Ex-Korean Air Executive Arrested Over ‘Nut Rage’ Incident

December 30, 2014

The Korean Air executive whose conduct aboard an aircraft over a packet of improperly served macadamia nuts led to her resignation has been arrested for violating South Korea’s aviation safety laws.

Cho Hyun-ah, the daughter of Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho, served as head of in-flight service until the Dec. 5 incident in which she demanded that a South Korea-bound Korean Air jetliner return to a gate at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, where it was getting ready for takeoff. As NPR’s Bill Chappell reported:

“Seated in first class, Cho was angered that a junior steward served her macadamia nuts — in a bag instead of on a plate, and without asking first. When a senior steward struggled to cite the proper regulations, Cho had him kicked off the flight, forcing the plane holding some 250 passengers to return to the gate before it could depart for Incheon, South Korea.”

The flight eventually arrived in Incheon, near Seoul, 11 minutes late, according to Reuters.

Cho later apologized and resigned from her post. The Korea Times reported that Cho was arrested today in what is being called the “nut rage” incident and was charged with violating the country’s aviation safety laws, coercion and interference in the execution of duty. Prosecutors had sought an arrest warrant last week.

Cho did not respond to journalists’ questions while on her way to a detention facility late Tuesday.

The newspaper also reported that the court issued an arrest warrant for another Korean Air executive for allegedly ordering airline workers to delete an initial email report about the incident.

The “nut rage” incident did have one unintended side effect: Sales of macadamia nuts soared in South Korea.

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