Suvarnabhumi Airport ushers in a travel revolution! Effective Dec 15, automatic exit lanes for foreigners. Twice as fast, it’s new from the Immigration Bureau. Passport control, whittled down from 45 to 20 seconds, speeding up operations and aligning with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s plans to boost tourism with better security.

The Immigration Bureau’s plan to allow foreign tourists to use automatic exit channels at both Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang Airport will proceed as planned from December 15th. The new regime will apply to foreigners with e-passports from approximately 70 countries. It will cut the processing time for passengers exiting the country through an Immigration checkpoint from 45 seconds to 20 seconds thus helping to speed up operations at the country’s two main airports.

Commander-in-chief of the Immigration Bureau Police Lieutenant General Itthiphon Itthisanronnachai and Commander of Immigration Bureau Division 2 Police Major General Choengron Rimphadee, along with other officers, inspect the self-service exit points at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Monday.

In a groundbreaking move set to change its operational dynamics to make things easier for travellers, Suvarnabhumi Airport is ready to open an automatic exit lane for foreigners, effective December 15, aiming to alleviate congestion and expedite outbound travel.

Undeniably, the initiative aligns with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s tourism-centric policy, emphasising the need for efficiency and a seamless airport experience.

Part of a wider Immigration Bureau overhaul and an operational efficiency plan spearheaded by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to boost foreign tourism

Police Lieutenant General Itthiphon Itthisanronnachai, the new Commander-in-chief of the Immigration Bureau, unveiled the plan on December 11, 2023. 

The upgraded system, part of a comprehensive immigration overhaul, will enable passengers with foreign passports to utilise the automated passport control channel, streamlining departure processes.

Airports move to drive traffic with self-service for outbound travellers from December 15th

The current outbound automatic channel system, operational since 2012, and initially designed for Thai passengers, boasts 16 machines. It takes a mere 20 seconds for each individual’s passport verification through face and fingerprint recognition.

Country’s main Suvarnabhumi Airport sometimes has to deal with over 20 flights per hour at peak times with up to 60,000 passengers departing per day

In contrast, it currently takes 45 seconds at staffed gates. Consequently, this promises a significant reduction in passenger processing time.

Suvarnabhumi Airport handles a daily departure load of 50,000 to 60,000 passengers, grappling with over 20 flights per hour during peak times. 

Previously, delays in security and immigration procedures risked passengers missing flights, necessitating a revamp. The Prime Minister’s directive prioritises creating an efficient departure process that adheres to international standards.

Concerned about the congestion, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, shortly after taking office, initiated a study to explore using the automatic channel system for foreign travellers. 

Approximately 30,000 passengers from 70 countries with E-passports will be able to use the new self-service exit points from December 15th say officials

In collaboration with the Airports of Thailand (AOT), Immigration Bureau officials, and technology system companies, a feasibility plan was devised. The comprehensive inspection programme is set to roll out on December 15, providing a smoother experience for foreign travellers.

In the meantime, foreigners intending to use the automatic channel system must possess an E-Passport, meeting the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.

Basically,  70 member countries adhere to these standards, accounting for an estimated 30,000 daily departures. 

In any case, Non-E-Passport holders, including children, disabled individuals, or those with abnormal E-Passports, will still undergo manual checks, albeit at an accelerated pace.

Meanwhile, as a long-term solution, Airports of Thailand (AOT) plans to replace the already outdated automatic channel system in July 2024.

New fast track exit mechanism will allow Immigration Bureau staff to focus on better screening of travellers entering the kingdom for security purposes

Suvarnabhumi Airport will see an increase in machines from 16 to 80, promising enhanced accuracy and speed. This technological upgrade extends to Don Mueang Airport as well, marking a significant leap forward in immigration efficiency.

Police Lieutenant General Itthiphon affirmed that while international arrivals will continue to rely on officials for screenings, future additions of automatic channel machines will allow a more effective deployment of officers.

This strategic move aims to fortify arrival passport control lanes during peak travel periods, ensuring national security principles are upheld.

As Suvarnabhumi Airport embraces technological innovation, travellers can anticipate a more streamlined and expeditious departure experience, aligning with the Prime Minister’s vision for a more vibrant and efficient tourism sector.

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