Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

Thailand flight chaos: still stranded

Anti-government protestors block Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok as the protests begin
Bangkok's airports became temporary protest camps
After an eight-day occupation by anti-government protestors, Thailand's main airport has now resumed full operations.

But as airlines work to clear the backlog of flights, some visitors still find themselves unable to get home.

BBC News website readers who are still stranded have been speaking of the impact of the flight disruption on their travel plans.


Richard Leonard, a Scot who now lives and works in Thailand for a Belgian mining company, has been caught up in Thailand's travel chaos since it started.

I was out of the country on business in Indonesia when the protestors moved into the airports in Thailand.

I couldn't get back home as there were no flights back to Bangkok, but because I had a business trip to Vietnam a few days later I just made my way there.

There were long delays in Singapore, but eventually I made it to Hanoi. From Hanoi I went on to Ho Chi Minh City, for other meetings.

I was due to fly back to Bangkok from here on Thursday, but despite the Thai airport authorities claiming everything is back to normal in their airports, I'm still stuck.

I know there will be problems getting planes back to the right places, but they are being a bit disingenuous saying everything is now normal. It isn't.

Luckily, I've managed to get a seat on a flight on Friday - it's the first flight leaving here to go to Bangkok.

One of the things that's really annoyed me about all of this is the protestors knew the three coalition parties forming the government were due to have cases heard in court regarding fraudulent practices in last year's election.

It's the court that decided the parties had to be disbanded, not the protestors or the army - and it would have happened without all of this disruption.


Phil and Julie Stokes travelled to Thailand for work just as the protests began. As yet, they do not know when they will be able to return to the UK.

My wife Julie and I arrived in Bangkok an hour before the airport closed and were watching the demonstrators marching the other way as we left in our taxi.

Anti-government protestors block Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok as the protests begin
Large numbers of protesters took control of Bangkok's airports
We were due to return to London on Wednesday but are being told to wait for a call from Emirates.

As we were the last to arrive, our concern is that we may be last on the list to fly home.

The purpose of our visit was mainly working but we are fortunate enough to have friends in Bangkok with whom we are staying whilst we wait to be told when there is a flight for us back to the UK.

It is difficult to find out exactly what is going on but I would estimate that there are some 7,000 Brits waiting for flights back home, so it could be a long wait for us.

The atmosphere here appears to be calm and there are no reports of any unrest. Celebrations are underway for the king's birthday.


Martyn Page is still in Thailand after his two-week holiday was extended to four weeks because of the protests.

I tried constantly to get in contact with my airline to get a flight home. After eight days the airline finally managed to pick up the phone. They have been inundated with inquiries from tourists like me wanting to get home.

I was given the choice between being put on standby in the hope of possibly getting an earlier flight home, or getting a scheduled flight at a later date.

It was a big relief when I got a flight booked but I was told I had to spend another 10 nights here before a seat will become available for me on the plane.

The Thai government has offered stranded tourists 2,000 baht (40) per day but this only applies if you stay in one of a small list of designated hotels. The authorities are also waiving the fine for over-staying as well.

I needed to work by having internet access. But because my hotel did not have adequate wi-fi connections, I had to leave. Now I am staying in the business quarter in Bangkok for 54 a day, where I am able to do my job.

I think the authorities were slow to alert foreign visitors to what was going on in Thailand.

It is inconvenient that I had to stay here longer than I wanted to but I think I may be luckier than most.

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