Asia Minute: Asian Air Rage

Jan 20, 2016

Credit Wikipedia Commons

South Korea has toughened its laws against unruly passengers on airplanes. The new measures increase fines and the possibility of jail time—and they come as complaints about passenger behavior are rising across the Asia Pacific. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

You probably remember the “macadamia nut rage case.”  That was when a Korean Air vice president who also happened to be the daughter of the chairman ordered an airplane back to the gate because of the way she was served macadamia nuts.  That took place more than a year ago on a flight from New York to Seoul, and she spent five months in jail.

Now, under a new South Korean law, anyone who disturbs the pilot during a flight could face up to five years in prison—and fines of more than 40-thousand dollars.  Around Asia, this issue goes way beyond mac nuts.  Some Chinese passengers have developed an unfortunate habit of trying to open the door while the plane is midflight.

In another well-publicized incident, passengers threw hot water on a flight attendant because of dissatisfaction with cup ramen.  The International Air Transport Association tracks these and other cases.  The organization has an entire section on its website labelled “unruly passengers.”  It reports that in the eight years through 2014, there were more than 38-thousand cases of “unruly passenger incidents on board aircrafts in flight.”  While the group says it is a “very small minority” that is disruptive, it’s calling for more coordination on toughening laws against various forms of air rage.