The airport is considered to be one of the world's oldest international airports and Asia's oldest operating airport. It was officially opened as a Royal Thai Air Force base on 27 March 1914, although it had been in use earlier. Commercial flights began in 1924, making it one of the world's oldest commercial airports. The first commercial flight was an arrival by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
In September 2006, Don Mueang Airport was closed and replaced by the newly opened Suvarnabhumi Airport, before reopening on 24 March 2007 after renovations. Since the opening of the new airport, it has become a regional commuter flight hub and the de facto low-cost airline hub. In 2015, it became the world's largest low cost carrier airport.
Don Mueang previously carried the BKK IATA code (subsequently transferred to Suvarnabhumi) and was an important hub of Asia and the hub of Thai Airways International prior to its closure. At its peak, it served most air traffic for the entire country, with 80 airlines operating 160,000 flights and handling over 38 million passengers and 700,000 tons of cargo in 2004. It was then the 14th busiest airport in the world and 2nd in Asia by passenger volume. Currently, Don Mueang is the main hub for Nok Air, Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion Air, and Orient Thai Airlines.
"Don Mueang" airfield was the second established in Thailand, after Sa Pathum airfield, which is now Sa Pathum horse racing course, known as the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. The first flights to Don Mueang were made on 8 March 1914 and involved the transfer of aircraft of the Royal Thai Air Force. Three years earlier, Thailand had sent three army officers to France to train as pilots. On completion of their training in 1911, the pilots were authorized to purchase eight aircraft, four Breguets and four Nieuports, which formed the basis of the Royal Thai Air Force. Sa Pathum airfield was established in February 1911 with an arrival by Orville Wright, seven years after the invention of the first airplane by the Wright brothers on 17 December 1903.
In 1933, the airfield was the scene of heavy fighting between royalists and government forces during the Boworadet Rebellion. The airfield was used by the occupying Japanese during World War II, and was bombed and strafed by Allied aircraft on several occasions.