Sometimes flight delays are unavoidable, but this delay was just completely unnecessary. Last week, a Thai Airways flight from Zurich to Bangkok was delayed by two hours when two off-duty pilots demanded first-class seats. Unfortunately, the cabin was completely sold out, and the on-duty pilots refused to take off until their colleagues’ demands were met. A delay ensued that lasted until two selfless passengers agreed to bump themselves from first to business class. The flight was scheduled to depart at 1:30 PM but didn’t actually take off until 3:30 PM because of the needy pilots.
While it certainly doesn’t excuse the actions of the pilots, this route does not require passengers to pay extra for first-class seats. First class is offered as a first-come, first-served upgrade for business-class passengers, so the two who downgraded were not cheated out of their ticket value. Even so, we can’t imagine they were pleased by the unexpected bump. They later filed a complaint, arguing that the off-duty pilots should have been given vacant business-class seats instead of effectively holding the whole plane hostage.
According to the Bangkok Post, Thai Airways president Sumeth Damrongchaitham called the incident unprofessional, apologizing “to the passengers who were directly affected by the seat change. I take responsibility for the incident.”
It’s unclear if any restitution has been made to the two inconvenienced passengers.