A flight attendant for Thai Airways has been arrested by customs officials at Bangkok Airport after arriving back from an international layover in Milan with untaxed Gucci belts hidden under her uniform. Thailand’s Channel 3 News said the unnamed flight attendant had tried to exceed her allowance on luxury brand name goods.
Sutheerat Siripalanon, Thai Airways’ director for in-flight services said the airline monitors suspicious behaviour and works closely with customs officials. In this case, Siripalanon told Thai media that the airline had received a tip-off and alerted airport authorities who caught the smuggler red-handed.
It’s not clear whether the flight attendant was trying to smuggle the luxury leather belts and Gucci handbags into the country for personal use or to sell on. Either way, Thai Airways says it will be taking disciplinary action which could include firing the flight attendant.
As far as smuggling offences go, this is most definitely just small change but it’s also not an isolated incident. Time and time again, flight attendants have proven themselves susceptible to a spot of international smuggling.
Last year, a Maylasian Airlines flight attendant was jailed for trying to smuggle £150,000 of cash through Heathrow Airport. Muhamad Aziz was sent to prison for 12-months and, of course, sacked from the airline for money laundering criminal cash by using his job as a flight attendant as cover.
And in 2017, a member of Emirates cabin crew was also jailed in the UK trying to smuggle £100,000 worth of heroin into the country. In that case, Zohaab Sadique picked up the drugs from corrupt cleaners in Pakistan who had hidden the stash in an aircraft lavatory. Sadique then tried to get the drugs into the UK in his cabin bag but was selected for a random search and the rest, as they say, is history.
These three cases are just the tip of the iceberg.
No wonder a senior police official described corrupt flight attendants as “very dangerous people” for their ability to go through security channels with very little scrutiny.
In fact, constant abuse is one of the reasons major changes were destined for the Known Crew Member program in the United States.