Nok Air was formed in 2004 by the Thai national carrier Thai Airways, in cooperation with several large banks, institutional investors and private companies, with the goal of exploiting the burgeoning market for budget airlines. Nok - pronounced with a long "O" sound, not to rhyme with "knock" - means "bird" in Thai, so the name is somewhat appropriate for a small airline.
Nok currently flies Boeing 737 planes seconded from Thai. The exteriors have been brightly repainted in purples or greens, with the nose of the plane painted to look like a bird's beak. However, the interior livery was retained from the Thai planes. This means there is still a small number of business class seats on each plane, which Nok sells as "Nok Plus" for just 500 Baht (US$12,50) above regular fare.
The somewhat tongue-in-cheek exteriors of the planes is representative of the image of a "fun" airline that Nok Air is trying to project, although it generally fails in the attempt. Stewardesses (I have yet to see a male cabin attendant on Nok) are all addressed as "Nok".
Nok Air Destinations
Nok currently flies from Bangkok's old Don Muang airport to Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai and Udon Thani. Other popular destinations are also planned, and there is even talk of going international in the next few years.
Nok Air Pricing & Service
Air fares vary according to the day of the week - weekends are more expensive days to fly than week days - and class of service. Prices for Chiang Mai and Phuket are about 1,200 Baht (US$30) per flight during weekdays. Fares go up about 25% for flights on Friday to Sunday. Prices do not otherwise vary by time, unlike rival Air Asia. You can book months in advance, or one day ahead, and get the same fare. Of course, we wouldn't recommend waiting to the last minute to book. With limited flights each day, Nok tends to fly almost full each flight.
As mentioned above, Nok Air planes have about six business class seats available on each flight. These are sold as "Nok Plus" for 500 Baht above the regular fare. In addition to a roomier seat, you get a free in-flight snack and newspaper for the added price.
Nok Air Booking
You can book your flights online at the Nok Air web site. Note that they only accept Visa and Mastercard credit card payments. In Thailand, you can also pay at 7-11 convenience stores.
One nice feature of Nok Air's web site is that, once you've booked your tickets, you can also select your seats.