While Drukair was for many years the only carrier flying to Bhutan, there are now actually two airlines flying to Bhutan, Bhutan Airlines and Drukair. Drukair is the official government carrier. Druk still has service to more cities, but both airlines do serve Bangkok. Additionally, Druk services Singapore, Dhaka, Kathmandu, and Mumbai, among others.
It seems many visitors wonder whether business class is “worth it” on Druk, so I thought I would give our experience flying to The Land of the Thunder Dragon!
Our Experience from Purchase to Check-In
We decided to splurge for business class seats going to Bhutan. And I use the word “splurge” lightly…they were only $70 more each way ($140 round trip, per person). Tickets to Bhutan were not cheap in the first place, so we went for it. Our itinerary was Bangkok-Paro, with a stop in Guwahati (about 3.5 hours total, with stop). The return was Paro-Bangkok, with a stop in Bagdogra. I believe the tickets were $846 RT per person.
Apparently we weren’t the only ones to think that way–I think all of the tourists on the flight, which was probably a grand total of 8 or 9 on the way to Paro, were in business class. The flight leaves Bangkok at some absolutely ungodly hour, 6:40AM to be exact. And you have to be there two hours in advance per the usual with most international flights. I’d advise getting there a bit earlier, so you can get in line just as the counters open because…
I have never, in my life, seen so much baggage. Nope, never. Ever. DH forbade me from taking photos, though it was crazy tempting. There were bags that took 3 men to lift them on the scale! Each person seemingly had at least one large (40″+) flatscreen. Comforters–yup, the fluffy brightly colored things–were also really popular. One person had 8 of them (two full luggage carts worth), and most people had at least 2-3. There had to have been at least 17 flat screens, if not more, on that flight to Paro. Were they selling these things in Bhutan? Or giving them to friends/family? I’ll never know, but it was quite the insanity to get them all checked in, seeing as there were about 7 bags per every two people (not kidding).
When we got to the counter (fortunately we were there early enough to be 3rd in line…there was not a business class line open at the time…but that still took at least 20 minutes), the agents were extremely nice and multi-tasked the printing the hundreds of baggage tags with getting us checked in. We also got a “fast pass” to go through the rapid security line and the rapid customs line. That was fantastic, and we were through security and customs in probably 5 minutes flat.
On the return flight, there is a totally separate check-in counter for business class passengers, which is and of itself a lounge. They let you sit down and check you in…it was a pleasant and personalized experience! You then just walk to the customs agents, who quickly take care of your passport and then point you to the upstairs lounge. Again, very quick and seamless.
The Air France lounge in Bangkok is quite nice. Quick wifi, pretty good cappuccino and lots of snacks. We owe a huge thank you to the Metropolitan by COMO who packed us the most awesome breakfast, so we weren’t very hungry–but the coffee was much appreciated.
On the return flight, there is a Druk lounge in the Paro airport, with drinks, coffee, etc. There were also speedy wifi at the Paro airport. To me the lounge access in both Bangkok and Paro was a big benefit of the business class fare, as we had significant amounts of waiting time as both places required check in 2 hours (at least) before the flight.
We were allowed to carry on our bags. We each had one carry-on and one personal item, with the carry on being approximately 8-9kg. Druk does not have a jetway in Bangkok, so we were boarded–business class on a separate bus–to the aircraft. Coach actually boards through a different door, so you never really see the rest of the aircraft, though I did duck behind the curtain to use the restroom when ours was occupied. We were immediately offered juice, champagne, and water when we sat down. Business class was full on our flight to Paro.
On the return to Bangkok, business class passengers were the last to board the flight, called just before take-off. We took off about 30 minutes early, as you could see the weather rolling in and I’m sure they were trying to get out ahead of the weather. We were again allowed to carry all our baggage on the flight.
As soon as we were airborne, it was a relatively quick 2.5 hour flight to our stop in India. We received a menu, with options for a breakfast. DH obviously had more champagne. I chose a chicken and rice dish, DH had crepes and poached eggs. They were both served with fresh fruit, a cheese wedge, and bread.
We both declined breakfast on the return flight as we had just finished with a delicious breakfast at Uma Paro.
The attendants were very attentive on our way to Bhutan. Plenty of offers for drinks, meal service, and peanuts on the quick 20 minutes between India and Bhutan. Two hot towels–one before take off and another after landing. Additionally, their English is absolutely impeccable.
On the return flight to Bangkok…they were pretty lax. Understandable on the short hop to India, but on the way from India to Bangkok I think we were offered one drink the entire flight. We did get a hot towel upon boarding. They were busy giggling and talking behind the curtain nearly the entire flight, though I will say they were more than happy to accommodate you for something if you buzzed them. I think I was just expecting a bit more because they were so attentive on the way to Bhutan.
It was obvious there were some regulars in business class both on our way there and our return, as they would chat with the flight attendants frequently. I’m not sure what, exactly, occurred when we landed in Guwahati on our way to Paro, but there seemed to be pretty major confusion. One of the Bhutanese flight attendants, and one of the Indian ground workers both came through the cabin at least 12 times counting passengers. It seemed they were missing someone…not to mention, there were people switching cabins, children running back and forth, talking to flight attendants, using the restroom, etc. Definite bit of dysfunction, but not annoying in any way–just amusing.
Typical leather seats, with a 2×2 configuration with I think 4 rows, pitch was probably 38 inches. Plenty of leg room and space, but nothing out of the ordinary. No video system in either of the planes that we had, though with a short flight (well, short, after 14 hours across the Pacific), no big deal. To see the Himalayas, you should sit on the left side of the plane on the way in to Paro, and the right side of the plane on the way out. It was very cloudy on our ascent from Paro, but we did get a quick glimpse of Everest on the way in to Paro (we did not request seats in advance, just upon arrival at the airport).
Cliff Notes: Fun to do, but totally unnecessary.
-Lounge access (huge plus).
-Priority security and customs handling in both Bangkok and Paro.
-Larger luggage allowance.
-Food is fine but nothing to rave about.
-Extra leg space (obviously).
Hey..informative review. Thanks!
im looking to take the same trip and i see most flights have a small layover in india. Were you allowed to stay on the plane? If not.. Did u have to deal with indian customs?
Hi Paul, yes, most of the flights stop in India. We were on the ground for an hour at most, and you were not permitted to leave the plane unless you were debarking in India and not continuing through Bhutan. Hope that helps!