KAL may be fined for Bobby Kim ticketing error

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KAL may be fined for Bobby Kim ticketing error

Still suffering from the infamous “nut rage” incident, Korean Air Lines (KAL), the nation’s largest full-service carrier, will likely be fined for a ticketing error involving popular Korean-American singer Bobby Kim.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Thursday that it is reviewing whether KAL violated Act 51 of the nation’s aviation security law, which states that an airline must follow the security plan that has been approved by the ministry, including correct ticketing procedures.

KAL previously acknowledged that an employee had committed a ticketing error by not cross-checking the name on Bobby Kim’s passport with the name on his boarding pass.

The ministry said that an airline that violates the law can be fined up to 10 million won (about $9,000).

“Our legal team is reviewing the case,” said an official from the ministry. “We will summon Korean Air officials and investigate the case to determine the appropriate fine.”

Last week, Kim booked a business-class seat on KAL Flight KE023 from Incheon to San Francisco, but instead he was given an economy-class seat purchased by a person with a similar name. It was later reported that Kim’s full name is “Robert Do Kyun Kim,” but a KAL employee gave him a boarding pass meant for a person named “Robert Kim.”

The incident has put a spotlight on Kim, who was apparently upset about being issued the wrong ticket and was prevented from changing seats. He allegedly harassed members of the cabin crew while intoxicated during the flight and was investigated by the authorities in the United States after the plane landed. He may face criminal charges.

In the “nut rage” incident, for which Cho Hyun-ah, the former KAL vice president, has been indicted for violating aviation safety laws, the ministry has yet to hand down a punishment. According to the law, the maximum penalty the airline could face is a temporary flight suspension.

A report on Tuesday from local civic group Center for Freedom of Information and Transparent Society said that Korea’s eight commercial airlines, including low-cost carriers, were fined a total of 710 million won over the last four years for breaking aviation laws.

From 2011 to 2014, Asiana Airlines received the most fines, 310 million won in 10 separate cases, while KAL was fined 192.5 million for nine violations.

Last year, Korean air carriers had to pay fines worth 132.5 million won in nine cases, which a big increase from 2013 when there were a total of five violations and fines of 45 million won.
kjoo@joongang.co.kr [BY JOO KYUNG-DON ]
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