The Phuket News received a direct report of a two-hour wait for international arrivals to clear Immigration at the airport yesterday (Feb 12), following another report of people suffering horribly overcrowded conditions while waiting to be cleared by Immigration last Saturday (Feb 8).
“My customers arrived with WK50. They were waiting more than two hours in the arrival hall to gain 15 metres in the queue,” the aggrieved wrote to The Phuket News.
“Hundreds of people were held in this hall like animals in a pen.(the government is telling the public that such crowds of people should be avoided because of the corona virus)
“At the disabled counter [officials] handled 2 passengers in that time. They did not open for other people, just sitting there and doing nothing.
“Then my customers were asked if they would like to go to the ‘express counter’ costs 100 baht per person they were told by a man in a brown uniform,” the person wrote.
Lt Col Arom Kwannet, Deputy Chief of the Phuket Airport Immigration Office, today (Feb 13) dismissed the reports.
“It is impossible for long queues of two hours. Every morning, we open all 38 counters, which flow well at Phuket International Airport. It is enough to process tourists quickly because officers can work quickly, taking only a few minutes to process each arrival,” she told The Phuket News.
“Even when we have fewer officials on duty because of staff rotation, it would not cause delays of as long as the complaint mentions,” she added.
“After passengers arrive, they pass Immigration then pick up their bags and proceed to the Customs clearance. The checks by Customs officials might create long queues. Or it could be the queues where the coronavirus checks are done before passengers reach Immigration because they have only a few officials there and they need to check some nationalities more than others,” Lt Col Arom said.
“It is normal for foreign passengers to misunderstand between Immigration and Customs officials at Phuket International Airport,” Lt Col Arom added.
However, an official at the Health Control Division at Phuket airport who asked not to be identified confirmed to The Phuket News today that long queues do arise when several full flights land in quick succession.
“This morning (Feb 13), there were just three flights from Russia arriving at nearly the same time, which caused long queues,” the official said.
The official also dismissed that long delays are being caused by the health checks.
“It is nothing about COVID-19, or the coronavirus,” he explained.
“Our checks do not create any delays for tourists not directly affected by the special checking procedures.
“All tourists arriving from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are separated. They do not even enter the terminal by a boarding gate. They are put on a bus on the tarmac and taken to Gate 15 to be scanned at the Arrivals Hall, then they go to the Immigration section,” the officer added.