Plane Spotting at Don Mueang Airport

It has been a while since I’ve shared some aviation porn, so thought I would post pictures from my trip to Mae Sot, Thailand last December. I flew from Don Mueang Airport (DMK) in Bangkok, the older of the city’s two airports.


Originally reopened as a domestic-only airport, DMK was served primarily by Nok Air and Orient Thai airlines. For some sections of the city, it is more easily accessible than the new airport, although from where I live, it is equally far.


“Nok” means “bird” in Thai and this airline (with its colorful Boeing 737s) flies domestic routes and is half-owned by THAI Airways International, the country’s flag carrier.


Airports of Thailand, the organization that runs the major airports, eventually decided to open DMK for international traffic, too, as a reliever to the newer airport, Suvarnabhumi, which despite opening just over seven years ago, long ago reached its design capacity. With that, Air Asia relocated its operations to DMK.



Nok and Air Asia (which actually is a conglomeration of separate airlines operating under a common brand name) now provide the majority of service to DMK and Nok has recently added a limited number of international destinations.



One very recent addition to Thailand’s crowded “low cost carrier” scene is Thai Lion Air. Just in the same way that Air Asia is a group of separate but related airlines, Thai Lion Air is the second affiliate for Indonesia-based Lion Air. They are operating brand new Boeing B737-900ER “extended range” aircraft and flying to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur internationally and Chiang Mai domestically. Their plan is to expand rapidly, which should provide the traveling public with downwards pressure on already low ticket prices.



My flight was on a “Nok Mini” Saab 340. While branded as Nok Air, these mini flights are operated by Siam General Aviation. Some people don’t enjoy flying turboprops, I think they are fun and feel more like the “good old days” of early aviation. The plane is actually very stable and given that the flights are usually no longer than an hour, the seats are comfortable enough. The only challenge is the lavatory, which is tiny!

P1280066DMK is also the repository for a variety of oddball aircraft and airlines. Here is a row of airplanes in various stages of their lives. The Orient Thai B747-300 in the front and their Boeing 767 just beyond may still be used for some charter flights in the middle east, but the THAI Airways jets to the right have been pulled from service and are awaiting either buyers or scrapping. On the distance on the left are two City Airways Boeing 737s, part of an obscure charter airline that mostly runs flights to China.



Another Boeing 737 operating under the City Airways name, although I’m sure many people would recognize the US Airways color scheme that still covers the plane. The interesting thing to notice is that on the very rear of the tail, the flag on the US Airways’ logo has not been painted over. This is because it lies on the rudder, the movable fin that controls the aircraft’s yaw. It is so finely balanced that adding a layer of paint over the logo would throw it out of balance, so a slap-dash paint job cannot be done.

P1280072A shot of the cockpit of my Saab 340 upon arrival at Mae Sot airport.

P1280074And a final shot on the tarmac at Mae Sot, of the Nok Mini Saab 340 against the setting Winter sun. Hope you enjoyed the photos. Food will return soon!


18 thoughts on “Plane Spotting at Don Mueang Airport

  1. Yes… airplane porn! I can finally relieve myself. If I could design the livery, it would be something that fit the plane’s phallic shape. What do you think? Would you fly in it?

    I love the colourful bird scheme of Nok. It seems strange that the new airport (7 yrs already?) is at capacity? I wonder if there is still room to add another terminal?

    • There are plans to add a third runway and a satellite terminal at the new airport but these plans have been held up for a variety of reasons. The initial size of the airport wasn’t really sufficient for the kind of growth that Bangkok is seeing. Ultimately, having two airports makes sense since the Air Force is based at the old airport so the facility isn’t going to go away. Might as well use it.

  2. very cool. Nice article. what are those “towers” that the airplanes line up next to? Are they simply place holders like parking lanes or do they serve some other purpose?

  3. Interesting. Did you see the New Zealand airline planes that were decorated with dragons to advertise the recent movie “The Hobbit: the decimation of Smaug?” (I think that was the name) They were pretty cool.

  4. Cute duck beak livery. I’m not quite sure I’d like to ride on a plane with cute/funny livery, though. Hmmm. I like the simple, clean designs on SIA, Cathay, Qantas, Lufthansa (I’m not sure how to spell it).

  5. i especially like the cockpit shot. an area not many people get to see. it seems the demand for budget airlines has grown tremendously, as well as the demand for domestic flights, which causing air traffic at the airport. it is similar here in jakarta. the air traffic condition at the international airport of Soekarno-Hatta has become a major problem that it resulted in a delay for all flights. now Air Asia has been moved to the old airport of Halim, along with Garuda’s domestic flights.

  6. I like the colorful planes and design. They add more of a fun feeling about flying from my point of view.
    Sounds like they are comfortable and fairly priced also.

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience at DMK! I landed from Hong Kong last year and was taken back by the boneyard. Will be back in a few weeks on a flight from Rangoon and hope to see the scuttled aircraft if they haven’t been removed.

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