Fewer People Are Flying Korean Air Due To Nut Rage Incident

Filed Under: Korean Air

Korean Air’s nutty onboard incident has been all the rage lately, and I’ve covered it in great detail (thanks in no small part due to my love of first class and nuts!). 😉


To start, here are my previous posts in the saga:

For the most part the story seems to have a happy ending, at least for the “common man.” Heather Cho has been punished and humiliated, and that’s a win for the class struggle in Korea.

But it seems it’s not just Heather Cho who has been impacted by the incident, but also Korean Air as a whole, who have seen demand drop by 6%. Via The Chosunilbo:

Korea Air saw an on-year decline of more than six percent of passengers in December last year, probably caused by bad publicity over the “nut rage” incident.

According to the Korea Airports Corporation on Sunday, 1.95 million passengers flew on domestic carriers last month, up 11.5 percent from the same period of 2013. But the number of Korean Air passengers dropped from 516,000 to 482,000 over the same period.

Bad news for Korean Air meant good news for Asiana Airlines, where passenger numbers rose around 13 percent from 358,000 in December 2013 to 406,000 last month, while low-cost carriers’ business also increased.

Now of course it’s difficult to directly correlate a change in demand to the incident. And this does seem especially suspect, since the incident only happened one week into December, so it seems like the number of new bookings during that period would be a more accurate indicator of a change in demand than the number of people actually flying that month, given that most people book their travel more than a few weeks in advance.

Then again, the fact that the overall demand is up substantially and that Asiana and the other carriers are getting a larger share of traffic does suggest there’s at least some correlation.

Interesting stuff…


  1. Looks like the pro-Cho crowd wasn’t nearly big enough to replace the anti-Cho crowd. I’ll admit that the nut rage incident did in fact leave a bad taste in my mouth.

  2. One part that has not been focused on, but is probably the most troubling, is that during her “incident” she was able to command the captain to return to the gate and unload the purser while allowing the person creating the disturbance (Cho) to remain on board. Even worse, the Korean regulators allowed this to go as they said he had no choice but to obey!

    This, more than anything, makes me worry that the culture of safety at Korean is lacking….

  3. @Ben – I know KE had a slew of accidents and crashes in the ’90s, but I had thought they had learned from it and had made changes. After all Flt 8509 was like 15 years ago and for the last 10 years the safety record has been pretty good. The nut incident makes me think things haven’t changed all that much….

  4. @ At — Their safety record has been good the past decade, and I think that’s largely also because they’ve started hiring expat pilots. So while they can change the specifics of pilot training, you can’t change that Korean culture overall is very hierarchical, so you always listen to higher ups.

  5. While she handled the situation badly, it does make me more inclined to fly them. Would that the little things mattered on certain other airlines.

  6. Has nobody picked up on your obvious double entendre, Lucky? Sigh, sometimes I guess its just too easy 😛

  7. interesting that Asiana traffic has picked up as their safety culture was similarly mediocre.

    personally I won’t fly either carrier when there are so many other safer choices. more award space for you!

  8. I guess the attacked purser ended up showing Ms. Cho where to ultimately put the now infamous nuts in.

  9. Heather Cho is awesome! I work for her and love her demanding ways. It makes the airline a great success!

  10. NO, actually, KE lose business prior to nut rage. it was actually KE lose to OZ in major Korean Company’s annual cotract bid. Major Korean enterprises now use more OZ than KE, for example, Samsung and LG now all request employee must travel on OZ instead of KE.

  11. If I was the server and made the mistake, I would have willingly kneeled down to apologize. It is a sincere way to apologize. However, kicking him off the plane was a mistake. She should have let him stay on the plane to specifically serve her with extra care.

  12. 15 years is way too harsh a sentence. I mean really? 15 years for booting someone off a plane who failed to do their job correctly? Why did she have to resign? I don’t see why an arrest was made?

  13. I am majoring in management in college and admire her ability to command respect from her employees. Too many places have employees that are careless and don’t follow rules and policies. I applaude her actions and feel she did not over step. Good managers like her run very successful businesses.

  14. it is common for Korean bosses to expect their employees to grovel at their feet when mistakes are made. It usually common for employees to act in an submissive nature toward their bosses. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred here.

  15. Why is there so much support for this women? What she did was wrong. Ordering the pilot to change the flight schedule was out of line. Being mad, yelling, and even forcing the attendents to kneel before her was understandable, but changing the plane’s flight schedule,,, that was unnecessary. Other punishments would have been smarter. No pay, loss of hours, maybe even a requiring a foot massage from the offending attendent back to Korea would have been a better choice.

  16. I can appreciate her action. It is annoying when employees continually fail to obey policies. Sometimes a strict enforcement to make an example of someone is necessary.

  17. I do not feel safe on an aircraft where the daughter of a President has more authority than the pilots and the crew. People like this do not belong in aeronautics or heavy industry, where people get killed because of their tantrums.

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