Queues at Don Mueang pick up speed

Arriving passengers say the waiting time at immigration on Monday at Don Mueang was no more than an hour

On Monday, many passengers could see to the front of the passport line in the Don Mueang airport arrivals hall. (Twitter/@HerlinaEline)

The wait at Don Mueang International Airport's foreign immigration line was around 30 minutes to an hour on Monday, after long queues leading to four- to five-hour waits on Saturday prompted outrage.

A Bangkok Post reporter on Monday went to Don Mueang airport to see first-hand whether there was any overcrowding of arriving passengers at immigration as was the case from Friday night to early Saturday morning.

Passengers at Don Mueang experienced long queues and congestion at the immigration stations on Saturday due to an influx of passengers from four unscheduled flights on top of the 21 anticipated ones.

Arriving passengers took to social media to vent their anger and frustration over the long queues, some saying it took them four to five hours to get through immigration.

Past reports by the Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) also show passengers have filed complaints from time to time about overcrowding at the immigration counters at Don Mueang, particularly during rush hours from 5am-7am and 3pm-7pm.

The AoT has been asked to approve a plan for Don Mueang airport to increase space for immigration services to tackle overcrowding.

Monday, an employee of a non-profit organisation who arrived at Don Mueang from the US told our reporter he was satisfied with the immigration services.

Mr Jay (last name withheld), 22, said that while immigration lines were still long upon his arrival, authorities opened up multiple lines for foreigners to pass through.

"They were trying hard to speed things up," he said.

"I didn't even have to wait 30 minutes, but I feel like with this airport it's a hit or miss depending on the day."

A frequent visitor of Thailand, Mr Jay said that it normally takes him less than an hour to pass through immigration at Don Mueang.

He said this time, it was faster.

The visitor said mass congestion such as the four-hour long hold-up of arriving passengers on Saturday is more likely to happen at Don Mueang than Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Because of its smaller size, it is harder for Don Mueang airport to deal with passenger traffic, he said.

"The congestion on Saturday sounded like a nightmare. I'm glad that didn't happen to me," said Mr Jay.

An arriving tourist from Malaysia said it took him about half an hour to pass through the Asean immigration line at Don Mueang airport.

However, he said the fastest lanes were the diplomatic, priority and crew lanes.

The Malaysian tourist said that while each lane had two immigration kiosks, there was only one immigration officer in each lane with one kiosk per lane left empty.

A 48 year-old journalist from Spain said his wait at Don Mueang lasted for around one hour.

The Spaniard said his experience arriving at Suvarnabhumi 10 days ago went more smoothly.

The NGO worker, Mr Jay, suggested that to improve the situation at Don Mueang, the airport should ensure immigration stations are always fully staffed, so all lanes can be open.

According to an immigration officer who asked not to be named, however, the number of immigration officers has decreased by 50% since 2013, which affects the airport's ability to offer a decent service.

Statistics from the Immigration Bureau show there were almost 5,000 incoming passengers on Saturday.

According to the bureau, the current number of immigration officers can only handle 1,000 passengers an hour.

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