Korean Air is again in the news and for all the wrong reasons. The airline decided to demote a purser who had refused to serve a captain alcohol during the flight multiple times while giving the cockpit crew member only a verbal warning.
The captain had first requested champagne and later red wine in a paper cup while working in the cockpit on a Seoul – Amsterdam flight in late 2018.
Here’s an excerpt from the Korean Times (access their piece here):
The incident happened on Dec. 30 on an Amsterdam-bound Korean Air flight from Incheon, South Korea. According to CBS, the captain, while walking past a tray of welcoming drinks, tried to pick up a glass of champagne. As a cabin crew member blocked him, saying “you can’t drink alcohol,” the captain said, “Then you can give it (to me) in a paper cup” and then picked up a non-alcoholic drink.
Hours later, in the middle of the flight, the captain asked the cabin crew to bring “a cup of wine.” The crew member refused and reported the case to the cabin crew chief.
Korean Air summoned the captain and the cabin crew chief. Then came a surprise ― the company closed the case with a verbal warning to the captain and demoting the cabin crew chief for being responsible for the in-flight conflict.
The safety of Korean based airlines (Korean Air and Asiana) has been in question due to cultural issues where lower ranked employees usually never question what higher ones do, even when it would be unlawful and potentially catastrophic.
After the Asiana crash in San Francisco, the entire pilot training system in South Korea was put into question. Some western instructors found out that captains merely memorized the correct answers to questions without understanding the underlying issues.
We all remember what happened with Korean Air when the CEO’s daughter had a nut rage on the ground in New York and demanded to have a cabin crew member ejected from the flight for not serving her nuts correctly.