How fast can i get between domestic arrivals and international departures in the bangkok airport?
June 17, 2012 8:09 PM   Subscribe

For those familiar with the Bangkok airport: On Wednesday morning, my flight from Koh Samui will land at 7:05 a.m. , and my flight from Bangkok to Taipei will take off at 8:25a.m. I'll have carry-on luggage only, and a Canadian passport. Will I have time to get from domestic arrivals to international departures in time to check in, get thru security and get on my Taipei flight? (They are two separate tickets.) Alternatively, will it be relatively easy to get on the later flight to Taipei if I miss the first? Its on China Airlines, I have no familiarity with their policies.

Writing this on my phone, apologies for any messiness!
posted by Kololo to Travel & Transportation around Bangkok, Thailand (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I did essentially this late last year, now I'm afraid it's fading from my memory, but I seem to recall that we checked in a little differently in Koh Samui - they gave us special stickers, and so on. This may have required following little signs at that delightful little airport to a special check-in area for people who were transiting directly to international flights. (I don't think I'd remember all those little details if it wasn't true, but the mists of time apparently descend on my brain after only 9 months.)

We had hours to kill once we made it to Suvarnabhumi so I didn't pay much attention to the timing - but I don't recall any of the procedure stuff taking much time at all once we made it to Bangkok. It's a lovely airport (though no airport could be lovelier than Koh Samui), friendly staff, I think you should be able to do it without a problem.

Just don't mess around. :)
posted by The Monkey at 9:44 PM on June 17, 2012

Based on my foggy memory doing something similar - yeah I think you'll be able to make it.
posted by MillMan at 10:14 PM on June 17, 2012

I flew Koh Samui to Bangkok only last month!

If you were transiting and already had a boarding pass for the Tapei flight you would be fine. But given you have to check in, I'm worried you won't make it. Most airlines will close the check in for international flights 60 mins before departure. Flights from Koh Samui use a shuttle bus from tarmac to gate at BKK (which wait until all passengers are on the bus) so you have to allow at least 30 minutes from landing to get to departures.

However since you have no checked baggage, you might be OK to check in late. It's really up to China Airlines, not the airport itself.

Checking in online in Koh Samui might also improve your chances.

Good luck!
posted by dave99 at 1:18 AM on June 18, 2012

Response by poster: Dave99 its exactly that little shuttle bus I'm worried about!

Do you recall of you had to go through security again when you landed in Bangkok?
posted by Kololo at 1:48 AM on June 18, 2012

China Airlines have decent policies wrt. changing flights. Maybe you can call and change to the later flight if you are worried.
posted by Aiwen at 2:40 AM on June 18, 2012

You'd clear immigration in Bangkok? When I flew out in March, the line stretched around the check-in area, outside the immigration area. Some airline staff were patrolling the line looking for people whose flights that were closing to send them to the front. It's been an ongoing problem for a while. Not sure if they've finally made more immigration officers available. I would check some travel forums.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:03 AM on June 18, 2012

Kololo if you're checking in you'll have to clear immigration and security again. I think you're about 30 mins short of what you need, I'd change to a later flight if possible to avoid unnecessary stress!
posted by dave99 at 3:13 PM on June 18, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, everybody. I went online to try and switch to a later flight, but at this point (less than 24 hours ahead) there's no financial incentive to to switch ahead of time rather than at the airport (and in fact I'd have to phone the airline to change my ticket, costing roaming charges) so I'm crossing my fingers, checking in online, and hoping for the best!
posted by Kololo at 2:37 AM on June 19, 2012

So what happened?
posted by The Monkey at 11:03 PM on June 21, 2012

Best answer: I totally made it to my flight, with a bit of time to spare!! The STICKERS!! (TheMonkey, your vague memories where correct!)

Here's what happened:
When i checked in to my flight in Koh Samui, they asked if I had a connecting flight, if it was international, and what time it was at. I was given two stickers to put on my shirt - a blue square that said 'CIQ' and a pink whale. Everyone given the blue square had an international connection, everyone with a pink whale had a short connection time. Everyone with a pink whale got a seat at the front of the plane. Everyone with a blue square got sent to a separate gate, where we went through Thai exit immigration (even though we were taking a domestic flight). When we landed in Bangkok, we followed the signs saying 'CIQ' which led us through another round of security and gave us a shortcut straight to international departures. (If there had been a line at a security, my pink whale sticker would have gotten me to the front of the line.) From landing till getting up to international departures took 5 minutes (at most), and then walking to my gate took about another 20 minutes (the airport is HUGE.) I got to my gate with about ten minutes to spare before boarding started.

None of this was a fluke - the system is set up to ensure that you'll get to your flight. For any future mefites reading this: an hour between flights is fine, just don't dilly-dally on that walk through the airport!
posted by Kololo at 6:46 PM on June 27, 2012

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