World

'Child angel dolls are not passengers'

Thai air safety body responds to lucky Thai doll superstition

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) warned passengers yesterday that lucky "child angel" dolls cannot be considered real people and must be properly stowed before take-off and landing, AFP reported.

The unusual clarification came in response to the latest superstitious craze sweeping the kingdom, where Thais are pampering lifelike dolls believed to contain a child's spirit, hoping it will bring them good luck.

Known in Thai as "luuk thep" (child angels), the dolls, which can cost up to US$600 (S$860), were popularised by celebrities who claimed that dressing up and feeding the dolls had brought them professional success.

LEAKED

This week, multiple local media outlets ran reports based around a leaked memo from the airline Thai Smile, suggesting that the company planned to begin offering airline tickets - including in-flight drinks and snacks - to the dolls.

The memo defined the "child angels" as "a doll that is alive", adding that the figures should be placed in window seats, so that other passengers would not be disturbed, and that seat belts should be worn during take-off and landing, according to reports.

But the CAAT said in its statement that the dolls were "non-human beings that cannot be considered passengers".

It added: "Carry-on baggage must be stored inside overhead lockers or underneath the seat."

Thai Smile has not denied the leaked memo, nor has it made a formal statement.

Superstition runs deep in Thailand and many believe in ghosts and good and malevolent spirits, and that various offerings will ward off bad luck.

The doll mania began about a year ago and some believers take the dolls with them to Buddhist ceremonies and to everyday places such as restaurants and the cinema.

On Tuesday, officers in Bangkok confiscated more than 100 dolls and arrested three vendors for allegedly failing to pay import taxes.

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