‘Idiot’ K-pop fans force airline to empty aircraft - and then demand refunds

Julian Ryall
Korean Air’s policies meant the fans were entitled to refunds - REUTERS

Three over-enthusiastic K-pop fans delayed a flight from Hong Kong to Seoul by mobbing the objects of their affection and then demanding to be allowed to get off the aircraft. 

The incident happened at Hong Kong International Airport on Saturday, when the three passengers - who have not been named but are reported to be in their 20s and from Hong Kong and mainland China - took seats in the business and first-class cabins of a Korean Air flight bound for the South Korean capital.

Shortly before the flight was due to take off, Wanna One, a Korean pop band that had been in Hong Kong to perform at the 2018 M-net Asian Music Awards the previous evening, also boarded the aircraft.

The three fans ignored requests from the cabin crew to remain in their seats and surrounded the musicians, the Hankook Ilbo newspaper reported in a story that branded the fans as “idiots”, carrying posters of the band. 

As soon as they had been convinced to leave the pop stars alone, the three fans said they no longer wanted to go to Seoul and instead wanted to get off the aircraft. Flight attendants told them that under aviation laws, the entire flight would have to disembark and go through security screening once again, which would delay the flight significantly.

Members of South Korean music band Wanna One pose for photos on the red carpet of the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) in Hong Kong Credit: AP

The fans were adamant, however, and rubbed salt into the airline’s wound by demanding full refunds of their tickets, to which they were entitled under Korean Air’s refund policies as they had paid the full purchase prices. 

The 360 passengers aboard the flight were required to leave the aircraft with their luggage and complete security screening procedures once again, which delayed the flight by more than one hour. 

As a result of the delay, Korea Air was also obliged to compensate the remaining passengers.

Korean Air could not be contacted for a comment on the incident, although media have reported that the airline asked Hong Kong police to investigate the matter.

The authorities declined to open an investigation, however, as they have not received any complaints from other passengers that the three fans caused any material damage.