Updated 1025UTC 18/12 with information from Korean Air
Everybody hates delays, especially if they seem pointless, however, an incident in Hong Kong brought a whole new meaning to pointless delays. On Saturday 360 passengers boarded Korean Air flight KE614 to Seoul. Among them were the Korean pop band, Wanna One. Unfortunately, also among those boarding were fans of the band who had no intention of travelling to Seoul. The reason these fans were boarding the flight was actually to meet the band, who they knew was travelling on the flight.
The fans boarded the flight as usual, and as far as anybody could tell, they had every intention of travelling. Shortly before departure, the band Wanna One boarded the flight. Wanna One is a Korean Pop band founded in 2017. After boarding the flight, the group were approached by “Sasaeng” fans. Sasaeng fans are described as “an over-obsessive fan of a Korean idol, or other public figure, that has engaged in stalking or other behaviour that constitutes an invasion of privacy.” A quick google search of Sasaeng brings up a wealth of articles of a similar topic to this one, albeit in other settings.
Despite being repeatedly asked to take their seats, the Telegraph reports that they ignored cabin crew. Once they had satisfied their need to meet the band, they demanded to disembark the flight. They were eventually allowed, however, the other passengers had to follow them. Aviation law means that if any passengers disembark from an aircraft and undergo security screening again. Despite being made aware of this, the selfish fans went ahead with leaving the aircraft.
To add insult to injury, after disembarking the aircraft, the passengers demanded a refund. While you could argue they don’t deserve it, unfortunately, as they had purchased the most expensive fully flexible tickets, they would be entitled to this refund. In addition to the refund, Korean Air also reportedly had to offer compensation to every passenger on the aircraft, further raising the direct costs incurred from the incident.
Not The First Time
According to the Korean Times, this isn’t the first time that Korean Air has had to refund tickets in these circumstances. In fact, a Korean Air representative reportedly told them “There are several cases where idol fans deliberately purchase expensive flight tickets that offer better rebate terms and demand a refund. However, as far as I know, this is the first time a group actually got on the plane and asked to leave before take-off.”
A representative of Korean Air told Simple Flying: “recent misappropriation of low-penalty and penalty-exempt bookings [has] resulted in some passengers falsely reporting for departure and then cancelling their flights after using the lounge and getting on the aircraft. The number of such cases in Incheon International Airport in 2018 was 35 for Korean Air, amounting to hundreds if all airlines are included.”
A press release on the Korean Air website shows that the airline is to start charging penalties to those who do not show up for flights as of January 1st. The penalties start at US$50 for short-haul flights, up to US$120 for long-haul flights. An addition US$200 is to be added to these fees for passengers who cancel after entering the departure area.
How would you feel had you been aboard this flight? Let us know in the comments down below!