Airline executive resigns after outburst over nuts

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NEW YORK — A Korean Air executive has resigned from her role for ordering a flight to be turned around to the gate and a flight attendant off the plane because she was served nuts in a bag instead of on a plate.

Heather Cho, whose Korean name is Cho Hyun-ah, resigned Tuesday from the airline’s catering and in-flight sales business, and its cabin service and hotel business divisions, an airline spokesman said.

But she is keeping her title as a vice president of the national carrier, he said.

As for the next steps, the spokesman said there is an investigation going on, so “we will have to see.”

The incident occurred Friday at New York’s JFK airport on a flight due to take off for the South Korean city of Incheon.

Cho reportedly demanded that the plane go back to the gate so the crew member who served her macadamia nuts out of a bag rather than on a plate in First Class could be kicked off the flight.

Although her role put her in charge of in-flight service, she was only a passenger on this flight and was not flying in an official capacity.

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, Cho is the eldest daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, Cho Yang-ho.

He apologized Tuesday for any inconvenience caused to passengers and said the incident would be investigated, the news agency reported.

Korean Air also apologized for any discomfort to those on the flight and said there had been no safety issues involved. The plane arrived at its destination only 11 minutes behind schedule, according to Yonhap.

“Even though it was not an emergency situation, backing up the plane to order an employee to deplane was an excessive act,” the airline said in a statement.

“We will reeducate all our employees to make sure service within the plane meets high standards.”

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