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Take a number: Phuket Airport immigration still overloaded

PHUKET: Tourists arriving at Phuket International Airport continue to have to wait hours to clear immigration, despite immigration officials saying they have more officers on duty during peak times.

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By Supatra Sutham

Sunday 11 December 2016, 09:00AM


Capt Watchawuth Kitiatsawong, a senior-ranking officer at Phuket Airport Immigration, told The Phuket News this week that enough officers have been moved to Phuket Airport to cope with the heavy peak periods, but that the key problem was that there are not enough computer terminals available to process tourist arrivals.

“If all counters were open, it would help shorten the queues, but some counters still have no computer terminals installed,” he explained.

“We have enough officials to fill all the processing stations once they do open, but at this time we can only do our best to get the lines moving,” he added.

The inbound immigration desks are overloaded when more than one flight lands at the same time, Capt Watchawuth said.

“The queues to clear immigration are normal (sic) most of the time. The queues only get longer than normal if we get large numbers of passengers arriving at the same time from double flights,” he said.

“During this time we have more staff at the available counters to help out to get the line moving as quickly as possible,” he added.

“Normally we get about 300 passengers per flight, and this takes us only half an hour to clear them. The heavy load periods though are from midnight to 4am, when flights come from China and Russia, so we add more staff during this hours,” Capt Watchawuth reiterated.

The current wait to clear immigration during peak periods is about 2½ hours, travellers have consistently reported to The Phuket News.

“First time back in a year. What a ridiculous situation!” reported one visitor from the UK who landed at the airport early last Saturday (Dec 3) to rest in Phuket in recovery after surgery.

“The flight landed at 6:50am. It took 2.5 hours to show a passport and then 32 minutes to get out the airport after baggage check,” he wrote.

“I’ve travelled the world and this has to be the worst airport in the entire world. My partner landed a week before at 21. 55 – it took her 2 hrs 15 mins to clear Immigration,” he added.

The pandemonium leads to frayed patience and irate travellers in the Arrivals Hall.

“There was no cueing system. Everyone was allowed to push in. A nationality from an eastern bloc area wouldn’t wait… I came here for R&R to stand watching as they wouldn’t queue and walked up the ‘officials’ lane and were served – in my total amazement - by the immigration officer.

“The officer allowed over 30 people through right next to me. Shocking was understatement. I won’t be rushing back here!”

The ongoing bumbling of the Immigration Bureau, which is a division of the Royal Thai Police, being unable to sort out the immigration delays dates back to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha declaring the new International Terminal officially open on Sept 16.

In open acknowledgement of the howling delays tourists must suffer before they can begin their holiday in Phuket, Transport Minister Lt Gen Arkhom Termpittayapaisith in less than a week after the official opening “confirmed” more officers had been posted and that new immigration-processing computer terminals were on their way in a public declaration that the problem had been solved. (See story here.)

As recently as Dec 1, Immigration Bureau Chief Pol Maj Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn was in Phuket in person to warn immigration officials to “be prepared” for a busy influx of tourists this tourism high season.

However, Gen Nathathorn made no mention of any measures taken to reduce the delays at the airport. (See story here.)

 

 

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PatongPunter000 | 24 January 2017 - 15:00:08

The farce continues

Kurt | 13 December 2016 - 12:58:45

Spider,  YES, I noticed that as well previously.
It is a complete thai soap of management incompetence.
One has to experience it to believe it.
And many foreigners on arrival do see and experience it.

I guess there is a waiting list for inactive duty posts, so we just have to deal with present Phuket International Airport incompetent staff. 

Kurt | 12 December 2016 - 15:14:15

Cha Cha Immigration: Perhaps that is the thai travel with a ID card ( domestic) and photo/registration/Arrival Card not need to be done?

Rorii: We may expect that swerv already swerved away, not knowing any longer to justify/support his immigration friend.
Most probably the 'friend' will say:  "I decline comment/not my responsibility".
Over and out.

Nasa123 | 12 December 2016 - 13:58:04

This is really sickening, PM now you have to come and sort out the madness yours and replace people preferably all in Admistrationen at Phuket Airport, they can not their job (How much have they paid for and get such a job?) As you opened long ago, Corruption again and again and again Mr PM of Thailand.

spider | 12 December 2016 - 13:36:52

On a recent trip, 2 planes arrived from Australia and a European country at the same time.9 counters were open for Thais and 6 for foreigners. There were no Thais on either plane. Rocket science hey!! Also why are trainees working the counters in peak periods? Come to Thailand and experience the dream is the advert, in many cases the holiday is ruined before it starts. 

Cha Cha Immigration | 12 December 2016 - 03:00:36

The wait times only apply to foreigners. Thai's have their own lanes and only have to wait a few minutes.

Rorii | 11 December 2016 - 13:25:40

swerv, here\'s another opportunity for you to ask your \"friend\" what the hell is going on, with immigration, at Phuket airport, or is your :friend\" as clueless as we think he is. 

CaptainJack69 | 11 December 2016 - 12:55:08

"a senior-ranking officer" not "the senior...". This is the problem in Thailand, when the sh** hits the fan no one is prepared to accept responsibility. They think that when the blame cannot be assigned to any one "officer" then people will accept that no one is to blame.

Of course the fact that there aren't enough computers is precisely the fault of the "...

bustermanidogs | 11 December 2016 - 12:30:42

Knee jerk reactions, poor planning, under-qualified staff and propaganda stories are just normal practise in Phuket. I think phuket as a "Smart City" is comical.

Kurt | 11 December 2016 - 10:21:31

Another good example of present Phuket, a shame full story of incompetence. 
Already known al over the world since 16 September.
Just crying.."we have no computers" seems to justify it all.
Despite the 'warning to be prepared' of that Bangkok General who visited Phuket airport.
Wonder why he didn't 'order'.

Anyway, again a good example that Phuket is not ready ...

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