Nuts Going Nuts over Nuts

Maybe there’s something in the air at 30,000 feet—or even taxiing for takeoff—that sends people over the edge, but this one adds a new dimension to the term “air-rage.” Call it “nut-rage.”

According to a BBC News Asia report a Korean Air executive, Heather Cho, was jailed for one year for obstructing aviation after she went into a tantrum over how her nuts were served.

The plane was taxiing at New York’s JFK Airport on December 5 when witnesses say she became angry after being served macadamia nuts she did not ask for, and which were still in a bag and not in a bowl. The horror! She ordered the plane to return to the gate and had the chief steward removed.

A Seoul court found Cho, 40, guilty of forcing a flight to change its route, obstructing the flight’s captain in the performance of his duties, forcing a crew member off a plane and assaulting a crew member. It found her not guilty of interfering with a transport ministry investigation into the incident. Cho pleaded not guilty; prosecutors called for three years in prison.

The presiding judge in the case, Oh Sung-woo, said it was a case where “human dignity” had been “trampled upon.” Judge Oh said Cho had treated the flight “as if it was her own private plane.”

Cho has since apologized and quit Korean Air, South Korea’s national airline, which is run by her father, Cho Yang-ho.

The judge said Cho, who is also known as Cho Hyun-ah, had failed to show proper remorse after she submitted letters to the court apologizing for the incident.

While the case seems like yet another in a long line of dangerously odd air-rage incidents, there’s more to it. It has caused a furor in South Korea, where the economy is dominated by family-run conglomerates, known as chaebol, that often act above the law, or at least like royalty.

This time at least, the high and mighty behavior of an executive is coming under intense scrutiny.

Perhaps this is a sign that times are changing that bad behavior is not an acceptable business practice.

Image: Awwwwww NUTS by Jessica Merz via Flickr CC

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