'Staff shortages' blamed for Suvarnabhumi logjam

'Staff shortages' blamed for Suvarnabhumi logjam

Thai Airways International (THAI) yesterday blamed staff shortages and slow processing of customer documentation for the long check-in queue at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Friday.

The airline has come out to explain after a disgruntled customer uploaded a video on social media showing a long line stretching half the length of the entire flight check-in area inside the departures area on Friday morning, the start of Her Majesty the Queen's birthday long weekend.

Suvadhana Sibunruang, acting chief executive officer, said many customers had turned up for their morning flights from 6am-9am.

It was a particularly busy morning with many flights departing close to one another.

He said several Thai customers found their passports had less than six months until expiry and so could not be used for travel.

Other customers also failed to fill out online health forms for entry to their place of destination and had to do so at the check-in desks, he added.

The airline had opened 18 check-in counters, in addition to the self-check-in kiosks which were up and running on Friday morning, he said.

However, most customers preferred to check in with staff.

When management was alerted, it intervened and took action to resolve the situation and no customer missed their flight, he said.

Mr Suvadhana admitted the carrier has learned from the mistake and would improve its customer service particularly during long weekends.

The company will ask the airport to open more check-in counters to accommodate customers during peak hours.

Normally each customer requires four minutes of check-in time, including being issued their boarding pass, he said.

Mr Suvadhana said the airline was experiencing staff shortages as it was going through financial restructuring which had resulted in a reduced workforce. That had added to the pressures too.

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