IF you’re a passenger on a Thai Smile Airways flight, don’t be surprised if you find yourself sitting next to a doll.
The airline, which is part of Thai Airways International, now allows owners of “look thep” (“child angel”) dolls to purchase seats for their dolls.
The dolls are currently all the rage in Thailand, and are believed to be possessed by a child’s spirit, which is said to have supernatural powers and would bring their owners good luck.
To accommodate owners who were reluctant to put their dolls in the cargo hold or in overhead compartments, the airline recently circulated an internal memo informing staff that besides being able to occupy a seat, the dolls would be served drinks and snacks.
However, the dolls would only be seated at window seats and would not be seated in exit rows for safety reasons. Additionally, much like human passengers, the dolls must have their seatbelts fastened during takeoff and landing.
The airline’s acting chief officer Captain Woraneti Lahprabang told Thai PBS that lately, there have been passengers who would take their dolls onboard as carry-ons and sit them on their laps. Some also asked the cabin crew to serve the dolls drinks and food.
“Under aviation safety regulations, large objects or luggage are not allowed as carry-ons. However, passengers can purchase a separate seat for them,” he said.
“Look thep” dolls are considered updated versions of “kuman thong”, fetal fetishes traditionally containing the soul of a child, which required obtaining a dead fetus.
The modern “look thep” are soul-optional, meaning that they simply invite a child’s spirit to possess a factory-manufactured doll.
Last year, a well-known Thai radio DJ went on television with his doll, named Wansai, claiming that his success in the entertainment industry could be attributed to the good luck brought by the doll.