Suvarnabhumi baggage-screening staffer suspended for failing to search bag flagged as suspicious
PUBLISHED : 5 Oct 2023 at 22:07
A baggage-screening worker at Suvarnabhumi airport has been suspended for failing to search a bag that turned out to be filled with smuggled animals, some of which got loose and caused chaos on a Bangkok-Taipei flight.
Management of Suvarnabhumi airport said on Thursday that CCTV video showed the employee of AOT Aviation Security Co failed to open a bag that had been flagged as suspicious by a colleague monitoring an X-ray screening unit.
Two foreigners carried the bag past the X-ray unit at about 1.45pm on Wednesday. They boarded a Thai VietJet Air flight that departed at 3.32pm the same day.
According to witness reports, the trouble onboard the plane began shortly after takeoff when a passenger noticed a rat while walking to the toilet. Cabin staff then searched the plane and found an otter under a passenger’s seat.
Meanwhile, a male flight attendant was able to catch the rat — after being bitten on the finger — and place it in a box in the galley.
Cabin staff made an announcement asking anyone who had brought animals onto the plane to identify themselves. A woman acknowledged she was responsible, and a subsequent search turned up a black tote bag containing more animals under her seat.
Pakpong Pathong, the wildlife inspection chief at the airport, reported that officials at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei found the bag contained 20 Burmese star tortoises, a snake, two otters, a prairie dog and two black giant squirrels. It had been carried into the passenger cabin but no passengers claimed it when the plane landed.
The suspect was reportedly being questioned by police in Taiwan and could be fined up to NT$1 million (1.15 million baht).
AOT Aviation Security Co, the employer of the negligent baggage screener, is a majority-owned subsidiary of Airports of Thailand Plc, which operates Suvarnabhumi airport.