Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ubon Ratchathani Ever Changing Air Travel

Ubon Ratchathani is the place where I first arrived here. If you travel by air it is the only option.

Since my initial experience flying to Ubon there have been many changes.  Some changes in the name of competition and others for economic reasons.

You could fly from Ubon to Danang, Viet Nam eight years ago but that service has since been cancelled. Thai Airways International increased daily service between Ubon and Bangkok from 2 to 3 times a day. Oh yes and air fares increased as well.

Air Asia flew onto the scene bringing competition and discount fares with their no-frill service. “Now, everyone can afford to fly” is their motto. If you are ok with boarding and finding your own seat and paying for any food or refreshment then it’s the service for you.

The happy travellers to and from Ubon had a choice. You could choose different times, different carriers and different levels of service.  Things were looking good with the local air travel.

Finally, the new Bangkok International Airport opened. It was billed as the gateway to Asia. Suvarnabhum Airport was state of the art and ready to serve the masses. It is a nice airport but when travelling from Ubon to Bangkok  the flight is just over an hour. The journey from Suvanaphum to the city could take 2 hours or more.

After that we experienced the split airport era. International flights arrived and departed from the new airport but domestic Thai flights originated and terminated at Don Muang. Oh that is Thai Airways and Nok Air, a subsidiary of Thai Airways, while Air Asia’s hub remained at Suvanaphum.

Nok Air, another value airline made a short lived appearance in Ubon. I used their service on several occassions and found it satisfactory.  They only lasted a few months and then had to cancel several routes, including service to Ubon. Their departure was for economic reasons, I guess you cannot Fly Smiles only.

The changes to Ubon Ratchathani air travel continue.  All Thai international and domestic flights are due to be reconsolidated at Suvarnabhumi Airport beginning the end of March 2009. That is good news for international travellers who must connect to domestic flights but bad news for in country air passengers.

What is the current state of air travel to Ubon Ratchathani? We are serviced by two airlines, Thai Airways and Air Asia. Thai Airways offers 3 daily flights, morning, afternoon and evening with stable fares. Air Asia has been reduced to a single flight a day. Their fares vary according to supply and demand. If you check their rates on the Internet you will often find promotions for future dates. People who want to travel to Ubon in October might be able to get a steep discount if act now.

The story of air travel to Ubon Ratchathani is constantly changing but has always been available.  Here is a place to go if you want to check out the latestUbon-BKK flight schedules.  Happy travels.

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