System issue disrupts immigration clearance at Singapore's Changi Airport, land checkpoints
Long queues were seen in the departure areas at Changi Airport's terminals.
SINGAPORE: Long queues were seen at Changi Airport on Friday (Mar 31) due to issues with the immigration clearance system, which were resolved in about four hours.
After snaking lines were spotted in the morning at the airport's departure areas, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said at about 11.30am that there was "intermittent slowness" of its immigration system across all checkpoints.
"Delays are expected and travellers are advised to postpone all non-essential travel, where applicable," ICA said about half an hour later.
Changi Airport had advised travellers to head to the airport earlier because of the disruption.
The automated lanes for departure at all four Changi Airport terminals were affected, ICA said in an update at about 2pm, adding that travellers were being redirected to manual lanes for immigration clearance.
About two hours later, ICA said immigration clearance at all checkpoints was back to normal, and that it was investigating the root cause of the "system issue".
At about 5pm, Changi Airport said in an update that a "small" number of passengers missed their flights, despite priority being given to those with imminent departures.
"We provided assistance with rebooking and other arrangements," said the airport on Facebook.
"SUPER LONG QUEUE"
When CNA arrived at the departure hall of Terminal 1 at around 1.20pm, things looked relatively calm and orderly, with regular queues at most of the check-in rows.
However, lines stretched out within the check-in area as passengers were directed to manned immigration clearance counters, rather than using the automatic clearance gates.
There were about 30 passengers in each queue. An announcement was heard, saying: "Immigration clearance for all departing passengers is delayed due to technical reasons. We apologise for the inconvenience."
A woman at Terminal 3, who declined to be named, told CNA at 1.50pm that her loved one had been queuing at the immigration counters for around 20 minutes, and they were still in the middle of the queue.
Their flight was at 2.25pm and she said they did not know about the long queues before arriving at the airport.
Also at Terminal 3 was another woman sending off her mother. The woman, who did not want to be named, told CNA that she and her father arrived at Terminal 3 at about 11am and noticed that queues were already forming.
By 12.20pm, there was “a super long queue” extending from the immigration gates to Row 10 in the terminal, she said. The gates are located between Rows 5 and 6.
Her mother queued for 15 minutes from about 1.40pm before clearing immigration. All nine lanes had around 20 passengers waiting to clear immigration manually.
The automated clearance lanes at Terminal 3 were empty. There was also a sign instructing foreign aircrew members to “proceed to counter for clearance”.
A similar announcement about the delay was played out at Terminal 4 at about 1pm.
While the queues appeared to have mostly subsided by 2pm, there were still lines persisting inside check-in areas.
Some automated lanes at Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints were also affected, ICA said then, adding that there was no disruption to immigration clearance at coastal checkpoints.
The authority said that it had recalled off-duty officers to provide additional support and to "ensure law and order" amid the delays.
CNA has asked several airlines if any passengers missed their flights and if flights were delayed.
Jetstar Asia said none of their passengers missed any of the 11 flights operated by the budget carrier in the morning.
Singapore Airlines subsidiary Scoot said all its flights departing Changi Airport were "currently operating as per schedule".
"(We) will work with our airport partners to assist our customers where possible," a spokesperson added.
Both Scoot and Jetstar also said they were closely monitoring the situation.