In a significant development aimed at improving outbound travel experiences, the Immigration Bureau (IB) has announced the opening of Suvarnabhumi International Airport’s automated channels to foreign travelers, effective December 15. The decision aligns with the directive of the Thai Prime Minister, Srettha Thavasin, to enhance the outbound immigration system, echoing the government’s tourism promotion policy.
The move comes as a response to the need to reduce passenger density and alleviate congestion at Suvarnabhumi Airport, where an average of 50,000 to 60,000 outbound passengers navigate through the facility daily. The automated channel system, in operation since 2012, was initially designed for Thai passport holders but has now been expanded to accommodate foreign passport holders.
Lieutenant Police General Itthiphon Itthisanronnachai, Chief of the Immigration Bureau, disclosed that the automated channel system for departures utilizes 16 machines primarily designed for checking Thai passengers. This automated process, involving facial and fingerprint recognition, takes approximately 20 seconds per person, significantly faster than the manual checking by officers, which takes about 45 seconds per person.
The decision to include foreign passport holders in the automated channel system was initiated following concerns raised by Prime Minister Srettha during a sub-committee meeting on tourism at Suvarnabhumi Airport in mid-November. The prime minister’s order led to a comprehensive study conducted by the Immigration Bureau, Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited, and the Immigration Check Technology Centre.
The study confirmed the feasibility of the initiative, with the only requirement being the development of a new inspection program. The system is set to be operational from December 15, with the caveat that foreign nationals must possess E-Passports meeting International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.
Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited is also set to invest in a new automated channel system in July, replacing the existing 12-year-old system at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, both for inbound and outbound travel. This upgrade will involve the installation of 80 machines for international departures at Suvarnabhumi, a significant increase from the current 16 machines, along with 16 machines for international arrivals.
Additionally, Don Mueang Airport will see the installation of eight machines to replace the existing four for international departures and arrivals. The upgraded system is expected to be more modern, accurate, and faster, contributing to a smoother travel experience.
Lt. Pol. Gen. Itthipol emphasized that while the automated channel system expedites departures, officers will still be required for screening and checking individuals entering the kingdom for national security during international arrivals. Looking ahead, the increased number of automated channels is expected to allow more officers to be deployed for manual check lanes during peak flight periods, ensuring a seamless experience for passengers.
For more travel-related updates, follow us on [Social Media Handles].