Baggage blunder: 25 more animals smuggled onboard, Thai airport officer suspended

Photo via Facebook/ เที่ยวทุกที่ Boarding Pass and กรมอุทยานแห่งชาติ สัตว์ป่า และพันธุ์พืช

Suvarnabhumi International Airport admitted that its baggage screening officer allowed two foreigners to smuggle animals onto a flight from Bangkok to Taipei. The airport reported it had already suspended the reckless officer after 25 more smuggled animals were discovered onboard the same flight.

A Thai passenger on a flight from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to Tao Yuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, revealed to the public on October 3 that Chinese passengers had smuggled several animals onboard, including a rat, an otter and snakes. The animals later escaped from a bag and strolled around the cabin floor shocking passengers onboard the flight.

The passenger, as well as netizens, questioned authorities at a baggage checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi Airport about how the Chinese passengers and animals managed to evade officials.

The Airports of Thailand and Suvarnabhumi Airport issued a press release yesterday to clarify the issue. According to the document, the airport reviewed footage from CCTV cameras at the baggage checkpoint and discovered that an airport officer had noticed suspicious items in the luggage of two foreign passengers through a baggage x-ray.

The officer told another officer to open the luggage for inspection but the officer did not do as his colleague suggested and let the two foreigners go.

While the Thai passenger identified the suspects as Chinese nationals, the airport refrained from disclosing their nationalities.

25 more smuggled animals found

According to the report on the official Facebook page of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, the Suvarnabhumi Animal Quarantine discovered 25 more smuggled animals on the same flight, including 20 Indian stat tortoises, two otters, two giant black squirrels and one prairie dog.

All the animals were packed in a bag left on the Thai VietJet flight to Taipei but no one claimed ownership of the bag. Officials have not yet confirmed whether the two foreign passengers are the owners of the animals.

In the post shared by Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thai netizens expressed their anger at the airport authorities, saying it was hard for Thais to pass through the baggage check but it seemed so easy for foreigners, especially Chinese.

Some netizens complained that the authorities only focused on lesser important operations like confiscating power banks carried by passengers, while others complained that they even had to take off their shoes to be checked.



ORIGINAL STORY: Couldn’t give a rats: Chinese passengers smuggle animals onboard Bangkok-Taipei flight

Thailand’s VietJet Air found itself in a ‘wild’ situation when some Chinese passengers, who did not give a rats, attempted to smuggle a menagerie of animals onto a flight from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Tao Yuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan. The covert cargo included a white rat, an otter, snakes, and various other critters, which the flight attendants did not disclose.

Onboard the intriguing journey was a Thai man named Surasit Leelaprachakun, who later recounted the bizarre events on the Facebook page ‘Tiaw Took Tee Boarding Pass’ (เที่ยวทุกที่ Boarding Pass). According to Surasit, the flight was scheduled to take off at 3.15pm yesterday October 4 and began without any apparent issues.

However, the smooth ride took an unexpected turn when one of Surasit’s companions noticed a white rat scurrying beneath the passenger seats. This particular rodent was no ordinary rat, its pristine and clean appearance left no doubt that it was someone’s pampered pet.

Surasit promptly alerted the flight attendants, who were taken aback by the surprise intruder. The cabin crew launched a search operation and eventually cornered the elusive rat.

A courageous male flight attendant, in an act of true valour, managed to capture the rat and secure it in a box in the rear galley, although not without a nip on his finger during the heroic endeavour.

In a bid to identify the rat’s owner, the flight attendant made an announcement in three languages – Thai, English, and Chinese. However, no one came forward to claim the rodent.

Chinese passengers

After some emotional exchanges, a tearful Chinese passenger, who happened to be seated in front of Surasit, eventually confessed to being the rightful guardian of the rat.

The entire conversation was conducted in Chinese and appeared to involve a spirited disagreement before the passenger finally returned to their seat, leaving Surasit bemused by the spectacle.

The story should have ended there but it took an unforeseen turn when the rat, previously contained within the box, mysteriously vanished.

The flight attendants searched everywhere for the rat and decided to ask permission to check the Chinese passenger’s bag. However, they found nothing and had to call off the search.

Unexpectedly, another animal, an otter, was found on the floor. The flight attendants then carefully searched the suspected Chinese passenger until they found a black tote bag under the Chinese passenger’s seat. The passenger denied it was his but the attendants were not convinced and searched the bag, finding more animals, including snakes.

Snakes on a plane

Thai passengers onboard that day speculated that the Chinese passenger let the snakes eat the rat in the box in an attempt to erase any evidence and evade potential fines. However, the plan was thwarted as the other animals repeatedly made their escape from the bag.

Surasit revealed that passengers were not permitted to disembark upon arrival in Taipei and that airport officials spent about an hour checking the passengers’ belongings in an attempt to detain all of the smuggling gang members.

According to Surasit, more than one passenger was involved in the animal smuggling but he did not disclose how many suspects were involved.

Surarit questioned the authorities at Suvarnabhumi Airport as to why these animals were not detected at the airport. He said that his belongings were checked very carefully at the counter and he thought that the same measures should be taken with travellers of all nationalities.

A Thai woman in the comments said that she did not think that the Thai authorities checked luggage carefully. She said that her friend had brought a knife onboard because he did not know the rules. Officials at Hong Kong airport found the knife when he was there for a transit flight to the US.

So far, Suvarnabhumi Airport and the Airport of Thailand (AOT) have not clarified the matter.

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Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at

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