BANGKOK • A Thai airline will allow passengers to purchase seats for life-like dolls that their owners treat as real children because of their belief that they possess supernatural powers.
Thai Smile Airways, which is a part of national carrier Thai Airways International, said in an internal memo that dolls with tickets will be served snacks and drinks, though they will be barred from sitting in exit rows. Owners who take dolls on the plane without tickets will have them treated as carry-on luggage.
The dolls known as "luk thep", or child angels, have become increasingly popular in Thailand after several celebrities extolled their benefits.
The dolls, which can sell for hundreds of dollars, are thought to possess the spirits of child angels and their owners pamper them with brand-name clothes and accessories because of the belief that a well-cared-for doll will bring good fortune.
The memo from Thai Smile explains to staff that the luk thep dolls can be treated like children because they have undergone a "spiritualisation" process that breathes life into them.
In addition to being barred from exit rows, the dolls must also buckle up during take off and landing.
A Bangkok buffet restaurant is also running a special for the dolls.
"In the past month, more than 30 customers have brought their luk thep to eat at Neta Grill," the restaurant said on its Facebook page on Sunday.
"Neta Grill is open to all worshippers and we're glad to serve luk thep at children's prices on the condition that all of the food ordered is consumed."