Friday, July 20, 2012

Ubon Ratchathani International Airport - Arriving and Departing

Ubon Ratchathani International Airport was a front line base of the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. It has since been the Royal Thai Air Force's. It eventually became a commercial airport that flew flights to and from Vietnam, but this was scrapped as it ran on losses. Nowadays, the airport mainly flies to Bangkok, with seasonal charters to Chiang Mai and Phuket. Thai Airways, Nok Air and Air Asia have flights from Ubon. Other than that, the "international" marked at the arrival building is mostly nominal.

Ubon's airport is also medium sized, and with that, I mean it is a bit bigger than Chiang Mai's or Chiang Rai's. Departure and arrivals in this airport are a no-frills affair. They're also a little more relaxed even in security. In fact, upon arriving at the airport, no one would tell you to get your luggage into the security scanners until your check-in. So make sure you have then screened or else, you would have to leave your queue and have your baggage checked.

Arrival is swift. Upon entry into the building, you find yourself in a spacious hallway where you wait for your checked in baggage from the conveyor belt. Then just as easily, you leave the hallway and enter the airport's main lobby which is essentially divided into the departure side and the arrival side.

There are counters for your fixed-rate taxi (two of them, charging 100 baht anywhere within the city center. Muang District (the backpacker's area) is merely 15 minutes away by taxi. It's possible to walk, but I wouldn't advise it. There's a foreign exchange counter also, just outside the building. Once you purchase your 100-baht taxi fare, an assigned driver will lead you to his taxi waiting at the sprawling parking space across the airport.

Arrival is likewise simple. Once inside the main hallway, head to the security scanners and have your bag tagged or marked, then proceed to your Air Asia or Thai Airways check-in counter (they're small counters). From there, head to one of the three gates. Air Asia usually uses Gate 3. After another security scanner, you're inside the pre-departure hallway. There are two shops inside: a Black Canyon Coffee and a souvenir shop (with postcards, keychains, etc.).

If you have the time, there are several shops at the main hallways; many of them sell ladies' garments (really beautiful, but pricey). There's another Black Canyon Coffee, a Thai Massage stall, and several others. It's a serviceable airport. I like the atmosphere because it carries a laidback vibe, unlike most airports in bigger cities.

If you're looking for a Tourist Information counter, there's none here. And if there is, there's no one manning the place.

Airport statistics reveal a steady growing clientele. In 2005, it accommodated 387,150 passengers. In 2010, this grew by almost 60,000 more. In 2011, an exponential growth turns in 614,645 passengers - that's approximately 160,000 more passengers! But this growth doesn't show in terms of manual congestion or declining services. This is good news.

This is the Eye in the Sky!    

The first stalls to your left (with yellow and white sign boards) are your fixed rate taxi counters. Pay 100 baht .

Foreign Exchange Rate and Thai Massage

Entrance to the airport's main hallway.

Security scanner before check-in

Air Asia check-in counter. They don't have web check-in.

A common pre-departure area.

Boarding gate


NRIGirl said...

My first thought was, "What?! You are still in the airport?!"

But after reading the post and sharing in the scenes around I am glad you are.

@Eye in the sky! Have you met Anil from Windy Skies? You both seem to have a lot in common when it comes to blogging. Check him out sometime...

eye in the sky said...

@ NRIGirl:

Haha. I need to post features about transits (terminals, border posts, airports, hotels) to share to others who shall be passing by where I've been. Kinda like "empowering" other travelers the way they do me whenever I need information - and me finding them in other blogs. I call them "survival" posts. They are "boring" to write about, but I feel I need to.

Re: Anil of "Windy Skies", I have perused on his work after your mention. He is a superlative writer: thorough, informative and contemplative. I'm flattered to be mentioned alongside his work though I think I am less reflective. Thank you for saying what you said. I shall be reading him. :)

Ramakrishnan said...

Neat,nice,comfortable,spacious and modern airport. It is inevitable to find a Thai Massage parlor at the airport:)
So this brings you to the end of an interesting,eventful,exciting marathon adventure for now!

eye in the sky said...

@ Ram:

There are always massage parlors at most airports I've seen in Asia, though I cannot particularly recall the few airports I've been in India. Yes, this is the "end" of one leg. :)