Suvarnabhumi Airport unveils speed passport checks: No more immigration queues

Photo courtesy of The Nation

In a move set to transform the travel game, Suvarnabhumi International Airport unveiled an upgrade to its passport control system.

In an exclusive revelation, Police Lieutenant General Itthipol Itthisarnronnachai, the visionary commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, disclosed that a groundbreaking shift is underway at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Effective from December 15, the airport will extend its automatic passport channels to include departing foreigners. The catalyst behind this game-changing upgrade? A direct order from none other than Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin himself.

The inspiration for this radical change struck during the Thai PM’s journey to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in the United States. Witnessing endless queues of foreign tourists grappling with immigration checks, the 61 year old prime minister took charge.

Fueled by PM Srettha’s directive, the Immigration Bureau wasted no time. The Bangkok-born PM urged the immigration chief to upgrade the automatic passport-checking system to cater to foreign visitors.

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The result? The 16 existing automatic passport machines, previously exclusive to Thai nationals since 2012, now process foreign passports at lightning speed. Clocking in at a mere 20 seconds per passport, these machines obliterate the 45 seconds it takes an immigration officer to manually inspect a document, reported The Nation.

With 50,000 to 60,000 passengers departing from Suvarnabhumi Airport daily, the extended lines at immigration counters posed a severe threat to on-time departures. The Bangkok-born PM, worried about missed flights and disgruntled travellers, instructed the Immigration Bureau to streamline the process for departing foreign tourists. The upgraded system, set to be operational this Friday, December 15, is expected to catapult departure capacity from 5,000 to a staggering 12,000 passengers per hour.

But the transformation doesn’t stop there. Commissioner Itthipol announced that the Airports of Thailand PLC (AOT) is gearing up for a complete overhaul. By July next year, both Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports will bid farewell to their old automatic passport machines, making room for double the number – eight at each airport. This expansion encompasses both arriving and departing passengers, ensuring a seamless experience for all.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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