If there is ever a good example of a snowball effect, this is certainly it. Cho Hyun-ah, also known as Heather Cho, 40, has stepped down from her post as executive vice president of Korean Air after what has become known all over the Internet as the “nut rage” incident.
Cho was forced to resign from all her posts in the Hanjin Group, the parent comapany of Korean Air and one of the top 10 family-run business conglomerates in South Korea. The chairman of Korean Air and the father of Heather Cho is Cho Yang-ho, who has since apologized to the public for his daughter’s actions.
It must have been something very serious, then, with such a thorough public humiliation coming out of it. However, it actually came about from something rather mundane that went out of control. It took place in first class section of a Korean Air plane that was about to take off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Seoul.
Cho was served nuts when she didn’t ask for them, but they were still in the bag and not on a plate, as deemed proper by service protocol. Seeing this violation of conduct by an employee of her company as unacceptable, she blew her top and demanded to have the chief flight attendant check the service manual on the proper way to serve nuts on that plane. When he failed to locate the manual, that was when she took it a step too far.
Something must have popped in her head because she then demanded the captain turn back in order to remove the chief flight attendant, who Cho deemed unworthy of his job. The plane was already taxiing towards the runway, so it had to turn all the way back to the terminal upon her insistence and caused an 11-minute delay.
Maybe it was well within her right to discipline the crew, as the executive vice president of that company, but aviation laws do not take such actions by passengers of any plane lightly. Her violation is said to be punishable by a hefty fine for endangering the safety of the flight.
It doesn’t end there, though. Reports have surfaced of the staff having been coerced into fabricating statements about the incident to protect Cho. The Korean public did not take kindly to the reports, though, and the Korean Air heiress was met with widespread outrage. She has since publicly apologized for the incident.
There is also word from sources that paint Cho as a terrible person to work for, so perhaps this incident just tops off a career spent tormenting her. She’ll have a long time to think about her actions now that she is unemployed and facing possible jail time.
While the investigation is underway, Cho is barred from leaving South Korea. That’s quite harsh for a tantrum over a bag of nuts, but it’s also a good lesson for everyone to keep cool and calm at all times, as well as not to be a horrible boss.