Envious of Thailand’s unique reputation for hospitality, a flock of Indonesian and Malaysian airlines are also now trying to steal the ‘wai’, the traditional Thai greeting.
The gesture, a slight bow with the hands clasped as if in prayer, is believed to have originated to show that no weapons are being concealed.
AirAsia X, Malaysia’s AirAsia, AirAsia Indonesia and Garuda have now all adopted the wai, although they claim that Thailand has no exclusive right to it.
The wai closely resembles the Indian ‘namaste’, the Cambodian ‘sampeah’ and the Lao ‘kub’. A similar sign can be found in the Philippines and in parts of Indonesia where Hinduism and Buddhism are still practised.
Still, a retired Thai airways exec dismissed the attempted cultural theft, telling the Bangkok Post that the other carriers would never do it properly.