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While I don’t think of myself as the world’s most patient person, I generally don’t get too riled up about air travel. Part of that is thanks to my strategy of getting to the airport early enough to enjoy enough beer that I’m sleepy and relaxed, yet not so much that I’m surly and combative. Mainly, though, it’s because living in Japan and having family in the U.S. means I’ve been on plenty of long flights, and after a while you learn to roll with the punches of a few inconveniences along the way.

So you’d think someone with even more experience flying, like, say, the vice president of Korean Air, who is also the daughter of its owner, would be even more serene when taking a plane from point A to point B. Maybe she ordinarily is, but that certainly wasn’t the case last week, when Cho Hyun-ah went nuts over a bag of nuts.

Early in the morning of December 5, a Korean Air flight was getting ready to depart New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Among those on the passenger list were Cho, who also goes by the anglicized name Heather and was seated in the first class section.

After boarding, but prior to taking off, Cho was served a pack of macadamia nuts by a cabin attendant. Media reports differ as to whether or not the crew member had asked the vice president before serving her, but what is known is that the nuts were served in their package, instead of being placed in a dish or on a tray.

Cho took issue with this, and in this regard, may not have been so far out of line. Among her many responsibilities with Korean Air, she’s in charge of in-cabin service, so technically these little details, especially in the first class section, fall squarely within her jurisdiction. That veneer of professionalism soon cracked, though, as instead of calmly addressing the perceived problem, the 40-year-old Cho launched into a tirade more appropriate for a toddler one-tenth her age.

▼ Or a bitter woman double it

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Enraged at what she saw as slipshod service, Cho loudly and angrily took the cabin attendant to task, ordering that she be removed from the flight. When the attendant retorted that she’d been following the procedure exactly as written in the employee handbook, Cho demanded to be shown the passage on one of the plane’s tablet devices. Of course, having your boss screaming at you doesn’t make manipulating technology or data mining particularly easy, and the flustered attendant first had trouble unlocking the device, then more difficulty in finding the exact section detailing how to properly serve nuts.

None of this did anything to improve Cho’s mood. The vice president was by this point so enraged that instead of her earlier attempted expulsion of the nut-serving attendant, she now ordered the cabin crew chief to get off the plane. This would be a drastic measure in any case, but particularly so in this instance since the plane had already left the gate and was sitting on the departure runway. Still, Cho was adamant, and since JFK doesn’t have an in-runway hotel they could drop the chief off at, it was back to the terminal, with Cho’s venomous vocal vehemence so loud it could be heard by passengers in coach.

▼ Who we imagine would’ve been totally appreciative of some macadamia nuts, regardless of whether they came in a bowl or bag.

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By the time the plane made it back to the departure runway, takeoff had been delayed enough that the flight landed in Incheon 11 minutes late, and while the other first class passengers had front row seats for the row between Cho and the crew, no explanation was given to the rest of the 250 people onboard. No investigation is necessary to conclude Cho’s conduct was embarrassing and an inconvenience to her fellow travelers, but Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport has launched one regarding the legality of her actions. Depending on the result, she may be looking at legal charges, and possibly a starring role in a Korean remake of the 1997 Harrison Ford thriller Air Force One, should such a project ever be green-lit.

Sources: Yahoo! Japan News, Channel NewsAsia
Top image: Skift
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