Korean Air Nut Rage: Airline Faces $2 Million Fine After CEO’s Daughter Freaks Out Over In-Flight Macadamia Nut Service

Kristen Wiig in "Bridesmaids"
Korean Air faces sanctions of up to a $2 million fine after Heather Cho, the daughter of the airline's chief executive, kicked a senior flight attendant off a plane after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag, rather than a plate. 

Nutty or nice — should have thought twice! Heather Cho, the daughter of Korean Air CEO Cho Yang-ho, made headlines recently for her outrageous first-class outburst on a flight, and was forced to issue a public apology last Friday.

The former airline executive booted senior flight attendant Park Chang-jin off her Dec. 5 flight — all because she was served macadamia nuts in a bag as opposed to on a plate, which Cho believed was first-class protocol. The flight, which had approximately 250 passengers aboard, had to return to its gate to kick Park off the flight. Cho’s demand resulted in an 11-minute arrival delay.

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On Tuesday, Dec. 16, South Korea’s transport ministry said the airline faces sanctions of up to 21 days of flight suspensions, or a $2 million fine. According to a ministry official, 40-year-old Cho was, in fact, abusive toward flight attendants during the incident at JFK Airport in NYC.

heather cho
Heather Cho AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

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“As it has been confirmed that Cho raised her voice and used abusive language as testified by some flight crew members and passengers, we will report her to the prosecution for potential violation of aviation safety law,” the ministry said in its statement. “We plan to impose a flight ban or a fine against Korean Air.”

Park told South Korean network KBS that Cho hurled insults at the crew and made them kneel before her during her tirade, which has now been dubbed by the Internet as “nut rage.” Park also said Korean Air executives visited and pressured him to give a toned-down version of what happened during the incident. Find out more about Korean Air’s alleged attempts to cover up the incident.

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Cho then denied and lied that she made attendants kneel before her, but an observer in first class confirmed what had transpired, saying the executive did, in fact, shame her employees.

According to another eyewitness, Cho allegedly pushed Park into the cockpit door while poking him with a service manual. State prosecutors are still investigating the physical abuse claims.

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Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

On the bright side, the Associated Press reported Dec. 15, that sales of macadamia nuts have soared in South Korea after the incident.

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