Never in my life have I witnessed a bigger mess than Phuket International Airport. With all my years of travel, and being in some back woods airports, I have never experienced a more unfriendly, and confusing airport. Flying in, we were treated to a 2 hour wait going through custom’s and immigration, totally fine, I get it, not something you can rush. We just had no idea the chaos that was waiting for us when we were going to leave.
Let’s just say this. Whatever warm and fuzzy feeling you have about the Thai people, and the wonderful experience you have of the island. Might be completely and utterly tarnished by the crazy experience leaving in the Airport.
Picture this. There is a security lineup outside of the airport, you must have all suitcases scanned before entering the airport. We had looked at people’s comments on google, about timing before we left. the recent comments scared us bit. We thought, maybe 4 hours will do the trick, I mean they must be organized enough.
We got there. Looked at the crazy lineups to get through the outdoor security. We waited. We were lucky. We got through in 45 minutes, the line was actually moving. Get into the airport. The ticket booth wasn’t even open. Strange. We watched the monitor, kept looking for where we were supposed to be. Instead of the airlines having a permanent section that checks in all those airline flights. In Phuket, they move the airlines and the lines are for your specific flight. We noticed 2 lineups had started, but we didn’t know if it was for our flight. We got into one and started to wait…
The whole section G was for our airlines, just no one seemed to know if it was for their flight.
We waited. We watched the ticket agents come in, and stand, laugh gossip. Some passengers began to ask them questions. Questions weren’t answered. We stood there. Finally our airlines had posted our flight number to the corresponding line. We had 2 hours until departure. We weren’t in the right line. We pushed our way through, got in the right line. To find, the ticket agents were chatting again. Making us wait.
It was finally our turn. We were shocked by the time. We had an hour left until our flight. The ticket agent gave us our boarding pass for our flight to Shanghai, but refused to give us one for our flight back to Toronto from Shanghai. We attempted to argue, but it was futile.
We ran to the passport check. Our son, who was now beyond exhausted as it was 2am. Asked if he could go to the washroom. I told him that we had to wait until we got through the passport check and security, that I was so sorry he couldn’t go before. I felt horrible. In my exhaustion, I had forgotten to ask if he needed to go before heading into a line. He said he would be o.k. The lineup was miserable, and completely inefficient. When we finally got through, we realized we had to go through security too. We had 20 minutes to get to the gate. We ran to the washroom. Then ran to the gate.
The gate was downstairs, where we would have to be bused. We got there, and no announcement, just the sign changed. Our flight was delayed by 4o minutes. Jeez. Ridiculous. We stood there, waiting again.
The monitor above the gate, stated boarding, I told my husband we needed to lineup. He said “They haven’t even announced it.” I laughed and replied “I don’t think it will be announced.” We lined up. The bus filled up quickly. We were to be on the next bus. We waited. No bus. 45 minutes later the 2nd bus finally shows up, after a lot of screaming from waiting passengers. The whole time we were waiting, the gate monitor had changed, and had become a different flight and airlines with no warning. To top it off, they never announced our flight.
The whole experience was just chaotic. If you think that 4 hours will give you plenty of time. Think again. You could be there the day before your flight, and you will still get there maybe just in time or maybe not. The airport is simply too small for the volume going through, and there are absolutely NO PROCESSES to get people through quickly and efficiently.
You would think that it would be in the airports best interest to get people through early, who show up early, as individuals who get there early are more willing to shop in the duty-free, but no. No such luck!