Korean Air’s tantrum-throwing former exec is in hot water. Now, the airline’s in trouble too. (Photo: AP)
The Korean Air executive who kicked a flight attendant off a plane because she was unhappy about how her macadamia nuts were served has already been punished by her father, Korean Air’s chairman. Now the airline could be the one that ends up grounded.
South Korea’s transport ministry says Korean Airlines Co. could be hit with flight suspensions or a $1.3 million fine for the airline’s actions following the infamous nut-rage incident.
The ministry says it’s confirmed that now-former Korean Air exec Heather Cho illegally used “loud and abusive language” at the cabin crew during the Dec. 5 incident, when she forced a plane back to the gate at New York’s JFK to boot off a flight attendant who had displeased her.
Transport ministry officials say they’ve confirmed former Korean Air exec Heather Cho behaved badly on flight. (Photo: AP)
Officials also say that after the incident drew international headlines, the airline pressured employees to lie about it to investigators.
The flight attendant whom Cho booted from the flight, Park Chang-jin, told a Korean TV station that Cho yelled at him and hit him with the flight manual as he another crew member were forced to kneel before her to apologize (Cho denies this). And a passenger told another news outlet that Cho pushed one flight attendant’s shoulder and threw something at the wall. Park also says that airline executives later visited him at home and pressured him to sugarcoat Cho’s reported temper tantrum.
Korean Air could be forced to suspend flights and pay a fine because of the nut incident and its aftermath. (Photo: AP)
The incident has made international headlines (and boosted macadamia nut sales in South Korea). Cho was fired her from her positions at the family-run corporation and, last week, she publicly apologized for the incident. Her father, Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, also issued his own apology for not raising his daughter better.
Heather Cho and Korean Air officials face a separate criminal investigation for their actions. As for the extent of the airline’s punishment, the transport ministry says the government will make that call later.
Still, it appears Cho and the airline might have a little bit to learn about over-entitlement. The New York Times reports that when Cho was called to a government building for questioning last week, Korean Air officials reportedly asked janitors to clean the bathroom again because Cho might be using it.