I think everybody has been bemused this week at the news of the recent behaviour of the daughter of Korean Air‘s CEO on board Flight KE086 from New York‘s JFK to Seoul. Heather Cho was a senior vice-president at the airline and the airline’s head of cabin service.
If you have missed what happened; Ms Cho was seated as a passenger in the first class section of the A380. She became angry at the way a junior flight attendant served her some macadamia nuts. Apparently, he failed to ask her if she wanted the nuts. To add insult to injury, he served them in a bag and not on a plate. (Apparently Korean Airline First Class passengers are not allowed to open bags of nuts).
Ms Cho then called the purser in charge of the flight to account for the incorrect procedure. Dis-satisfied with his response and believing he was responsible for the junior steward’s mistake, she demanded that the purser get off the plane. At this point, the plane returned to the gate.
The flight was delayed by around 20 minutes impacting 250 passengers before their nine hour flight. The purser flew to Seoul on another Korean Air flight.
Reportedly, South Korean aviation regulations only allow a plane preparing for takeoff to return to the ramp if the pilot determines there is an emergency situation involving the safety of the aircraft or its passengers. The rules state that violators can face up to 10 years in prison but in this case, the South Korean transport ministry may merely issue an official letter of warning to Korean Air.
Ms Cho resigned yesterday apologising for her behaviour after an avalanche of criticism hit the airline. Korean Air itself had initially defended the CEO’s daughter saying she was merely doing her job.
Korean Air Lines flies to 133 destinations with its fleet of 158 planes. It has ten A380s. Skytrax rate them as a four star airline which is what I personally rate them. The CEO has (or had) all three of his children serving in senior roles.
In other news, macadamia nut sales in Korea have dramatically increased this week.
So was Ms Cho maintaining the airline’s high standards? Or being a spoilt brat? Or endangering life?