Korean Air shrugs off pilot’s attempt to drink alcohol during flight

Cabin crew chief demoted for leaking incident

By Park Si-soo 

A Korean Air pilot allegedly attempted to drink cups of alcoholic drink during a flight in December. But the airline shrugged it off and disciplined a cabin crew chief who reprimanded the pilot and reported the case to the company, broadcaster CBS reported on Tuesday. 

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. 

The chief told crew members, including the co-pilot, on condition they would remain silent until landing. The decision was made out of concern that if the captain knew it might destabilize his mental state. 

But the co-pilot told the captain before landing, resulting in an on-board altercation between the cabin crew chief and the co-pilot. After landing in Amsterdam, the cabin crew chief formally complained and wrote about the incident on the company’s anonymous online message board. 

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. 

Korean Air called the decision “fair.” 

“It’s true the captain made a controversial action, but it didn’t cause a real trouble,” a Korean Air official said. 

Regarding the demotion of the cabin crew chief, the official said the chief was responsible for using “insulting words during the altercation and revealing the internal issue.” 

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