Asiana Is Having A Meal Crisis That Has Allegedly Led To A Suicide

Filed Under: Asiana

This story is unfortunate on many levels. Asiana Airlines, Korea’s second largest airline, is having a crisis right now when it comes to their onboard catering. Since Sunday, Asiana has been forced to operate many flights without meals, reportedly including flights of up to 12 hours.

The airline has been giving out travel vouchers worth $30-50, and is asking passengers to pack their own meals. For example, Pulse News reports that on Sunday 51 flights departed late, and 38 left without meals for passengers. On Monday, that number decreased a bit, as 18 international flights operated with a delay, and 16 short-haul international flights operated without meals.

The airline has apologized and blames the lack of meals on a switch in their catering provider, and they’ve promised that they’re working on getting this resolved as soon as possible.

Asiana had used LSG Sky Chefs as their supplier for about 15 years, but ended that contract as of July 1, 2018. They were going to switch to Gate Gourmet, but then a fire broke out at their facility in Korea, meaning they haven’t been able to cater meals at the agreed upon level.

So Asiana signed a three month contract with Sharp Do & Co Korea, a smaller catering company, to cover 20,000-30,000 meals per day. They failed to deliver from the first day, clearly unable to cope with the level of demand, as they had never had a contract this big before.

Unfortunately the CEO of that company was found dead at his home on Monday, after struggling to meet Asiana’s demand and deal with the issues they were having. Of course we don’t know what else was going on in his life, so I mention this because I imagine if the company struggled to meet demand before, it will likely be even less likely with their CEO dying suddenly. This certainly puts into context that having a meal on a plane really isn’t that big of a deal.

Media reports also suggest that LSG Sky Chefs refused to help Asiana following the situation, due to “customs regulations and breach of trust.”

So if you are flying Asiana in the coming days, it’s probably best to eat before your flight and bring your own food, just to be on the safe side.

Has anyone flown Asiana in the past couple of days and dealt with these catering issues?

(Tip of the hat to @hookgrip)

  1. Having done business for many years with Korean companies I say that this issue happened because of the unrealistic expectations that Korean companies place in each other when making such changes.

  2. I thought you were going to be more considerate when posting articles? You’re gossiping about someone’s death…

  3. This kind of article, which can have a triggering effect, should always, always, always have a blurb at the end directing people to a suicide prevention hotline.

  4. This is in very poor taste Lucky – I’m really not a fan of these kind of gossipy tittle tattle articles and wish I had skipped over this one too as I usually do, but ending with “So make sure you pack some food” comes across as completely tone deaf and disrespectful.

  5. @Ryan: Are there many suicidal CEOs reading this blog. With this argument every written article on the WWW can have a triggering effect. You’re not longer allowed to mention other names, places or activities.

  6. You left out a lot of the details.

    1. Asiana’s parent company, the Kumho group demanded LSG and Lufthansa for a $143million investment loan without interest. LSG refused and HNA with Gategourmet came in and offered the loan in exchange for a 30 year contract with Asiana. The contract with LSG was terminated.

    2. Kumho constructions was in charge of the construction of Gategourmet’s new facility, but apparently the building caught on fire, which lead to the delay of the opening.

    3. The contract with LSG ended, and Asiana had to ask Sharp Do&Co’s help, but they could only handle so much. When they made the temporary contract with Sharp Do&Co, they had terms where if the meals were delayed over 30 min, Asiana will only pay half the price. Apparently that put a lot of pressure to Sharp Do&Co, and their partners, which lead to the partner company’s CEO committing suicide. NOT Sharp Do & Co’s CEO. This article should explain in detail.

  7. I dont know why LSG couldnt have provided some coverage at “rack” (non-contracted) rate and make some extra money.

  8. @Ryan We don’t need a trigger warning about a story about a suicide. Mainstream news sites don’t do it either. We’re all adults here and understand that sad things happen in life.

    Also anyone reading this who is contemplating suicide can easily google for hotlines to call — no need for Lucky to provide it.

  9. I don’t think Ben was out of line at all. Yes, the suicide is disturbing and unfortunate—and that was exactly the point of the article. I appreciate that some readers would’ve preferred to skip over this article—and that’s certainly understandable—but let’s not vilify the author. There are a lot of really bad poepole out there who are worthy of our scorn.

