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Terminal confusion, immigration delays strike at Phuket Airport

PHUKET: Passengers hoping to board their departing flights at Phuket International Airport on time are strongly advised to arrive early as confusion over which terminal to depart from and long immigration queues have plagued travellers since the opening of the new International Terminal on last Friday (Sept 16).

tourism, transport, immigration,

The Phuket News

Wednesday 21 September 2016, 04:53PM

The official opening of the new International Terminal, dedicated by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, on Friday has left many travellers confused over which terminal to depart from, one senior Airports of Thailand* staffer, who asked not to be named, told The Phuket News.

“Since the opening of the new International Terminal, many passengers are not sure where to check-in and most drivers just drop off passengers at the old terminal,” he said.

“We have even seen some passengers drag their luggage from terminal to the other,” he added.

The new terminal, as its name indicates, is dedicated to international flights, while the old terminal is now dedicated to serving domestic flights only, the airport staffer explained.

“We are putting up signs to help direct passengers to where they need to be and we now have staff on the concourse to advise them,” he said.

“We want the public to know that the old passenger building is for domestic flights only and that the new terminal is for international flights,” he repeated.

“It is quite normal for any new facility to have a rough start. We apologise for any inconvenience, but we assure you that it will get better once everything is in place,” he added.

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Adding to the delays, however, are long immigration queues taking travellers up to an hour to clear outbound immigration desks.

One immigration officer, who also asked not to named, said that the long lines to clear immigration at Phuket Airport was not unusual.

“Most of the delay here is not because our system is slow,” he said. “The process has to be thorough. A photograph of each passenger must be taken and our officers must record the correct information of each passenger passing through.”

The immigration officer pointed out that although the new International Terminal features many outbound immigration counters (34, to be exact), many of the officer stations have yet to be fitted with computer terminals – and that there are not enough immigration officers to man all the stations anyway.

“We have only 13 computers that are working with 13 to 14 officers on rotation at the counters,” the officer said.

“Some stations still have no computers set up yet. In three months, we hope to get new computers for these stations and extra officers will help out by next week,” the officer said.

* Airports of Thailand operates six major international airports in Thailand, including in Phuket.



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Christy Sweet | 23 September 2016 - 09:43:23

Dmac, My comment was not approved that offered an opinion as to why Thais seem unable to plan for the future effectively.  You can view it here (as suggested by the executive editor.)

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Kurt | 22 September 2016 - 12:28:44

Andy, well that Joe12 is a character.
A while ago Sir Burr complained about the level of discussion between me ( writing comment) and Joe12 ( reacting on me 'selective', much of the time later proved he was not correct)was disturbing the level of the comment site here.
So, I decided to have a Cordon Sanitair toward him.
I simply ignore him and his nonsense.
Not giving such a person a platform.
Let him be with himself. 

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samantha | 22 September 2016 - 11:34:27

“We have only 13 computers that are working with 13 to 14 officers on rotation at the counters,” the officer said.

“Some stations still have no computers set up yet. In three months, we hope to get new computers for these stations and extra officers will help out by next week,” the officer said.

Why does it take 3 months to get new computers?

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Nasa12 | 22 September 2016 - 09:26:25

But NO fast line on this New terminal to 100 Bath ?

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Nasa12 | 22 September 2016 - 09:21:49

Can one expect anything else in Thailand especially Phuket ? Look at the road and under pass they building in Phuket,delayed one year +++  every projects. 

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Christy Sweet | 22 September 2016 - 08:39:23

No excuses !! The routine of checking the passport and taking a photo is not new, and no matter how many staff are on hand it will not relieve the congestion because lack of computers is the problem which, according to the report, will continue for at least three more months until new machines arrive- the source "hopes".

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DMac | 22 September 2016 - 08:06:20

And the plan to build and open the new terminal has existed for how long ..??  Evidently not long enough for the powers that be to have the required equipment and staff organised and in play for the (grand) opening.  I have never quite understood what happens in the education system in Thailand that renders the majority with a total inability to plan and create future strategies that work.

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Kurt | 22 September 2016 - 07:04:37

What to think about the taxi- and minivan drivers who not able to ask the clients the simple question: .." To Domestic or International departure hall?"..  Brainless?
They all know there are now 2 departure halls in operation.

Well, in operation? Seems to be a big word at this moment.
34 immigration desks, but only 13 working. Great!
And why were the new immigration computers not installed before the opening, and has it now to take another 3 month?
The knew long enough in advance when the new terminal would start to be operational.
Indeed, again, Amazing Thailand.

A so called 'departure hub' for the traveler.
And when the traveler is back home he will say: .." what a inefficient, unorganized place it is, that Phuket Airport. Never go there again"..

Seems there always must be something that gives Phuket Airport a bad P-R. 
And when are they going to do something about the prices of the shops? 
( 75 thb for a simple cheese/ham sandwich, and it taste like it is from yesterday) 

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Shwe | 22 September 2016 - 06:15:30

Already 6 months late and immigration will need a further 3 months to complete their installation, pathetic. BTW where do CIQ passengers Check in? maybe there is some confusion there

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bigasail33 | 22 September 2016 - 05:47:16

Lets hope every Chinese has a Mobile phone so they dont mind to wait!

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