Cho Hyun-ah was vice-president and head of in-flight services for Korean Air Lines when she suddenly went berserk on a plane because the flight attendant had given her macadamia nuts in a bag rather than on a plate.
Ms. Hyun-ah, whose father is the airline’s chairman, was on a flight outbound from John F. Kennedy International Airport. She was so incensed at being given nuts in a bag that she forced the plane to return to the gate and told the head flight attendant (chief purser) to get off.
News of her tantrum went viral and there was public outrage across South Korea. Her father apologized for not raising her properly, she was forced to resign from her job and apologize to the flight attendant, and everybody thought that was the end of the story.
It seems, however, that the saga is not over. On Wednesday, Seoul Western Prosecutors’ Office said Ms. Hyun-ah faces charges for allegedly hitting and screaming at flight attendants and disrupting a flight route.
Cho Hyun-ah apologizing for the incident.
According to the Korea Times, Ms. Hyun-ah faces charges of violation of aviation law, coercion and interference in the execution of duty.
When questioned by prosecutors last week, Ms. Hyun-ah denied physically assaulting the chief purser. However, witnesses said she had pushed him.
Because of her rage, the aircraft left the airport 20 minutes late and arrived at its destination, Seoul, 11 minutes late.
The woman’s father, Cho Yang-ho, may face charges too. He allegedly pressured airline staff to sweep the incident under the carpet, an official at the prosecutors’ office said (anonymously).
South Korea’s transport ministry said it will sanction the airline for forcing employees to lie during an official investigation, and a civic group filed a complaint against Ms. Cho.
Prosecutors also want to arrest a Mr. Yeo who allegedly ordered airline staff to delete an initial report on the incident.
The prosecution office raided the home of a transport ministry official, Mr. Kim, who is accused of leaking some details of the ministry’s probe into the incident.
Mr. Kim, a former Korean Air Lines employee, allegedly contacted airline executives illegally several times after the ministry opened its investigation on December 8th.