  10. Snowflake alert.
    If I were flying asiana I’d like to know that I would be getting any food!

  11. @daftboy

    Well said. This post is totally insensitive and uncalled for. Just sensationalizing someone’s death for clicks…it’s repugnant

  12. Incredibly insensitive, pure speculation and an insult to that person’s life as well as anyone who has suffered from mental health issues or suicidal thoughts. You are completely drawing the connection between DO&COs supply issues with the CEO’s suicide, you have NO idea what else was going on and you have NO right to assume otherwise.

  13. This article is not “gossipy” but rather just extremely unfortunate and Lucky does acknowledge that the fact is far worse than not having a meal. It might also inform others of the situation if flying Asiana.

    “This certainly puts into context that having a meal on a plane really isn’t that big of a deal.”

  14. It is not the CEO of Sharp Do & Co who committed the suicide. It is the subcontratctor for Sharp. (So the sub-sub-subcontractor for Asiana.) The name of the company has not been revealed. He allegedly worked 28 hours straight before committing suicide.

  15. Just had to pipe in to say that I feel the post is totally fair. The fact that there is a food crisis at Asiana resulting in long-haul flights going without meals is completely relevant information for an air travel blog like OMAAT. That there was a suicide allegedly linked to the issue is a potentially relevant fact highlighting just how overwhelmed the contractors are. Should we just ignore that it happened, pretend that suicides don’t happen? It would be much much worse for the cause of suicide awareness to sweep it under the rug.

  16. Would it hurt trump and some of the Republican traitors to at least think about suicide. What’s up with asians raised by tiger moms shouldering all the guilt in this world?

  17. @Justin – agreed. This article is squarely in the preview of the topics of this site and did not sensationalize anything.

  18. People, you all need to not always have a Western Centric view of things. Yes, suicide is unfortunate and bad. In Asian perspective, its the honorable way to compensate for bringing shame to their company/employee/family. By sacrificing themselves, their family are protected from further scrutiny by the public.

    By the looks of thing, the CEO of that Asiana sub-sub-subcontractor, probably over delivered, and he takes real responsibility. Unlike, CEOs here where they just make some superficial public apology and be done with it. If all those CEO who cause the depression with those subprime mortgages take responsibility and committed suicide, we probably wouldn’t have as much repeat problem.

  19. Ryan….While I can appreciate your best intentions at suggesting that Lucky include a trigger warning I would suggest you stop using the phrase “trigger warning” as it can be distressing to those who are victims of gun violence. “Suicide content warning” would be more appropriate.

    …..or we can just grow up and put on our big boy panties.

  20. Very sad ending. What struck me was the staggering number of daily meals for a small airline, I’m assuming they must all be widebody aircraft on long haul flights. The logistics alone of just obtaining the raw ingredients each day, without shortages or waste would be a massive undertaking not to mention the preparation, packing and delivery. I wouldn’t want to run that operation.

  21. Are these only for flights departing from ICN? I have a J flight JFK-ICN next week and hope it is sorted out!

  22. @David — Thank you for providing the details. It’s important to see the incestuous links between Korean businesses to really reach an understanding into why failures like this happen. I would only add that just as Korean managers contribute to the culture of overwork through unrealistic expectations of their staff, Korean companies similarly approach their contractors and suppliers with a desire to extract every last bit of value possible regardless of what it means for the long-term.

    And goodness, thank you @Akitada Kure. You absolutely cannot look at an Asian CEO’s suicide through the lens of western understanding of mental health. Korea is a very honor-bound confucian culture where a boss feels responsible for the care of employees as a father does to children (obviously I generalize, but work culture is VERY different in Korea). Just like in Japan (@ITST), it is considered far more honorable for a CEO to commit suicide than live on having stained both family and company with the stigma of business failure.

    Obviously this is a tragic outcome that could have been avoided.

  23. @Andy “You absolutely cannot look at an Asian CEO’s suicide through the lens of western understanding of mental health. ”
    You are 100% correct! These kinds of Asian suicides are different than the ones committed by Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams etc. Those Americans did not end their lives because of disastrous business circumstances that impacted their personal and family honor.

  24. Perfectly fine coverage. Too much sensitivity around suicide, knowing the triggers helps. Of all the protestors here, who has stepped up and asked if someone they know is OK?

