BANGKOK — Thai Airways’ heart-shaped, three-hour flight intended to bring in blessings for passengers – and money for the bankrupt national airline – was cancelled on Monday amidst the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.
The flight was scheduled to take off on New Year’s Day and fly over holy sites across Thailand before landing at the same airport it departed from. But thanks to the record spikes of coronavirus cases, the hearty serving of good fortune to start the year is no longer available.
“We’ve literally just cancelled it now. The flight was almost sold out,” said a woman answering the phone at Thai Airways ticketing office on Monday.
The airline’s latest attempt to recoup its massive losses had been to sell 6,999 baht seats to the Jan. 1 flight, which was advertised as a journey to accumulate good karma to passengers by circling around famous pilgrimage sites.
The original schedule was to take off from Suvarnabhumi Airport at 11:30 am heading north to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, and then cruising over Isaan. Passengers were to pray as the airplane flew above temples like Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon in Khon Kaen and Phra That Ya Khu in Kalasin, before landing in Bangkok at 2:30pm.
Celebrity astrologist Katha Chinbanchorn was scheduled to be on board to lead faithful passengers through auspicious prayers.
The airline previously launched its first “flight to nowhere” in November, with a flyover covering 99 sacred temples and shrines around the country.
Although the idea was mocked relentlessly on social media, the flight was fully booked within a matter of days – a success that Thai Airways clearly hoped to replicate with its now-canceled New Year’s Day program.