With travel limited, plane cafes take off in Thailand
This picture taken on September 10, 2020 shows a Thai Airways flight attendant wearing a face shield as she serves drinks at a pop-up air-plane-themed restaurant at the airline's headquarters in Bangkok. With millions around the world stuck at home due to the pandemic, "plane cafes" in Thailand are offering customers the chance to pretend they are in the sky -- and the idea seems to have taken off.
AFP/Mladen ANTONOV
With travel limited, plane cafes take off in Thailand
(Agence France-Presse) - September 13, 2020 - 4:06pm

BANGKOK, Thailand — With millions around the world stuck at home due to the pandemic, "plane cafes" in Thailand are offering customers the chance to pretend they are in the sky — and the idea seems to have taken off.

On board a retired commercial airplane in the coastal city of Pattaya, coffee drinkers make themselves comfy on first-class-style seats and pose for photos by the overhead lockers.

Boarding passes in hand, some "passengers" even opt for a tour of the cockpit.

"With this cafe I can sit in first class and also mess around in the cockpit pretending to be the captain of the plane," 26-year-old Thipsuda Faksaithong told AFP.

"It's a lot of fun."

Chalisa Chuensranoi, 25, said her visit was as good as any trip she had taken before the pandemic, which shuttered Thailand's borders in March.

"Sitting right here in the first-class section... really gives me the feeling of actually being on a plane, cruising through the air," she said.

In another cafe at the headquarters of national carrier Thai Airways in Bangkok, hungry diners appear even to have missed plane food as they gobble up spaghetti carbonara and Thai-style beef served on plastic trays by cabin crew.

But for Intrawut Simapichet, 38, who came to the cafe with his wife and baby, the experience is about more than a meal.

"Normally I'm a person who travels very often, and when we are forced to stay at home... it's kind of depressing," he said as fellow passengers posed with luggage by a fake airplane door.

"(The cafe) relieves what's missing."

Thailand was the first country outside China to detect a coronavirus case, but it has since registered a low toll, with about 3,400 infections and 58 deaths. 

Travel restrictions have nevertheless eviscerated the tourism-reliant economy, while Thais have founded themselves stuck due to quarantine requirements in other countries. 

The government is currently mulling travel bubbles with select countries that also have low tolls.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS THAILAND
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 18, 2020 - 7:28pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

September 18, 2020 - 7:28pm

Israel imposes a second nationwide lockdown to tackle one of the world's highest coronavirus infection rates, hours before the Jewish holiday season begins.

The three-week shutdown from 2:00 pm (1100 GMT) started just hours before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, and will extend through other key religious holidays, including Yom Kippur and Sukkot. — AFP

September 18, 2020 - 6:41pm

Britain's government warns it could re-impose a national lockdown across England to counter the coronavirus pandemic, noting rates of hospitalisation are doubling every eight days.

"We want to avoid a national lockdown, but we're prepared to do it if we need to," Health Secretary Matt Hancock tells BBC television.

"We're prepared to do what it takes both to protect lives and to protect livelihoods," he says, warning of more local measures to come after restrictions were placed on swathes of northeast England from Friday. — AFP

September 18, 2020 - 4:17pm

The Department of Health registers 3,257 additional infections, bringing the national caseload to 279,526.

There are 47 new deaths and 733 new recoveries.

 

September 18, 2020 - 7:33am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 941,473 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Thursday.

At least 29,914,290 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 20,131,400 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

September 17, 2020 - 8:57pm

India's total coronavirus cases passed five million on Wednesday, health ministry data showed, as the pandemic extends its grip on the vast country at an ever-faster rate.

With its latest one million cases recorded in just 11 days, a world record, India now has 5.02 million infections. Only the United States has more, with 6.59 million.

India has for some time been recording the world's biggest daily jumps in cases, and on Wednesday, the rise was just over 90,000 with a record 1,290 deaths.

While India took 167 days to reach one million cases, the next million came in just 21 days, faster than the US and Brazil, according to the Times of India. 

Just 29 days later, India became only the third country after the US and Brazil to post four million infections. India passed Brazil earlier this month. — AFP

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