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Don Mueang passengers suffer in four-hour queue

BANGKOK: Understaffed immigration clearance at Don Mueang airport resulted in a wait of more than four hours for hundreds of passengers -- and an online complaint from a Thai man whose foreign wife was among them.

tourism, transport, immigration,


Bangkok Post

Sunday 6 August 2017, 11:58AM


Foreign visitors queue for passport control at Don Mueang airport during a four-hour wait that stretched into Saturday morning. Photo: Piyabutr Saengkanokkul
Foreign visitors queue for passport control at Don Mueang airport during a four-hour wait that stretched into Saturday morning. Photo: Piyabutr Saengkanokkul
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a law lecturer at Thammasat University, shared images of packed queues for passport control at the airport on his Facebook page early Saturday.

He said his wife, a foreign national who had arrived from the award-winning Changi airport in Singapore, estimated that around 2,000 passengers were waiting in non-moving queues on Friday night. Two hours later he shared a similar image as the queues showed no sign of shortening.

After three hours of waiting, he asked airport officials what they were doing to solve the problem but they just acknowledged the issue. An immigration official told him that problems had arisen because several flights landed at the same time, but the airport did not coordinate with immigration in advance so there were insufficient immigration officers to deal with the crowds. 

Mr Piyabutr said his wife informed him that an immigration official wanted to open a new counter but the boss objected so there were two unused lanes.

He said it took his wife four hours and 20 minutes from the time she joined the queue at midnight to clear passport control. His wife said there were two priority lanes for flight crew which should have been used to speed up service, but officials kept telling passengers to stay in their original queues. She noticed that some passengers were weak and needed water as conditions were stuffy with little ventilation.

Another passenger who was at the airport commented on Facebook: "I was in this queue last night. Four hours and 15 minutes to get through. The issue is with queue management. There isn't any. You have 2,000 people filtering from 9 lanes into 3. Not a single member of staff outside of immigration desks were to be seen.

"But when a lady fainted near us around 4am, more staff than I had seen all evening including what looked like extra immigration officials appeared, and carried her away. 

"This was the worst immigration experience I have had in 30-plus years of travel, and I fly most weeks."

C and C Marine

A source from the immigration police said that generally, immigration clearance should take only about 45 seconds per passenger. But the increased emphasis on security means that extra time is needed to verify the authenticity of passports and whether any passport holders were on blacklists. 

The source said that even with up to 1,000 passengers arriving at the same time, it should not take more than an hour to clear the immigration queues. However, landings are a matter of coordination between the airlines and the airport. 

He said the busiest times for flights landing at Don Mueang each day were between 5am and 7am and around 9pm.

Mr Piyabutr said his wife heard from several tourists who told her it was their worst experience with passport control. He said he wondered if any first-time visitors experiencing such problems would return to Thailand in the future. 

On Saturday afternoon he also posted a link to customer reviews on the international website Skytrax complaining about their bad experience at Don Mueang.

Read original story here.

 

 

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Jor12 | 07 August 2017 - 19:48:16

Timothy...this is a typical post on here..."The only solution to this on-going problem, is to ban ALL buses from Patong hill. Nothing else is going to work." Then the usual chorus from the babble say the same thing with a slight variation. How ridiculous is that?

We're talking about technology that is available and is incorporated throughout most of the travelling world in passports, but - for reasons not reported - is not being utilised to it's fullest extent. The comment was to prompt PN to enlighten the public as why it's not been utilised by asking these questions. A later article only reports Lt Gen Nathathorn from the immigration bureau saying the long term strategy is that 300 more police are being hired, but no mention of egate machines to facilitate the processing of passengers.  

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Eagle | 07 August 2017 - 15:43:52

Rorri,seems like in your haste to copy Timothy's clairvoyant comment,you forgot to type some letter.And this happens to someone who criticize other people's writing style!?  

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Rorri_2 | 07 August 2017 - 12:41:57

Jor12, although I agree, I haste to remind you, that if others made the same comment you would say they have no right to tel, Thais what to do, ther is a word for your behaviour, hypocite.

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Timothy | 07 August 2017 - 08:36:35

Jor12, wow, what happened to you? This comment actually makes sense. Of course if anyone else made the same comment first you would say they were Thai haters, then you would use your golden nugget...this is Asia, not their country. This is the culture here. If they don't like it they should go home...

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Jor12 | 06 August 2017 - 20:26:45

Given that most passports issued throughout the world have biometric chips in them, Thailand should be using biometric-based automated "eGates" to reduce waiting times. Details of the chip are authenticated, then either fingerprint or facial recognition or both, is compared to the data held on the chip. If both images are similar and the ePassport is not blacklisted, the traveller can pass through the gate. Better 1 minute processing by a machine, than a 4 hour wait. What's the point in having the technology in a passport if it's not being used?

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