Mar 21 2012
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport was supposed to catapult the Thai capital into the ranks of Singapore and Hong Kong when it comes to fancypants airports, but just six years after opening it’s showing signs of serious overcrowding, with complaints of hours-long immigration queues bouncing around Twitter and other social media with increasingly frequency. Too many passengers? Too few immigration staff? Both, it seems.
Bangkok Airways now recommends passengers departing from Suvarnabhumi allow three hours ahead of departure to ensure they get through immigration — from the translation of their note (posted on March 13) it appears they mean passengers should allow three hours to get through passport control alone — not their complete check-in procedure.
There’s a lot of debate and confusion about what is actually going on at the airport, but it appears passport control booths have now been reduced in number from 80 to 50 while refurbishing work is carried out (refurbishing includes installing automatic passport scanners). Delays were already notorious, which immigration officials said was due to under-staffing, but until April 11 when work is completed (believe that and you’ll believe anything!), conditions risk being truly horrendous. Get there early!
In an intriguing addendum, airport immigration has called in 40 female riot control officers from “Sweet Company” to assist with passport controls. Guess you have to commend Thai police for actually having an all-female unit even if they use patronising nicknames? Anyway we hope they understand the mind bogglingly complicated Thai visa regulations.
And in another twist, the actual impact of which still seems very unclear, Thailand’s prime minister last week ordered that all “low-cost airlines” move to the former main international airport Don Muang, in another bid to reduce the congestion at Suvarnabhumi — there’s some debate about what this means here.
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