By Susan Green
Clearly, Chiang Mai’s Airport was designed in a quieter age,
when back in those days not so very many tourists passed through it.
Nowadays, the maintenance and the facilities there are both grossly
inadequate to cope properly with the vastly-increased passenger traffic.
It is high time that some of the money all these additional,
free-spending tourists bring to Chiang Mai was spent on upgrading the
airport – which, after all, they all pass through.
To begin with, and especially now that there are huge and growing
numbers of group and individual passengers transitting this airport on
direct flights to and from Mainland China, the physical facilities there
are simply not built to a scale to cope with them all. There’s generally
a long queue to even enter the departure halls, as not enough luggage
scanning areas are provided. The same can be said for Immigration and
Customs – there aren’t enough desks, and anyway very often some of the
few desks that are provided are unmanned, even during busy periods. More
desks and more staff on duty are obviously needed, especially at peak
Waiting in the departure hall is too often a nightmare. There are
nowhere near enough seats for the thousands of passengers awaiting their
flight. People have to sit on the floor. In that departure hall, there’s
nowhere to exchange currency. There’s nowhere to get a meal, only a few
coffee shops, of course with no empty seats available. The only
signboard provided there lists flight arrivals – a completely useless
provision in the departure hall!
When I recently took an early-morning flight from Chiang Mai Airport, to
my horror I found that there was nowhere open in the whole airport to
even get a cup of coffee!
The departure hall, filled as it is very often with hundreds of
seat-less people milling around, has many sections blocked by piles of
discarded packing boxes left out in what should be walkways. Few
airports in the World, even in the Third World, would be so
poorly-managed that such a mess would be allowed. So why does it happen
On a recent day, only a couple of the 14 bright overhead lights were
actually switched on in the teeming departure hall, meaning the lighting
was too dim for waiting passengers to be able to read. Perhaps that’s
why there is nowhere in the departure hall to buy a newspaper, book or
magazine, to help kill time while awaiting your flight?
The state of the toilets, of which there are nowhere near enough to cope
with such great crowds of people, were a scene of horror! Long queues
are seen awaiting them. Until more are provided – many more – then those
few that are used need to have almost constant maintenance (i.e.
cleaning) to cope with such high usage.
All these areas for improvement, listed above, can and should be
addressed soon. An airport is the first and last place seen by
travelers. What does it say about the otherwise nice city of Chiang Mai,
to have travelers experience the many problems currently besetting the