Vietnam scrambles for quick action after Tan Son Nhat named among worst airports

By Tran Tam, Thanh Nien News

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Passengers wait for check-in at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bach Duong Passengers wait for check-in at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bach Duong

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Vietnamese aviation authorities will review the problems facing Tan Son Nhat International Airport and find solutions to improve the quality of services here, an official said Monday.
Lai Xuan Thanh, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, told Thanh Nien the Ministry of Transport had ordered the Southern Airports Authority to convene an urgent meeting with service providers at Tan Son Nhat to fix the problems at the airport.
The move was made after Tan Son Nhat was ranked 8th in the annual list of the worst airports in the world compiled by travel website Sleeping in Airports.
It took the fourth place in the regional blacklist for Asia, moving in the wrong direction from the eighth position last year. 
The survey made headlines on local newspapers and attracted wide attention. This year's survey, which asked fliers to identify the world's worst and best aviation terminals, attracted 26,297 qualifying responses.
The annual survey asked travelers to rate their airport experiences based on factors such as services and facilities, terminal cleanliness, customer service and comfort.
Travelers who actually slept in the airport were also able to rate the terminal on its "sleepability".
Thanh said Vietnamese airports must try to improve even if there is only one passenger complaining.
“We will look into the problems of Tan Son Nhat and find the solution soon,” he said.
The survey
According to the website, Tan Son Nhat's status has deteriorated further due to allegations of corruption. Numerous survey respondents reported that customs officers ask for bribes in order to move through the process faster, and those that declined paying quickly faced problems with their paperwork.
“If visiting this airport, be sure to keep your valuables hidden and some small cash on hand – and consider filling up at the nearby Burger King before entering the terminal itself,” the site suggested.
“The only way this airport can improve is to get rid of all the bribery, you have to pay just to get out of the airport,” a traveler wrote.
“They ask you for money blatantly, from the visa service people, to the front desk reception, and the TSA (Transport Security Administration),” another wrote.
Other negative reviews mentioned poor Wi-Fi signals, dirty toilets and a limited selection of restaurants.
Tran Van Long, director of Viet Media Travel, told Thanh Nien it was quite hard to hail a cab after getting out of the Tan Son Nhat Airport, and it took quite a long way to travel from the airport to the plane.
An executive of a foreign airline in Ho Chi Minh City said the reviews are quite correct.
He said foreign air carriers had repeatedly complained about low-quality Wi-Fi at the airport over the last few years, but things have not been improved.
He also complained about the poor hygiene of toilets and inappropriate placement of customs scanners inside the airport.
Last year, the site also listed Noi Bai, the second biggest international airport in Vietnam after Tan Son Nhat, among the worst in Asia.
Due to its low ranking, the director of Noi Bai airport issued a public apology and pledged to improve the quality of service at the country’s second biggest airport.
Thanks to its efforts, Noi Bai got out of the “Asia’s worst” list this year. More surprisingly, it jumped into the list of Asia’s Top 30 Best Airports.
Vietnam’s Da Nang International Airport was also named in the Top 30 Best Airports in Asia this year.

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