SEOUL: Korean Air said Wednesday it would let its crew use stun guns more aggressively and put more male staff aboard flights to clamp down on violence, after an incident involving an unruly passenger.
South Korea’s flag carrier said it was tightening security after 1980s US pop singer Richard Marx lashed out at the company on social media for its handling of the incident.
Until now, the use of stun guns or tasers has been limited to situations where there was an “imminent threat to the lives of passengers and crew or to safe navigation”, said airline spokesman Nathan Cho.
But “regulations on the use of stun guns or tasers will be changed to allow crew members to use them more aggressively”, he added.
The airline will also put at least one male crew member on every flight, buy new ropes to tie down unruly passengers quickly and step up crew training in mock-up cabins.
Korean Air’s 700 male attendants account for only one tenth of its flight attendants.
Marx said last week he had to step in to help “clueless and ill-trained” crew restrain a violent passenger on a flight from Hanoi to Seoul’s Incheon Airport.
Local television footage showed a male passenger flailing, punching and spitting as female crew members and other passengers struggled to hold him down and tie him to his seat with a rope.
Marx posted photos on Twitter and Facebook taken by his wife, TV host and model Daisy Fuentes which showed the passenger grabbing a female flight attendant by her hair and another crew member pointing a taser.
Fuentes said the all-female crew did not know how to use the taser nor how to secure the rope around the man and “never fully got control of him”.
Marx said the fiasco lasted four hours until he stepped in along with other male passengers.
South Korean police are investigating and have sought an arrest warrant for the passenger, identified as a 34-year-old heir to a South Korean cosmetics company.
He consumed two and half shots of whisky during the flight, Korean Air said, but added they have no information on whether he had drunk alcohol before boarding.
The airline was at the centre of a notorious “nut rage” incident in 2014 that triggered a national uproar.
Korean Air heiress Cho Hyun-Ah, who was company vice-president at the time and sitting in first class, became enraged when a flight attendant served her some nuts in a bag rather than on a plate.
She lambasted the chief steward over the behaviour of his cabin crew and ordered the Seoul-bound flight, that had just left the gate in New York, to turn back so he could be ejected.