Korean Air Lines apologized today for inconveniencing passengers after the daughter of its chairman ordered a crew member off a flight for serving bagged nuts in the first-class cabin. According to the South Korean daily Segye Ilbo, the flight from New York City to Incheon, South Korea, returned to the gate after Cho Hyun-ah told the head of the cabin crew to leave the plane. The report said Cho quarreled with crew in the first-class cabin and the flight departed 20 minutes late. Cho, 40, is a vice president responsible for cabin service at the airline. She is the oldest child of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho—and her two siblings are also executives at South Korea's largest airline.
The incident caused an uproar in South Korea, where the economy is dominated by family-controlled conglomerates known as "chaebol," and where family members often wield greater influence over major companies than shareholders. South Korea's government says it's investigating whether Cho violated aviation safety laws, but the airline says it was "natural" for Cho to fault the crew's ignorance of procedures. Cabin crew are required to ask first-class passengers whether they want nuts—partly to avoid serving them to people with allergies—and the nuts also should have been served on a plate, the airline says.