Former Thai Airways Chairman Jailed Over Excess Baggage Fees

Filed Under: Thai

Well here’s a story you don’t hear every day. The former chairman of Thai Airways has just been sentenced to jail for two years for trying to avoid paying excess baggage fees… in 2009.

Wallop Bhukkanasut is the former chairman of Thai Airways. As reported by the Bangkok Post, this week the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases has sentenced Wallop to two years in jail over an incident that occurred on a 2009 flight. Wallop is charged with violating Section 11 of the Act on Offences Committed by Officials of State Organisations or Agencies.

So, what exactly happened? In November 2009, Wallop and his wife were flying from Tokyo Narita to Bangkok, and he was traveling with 300kg of excess luggage. He was found to have abused his authority by forcing airline staff to change the recorded weight of his luggage so that he could avoid excess baggage fees. Presumably there are two things wrong with this:

  • He avoided the fees he should have paid for, and abused his power
  • On the surface it presents a safety risk when you’re not correctly recording the weight of luggage; this is unlikely to be an issue on a wide body aircraft, but as a concept it’s a slippery slope

Thai Airways’ former chairman tried to avoid excess baggage fees

In 2010 he was ordered to pay the excess baggage fees, and also resigned as chairman of the airline.

However, it’s only now that a case has been brought against him that’s causing him to be jailed, over a decade later. He has also been found guilty of accepting gifts, including Kobe beef and expensive fruit, from a private firm.

I’m not familiar with the political implications here, but I’d have to imagine there’s a reason that he’s being targeted over a decade later, when he had already been forced to pay the excess baggage fees?

Wallop isn’t the first airline executive to be charged with corruption. Garuda Indonesia’s former CEO was jailed and fined for smuggling goods into Indonesia on an Airbus A330-900neo delivery flight.

Garuda Indonesia’s former CEO was jailed for avoiding import taxes

Bottom line

Thai Airways’ former chairman is being jailed for two years for abusing his power. This involves a 2009 flight where he avoided excess baggage fees on his 300kg of luggage by getting the airport staff to pretend his bags weren’t as heavy as they were.

He was already forced to pay the excess baggage fees in 2010 after an investigation, so one has to wonder what’s going on here that’s causing him to be jailed more than a decade later.

Comments
  1. What’s going on? It’s a lesson for public officials (including leaders of SOE). If he’s in Singapore he would’ve gotten the cane. That’s how you turn a corrupt poor fishing village former colony into world class city with changi airport and SQ. It also helps that Singaporean public officials are paid top dollars to be efficient and to discourage corruption.

  2. While I think that airline executives should be jailed over excess baggage fees, that’s not exactly what I had in mind.

  3. This occurs all the time on most mismanaged state-owned carriers of third world countries. Privatization can help.

  4. Great point @Shaurya!
    Privatization will help the corruption and mismanagement been run much more efficiently.

  5. Given that it’s more than 10 years later, I would guess he is probably on the wrong side of the current authoritarian government.

  6. TIT – This Is Thailand. I wonder when we will see Prayut and his cronies stand trial for their atrocities against humanity. The world remains silent while the military regime cracks down the latest attempts to establish democracy in Thailand.

  7. For a person in a privileged position in Thailand such a minor thing would have been swept under the carpet if it even go to be an issue, EXCEPT if someone is out to get you!

  8. TiT. Thailand is no joke and you can get thrown in jail for all sorts of weird $hit. A guy was jailed this year for writing a “slanderous” review on TA.

  9. I recently demobed from a job in Serbia and returned to Baku via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, my return home excess baggage was €2600.00 which Covered 12 large suitcases plus I had my paid 3 bags on top at 30 kilos each which was covered checked on our 3 tickets so 3 X 30 kilos.
    I had in total 340 kilos, amazing how one accumulates this in 1 year working away from home.
    Fortunately my employers pre paid all my excess baggage.
    Turkish charge a kilo rate 12-15 euro a kilo,… Ouch… Which I think is a rip off because I travel a lot I prefer the more acceptable method by paying a bag price UIA do this and it work out at around £25 a bag from London Gatwick to Baku compared with 22 kilo bag X 15 Euros a kilo charged ..which equates to a single excess bag cost of €330.00 official however the bag rate seems to fluctuate from €12/15. By the time you pay the excess you could have purchased a business class ticket … Still I guess in this horrible Covid times they have to made money it all racks up on top of covi fees ….

    I shall certainly fly budget carriers as I always have baggage now I no longer live in the uk and I find that budget carriers run a much more reasonable excess baggage regime and when in the uk …. I Shop,..

    Corruption and abuse of office is totally UN acceptable and it good to read he has been jailed, excess baggage rules are for everyone the trick is shop around and look for budget carriers, I’ve always found UIA very pleasant never any issues and have always enjoyed my flights to and from the UK via Kiev you can pre pay on line a save big time .. Recommend UIA you won’t be disappointed trust me, happy travels everyone.

  10. I think there would also be a safety issue, because as I understand it, loads and even passengers have to be balanced across the plane for stability in flight and also take-off.

  11. Corruption is endemic, fundamental to the way the system functions. It’s only ever dealt with for political reasons, so this guy has fallen foul of powerful forces. Maybe he went to Thaksin’s birthday bash, who knows.
    The level of naivety about Thailand is staggering, even among those who regard themselves as savvy and worldly: they breeze into town, take a limo to somewhere like the PH , eat at Gaggan or similar, maybe potter around exclusive malls. Zero understanding of the country ( and probably don’t care…). At face value it must seem pretty great…

  12. A reminder that when traveling, it’s always worth taking a moment to read up on local regulations and cultures. Who knows whether what he did is true or not but he’s no doubt annoyed someone with power. Let’s hope he didn’t steal any miniature alcohol bottles too.

  13. Garuda’s CEO that was jailed was not because of smuggling the motorcycle but due to bribery scandal with Rolls Royce fyi

  14. @RL
    Another Garuda ex-CEO was jailed for participating in the inflight murder of one of the passengers ( in cahoots with a pilot). The victim was a human rights lawyer ( Munir). Arsenic in the J class orange juice.

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