A customer poses for a picture with Thai Airways' flight attendants. Reuters
More than 100 diners craving in-flight meals after months of travel restrictions flocked to Thai Airways International Pcl's offices on Thursday to try a new pop-up restaurant and get a reminder of the forgotten flavours of on-board dining.
The national carrier, which has for months grounded most of its planes, has transformed the cafeteria of its Bangkok headquarters into an airline-themed restaurant and opened it to the public.
"I ate a lot," said Pirachat Pengthongworrapetch, 36, who heard about the restaurant online. "It's better here than in the air because it's cooked to order."
Thailand has halted commercial flights to try to prevent coronavirus infections.
But diners can still get to meet cabin crew, who greet them in full uniform as they enter the restaurant. It is decorated with airplane parts and seats to lend it an authentic aircraft feel.
"Spare parts from engines, windows and fan blades were used as furniture," Thai Airways Catering Managing Director Varangkana Luerojvong told Reuters.
Each decoration has a QR code attached so visitors can look up information about the parts.
Diner Kanta Akanitprachai, 50, liked the idea of a plane meal without having to buy a flight ticket.
"I like the in-flight meals on Thai Airways, but we only get to have it when we fly," said Kanta. "Today we get to have it here, that's good because we want to eat."
Varangkana said the restaurant, which serves about 2,000 meals per day, was a way to recoup some lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic, and there are plans to turn other Thai Airways offices into similar dining experiences.
Chefs and cabin crew from the airline, which filed for bankruptcy protection in May, appeared in good spirits.
Japanese chef Jun Uenishi said the experience was different because it was his first time interacting with customers.
The Thai bankruptcy court will decide on Sept. 14 if the airline can go ahead with its restructuring proposals.
COVID-19 is making everybody pay, but it is making the poor pay more. Weeks ago an Angolan broke all the rules of lockdown. He left us stunned, but he was right. He said hunger would kill him before the coronavirus, therefore, he was out on the road looking for job and food.
All chefs involved in the project are receiving 400 baht ($12) a day, while taxi drivers are earning 300 baht ($9) for transporting the food to 50 low-income communities across Bangkok. Around 4,000 meals are being made each day.
The aviation industry has been among the worst hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has dented travel demand and forced major airlines to lay off staff and seek government bailouts.
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