Guide to International Flights at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK)
This state of the art facility opened in 2006 as Bangkok’s old airport, Don Meuang, was outdated and could no longer keep up with passenger growth. The well-known BKK airport code was transferred to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi upon its opening. The new airport is located east of the city and was built on ground that was once a “cobra swamp,” thus the nickname of Swampy as some may call it. The airport handles the lion’s share of International long-haul flights, along with a selection of domestic flights on Thai, Thai Smile, and Bangkok Airways.
This guide primarily covers international flights, primarily for those who’ve never been here and have concerns, questions, or even anxieties about entering a new country or using a new airport.
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK): International Arrivals Guide
Prior to starting your travel, you’ll want to make sure you meet all entry requirements and have all necessary documents. If you’re on a one-way or open-jaw ticket (returning from another country), it’s a great idea to keep printed copies on your onward flights with you, as you may be asked them by your airline at check-in. Don’t be denied boarding by your airline before your trip even begins!
Timatic is the tool many airlines use for up to date entry information: Visit SkyTeam TIMATIC page.
Many of you will have a long journey, some may encounter multiple connecting flights to reach Bangkok. Once on-board the final flight to Bangkok, make sure you complete your arrival card while on the airplane. This will save you time and hassle upon arrival.
Once you land, you may have a bit of a taxi to the gate, it’s a large airport. However, after stepping foot into the terminal, be prepared for what may potentially be a long walk. There’s long corridors, with cement ceilings, but thankfully moving walkways to make the trek a bit faster. Just keep walking and following the signs to immigration. If you’re taking a connecting flight, domestic or international, you’ll see signs for those too.
When you arrive at immigration, you’re likely to encounter some queues, depending on time of day. If you flew in Business or First Class, you should have an express pass to another immigration area. When it comes to immigration, it’s really straight forward. Hand your passport, landing card, and any necessary documents to the immigration officer. Look at the camera and once you hear a couple of stamps, the officer will return your passport and the stamped portion of your departure card. No interviews, no 50 questions, well, unless your entry circumstances are unique. Hold onto the stamped departure card, keep it with your passport and don’t lose it.
Next step is baggage claim. This area is large and may seem overwhelming for some, but the large monitors will display the belt number your luggage will arrive on. If you need a luggage cart, they’re free and abundant. Once you have your bags, clear customs via the Green Channel (nothing to declare) or the Red Channel (items to declare).
If you need currency exchange or ATMs to obtain Thai Baht, or to purchase a SIM card for your phone or tablet, it can all be done here inside the airport. Ignore all touts once you arrive, the only thing they want is to separate you with your money.
Click: Bangkok Ground Transportation.
If you need a transfer to Don Mueang International Airport for another flight, the airport does operate a free shuttle between 5am and midnight. Please see shuttle schedule.
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK): International Departure Guide
Arrive at the airport 2 to 3 hours prior to your flight. As nearly everyone shops in Bangkok, it’s a good idea to know what your luggage allowance is to avoid sticker-shock at the check-in counter. Enjoy the architecture and cultural displays at Suvarnabhumi, but once you get checked-in, it’s best to proceed directly to exit immigration and security. First, make sure your departure card is complete.
Depending on time of day, there may be queues for passport control. Exiting is as easy as 1-2-3 once you reach an officer. Handover your passport, departure card, and any other documents if necessary and look to the camera. Once you hear or see the passport stamps, you’ve checked-out. That is, unless you’ve overstayed, then you might have a problem or two. Once through security, you’re in the main terminal.
There’s many duty-free selections, depending on your interests, but do watch the clock to be at your gate with sufficient time. Be careful with duty-free purchases containing liquids, if you have connecting flights, they may not pass security at your connecting airport. Finally, please note some destinations require an additional security check as you enter the gate-lounge. In general, flights to the United States or on US carriers, or flights to Australia are the big two. If there is a gate security check, allow additional time.
Once you’ve pushed back, there might be a bit of a taxi depending on gate location and runway in use.