Obviously, as many people who read the previous article might have wondered- no, I wasn’t quarantined in Chiang Mai for 14 days. Otherwise, this article’s headline would be “I’m Stuck”, rather than “Coming Home”.
After arriving in Chiang Mai for a three-day work trip, I had quite the time upon arrival at CNX. I was literally rescued by a stranger sitting next to me on the plane.
Since then, AOT has announced more specific guidelines that spell out the actual restrictions by province and airport.
Departing Chiang Mai
When I arrived at the airport, my temperature was checked at the main entrance. Again, I was allowed to check-in online, so I didn’t have to wait in line or check-in at a kiosk.
Before being allowed into the terminal to wait for my flight, I passed through a station where I was required to download the AOT app, register for an account and show my phone to the person working for confirmation. They would then stamp an AOT-issued paper that passengers could present with their boarding pass and government-issued ID to enter the waiting area. The paper is meant to be proof to the security personnel that you have downloaded the AOT app and registered for an account.
I didn’t have great cell phone reception at the time, so I told the person working in the booth that I couldn’t easily download the AOT app.
He just said okay, stamped the paper, and off I went.
There were not many passengers in the airport, and unlike at DMK (Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok), there were signs marking off every other seat to remind passengers to maintain social distance guidelines.
When it was time to board the flight, it was announced that passengers could line up for boarding. We were advised to stand on pieces of tape that were placed on the floor as a guideline for keeping at least two meters between each person.
Surprisingly, the tape was placed on the floor from the entrance to the gate, all the way to the entrance of the plane.
On the plane, all of the flight attendants were wearing disposable masks, gloves and protective eyewear. It was announced that they would be following guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) with regards to social distancing, that the airplane would be routinely disinfected and that passengers were required to wear a face mask for the duration of the flight.
Passengers were also not allowed to eat any food they had carried onto the plane with them, and we were also instructed to contact the cabin crew for assistance if we needed drinking water.
Arriving in Bangkok
Upon landing, passengers were deplaned in sections so that we could keep a distance between one another and there was no scramble to snatch bags and rush off the plane- everyone followed the rules.
I walked right into and through the arrivals hall, and had my temperature checked by a thermal camera one last time before I exited the airport.
Because I didn’t have the AOT app, I didn’t fill out any health declaration form (T.8) like I did on the way up to Chaing Mai. For people traveling without downloading the app, I assumed that we’d be given a paper form to fill out, but we were not.
Unlike in Chiang Mai, there were no police picking random people out of the lines for further inspection.
All said and done, flying back to Bangkok from Chiang Mai was smooth. Clearly the problem with traveling at this time is the difference in rules between each province and the communication of those rules to people that need to travel.
For now, I’d recommend staying in the province of your primary residence. Unless for essential work, it is not worth the risk or the hassle to fly domestically. If you must travel, it’s going to be easier if you bring a Thai person with you wherever you are going.