Bangkok Airport has seen a sharp increase in foreign arrivals during April and the existing structure to support the Test&Go scheme has apparently reached its breaking point, causing chaos in the terminal.
Arriving passengers are unable to identify their hotels on the small boards of the understaffed counters and long lines are forming with some complaining online that they waited close to two hours until they finally get on their way.
In response, the airport authorities have now added nine additional counters to stem the onslaught of passengers at peak times but worse things might wait around the corner as Thailand readies to replace the arrival PCR Test/Hotel Stay with a quick test at the airport in a few weeks time.
As so often in Thailand they start to first let a problem develop and wait until there is a shit storm brewing instead of proactively taking measures to make the experience smooth, to begin with.
After all, the arrival numbers are known in advance and it was clear that these makeshift counters in the arrivals hall that were first set up wouldn’t serve their purpose past a certain number of arriving passengers.
Following a post of a popular Thai Youtuber, The Nation reported that tourists are going on a wild goose chase for their hotel at these counters where small hotel logos are displayed and only a few staff are available to support the visitors and send them on their way.
A top Thai YouTuber shared the confusion he witnessed at Suvarnabhumi Airport as foreign tourists arriving under the Test & Go scheme stood around looking lost. …
He said there were no signs directing tourists, and most of them just stood around looking completely lost because they could not find the hotel they had booked under the Test & Go scheme.
Atichan added that he heard hotel staff screaming the names of their hotels, but tourists could not hear them due to the racket.
By the time the tourists found a hotel counter, they had to queue for ages because there was only one person handling bookings for many hotels.
“This is how passengers under the Test & Go scheme were treated at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Nobody could go anywhere, they just stood in long lines. Hotel staff shouted their hotels’ names until their lost their voices and were left shaking their heads in despair. Some passengers complained, but the hotel staff only said they must complain to the airport,” Aticharn posted.
“It became a game of hunting for the hotel’s logo. Everything is placed randomly instead of alphabetically. There is no directory guiding passengers. A counter handles as many hotels as they want until the hotel logos are thrown down on the floor. When passengers find their counter, they have to join long queues because only one person handles several hotels’ guests.” …
Quite a few Thai Youtubers have been reporting about the situation at the airport regularly and huge props to them for actually being critical of the process.
I had three experiences arriving at Thai airports now and so far I haven’t experienced anything terrible. If anything it has always been very efficient but these problems apparently developed only this month as visitor numbers went way up.
The story also gained traction on social media yesterday and public ridicule and criticism is often the only thing in Thailand that causes a change for the better.
Now the Bangkok Post reports that officials are reacting and adding additional counters for better coordination (hopefully a lot more staff as well).
Suvarnabhumi airport has added more hotel counters for inbound passengers after reports of chaos in the passenger arrival area.
Airport general manager Kittipong Kittikachorn said nine more counters for hotels had been added on the second floor, reserved for incoming air travelers, taking the total to 17.
The move followed complaints by airport users on social media on the weekend. Pictures showed frustrated passengers looking for the names of the hotels where they wanted to stay or had made reservations before traveling.
“Hotel staff shouted the names of their hotels and desperately shook their heads. When passengers complained to them, hotel staff told them to complain to Airports of Thailand,” a post on the Twitter account @spin9 said.
Arrivals at Suvarnabhumi have risen since the lifting of pre-travel RT-PCR testing on April 1.
Now, I don’t want to put the blame entirely on the airport and hotel staff. A lot of people are like deer in headlights when it comes to even the most simple tasks during traveling. I’ve seen my fair share of people, especially in Thailand where I was wondering how they even managed to apply for a passport. That being said, the way these counters are set up isn’t ideal.
Last Friday the Health Ministry, CCSA, and Tourism officials agreed in principle that the PCR testing will be scrapped and replaced with a quick (ATK) test upon arrival. This will be the next bottleneck waiting for arrivals because if they can’t even get the coordination to send people to their hotels managed efficiently then how on earth would you institute testing in an efficient manner?
I had a rather positive experience with that in Seoul-Incheon on Sunday where it was done very well but there they let you go immediately after immigration. Showing up for the test, while mandatory within 24 hours, is not controlled. Knowing Thailand, there is no way they will follow any such system.
Until this testing change goes into effect the authorities will first wait for how Songkran goes as far as new infections are concerned. The good thing about it: There would be no more mandatory hotel stays and trips to a hospital.
A steep rise in foreign arrivals at Thailand’s main airport in Bangkok has caused the “system” to show signs of weakness with long lines forming and staff being overwhelmed by the number of people requiring assistance to be sent to their hotels and hospitals for PCR tests.
Airport authorities have now responded and added additional counters for processing. I’m not entirely sure more counters alone will do the trick, what’s needed is more staff and guidance for the arriving passengers.
The next few weeks will be very interesting especially if the change in the testing mechanism will kick in.