Vietjet cuts North Thailand fares

CHIANG RAI, 23 January 2917: Vietjet’s newest service linking Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and Chiang Rai is undercutting the competition by as much as THB1,500 roundtrip.

Twice daily services, established last month, compete head-on with Bangkok Airways and Thai Smile and the price difference is gaining consumer attention.

For roundtrip travel, early February, the basic fare is THB1,300 cheaper than Thai Smile and THB 1,800 below Bangkok Airways.

Thai Smile offers snacks and drinks, seat selection and 20 kg luggage allowance in its fare.  Bangkok Airways is more generous with full meal service and access to its lounge at Suvarnabhumi, but is it worth parting with another THB 1,800 for those built-in services?

Roundtrip fares on Thai Smile start at THB4,000 and Bangkok Airways THB4,000 while Vietjet will get you there and back for THB2,597. If you book ahead by a month the fare goes as low as THB1,600 roundtrip.

It’s good for travellers who have to travel to Suvarnabhumi airport. Vietjet’s fares are close to Thai AirAasia Lion Air which fly out of Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport and are cheaper than competitor Nok Air.

There are a couple of downsides. Vietjet’s website is not as user-friendly as Thai AirAsia.  Seat selection and luggage fees creep into the arithmetic. You will wonder how that happened if you are seeking a bare-bone fare and more to the point how do you get back to the stripped down version without too much fuss. It’s not that clear.

Then payment is limited to credit cards albeit all the popular card options are clickable. But if you prefer to pay cash at a 7-Eleven or another convenience store chain to enjoy a lower surcharge, the option is not available.

Vietjet ticket stock is not available to all travel agents.  In Chiang Rai TG Express doesn’t sell Vietjet flights, but Six Stars does for cash, or credit card sales, with not surcharges, definitely a plus point.

Vietjet is a welcome addition on  the Bangkok-Chiang Rai route after it successfully launched a direct daily service from Phuket. Vietjet says it will continue to offer more direct flights to both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai from popular coastal destinations and even cities in the Northeast.

What we would like to see is a direct Singapore-Chiang Rai flight that flies on to Luang Prabang in Laos then back to Singapore to complete a travel loop linking emerging cultural destinations flagged as “Lanna heritage” in the Mekong Region.