Thai Airways is threatening to take legal action against a passenger who criticized the airline in a Facebook post after their flight was forced to divert to an alternative airport due to bad weather at their intended destination.
The threat to sue the passenger comes after Thai Airways flight 645 from Bangkok to Melbourne on January 28 ended up diverting to Sydney because of high winds around Melbourne Airport.
After safely diverting to Sydney, the plane was then quickly prepared to return to Melbourne, and the passengers ended up arriving at their intended destination around four hours later than planned.
Airlines usually stress that weather-related diversions are taken out of an abundance of caution, and an industry-wide policy of ‘better safe than sorry’ is usually appreciated by passengers.
In this case, one passenger didn’t appreciate arriving late in Melbourne and took to Facebook to share their disappointment with Thai Airways and the airline’s pilots.
In the now-deleted post, the passenger questioned the Captain’s judgement to divert and complained that the airliner wasn’t carrying enough fuel to wait in a holding pattern over Melbourne until the winds died down. The post also suggested the pilots weren’t assertive enough with air traffic control.
In response, a Thai Airways pilot took the time to respond to the passenger, explaining that the flight would have departed with enough legally required fuel and detailing pilot training requirements.
After going viral, the passenger decided to delete his critical Facebook post, although that wasn’t enough to prevent the threat of legal action from Thai Airways.
The airline has been quoted as saying that its crew “followed international safety and security standards and seeks to protect its reputation and that of its personnel.”
How successful Thai Airways is in its legal campaign will likely depend on which country it intends to pursue its case. Notoriously, Thailand has some of the strictest defamation laws in the world, where defaming someone is considered a crime.
A Facebook post that’s considered defamatory, for example, could result in a two-year prison sentence.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.