Airport complaints subside, BKK Post, 22/03/2012
The chaos at Suvarnabhumi airport has eased somewhat after relevant parties came out in full force to address the much-complained-about problems of long immigration queues. Somchai Sawasdeepon, Suvarnabhumi's general manager, yesterday said the overcrowding in front of passport control counters has "visibly" subsided thanks largely to the Immigration Bureau's move to man nearly all the counters with officers.
Marisa Pongpattanapun, chairwoman of the Airline Operators Committee, a coalition of global airline managers stationed at the airport, yesterday separately confirmed the situation had improved. But she said airlines are still advising passengers to arrive at the airport way ahead of check-in time _ 3-4 hours for international flights instead of the normal two hours and two hours for domestic flights against the one-hour norm _ just to play it safe. "Crowding at immigration counters has become less problematic, and fewer passengers are missing their flights," she told the Bangkok Post, saying that officers were seen stationed at most of the counters.
Mr Somchai said as many as 90% of all immigration counters have been manned in recent days, up from 50-60% in the several weeks before the Royal Thai Police (RTP) stepped in to address the issue. Suvarnabhumi has 124 counters in the arrivals area and 80 in the departures hall. Airport sources said AoT's daily provision of 100,000 baht in overtime wages for immigration officers working beyond their normal hours over the next two months has helped.
Before the long immigration queues became such an explosive issue in recent weeks, only 1,045 immigration officers were on the roster after 267 were either promoted or transferred to other locations. But sources said the RTP recently ordered those officers who were promoted or reassigned back to their counters. Since March 17, the RTP has put 40 female officers from the Kong Roi Namwan (Sweet Company) crowd-control unit to help pre-check incoming passengers' immigration forms. Adoption of a new queuing arrangement, the "snake line", has also accelerated the queue flow.
In addition, introduction of an automatic passport screening system, known as auto-gates, for Thai passports just before next month's Songkran holiday period will provide further relief for passenger traffic, which always surges at that time. The 16 auto-gates will be split equally between the departures and arrivals halls. Mr Somchai said Suvarnabhumi airport and the Immigration Bureau will continue to monitor the situation with a view to improve the services.
But Ms Marisa sees the measures only as temporary and not sustainable, saying passenger traffic through Suvarnabhumi will only continue to grow and worsen the congestion. What airlines would really like to see is AoT proceeding with Suvarnabhumi's expansion without further delay, she said.
Long line of the Immigration at Suvannabhum is the way to allow the travelers to be appreciated with SUvannabhum as long as possible
Automatic Passport Scanning today
Nation Hot News
11 April 2012 at 09.27
Now, Immigration at Suvannabhum opening the Auto Channel for passport scanning -
However, it not usable for those who wear sunglasses and hat/cap ... Those crippled along with those who use the cane to walk ... Those are smaller than 4 feet or those who cover with the eye alogn with those who take children along the trip are not allowed to use this machine
Photo Courtesy from @Thanchy_Rw
I can't imagine the lame excuses used in this article getting much listening time in Singapore, Hong Kong or Vietnam.
Suvarnabhumi immigration chief says staff is overloaded, Bkk Post, 24/09/2012
As Suvarnabhumi airport prepares to mark its sixth anniversary on Friday, its immigration officials are struggling with a heavy workload.
Pol Maj Gen Natthorn Prosunthorn, commander of Immigration Police Division 2 at Suvarnabhumi airport, said his team is busy not just checking passenger visas, but also protecting national security. "Immigration police must capture suspects who have outstanding arrest warrants issued by police stations nationwide," he said.
Suspects are taken by immigration officers to the stations where the warrants for their arrest were issued, the commander said. At the moment, immigration officers are taking 10 people or more a day to police stations, which puts pressure on those left at the airport who must pick up their share of the work. Apart from security duty, Pol Maj Gen Natthorn said staff must also provide receptions for official guests of the government, with many occurring on a daily basis.
But the most critical task is to secure the border and stop blacklisted people from getting in. "Not everyone with a visa can enter the country. They will be sent back if they pose a threat," the commander said. "Plain-clothes police officers are also deployed to search for suspects," he added. Last year, 15,752,195 inbound passengers and 14,807,532 outbound travellers passed through the Suvarnabhumi airport's immigration counters.
Pol Maj Gen Natthorn said there is a huge shortage of immigration officers to process travel documents and electronic machines have been brought in to help them do the work. Authorities have deployed a number of automatic channel machines to check Thai passports, the commander said. The equipment has helped shorten queues at the immigration desk, he said. "It is impossible to hire more officials to match the ever growing number of passengers. So, the best way is to use machines which will boost work efficiency," he added. Pol Maj Gen Natthorn also proposed recruiting translators of Russian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese languages to assist immigration officers.
People with a bachelor's degree who are well-versed in foreign languages should also be hired as police officers on contract, he suggested. Candidates would undergo immigration training for four months before working. Pol Capt Saroj Tirakijphanich, deputy inspector of Immigration Division 2, said checking passports is a challenging task requiring considerable experience.
Many passports have been forged using counterfeiting technology which is hard to detect. Sometimes the passports are genuine but the people who carry them are not the real owners but lookalikes, he said. Each official checks around 5,000-6,000 visas per month. As an incentive, an immigration officer who can deliver a record number of visa checks will be awarded with an overseas package tour. The highest record so far is 27,000 visa checks per month.
This is the first story in a series marking the 6th anniversary of Suvarnabhumi airport. Tomorrow: Continuing the battle against bird strikes at the airport.
Workplace woes pile up at airport. Immigration officers struggle to find time for toilet breaks, BKK Post, 24/09/2012
A heavy workload, poor working environment and low pay have made life difficult for immigration police officials at Suvarnabhumi airport. High air traffic volumes have forced immigration officials to race against time in processing streams of passengers passing through their counters.
The daily rush has reduced meal times to 15-20 minutes for each meal. Their only comfort is that they do not need to pay for the meal, which is provided. Because of the airport's rapid growth, some of their working space now serves as rest areas. Although female officials are provided with proper rooms, their rest areas are cramped.
According to a senior official, the Immigration Bureau has tried to negotiate with the Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) in order to arrange more room and resting space for officials, but the request was rejected as most of the areas have been set aside for commercial use. Each official receives a monthly salary and overtime payment of about 20,000 baht, but the amount is relatively small compared with the workload.
Health problems are also a serious issue for immigration officials at the airport. Pol Capt Kriangkrai Huanthaisong, a 46-year-old immigrant officer on the inbound counters, said he and his colleagues have been troubled with allergies at the workplace. The airport's poor air circulation is accumulating germs and the second floor's inbound counters have a problem with dust. Pol Capt Saroj Tirakijphanich, who has worked at the airport for three years, said passengers' belongings also carry particles and germs into the area. The large number of passengers passing through has made it difficult for officials to take breaks or go to the toilet. Many of them are suffering from cystitis.
Pol Snr Sgt Maj Juthamas Sookroongruang, 45, another official, said many female officials suffer from cystitis as they hardly find time to go to the toilet. Many officials also suffer backache from sitting on duty for long periods, and need medical treatment. Pol Sgt Putthichai Palakap, 31, head of the inbound immigration counters, said the job he is doing is more suitable for young officials because it involves irregular working hours.