Chaos at Suvarnabhumi Airport

(AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

My wife and I just picked up a friend up from Suvarnabhumi off TG996. We live in Lard Praw. We left early and had to go via Bang Na and King Kaew Rd at Bang Phli as I had heard on 91FM that the normal entrance road off the Chonburi Motorway was jammed solid. All was well until I reached the airport at around 8.30 p.m. Phanthamit (PAD) were already controlling some of the roads on the airport extremities, the traffic situation was chaotic, we snail crawled along via the air cargo terminal road. I saw some Westerners dragging their suitcases from there. They were moving faster than we were in our cars!

(Sukree Sukplang/Reuters)

We eventually reached the number 3 car park which was only a third full. The Phanthamit group by this time were pouring in to the airport from the Chonburi motorway end, and were occupying the road outside the departure level. The noise they were making was incredible, they had loudspeakers mounted on several large trucks and the sound echoed around the terminal building. Judging crowd sizes is difficult but there were certainly well over a thousand of them, and more were arriving on foot all the time. At this stage the only entry doors to the terminal building for departing passengers was on the arrivals level, as the police had all of the doors on Departure level blocked off. This was causing confusion as there was very few officials around downstairs to advise people how to get to Departures.

(AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

When we got inside the terminal, the shops and restaurants, banks etc were hurriedly closing and staff were blocking off the front of their premises with tables and chairs. At around 9.30pm the public address system announced that ALL people in the terminal building should leave immediately for their own safety. This was repeated many times over the next 15 minutes or so, although very few people seemed to be paying any attention to it. The noise from the yellow shirts outside was unbelievable and it only seemed a matter of time before they forced their way in. The police in their riot gear were woefully outnumbered.


Exactly at 10.30 p.m. the Phanthamit started to pour in through the doors on the departure level mainly at the Thai Airlines (Northern?) end. The police seemed to be unable to keep them out. Then rumours spread that the airport was now officially closed and that all flights were canceled, although I didn’t hear any announcements made over the PA system. It was pandemonium. Our friend appeared at the meeting point at 10.45pm or so and we made our way back to the car. On the way we talked to some people who had been trying to get a meter taxi back into town to try and find a hotel. Taxis were very scarce and the people said the drivers were screwing the passengers for all kinds of money to take them back into the city. Earlier in the evening they had been asking for 1000 Baht, and by this time it was much more than that!!I heard 2500 Baht mentioned.

On the way out of the airport the outgoing lanes of the road leading to the Chonburi Motorway were only moderately busy, but the lanes inbound to the airport were jammed solid right back to the motorway. I hate to think how many outgoing passengers were stuck there and are probably still stuck there!!

Altogether a very disturbing experience, and it must have been very frightening for people just wanting to get out of Thailand and go home to be trapped like that.

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