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Crowds are struggling to enter and leave Phuket airport this high season

Phuket Tourist: I Breached Security at Phuket Airport

Thursday, December 29, 2011
PHUKET: A tourist on Phuket says he arrived at Phuket International Airport on a flight from Malaysia, picked up his bags, and went through to Phuket without clearing Customs and Immigration.

He says others on the same flight ''probably'' went through in the same way. When he eventually realised his mistake, and that not having an entry visa could cause problems leaving Phuket, he sought help.

The man, who prefers to remain anonymous, says that his Phuket. resort was able to help him to rectify the situation.

The alleged security breach throws into question the ability of staff to cope with an excessive number of passengers passing through the airport, coming and going.

Delays in processing are being exacerbated by high-season crowds. The prospect is that endurance and patience will be stretched even further as temporary measures are take to cope with ever-increasing departures and arrivals before the enlarged airport opens in November 2014.

The man's allegations cast doubts about the efficiency of the expansion, which will require more passengers to be transferred to the old terminal by coach after alighting from flights on the tarmac.

That's what the man says happened last week on his AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur.

''I was among the last off,'' he said. ''I think we must have been taken to the luggage collection area, where I picked up my bags and walked out.

''The assumption may have been made that we'd perhaps been checked in Bangkok. I suspect there were others like me who entered Phuket without being checked and without entry visa stamps.''

More tarmac-and-coach passengers are planned to enable the Phuket airport to cope during the expansion.

Where it has been discovered that people have entered the secure zone at airports without clearance in the US and Australia, entire airports have been called to a stop, with passengers even forced to leave aircraft and go through security procedures a second time.

The tally of arrivals and departures at Phuket airport is expected to top eight million in 2011 - vastly exceeding the official capacity of 6.5 million.

Comments

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Typical scenario:

Passenger A arrives from overseas flight to Bangkok and catch a connecting flight to Phuket without custom clearance in Bangkok!

Passenger B is a friend of Passenger A and has same flight (domestic) from BKK to Phuket.
Note that Passenger A did not go through custom yet and Passenger B is already officially in Thailand and has domestic flight only.

In Bangkok departure hall or on the plane, Passenger A gives passenger B the bag which he doesn't want to carry through customs. (Avoidance of custom charge, drugs etc.)

At Phuket, Passengers A goes through customs without worry and passenger B bring the bag out of the airport as any other domestic passenger!

Posted by Mr. K on December 29, 2011 18:29

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I volunteer at the airport with the Tourist Police Volunteers. The only way, I know of, that this can happen is if the passenger(s) continue on the upper back hallway and exit domestic baggage rather than international baggage. There should be staff and cording to prevent this from happening. Otherwise in international there is a whole line of immigration officers and then custom officers, that would be very difficult for someone to bypass.

Posted by Dana on December 29, 2011 20:20

Editor Comment:

The incident should be investigated. If correct, it's a serious security breach. We couldn't raise Immigration by telephone this evening.

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Sorry... wrong Khun Dana.

As CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) passengers and not CIQ passenger travel through same departure hall in Bangkok and on the same airplane, its easy to switch hand-luggage at Bangkok departure hall or on the plane. - After that, when in Phuket (or other domestic airports) everyone use the correct exit without any worry (CIQ passengers go through custom and domestic travel through domestic doors - nobody needs to worry.
Trust me, this happens - very often!
PS: I travel twice a week through Phuket airport (international and domestic) and back since several years and have yet to see tourist police at airport.

Posted by Mr. K on December 29, 2011 21:19

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I was once left at the domestic arrival belt at Don Muang when I arrived on an international flight and could have just walked out of the airport without any passport being stamped. I had luggage though, so I had to contact some airport staff that helped me to get to the international arrival hall so i could get my passport stamped and I could collect my luggage. The scenario Mr.K describes could, and probably is, happening very often. What happened to the man in this article was probably that the airport staff put his suitcase on the belt in the domestic arrival hall by mistake. I fly HKT-BKK very often and there is always a bit of chaos with people with CIQ stickers waiting for their luggage for quite a long before they realise (usually because some airport staff comes and waves them on and yells in almost impossible to understand english) they have to go out of the Domestic arrival hall area to where all the touts are, turn left and then continue to the international arrival hall to pick up their luggage. It's all a mess.

Posted by christian on December 29, 2011 21:56

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It's impossible to pass from international to domestic at Suvarnabhumi without going through immigration. They have dedicated immigration facilities just for transfer passengers. So everyone arriving at HKT does so at the domestic side as they have all already cleared immigration. Customs is a separate issue.

But that's irrelevant here as this passenger seems to have arrived on a direct international flight. Never the less he was led to domestic arrivals.

Posted by CaptainJack on December 30, 2011 02:38

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For 12 months I flew Beijing to Bangkok then a connecting flight to Phuket, every month.
Immigration was done in BKK, but no customs clearance or inspection was required.
As I carried only hand luggage, I walked straight out of Phuket domestic arrivals.

Posted by Frequent Flier on December 30, 2011 08:02

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@Frequent Flier
Exactly! That's the case and point!
Immigration does not check any bags! It's very safe to switch bags with your friend at departure hall or plane!

Posted by Mr. K on December 30, 2011 15:29


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