  25. “In Asian perspective, its the honorable way to compensate for bringing shame to their company/employee/family. By sacrificing themselves, their family are protected from further scrutiny by the public.”

    I take offense to that. You maybe could say in Korean/Japanese society, but this is DEFINITELY not true to all Asians. This is perpetuating untrue Asian stereotypes. #fakenews

    In many South East Asian countries, it is DIShonorable to commit suicide because that’s the “easy way out”.

  26. ok people if any of you knew about Asian cultures, you would know that heads of corporations take shit seriously. Him committing suicide is relevant. If you screw up bad enough as a manager you don’t get fired, you get full pay and work as a janitor or server in the cafeteria. Lucky was just adding some background.

  27. Gategourmet what a crap, very unprofessional way to conduct business in this region.

  28. The Conservatives always swept problems under the rug. The Suicide is part of the story. Not just a click bait.

  29. I board ANY flight, especially when flying economy, assuming I won’t have proper food there, and I always have a big meal just before boarding. Recommended practice.

  30. @Matt (and for general clarification).

    I flew Asiana in F out of JFK on Monday. This food issue affects ONLY FLIGHTS LEAVING FROM ICN. I find it odd that not a lot of people are clarifying this, but it’s frustrating because the operations manager at the gate was being called a ‘liar’ by other Koreans re: availability of food and he had to clarify to them that it was only for flights leaving Korea.

    Matt, you should be fine out of JFK. I know they had absolutely no shortage in F.

  31. Flew out of Seoul on 2JUL and was delayed 1.5 hours. So many other Asiana flights were also delayed and the reason they gave us was just “ground support”. Onboard (in business class) there were no menus loaded, so the crew were showing menu options on an iPad. Also no express arrival cards loaded. At least they uplifted meals!

  32. @Jim – “We’re all adults here and understand that sad things happen in life”

    What a disgustingly vile thing to say…

    I can assure you thousands of people killing themselves each year are also adults and are also aware sad things happen in life. I sincerely hope you’re extremely ignorant and not as callous as you appear to be.

  33. It would be great if the Concern Trolls could skip these articles or, if they’re not able to do that for whatever spurious reason, not bother commenting. How hard can it be?

  34. @Akitada Kure – How dare you describe suicide as a good and honorable thing… It is not, period. I couldn’t care less that it may be considered that way in your culture, it is objectively wrong and I have no qualms whatsoever in saying that Western culture is far superior in this regard.

    Encouraging people to kill themselves for “honour” and lamenting the fact that more CEOs in the West don’t do it is disgusting.

  35. To all you crazy f**ks criticizing this post: this is not a news feed, this is a blog. You want news? Go to a reputable news source (not Facebook). You don’t want your sensitivities offended? Read the headline and pass on by.

    Christ, no wonder this country elected the current president

  36. @travlermb

    I think we should have some sense, decency and a certain amount of discretion and respect!

    Just because you have no moral compass or scruples and behave like a hobo it doesn’t mean Lucky should lower himself to that level

  37. @travlermb
    Indeed, your distasteful fetish for glorifying suicide makes u a deserving case for the loony bin.

  38. @Montgomery Curruthers. As your comments on this & other articles appear to be almost exclusively negative why not go & concern troll somewhere else if you don’t like the responses you’re getting other readers. That would be a win-win for everyone!

    @Ben @Tiffany There are a number of new posters – or existing posters with different IDs – who seem to be regularly posting negative comments in various articles. Perhaps a bit more finely-tuned moderating is needed.

  39. Do what you like with this information, I leave it here only as a relevant observation:

    As a journalist I can tell you that it’s considered basic and standard to put information on seeking advice or counselling at the bottom of all content that relates to suicide.

    I’m not all that concerned what you do, but be aware that it’s not really professional to do otherwise.

  40. @Adam
    The voice of reason. Thank you. We can at least be professional here.

    @J Dee
    Respectfully, you can shove it. Are you the Queen of OMAAT? Is this a dictatorship where dissenters are silenced? Why not shove a load of Yes-Men in here like you who can’t stand criticism and then this site can dwindle further into the abyss. It’s only Tiffany who provides any quality content. Let’s support Tiffany!

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