The new Suvarnabhumi Airport

Bangkok Travel Blog

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On 28 September, Bangkok officially opened it's new Suvarnabhumi Airport.  When I say opened, I don't mean that it is 'finished', or 'ready'.  In typical Thai fashion, it is clear that it was more important to save face and start using the new airport than admit that it was incomplete.    I saw a similar situation here when the new Siam Paragon shopping mall opened before it was finished.  At least one person was killed in that mall when she leaned against a railing that hadn't been secured, shorty after the opening.  I am hoping that the widely reported problems with tickets and baggage are the limit of the problems they experience at Suvarnabhumi.

Thailand has traditionally been very good to business travelers.  In addition to the usual dedicated check in lines, the old airport also offered nice business lounges, dedicated lines for immigration, and fairly speedy baggage handling.  All of these have so far not been preserved at the new airport.  On entering the gleaming new airport, you will have to maneuver through oversized revolving doors that are entirely innappropriate for an airport with streams of people with baggage.   On entering the airport, there are signs of continuing construction everywhere.  The wrapping is litterally still on the place, with protective plastic covering many surfaces.

On returning to the airport, I was very dissapointed to discover that the newest, largest airport in the world still doesn't seem to have enough gates to accomodate all of the air traffic.  Our flight was stopped at a bus gate, and we were shuttled to the terminal in a broken down bus.   They obviously haven't planned for bus gates, however, and the only way into the main terminal was via a small elevator that needed quite a few trips to bring the entire plane up to the arrival hall.  

Even with this long transit and long wait for the elevator,  and long lines at immigration, the baggage had not arrived.  There were no luggage carts available, but some did finally show up during the additional half hour wait for the baggage to finally arrive.  It seems that the long baggage waits that plagued the first week of operation haven't quite been resolved yet, and it looks like they might not have enough luggage carts yet.

On the positive side, it sounds like early plans to prevent taxis from servicing the airport have been repealed, and taxis are now allowed to come directly to the terminal exits.  The road servicing the airport is good, but the columns in place for the skytrain hint at future skytrain access to the new airport.  Maybe I am just being a pain, but I would have figured that they would have built the sky train extensions during the decade that they were building the airport. 

I know this has been a bit negative, so I have to add a disclaimer.  It wasn't horrible, just dissapointing.  I didn't see any obvious safety issues, and we got our selves and our stuff home in one piece.  Hopefully they will work out the kinks soon, and in the main time, use the only formula for successful travel - patience.

As we say in california
Happy Trails.
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photo by: Deats