CAAT allows food and drinks to be served on domestic flights in Thailand

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has given airlines the green light to serve food and drinks again on domestic flights in Thailand.

Yesterday, the CAAT announced that director Sutthiphong Kongpool signed regulations to allow passengers on domestic flights in Thailand to be served food and drinks again, under strict Covid-19 prevention measures, effective immediately.

The measures include that food must be served in pre-packaged containers and drinks must be served in bottles. Cabin crew must regularly wash their hands and clean with disinfectant, especially before and after meals are served, said the CAAT.

The CAAT banned airlines from serving food and drinks on domestic flights in December 2020 as a Covid prevention measure. In September 2020, Thai Airways transformed its Bangkok headquarters into an airline-themed restaurant, serving in-flight meals for people who missed the taste of their aeroplane food.

The Covid risks presented by serving in-flight food are less about the food itself and more about the use of face masks. Planes are crowded, badly-ventilated spaces, so wearing a face mask throughout the journey is a requirement of all passengers as a coronavirus prevention measure.

Face masks must be removed to eat or drink. On long-haul flights, this is a must, but most domestic flights in Thailand are only 1 to 2 hours long, so eating a meal is not always necessary, and removing face masks could increase the transmission of Covid.

The CAAT didn’t say why they had chosen to lift the food and drink ban now, but it doesn’t seem to be related to coronavirus case numbers. Case numbers remain high in Thailand, due to the high transmissibility of Covid variants BA.4 and BA.5 and increased travel.

Since the Thailand Pass was scrapped on July 1, tourists are returning to Thailand, with many first landing in Bangkok and going on to take a domestic flight elsewhere. The increased travel is causing a spike in pandemic cases, according to Thailand’s Department of Disease Control.

However, Covid prevention measures must be lifted at some point for Thailand’s budget airlines to stay afloat. Snacks and drinks are included in the price of a Thai Airways or Bangkok Air flight ticket, but budget airlines such as Nok Air, Thai VietJet, Lion Air, and Thai AirAsia depend on the sale of in-flight food and drinks as a large source of their overall revenue.

So if you’re going to take a domestic flight in Thailand anytime soon, you can support Thailand’s budget airlines by buying a delicious in-flight meal.



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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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