We've all had flights delayed because of bad weather. Or a mechanical problem. Or too much traffic on the runway. But because a flight attendant didn't properly serve macadamia nuts to a passenger in first class? That's a new one.
Such a thing happened last week on a Korean Air flight headed from New York to Seoul, according to the Wall Street Journal. Cho Hyun-ah, a vice president in charge of the airline's in-flight services and a daughter of the company's chairman, had a problem with the way she was served a package of macadamia nuts while being seated in first class, leading to a departure delay that involved ejecting a crew member.
Rather than first asking Cho if she wanted the nuts, and then serving them on a plate, the flight attendant handed Cho an unopened bag. That's when things began to go, well, a little nutty.
According to reports, Cho called for the head of the service crew, known as a purser, and started discussing the airline's service policy, which requires flight attendants to ask passengers first if they would like to be served. When she wasn't happy with his response, she ordered him off the plane.
In an emailed response to the Post, a Korean Air spokeswoman wrote, "As of right now, we cannot make a value judgment on whether or not actions were warranted or not." She also addded: "Korean Air regrets if it caused any inconvenience to its passengers in delaying flight 086 for 11 minutes in order to deal with this personnel issue."
Bloomberg reported that the airline apologized for the inconvenience in a statement to passengers. It also said that, while the aircraft had already left the gate, it took no more than two minutes to return and have the crew member get off. The flight was then 11 minutes late on its arrival time in Seoul. Still, South Korea's transport ministry is apparently investigating the incident to see if there were any breaches of regulations.
It's good to know the leader in charge of an airline's in-flight services is a stickler for standards, given the industry's abysmal reputation for customer service. That's especially true if it ensures a high bar on things that actually matter, like lost baggage, surly gate agents or rebooking cancelled flights. But is not having to open your own bag of macadamia nuts really worth delaying an entire plane? Most passengers would say no.