Traveling on a Domestic Flight From BKK to CMX during Covid19
I traveled from Bangkok airport to Chiang Mai airport during the Covid19 Pandemic and I am writing this in real-time to let you know what to expect.
I was worried after I read an article about someone being detained on their travels. I understand not traveling unless you have to, but I was already paying rent and I wanted to get back to my life when flights opened up from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
I showed up a little after 1 pm for my 4:30 pm flight, the airport was mostly blocked off with the exception of a few entrance ways, and only one for an exit. I do everything in my power to never check a bag but there are new restrictions that state you can only carry the minimum amount on the plane. There was no line to check my bag, as expected there are very few flights and they cannot run at full capacity. The women at the counter asked for my rental agreement, passport, and ticket; all of which I had previously printed.
She checked my visa status in my passport, which I thought was odd because I am granted visa amnesty according to an article on The Thaiger. Luckily I had four days left on my original extension, she seemed to know nothing about the amnesty. If you have to take this flight I would recommend printing a government letter if you can find one or taking alternative transport, it seems they will not allow passengers with expired visas.
An Air Asia employee took photos of all my documents and called her boss to check if I was allowed to fly. I wasn’t extremely worried because I bought the flight protection so in the worst-case scenario I would at least get my money back. After a phone call and some grilling questions about my intentions in Chiang Mai, she allowed me to check my bag and move on.
The airport was a chilling site of flights being canceled and a once packed airport completely empty. There was nowhere to buy a full meal except KFC, and snack food at the coffee shops. Getting on the plane was easy, everyone kept to their space and wore a mask, some flight attendants wore full plastic wear around their entire bodies.
Getting off the plane was a whole different story. There was so much tension in the air, it was honestly frightening. I was the only foreigner on the plane but it still caught me off guard when someone approached me and knew my name. They took me to the side to go over my documents and ask what my intention was for being there. We went through the plan to self-quarantine and they held me there for over twenty minutes. The immigration officers then asked me to grab my bag but did not hand me my passport which was worrisome. They escorted me through the next checkpoint and luckily my landlord was there waiting.
My landlord is not Thai, and I read that you needed a Thai person to sign off for you, so I attempted to make friends on the plane but my Thai isn’t good enough to do anything but haggle and order food. I doubt the lady next to me would care that I really like stir-fried-basil. I think it helped that my landlord spoke Thai. I heard a lot of “Chi Cup” from him, which means yes, so I assumed it was going well.
I had never met my landlord prior to this so it was pretty amazing that he stuck his neck out for me. I hugged him, I figured social distancing isn’t going to be a thing while we live together anyway.