BKK transfer and USA tipping

Lucy suggests some options for what to do while waiting in Bangkok for a connecting flight, then explains to Henry the correct tipping etiquette for cabs in the United States.


Q. Mike
We are flying with Emirates from Sydney to Bangkok, arriving at 2am, and then departing on a domestic flight with Bangkok Airways at 6am to Koh Samui. The domestic lounges seem to be closed till 4.30am. Is there anywhere in the domestic airport we can go from 2am to 5.30am, the time at which we need to board the domestic flight?

A. There are two airports in Bangkok – you’ll be arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). And you’re right, at that time of night, domestic lounges are cleared within half an hour of an arrival.

The first thing to bear in mind is that upon arrival and after clearing immigration at the international terminal, you’ll then need to collect your bags and re-check them once you’ve reached the domestic terminal. You’ll also need to go through security again before you can go to the departure lounge. The terminals aren’t far apart; they’re in the same building, but as you’re flying with a different airline to Bangkok (Emirates) you’re not able to check your bags all the way through to Koh Samui. If I were you, I’d clear immigration, collect my bags, and head to Miracle Transit Hotel (previously called Louis’ Tavern Transit Hotel Dayrooms), which is located on Level 4 of the International Departures Terminal. You can book a room online for six, eight, 10 or 12 hours. While you might only use it for a couple hours, at roughly $160 for a six-hour stay, you’ll have access to your own room, showers, wifi and the price includes breakfast. Your other option is to head to the Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, which is a 10-minute walk from the terminal, where you can enjoy a meal at the 24-hour restaurant, The Square.

And you can always contact Suvarnabhumi Airport at any of these numbers for more specific information.



Q. Henry
Just read your informative article on ratio of cash to card. I was aware that in the USA, a 15–20 per cent tip is expected by restaurant employees. But I didn’t realise it also applied to cabs. Last time I went (20 years ago) the advice given to me was to round up to the nearest $5 or $10 – depending upon the distance/cost – not as a percentage. Could you please confirm whether for cabs it’s 15–20 per cent on top of the actual fare?

A. The most common question we get regarding travelling to the USA is about tipping – when, how much, why, etc. It’s no surprise that visitors to the USA are perplexed as the country has a very unique take on the practice of tipping. Those who work in services (e.g. hospitality workers, taxi drivers) are heavily dependent on the tips they make, as wages in these industries are notoriously pitiful. So yes, while 20 years ago rounding up a taxi fare to the nearest $5 or $10 was acceptable, these days tipping 15–20 per cent on top of the fare is expected and, therefore, the best course of action – unless something is seriously amiss with your ride!

Do you have a travel question for us? If so, email your Travel SOS to [email protected]

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Written by Lucy


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