Suvarnabhumhi Airport has got a lot of bad press over the years. Mainly, it would seem, from the expat community here in Thailand. Speaking personally, I’ve never had any real complaints. It’s by no means perfect, but its a lot better than other international airports that I have passed through, including the one in my home country. In fact, Heathrow has been in the news recently for long queues at immigration. It’s not something unique to Thailand. If you’ve been to Suvarnabhumi on an international flight recently, you would have noticed that they have changed things around a bit. After you have checked-in for your flight, you then have to proceed up this escalator to the floor above for “Passport Control”.
In the past, you would go through Immigration, and then pass through Security. At Suvarnabhumi, they have now swapped this around. You go up to the next floor where they have the security check. As you can see here, there are three security checkpoints. The lady in the foreground is directing people in the snake-like queue. She is the person that tells you if you need to go to line 1, 2 or 3. Only the centre one has the full body scanner. As you can see you step in and raise your arms. The choice of passengers to use this is completely random. No racial profiling. I guess they are still testing it, as every single person who stepped through it were then scanned again with one of those “magic wands”.
Once you have finished with the security checkpoint, you then go down the escalator back to the same floor as the check-in counters. This is the newly renovated immigration area. The main difference here is that they have lowered the ceiling to make it much easier to air-condition. So, no longer a hot working environment for the immigration officers. They always complained before. They have also started doing the snake-like queues which speeds things up. There are also attendants helping you along. While I was there at peak time, everyone was moving along very fast. But of course, there are no guarantees. Incidentally, if you need a re-entry permit, you can apply for one here between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight seven days a week.