Bangkok airport blockade: Interview with stranded traveller

About three weeks ago, protesters supporting the People’s Alliance for Democracy stormed Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport (IATA: BKK), occupying the departure lounge and blocking all exits. With that 3,000 people were stranded within the airport and another 350,000 were stranded within Thailand. One of them, Markus, a friend of mine on holiday in Thailand. After an additional 9 days in Thailand, he finally returned last Sunday. Latedeparture.com was able to speak with him about his experience:

Tom for LateDeparture.com: When was your original flight back planned for?

Markus: Our original flight was scheduled for Friday November 28th with Emirates via Dubai to Munich. At the end we flew on Sunday December 7th with Lufthansa to Frankfurt – a short delay of nine days.

That sounds terrible, what had happened?

Three days before our original flight anti-government protestors (the yellow shirts from People’s Alliance for Democracy) took over Bangkok’s international airport. One day later they occupied Bangkok’s domestic airport too. So Bangkok was blocked from international air traffic and we were stranded in Thailand. After the Constitution Court ruled on December 2nd to disband the three ruling parties in the coalition government the protestors gave up the airport blockade and since December 6th the airport reopened for international flights.

Did you actually get stuck at the airport?

No, when we arrived in Bangkok it was impossible to go to the airport already.

How did you then spend the days waiting for your flight back?

After we realized that it will take some days to get out of Thailand (we also checked alternatives like flying form Malaysia or Singapore) we spent some relaxing days on Ko Chang Island waiting for news. When the protestors left the airport we went back to Bangkok and hoped for a reopening of the airport. The last three days we spend in a luxury hotel in Bangkok which was paid for by the Thai government. We also spent many hours waiting in the Emirates office waiting for news and searching for alternative flights. This was the most annoying part as the Emirates stuff was quite overstrained so that we got different information each day.

How did you then manage to get a flight back home?

As Emirates was one of the few airlines which didn’t operate from alternative airports and which didn’t send extra planes during the blockade (e.g. Lufthansa operated their Bangkok flights from Phuket and Air Berlin operated from the formerly military airbase Utapao) we still had no return flight after the Bangkok airport reopened on December 5th. Emirates just told us that they will call us within the next days. So we went to the Lufthansa office and got ourselves a return flight to Frankfurt. Probably a good decision as we had the impression that only Emirates passengers were still stranded in Bangkok when we left (especially in our hotel).

Was that at least a pleasant experience on the way out? I bet the airport must have been croinwded still, right?

As most airlines had the extra flights from other airports the Bangkok airport was not crowded at all when we flew back. Also there were no other signs showing the airport was closed for more than a week when we arrived at the airport.

Did you discover anything specially great or annoying about Bangkok airport?

The Bangkok airport is quite modern with a lot of opportunities to spend some hours.

Do you think this event changed how the airport operates?

I think this event won’t have any influence on the way the airport operates but the event will have a big influence on tourism in Thailand next year.

Thank you for your time answering my questions!

You are welcome.

[Picture from BBC]

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