There are some valid reasons for an airline executive to delay a flight, but we’re betting the plane full of people recently forced to embark on their trip 20 minutes late wouldn’t consider a bag of macadamia nuts one of them.
As a recent Korean Air Lines flight from New York City to Incheon, South Korea sat on a runway at JFK preparing to depart, Cho Hyun-ah, the airline’s vice president in charge of in-flight experience, was served a bag of macadamia nuts by a junior flight attendant. What’s the problem with that, you ask? Well, Ms. Hyun-ah was traveling first class, and the airline’s guidelines for proper service apparently state that no first class passenger should ever suffer the indignity of opening their own package of nuts — the macadamias were supposed to be served on a plate.
Upset over the rookie attendant’s mistake, Hyun-ah called over the senior flight attendant. But when he failed to produce the proper manual for flight service, Cho reportedly shouted, ordered the plane to return to the gate, and forced the senior flight attendant to disembark.
The debacle caused the flight to leave New York about 20 minutes behind schedule (presumably a bit more inconvenient for Cho’s customers than an unopened bag of nuts).
After news of the bizarre incident spread, the airline issued an apology on Monday, but said that it was “natural” for Hyun-ah’s to fault her employees for their ignorance of company procedures. On Tuesday, however, the company announced that she is resigning.
The government of South Korea also says that it is investigating whether any safety regulations were violated, as no passenger should have the authority to force a plane to return to the gate. An official told reporters, “If the investigation finds any violations, the necessary action will be taken against the air carrier…We must review related laws as this incident is unprecedented…Even if she is the vice-president of the airline, she was one of [many] passengers and should have been treated as such.”
But of course, had she “been treated” as a first class passenger should be in the first place (no
wire hangers bagged nuts, EVER!), then this whole mess could have been avoided, right?