Update On Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport International Transit Passengers Regulations As Per March 1, 2021

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Two weeks ago I wrote about airline passengers to/from South East Asia and beyond being able to use Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) as a transit point again without presenting specific clearance documents.

The regulations have now been officially publicized and updated on the website of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has imposed tough restrictions on transit passengers at BKK Airport since July 2020 but these have now been relaxed so that transits are possible again but still passengers are severely limited in their movements plus the passenger must hold a valid health insurance with $100,000 coverage including Covid treatment.

You can read my article from February 24th here when this news first broke. Not surprising back then nobody at the airport help desk knew anything about this despite it already being published in the Bangkok Post.

Now the CAAT has updated their website with the regulation.

Guidelines for International Flights with Transit/Transfer Passengers at Suvarnabhumi International Airport 

(Effective from 1 Mar 2021)

According to the Notification of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand on Conditions for Aircraft Permission to Enter Thailand (No. 5),  for aircraft operating the international flight with transit/transfer passengers, which has come into force from 1 March B.E. 2564 (2021), in conformance with the resolution of the meeting of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) No. 3/2564 on 22 February B.E. 2564 (2021), the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) hereby issues the following guidelines:

  1. International flights with transit/transfer passengers shall be permitted only at Suvarnabhumi International Airport;
  2. Each passenger shall possess the complete set of the relevant documents which are:
    1. Fit to fly health certificate;
    2. Medical certificate with a laboratory result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected (done by RT-PCR technique and issued no more than 72 hours before travelling);
    3. Travel health insurance (worldwide or including Thailand) covering health care and treatment expenses for COVID-19 disease, or any other guarantee throughout their stay in the Kingdom, with a coverage of no less than 100,000 USD;

Before the issuance of boarding pass, the document verification shall be done by the air operator. If any document is found incorrect or incomplete after the verification process, boarding pass shall not be issued to such passenger;

  1. Each passenger shall not go outside the specified area (Concourse E) and shall proceed through the “Sealed Route” as detailed below:

(a). Each passenger shall disembark via Gate E10, go through security screening process and board the aircraft via Gate E9 or get in the separated shuttle bus to board the aircraft at the remote parking stand;

(b). If the demand exceeds the existing capacity, there will be additional operations available at Gate E5, E7 and E8 which shall apply the same conditions as stated in 3. (a);

(c). For aircraft making technical landing, follows the conditions stated in 3. (a) or (b);

In case that Concourse E is under construction or maintenance condition, Concourse F shall be used under the following procedures:

(d). Each passenger shall disembark via Gate F6, go through security screening process and board the aircraft via Gate F5 or get in the separated shuttle bus to board the aircraft at the remote parking stand;

(e). If the demand exceeds the existing capacity, there will be additional operations available at Gate F1, F2, F3 and F4 which shall apply the same conditions as stated in 3. (d);

(f). For aircraft making technical landing, follows the conditions stated in 3. (d) or (e);

4. Physical distancing shall be managed by preparing space in the waiting areas for transit/transfer operations. Each passenger and personnel shall wear mask at all times except for necessary or emergency situation, and there shall be hand sanitizer containing at least 70% alcohol sufficiently provided;

5. Personnel working in the waiting areas for transit/transfer operations shall wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

6. Food and beverage service in the waiting area shall be organized in a proportion of specific functional area. Active oversight shall be conducted consistently during area utilization in order to keep the operations safe and effective;

7. Cleaning and disinfection shall be applied to areas and equipment regularly according to the Ministry of Public Health standards;

8. The time period of each Transit/Transfer operation shall not exceed 12 hours. If any irregularities happened and extended the waiting period to more than 12 hours, the airline staff shall manage to carry the passengers by bus to wait at Gate D3 and D4;

9. There shall be no COVID-19 screening or laboratory service at the Transit/Transfer area in the airport;

10. If any ill or suspected to be affected from COVID-19 traveller is detected, such air operator shall hold full responsibility;

11. Avoid the port of embarkation where the prevalence rate of COVID-19 is at high risk, according to the risk level officially categorized by the Ministry of Public Health;

12. Air operators shall submit transit/transfer operation plans to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) and Airside Operations Control Center (AOCC) at Suvarnabhumi Airport no later than 24 hours before the flight.

I don’t get point 3a regarding disembarkation and embarkation of the incoming and transit flights.

Without a doubt the passenger will be on a regular flight on which a 99% majority these days are destined for Thailand or originating there for flights leaving BKK. These flights will have a gate position so I’m not sure why this regulation talks about bus transfer to a remote stand from Gate E9/10 or how this might be practical in any way.

Here is a graphic from their website:

The food and beverage available in the transit area also sound highly inadequate, who knows what this will look like. Based on that alone I wouldn’t plan a longer transit at BKK these days. It goes without saying that transit passengers won’t be able to visit any lounge under these conditions. But hey, at least hand sanitizer with 70% alcohol is available!

Passengers going through BKK for transit only will not be tested for Covid-19 at any time. I wonder what this means though: “If any ill or suspected to be affected from COVID-19 traveller is detected, such air operator shall hold full responsibility” – responsibility in what way? Paying a fine? Let’s say the worst would happen and a passenger really doesn’t feel well then what are they supposed to do?

There should be flights via other countries such as Hong Kong as well where there is a more relaxed and reasonable transit policy. This includes Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo. I’d probably try and be on the safe side booking a flight through one of these gateways without such extreme requirements.

Conclusion

Transit flights are now possible again at Suvarnabhumi Airport but I’d think twice about utilizing this option unless there is really no other way. I rather go through another transit point if at all possible.

It’s good that the option to transit at BKK is back because there are isolated destinations in South East Asia that are otherwise difficult to reach (IF there is any connection operated right now and the traveler is eligible for the trip in terms of immigration regulations). This will only appeal to those who really depend on BKK as a transit gateway though. Otherwise this is craziness.

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