Korean Air VP Delays Flight Over Macadamia Nuts

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

The vice president of Korean Air Lines Co. is under investigation after she reportedly forced a plane to return to the gate over “nut rage,” according to Bloomberg.

Heather Cho, 40, who is also the eldest daughter of the airline’s chairman, was traveling first class from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Incheon on Dec. 5 when a flight attendant served her macadamia nuts without asking her beforehand. To make this snack-serving crime worse, the attendant had served the nuts in a paper bag and not on a dish, as required by the service manual.

Infuriated, Cho then summoned the cabin crew chief and questioned him over in-flight service procedures. When the crew chief failed to answer promptly, Cho ordered him to disembark the plane while it was readying for takeoff.

Korean Air confirmed that the plane arrived 11 minutes late and formally apologized to the flight’s passengers in an official statement yesterday. The airline also noted that the decision to expel the crew chief was made in consultation with the pilot and that the aircraft was less than 10 meters away from the passenger gate at JFK when it decided to return.

South Korea’s transport ministry said it will investigate whether or not Cho’s actions violated any aviation laws or safety regulations and will take take appropriate disciplinary action, according to Yonhap.

“Even if she is the vice president of the airline, she was one of passengers and should have been treated as one,” an official at the transport ministry told reporters. He added that Cho could have taught the flight attendant the in-flight service lesson after returning to South Korea.

According to Bloomberg, Cho is a graduate of Cornell University and joined her father’s company in 1999. She is responsible for Korean Air’s catering, cabin service, in-flight sales business and hotel divisions. She is also managing the reconstruction of the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of Korean Air via the Korea Times