AoT to fix queues at Don Mueang
Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) will be asked to approve Don Mueang airport's plan to increase space for the immigration service to ease overcrowding.
The airport's general manager, Phet Chan-charoen, said complaints are filed from time to time about overcrowding at immigration counters at the airport, particularly during rush hour from 5am-7am and 3pm-7pm.
It is difficult to manage the area due to space constraints, he said. Some Thai passengers queued at immigration counters set aside for foreigners are not reading the signposts, Mr Phet said, while some foreigners have queued at counters designated for Thais.
The airport has talked to the Immigration Bureau about the problem, he said, adding staff are encouraging passengers to have their travel documents ready before reaching the counters to save time.
Mr Phet said the airport will expand the service area following the relocation of shops and the domestic flight zone to the airport's new Terminal 2.
Walls will be torn down to enlarge the space, which could add more immigration counters, he said. The proposal will be forwarded to the AoT board for approval.
The airport's immigration office chief, Nathee Mahuemaung, said the airport gets crammed when 20 flights arrive at the same time during rush hour.
A request was made to AoT to adjust flight schedules but this was rejected by the airlines, he said.
Pol Col Nathee said the enlarged area following the relocation of shops to Terminal 2 should improve the situation.
He said there are 30 outbound immigration counters at the airport. Of these, four are set aside for Thai nationals, one for airport staff and cabin crew, two for children, the elderly and pregnant women as well as diplomats and the rest for foreign passengers.
Each queue can accommodate up to 20 people, but if a huge number of travellers turns up, the area becomes crowded and the queues tend to become disorganised, Pol Col Nathee said. Efforts have been made to deploy officers to assist passengers, particularly at automated gates, he said.
He added the overcrowding could be solved when the AoT approves the expansion of the airport's service area.
Apiwat Punnopakorn, a passenger at the airport, said he was startled to see a huge crowd flocking to the immigration checkpoints at 6am. Signposts defining passenger groups by type were unclear. When large numbers of passengers cram into the area, the queues look even more confusing, he added.
"I want some staff to be deployed to help passengers," said Mr Apiwat.