Thai Airways’ Mysterious Flight To Louisiana

Filed Under: Thai

There’s nothing I love quite like a mysterious charter flight, and this one checks all the boxes…

Thai Airways’ flight to Alexandria, Louisiana

Simple Flying notes that this past weekend a Thai Airways Boeing 777-300ER operated a roundtrip flight between Bangkok and Alexandria, Louisiana. The flight, which had the flight numbers TG8096 (eastbound) and TG8097 (westbound), was operated by a seven year old aircraft with the registration code HS-TKQ.

It operated the following routing, flying eastbound on October 2, and westbound on October 3:

  • It flew from Bangkok to Honolulu in a flight time of 11hr56min
  • It flew from Honolulu to Alexandria in a flight time of 7hr21min
  • It flew from Alexandria to Honolulu in a flight time of 7hr54min
  • It flew from Honolulu to Bangkok in a flight time of 12h11min

The roundtrip journey covered a distance of 21,298 miles. The plane spent just a couple of hours on the ground in Alexandria, so I’m guessing Thai Airways staffed the flight for the roundtrip journey.

Thai Airways hasn’t offered scheduled flights to the US in years (the airline discontinued money-losing flights to the US in 2012), so what exactly was going on here?

A likely explanation for this Thai Airways flight

When I first heard about this flight I assumed that it was some sort of a US military charter:

However, this raised some follow-up questions, which made me think that maybe there was a bit more to it. In particular, I believe that US military charters are typically operated by US airlines, so it seemed strange to me that the US would be chartering a Thai Airways plane for a US military charter.

Fortunately a reader pointed out the much more likely explanation — it would appear that Thai soldiers often get trained abroad, and a story in the Bangkok Post from July suggests that in September and October Thai soldiers would be going to a Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk in Louisiana.

I think that more or less answers our question — it seems like this was a Thai military charter for training in the US, rather than a US military charter.

Interestingly Thailand had sent some soldiers to Hawaii several months back for training, but that training was suspended after several soldiers tested positive for coronavirus. I wonder if with this trip anyone was dropped off in Hawaii, or if that stop was purely for refueling.

Bottom line

Thai Airways has operated a flight between Bangkok and Alexandria, Louisiana, this past weekend. That sure is one of the cooler non-scheduled flights we’ve seen in a while.

All signs point towards this being a charter flight for Thai soldiers who were going to Louisiana for training.

(Featured image courtesy of Masakatsu Ukon)

Comments
  1. Interesting – this being Halloween month, that flight may have carried spooks rather than military folk?

  2. Looks like repatriation. Thailand has been very busy expelling foreigners in the last month. I doubt a US-operated charter could get permission to land in Thailand right now. Looks like a Thai government initiative to me. It’s a very xenophobic time in the kingdom.

  3. Could it be that it was a charter for Thai Armed Forces? Some cooperation with personnel being transported to both places would be my guess. Correct me if I’m wrong but then they wouldn’t need to follow Fly America Act.

  4. @ DenB® If it was a repatriation flight, Alexandra, Louisiana seems like a very strange place to dump US citizens.

  5. I have seen a few Delta A350s and United 77Ws fly to and from Alexander in FlightRader the last few months.

  6. We’ve seen some Military Charters in our bids recently, including some from UTP.
    From my understanding, after spending years flying charters..the US Government priority is to provide US carriers to bid on these trips. Base on aircraft and crew availability, the airline may or may not be available for these charters but the crews love them!

  7. THAI Airways has not failed any audits. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has.

    THAI Airways is up to the best of all standards.

    Category 2 stops codeshares and new routes to the US. Not a charter flight.

  8. Isn’t it crazy what google can do for you:
    “tests and evaluations of the Hawaii exercise, which are scheduled to be held in September and October at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk in Louisiana”
    from the Bangkok Post, Jul 30,2020

  9. It’s a joint military exercise with the 1st Bataillon of The King’s Guard, and other special units. My brother-in-law is there right now.

  10. During Hurricane Katrina, most other nations didn’t care. The UK sent some beef that could not be eaten and had to be thrown away. On the other hand, Singapore sent troops and helicopters, as well as aid. It sent the largest contingent of foreign troops to the US.

  11. @ PoppaB
    You’re correct: Thai didn’t fail on safety. However, they DID fail one test…their own auditors declined to sign-off on the most recent accounts . Anyone familiar with financial auditing in Thailand will appreciate what a massive statement that was.

  12. Ben,

    Years ago, there was a flight from BKK to SYR (Syracuse NY). It carried the the then crown prince for his daughter’s graduation from Cornell.

  13. Royal Thai Soldiers participating in a joint US training session with American troops. They’ll be there into November. JUSMAGTHAI has the information on their their web and FB pages.

  14. @Marco. Columbus Rickenbacker (LCK) is primarily a cargo airport (but also serves Allegiant) and it is now a scheduled destination for Korean Air Cargo expected to last through the end of 2020. Columbus John Glenn International (CMH) is the primary passenger airport.

    These are cargo flights with a converted passenger 777-300 ER. Lots of articles on these converted passenger jet flights. https://cargo.koreanair.com/en/cargo-news/new-international-cargo-service-lck-icn

  15. I will definitely remember to askmrlee next time 🙂 Thanks for that tip on the conversion of the Boeing 777-300ER.

  16. According to the latest data dump from Q, they’re bringing in foreign diseases we have yet seen here to be weaponized. This is yet another attack from the satanic forces who can only be defeated by Donald John Trump. America made great, lets keep it great.

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