Off-Duty Pilots Demanding First Class Seats Delay Thai Airways Flight
By Sharelle Burt
These days, it seems like no one can board a plane and have an enjoyable flight without incident.
The same went for passengers aboard a Thai Airways flight when they were delayed for two hours. The reason? Two off-duty pilots demanding first class seats. Yes, you read that correctly.
With the flight being completely sold out, the pilots refused to settle for anything less than the best. The Zurich to Bangkok flight, scheduled to depart at 1:30 pm, didn’t leave until 3:30 pm after two passengers finally decided to bump their seats down some to business class. The flight was able to make up some lost time, arriving in Bangkok about 90 minutes later than scheduled.
All first class passengers initially refused to do so. After about two hours of delay, a couple finally vacated their seats so the flight could depart. Annoyed by the inconvenience, the couple who had to downgrade filed a complaint after the flight, saying that the plane was held “hostage to achieve what they wanted.”
In a statement released this week, the airline said that it was sorry for the incident and apologized “to all passengers affected by the unprofessional action that caused the delay.”
“I apologize to the passengers who were directly affected by the seat change. I take responsibility for the incident,” Thai Airways President Sumeth Damrongchaitham said in a statement Thursday night.
Damrongchaitham said the matter was severe and affected the airline’s image. He ordered an investigation into the incident and ensured an incident of such caliber won’t happen again.
Even though the passengers who downgraded filed a complaint against the airline, reports show that they didn’t even pay for their first class seats in the first place, as Thai Airways uses a combination of 777-300ERs and 747-400s on their route between Bangkok and Zurich. They don’t sell the first class cabin on this type of flight. First class seats are available to passengers on a first come first served basis.