Tan Son Nhat arrival hall jammed as locals gather to see Viet kieu home

Most Viet kieu arriving at Tan Son Nhat will be greeted by not just one or two family members, but half a dozen

People wait outside the arrival hall at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

While the departure hall of Tan Son Nhat is often overcrowded with family eagerly boarding flights to visit loved ones for Tet, the arrival hall at Vietnam’s busiest airport is also jam-packed these days.

Numerous overseas Vietnamese, or Viet kieu have begun their yearly return home to celebrate Tet, or the Lunar New Year holiday, next week, but they are not to blame for the congestion; instead, it’s their dozens of family members showing up to greet them who are clogging the area.

Upon arrival, many Viet kieu are greeted not only by one or two family members, but half a dozen, and sometimes, their entire multi-generation family.

As Tet is less than a week away, the number of people entering Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh City airport is spiking on a daily basis, the airport customs said Thursday.

According to the customs agency, approximately 17,000 passengers travel through the airport each day, many of whom are overseas Vietnamese, according to the customs agency.

Nguyen Minh Tuan, deputy director of the Southern Airports Authority, shared different numbers, saying that the number of arriving passengers is nearly 20,000 a day, up 5,000 from this period last year.

“There are more than 150 flights landing at Tan Son Nhat each day, up 20 flights from last year,” he added.

With one arriving passenger having at least six people waiting for them, it is inevitable that Tan Son Nhat, already operating beyond its capacity, will be extremely overcrowded.

According to a Tan Son Nhat representative, peak travel times at the airport are between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm to midnight, when most international flights land at the airdrome.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper visited the arrival hall on Thursday and witnessed a sea of people waiting outside, many in large family groups from other provinces waiting to welcome their loved ones.

Tuan said the airport authority has “prepared solutions to deal with the congestion.”

“The airport itself has also taken measures to ensure speedy entrance for arriving passengers keeping order,” he added.

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