Emergency Chic: Thai Airways turns life vests into fash-forward bags

Photo: Thai Airways
Photo: Thai Airways

Desperately in need of a rescue, foundering Thai Airways is cannibalizing its safety equipment to throw itself a high-fashion lifeline.

The bankrupt airline tomorrow will launch a collection of upcycled bags made from life vests and emergency slides as it desperately tries to relieve its debt load of over THB1 trillion (US$32 billion). 

After declaring bankruptcy in May – the pandemic travel freeze was a knockout blow to the already deeply indebted national carrier – the airline’s tried everything from terrestrial pop-up restaurants and selling fried dough sticks to selling flight simulator time.

The bags come in six travel-suitable styles, including messenger and shoulder bags, all in yellow, grey and black. The contemporary approach is similar to that of other brands embracing reused materials to flash some climate change virtue with consumers. The items, which range from THB390 to THB4,990 (US$12 to US$160), go on sale tomorrow afternoon for Dec. 20 delivery.

The once-mighty airline has struggled to address its staggering debt after being denied a government bailout due to the economy-crushing pandemic. Unable to service most of its routes while Thailand remains virtually sealed off from the world, Thai Airways has tried out a range of side-hustles including selling airline food at a Silom Road restaurant tricked out like an airplane and letting those with flight attendant fantasies learn the finer points of emergency protocol.


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