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No-show penalties hiked to foil die-hard fans

Dec 19,2018
Korea’s full service carriers are raising penalties to stop passengers from getting on planes just to see celebrities.

On Saturday, three customers boarded a Korean Air flight in Hong Kong bound for Incheon International Airport. They were dedicated fans of Korean boy band Wanna One, which was flying back to Korea after a concert in Hong Kong. The fans managed to get close to the Korean singers and then insisted on getting off the plane. They canceled their tickets and asked for refunds.

Their gambit delayed the departure of that flight for roughly an hour. Regulations state that if any passenger gets off a plane voluntarily after boarding, all passengers must leave the plane for security reasons. All 360 passengers on board had to go back to the departure lounge for security checks.

Korean Air was obliged to give refunds for the tickets of the three die-hard Wanna One fans. One bought a first class ticket for around 1.97 million won ($1,740), and only paid around 90,000 won as a no-show penalty. Considering the three saw the group face-to-face at a very close distance, they may have considered that penalty a cheap price to pay - not much different from the price of a concert ticket.

According to Korean Air, about 35 of its flights had problems with passengers canceling flights after passing through immigration or boarding this year alone. These passengers not only cause flight delays but extra security costs, the Korean company said.

Korean Air said Tuesday it will raise the penalty for no shows by 200,000 won from the beginning of next year.

The airline hopes the bigger penalty will discourage customers from canceling after passing immigration.

Currently, no-show penalties differ by flight distance. For long-haul routes, such as flights headed to the Americas and Africa, the no-show penalty is 120,000 won.

For shorter flights, such as to Hong Kong or Japan, the penalty is only 50,000 won.

From next year, Korean Air’s no-show penalty for long-haul flights will rise to 320,000 won and for short-haul flights to 250,000 won. Penalties charged for ticket refunds differ by the type of ticket purchased.

Asiana Airlines announced a similar plan earlier on Dec. 6. The airline will increase penalties by 200,000 won for customers who pass immigration and then cancel. If the penalties are paid outside of Korea, an extra $200 will be added to the original no-show penalty. The carrier will put the plan into effect from Jan. 10.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]