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NUT RAGE! Tell A Friend   |  << Back
Posted on 01.03.2015

The Nut Rage controversy refers to an incident that happened at John F. Kennedy International Airport involving Cho Hyun-ah, aka Heather Cho, the eldest daughter of the airline chairman, in which Cho commanded the Korean Air plane to taxi back to the airport after she was infuriated by a flight attendant's delivery of inflight nuts to her. A passenger on the flight told local media that Cho physically assaulted and threatened crew members. This incident was also dubbed "Nut rage" in the English press.

In 8 December 2014, Cho was at John F. Kennedy International Airport. She received Macadamia nuts in a closed bag, just like everyone else does, rather than on a plate. Cho rebuked the flight attendant, and called a cabin crew chief with complaints. Under Cho's orders, the chief was allegedly forced to kneel down before her and beg for forgiveness. Cho then immediately fired the chief and ordered him off the plane, issuing commands for it to return to JFK, which created a delay of approximately 20 minutes for the 250 people on-board. When the incident became public there was a popular backlash against Cho and Korean Air.

Following the flight attendant's dismissal, the airline contacted him over a dozen times, pressuring him to whitewash the story and state to the Korean transport authorities that he had voluntarily resigned. Two members of the "independent" investigative team assigned to the incident were former Korean Air employees. According to the flight attendant, Korean Air officials were present at the investigation and were allowed to ask him questions. He determined that the government investigation would be unjust, and instead reported the incident directly to the media, causing an immediate firestorm.

After the incident was made public, it was also revealed that in 2013 Cho had attacked a flight attendant who served her improperly cooked ramen. This incident had been covered up by the airline, who found no wrongdoing.

When the incident became public there was a popular backlash against Cho and Korean Air. Korean Air responded to the popular anger by forcing Cho to resign from her job as vice-president, while not mentining that she kept her position as chairperson of Korean Air, president of KAL Hotel Network and Hanjin Tour. In contrast to the early cover-up, criminal charges are now being sought against her. Korean Air is expected to be fined around USD $2 million because, according to the police, a company executive ordered employees to delete records of the incident. Korean Air issued an apology to passengers, but attempted to justify Cho's action, saying it was in accordance with her job of inspecting in-flight service and airplane safety



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