BANGKOK (eTN) – Almost five months after the opening of the Airport Rail Link, which puts Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport only 25 minutes away from Bangkok new City Air Terminal at Makkasan Station, Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways opened on January 4 check-in counters for passengers. Air passengers can now check in for their flights out of Suvarnabhumi Airport and hand over their heavy luggage at the same time, avoiding the hassle of the busy airport 12 to 3 hours before the effective departure of the aircraft. Check-in services are available from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm for Thai Airways and from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm for Bangkok Airways.
So far, few passengers used the service due to the lack of information, but numbers will definitely increase in the future… if accessibility to Makkasan Station improves! Like in many other large infrastructure projects, planners paid little attention to land access to the station. If travelers are lucky to find the right exit to taxi stands – signage inside the station is not very clear – they will discover that taxis are rare. And for those coming from the nearby MRT station at Petchaburi Road, the short distance to the station requests good training skills to avoid the uninterrupted flow of cars at crossroads and gaping holes on sidewalks – not to mention a “bunch” of dirty dogs, which elected the station premises as their new home!
Inspecting the new service, Thailand’s Transport Minister Sophon Zarum promised that a footbridge should link directly the MRT station to Makkasan City Terminal by the middle of the year.
The opening of the check-in counters was accompanied by some bad news for Airport Rail Link users. After offering introductory fares, the State Railways of Thailand introduced on January 4 its regular tarif system. Fares consequently rose from THB 100 (US$3.35) to THB 150 (US$5) for the nonstop service while on the City Line service (with five to six stops en-route),the flat rate of THB 15 was replaced by a progressive rate of THB 15 to THB 45.