Auto checkout at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi airport immigration for foreigners from Friday 15 December

Immigration Police Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Itthipol Itthisanronnachai, second right, inspects new automatic departure channels for foreigners at Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday. The new channels will open on Dec 15. (Photo: police)

Auto checkout at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi airport immigration for foreigners from Friday 15 December

Automatic channels for passport checks for out-bound foreign passengers at Suvarnabhumi airport will be available from Dec 15, to speed up boarding of departure flights, Immigration Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Itthipol Itthisanronnachai said on Monday.

He said Suvarnabhumi airport started using 16 automatic channels for passport checks for out-bound travellers from 2012, but only for Thai nationals. It takes only about 20 seconds to scan the face and fingerprints of each passenger. A channel manned by an immigration officer normally takes about 45 seconds.

At present Suvarnabhumi airport handles 50,000-60,000 out-bound passengers per day. Congestion is high when there are more than 20 departure flights per hour. If the immigration and security screening process is slow, passengers can miss their flights.

The Immigration Police Bureau was improving the process so passengers could be processed more quickly, he said. This was in line with government policy to promote tourism.

Pol Lt Gen Itthipol said Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin spoke to him at the airport before leaving for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco in mid-November.

The prime minister expressed concern over the slow outflow of passengers and asked him to look into installing automatic channels to check the passports of out-bound foreigners.

Action had been taken.

New automatic channels for checking the passports of departing foreigners had been installed at Suvarnabhumi airport and would be open for use from Dec 15.

Immigration Police Division 2 (international airports) commander Pol Gen Choengron Rimphadee said the new automatic channels were for passengers carrying e-passports, and complied with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Foreigners with ordinary passports, and children and the disabled, although holding e-passports, would still be required to go through the ordinary channels manned by officials.

Outflow of passengers at Suvarnabhumi airport was expected to improve from about 5,000 to 12,000 per hour. Despite the faster immigration process, the machines could still detect people wanted under arrest warrants, those banned from traveling abroad, and those who had overstayed their visas, he said.

Arriving passengers would still have to be checked by immigration officers, for security reasons. As more automatic channels were installed for departures, more immigration staff could be moved to the arrival channels to more effectively cope with the inflow of passengers during peak times, Pol Maj Gen Choengron said.