land, so that they can make appropriate transport arrangements.

In that time, Don Mueang has been brought back to life, much to the delight of those passengers who live on the west side of Bangkok and find Suvarnabhumi Airport a little too far away.

Wherever you live in Bangkok, travelling to Don Mueang is still more convenient, based on existing means of transport. But then, you may simply be driving to the airport by car, and Suvarnabhumi will get a high-speed commuter train next year (if it's finished by then).

Don Mueang is also more convenient because of its much smaller size. Passengers do not face a long walk. From the car to the check-in counter takes only a minute, while at Suvarnabhumi it can take five minutes, particularly if you stop at the wrong front gate.

Then, at Don Mueang it's a short walk to the loading gates and a brief bus trip to the plane. At Suvarnabhumi, the walk seems to cover some kilometres, and catching a flight can often depend on your speed over a measured mile - handicapped by your hand luggage, of course.

However, most people prefer Suvarnabhumi to Don Mueang, given the lavish decor of the new airport and despite minor problems with heat and the sufficiency of toilets. Whatever their differences, the travellers of Bangkok have learned to live with the existence of two airports.

This is probably why Airports of Thailand (AOT) has decided to reopen Don Mueang as both a domestic and an international airport. Certainly, if airlines decide to operate international flights from Don Mueang, things cannot become any more complicated than they already are.

What's funny, though, is that although the airlines are reluctant to move back to Don Mueang, some of their staff seem to have anticipated the existence of two airports in Bangkok.

Boarding a Thai Airways flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok last Saturday, it was strange to hear the female flight attendant announce: "We're landing at Don Mueang International Airport."

But it was not until the next day that AOT approved the reopening of Don Mueang.

Can I assume that the flight attendant knew of the change in advance?


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