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Celebrity English teacher and journalist Andrew Biggs has created a storm by saying that the immigration queues that greeted him on a return trip to Thailand at Bangkok’s main airport were “hell”.
In its defence, a spokesperson for immigration sought to explain why there were such long midweek queues at Suvarnabhumi saying officers have EIGHT things to do in 50 seconds.
Andrew – a well known figure in Thailand for several decades – was writing in Thai on Twitter when he said it was hell for tourists.
“Look at today’s queue,” he tweeted. “I’ve never seen one like it before.”
But the Australian’s forthright post produced a backlash from Thai people commenting on Twitter, with the fallout reported by TNAMcot.
Krisada Suyasien said: “That’s OTT – Thailand has given you a good living now you call us hell”.
NITI said: “I’ve seen the same abroad. This (criticism) is too much. It’s not always like this”.
Perhaps stung by the criticism he posted the next day (Thursday): “OK it’s not hell. But it’s the front door to the country we love. I was frustrated by what I saw yesterday because I am concerned about the image of Thailand.”
He had pointed out in his previous tweet that seven booths were unmanned.
Pol Col Cherngron Rimphadee said that Mr Biggs had arrived at a very busy time on Wednesday between 12 and 2 pm with 4,500 people on 44 flights needing to be processed.
All available staff were deployed and it’s not an easy job, said the Pol Col.
“Immigration officers have to do 8 things in 50 seconds,” he said. These are passport check, visa check, face recognition, blacklist check, scan, interview, take a picture and stamp.
He said all this takes time if the country is going to keep out the bad guys.
Not all Twitters had a go at Andrew, however, with many backing up his stance.
User “I hate bean sprouts” said: “The officials need to improve their systems at the airport”.
Last month, a photo of more long queues that greeted passengers arriving at Suvarnabhumi went viral.
Twitter user Spin9 wrote:: “Welcome to Thailand – and welcome to queues at immigration. Passengers needed to get all ten fingers scanned”.
The post was eventually retweeted more than 10,000 times.
On 11 July, a Thaivisa user shared an image of tourists queuing to be processed by immigration after arriving at Suvarnabhumi.