December 16, 2014
Lack of knowledge over nut policy leads to sanctions for Korean Air
If you did not know any of the history behind this story you would be forgiven for assuming the nut policy related to quality of materials used in the construction and maintenance of planes used by Korean Air. However the nut policy in question has no connection with their planes’ construction, and instead relates to Korean Airlines’ policy on serving edible nuts to passengers.
The story began back on the 5th of the month when the daughter of Korean Air’s Chairman, Cho Hyun-ah, herself a Vice-President of the airline, forced the plane she was on and which was preparing for take-off, to return to the terminal and allow the purser to leave the flight on the request of Cho Hyun-ah. Reports as to the actual incident are conflicting, even if the consequence wasn’t. Either the Vice Chairman of the airline noticed a steward wrongly serving nuts to a passenger, or she herself was served nuts in an incorrect manner by having them presented to her in a packet as opposed to on plate. It would seem the airline has a strict policy in place that passengers must be asked in advance of being served nuts.
So angered by such an event, Cho Hyun-ah summoned the head of the service crew and asked them to clarify what the company’s policy on the serving of nuts was. As they were unclear, she demanded the flight return to the terminal and the member of the crew leave the plane. As a consequence of her actions, Korean Air now face the prospect of up to 21 days of flight suspensions or a US$1.3m fine for violating aviation law, based on sanctions the Department of Transport intend to impose. The laws which were broken and for which part of the sanctions apply are that Cho Hyun-ah is deemed to have lied when questioned over the incident and in addition she only had the same rights as any other passenger on the plane and had therefore greatly overstepped the mark. The captain was sanctioned for being negligent in his duties as only the captain has the power to remove a member of the crew from the plane. Though the plane had not moved far from the terminal, it was not seen as acceptable for it to return, thus causing delays, based on the incident itself. A final part of the sanction was based on the fact members of the crew were forced to lie in the enquiry too.