SEOUL, South Korea — Forget dust-ups over reclining seats in economy class. There's a new and exclusive twist on inflight anger: Nut rage in first class. A recent Korean Air flight was delayed when its chairman's daughter, who was also vice president responsible for cabin service at the airline, ordered a senior crew member off the plane. The crime? Allowing her and other passengers in the pointy end of the aircraft to be served bagged macadamia nuts instead of nuts on a plate.
The executive, Cho Hyun-ah, resigned Tuesday amid a storm of public criticism in South Korea. The airline had earlier excused her behavior even as it apologized for inconveniencing passengers. South Korean media reported this week that the flight from New York to Incheon, South Korea, returned to the gate after Cho told the head of the cabin crew to leave the plane. The reports said Cho quarreled with crew in the first-class cabin and the flight departed 20 minutes late.
Cho, 40, is the oldest child of Korean Air's chairman, tycoon Cho Yang-ho. The incident caused an uproar in South Korea where it was seen as an example of over-mighty behavior by the offspring of the moneyed elite. South Korea's government said it is investigating whether Cho violated aviation safety law. Cho could face legal action if the probe shows that she interrupted the flight or endangered safety by using threats, her status or violence. Cho was not available for comment.