Flying the Fiendish Skies


In a recent story almost too juicy to be true, the pampered daughter of the chairman of Korean Air Lines – herself a vice-president of the company and the executive in charge of in-flight hospitality – threw a hissy fit onboard a jet en route from New York to Incheon over a mis-handled bag of macadamia nuts. Sunk comfortably into a cushy seat in first class, Cho Hyun-ah (aka. Heather Cho) was presented with an unopened bag of the macadamias instead of receiving them arranged on a plate per airline guidelines. It seems Queen Heather forced the chief flight attendant to kneel before her and apologize, and then ordered the pilot to return to the jetway (!) so that the offending attendant could be kicked off the flight. (Who gives a shit about delaying for an hour or so the 300+ paying customers, most of whom have to endure the 14 hour flight stuffed into a child’s booster seat; justice must be meted out swiftly in the house of Cho.)

For behaving like the spoiled kid she is, Cho lost the high-level job she no doubt acquired through rank nepotism that is common in Korean industry. Adding insult to injury, her father, Chairman Cho Yang-ho noted, “I failed to raise her properly.” As they say in Seoul – 아야

Queen Heather Cho bows before abdicating the throne at Korean Air Lines

Oceans of real and virtual ink were spilled in the aftermath ridiculing the entire affair – some of it bemoaning the episode as another example of a continuing decline of civility aboard the world’s leading airlines.

Which reminded me of perhaps the most notorious (and noxious) non-lethal in-flight disruption of all time – the strange and wondrous case of one Gerald Finneran, an executive traveling back to the U.S. on a United Airlines flight from Argentina in October of 1995. Rather than explain the circumstances, I refer you to the contemporary AP report:

NEW YORK (AP) — An investment banker is accused of assaulting a flight attendant and defecating on a food-service cart during a drunken rampage on a United Airlines flight.

Gerard B. Finneran, 58, managing director of the Trust Company of the West, pleaded innocent Monday to federal charges of assaulting and intimidating an attendant and interfering with a flight crew. He was freed on $100,000 bail.

Federal authorities said the Greenwich, Conn., executive started pouring drinks on himself during a Buenos Aires-to-New York flight that began Friday.

When flight attendants tried to cut him off, he told one attendant he would “bust (his) …,” according to court papers. He allegedly shoved an attendant into a seat.

Later, Finneran was spotted with his pants down, defecating on the food cart, authorities said. He used linen napkins as toilet paper.

John Finnegan, Finneran’s lawyer, said his client “vigorously denies the allegations.”

One passenger on the plane was President Mario Alberto Soares of Portugal, who was on his way to the United Nation’s 50th anniversary celebration.

My favorite part – the dude “vigorously denies the allegations.” Talk about delusion. But at least Finneran didn’t bitch about getting his nuts in a bag.

Sidebar: Gerald Finneran died at age 67 almost exactly 10 years ago – December 29, 2004 – of Alzheimer’s disease. Or was it terminal embarrassment? Curiously, his obituary left out the “dump on the food cart” portion of his legacy. Strange.

RIP Phil Stern

Photographer Phil Stern died the other day. Stern earned his chops as a darkroom technician in London during WW II, moving on to photographing battlefield action in North Africa. The experience prepared him well for the assignments that would mark his career – capturing famous Hollywood stars and powerful politicians under trying circumstances. His subjects included JFK, Sinatra, Brando, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, and he did album covers shots for the likes of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday.

Can you guess who this swishy fellow is – shot by Stern? Answer at bottom.


They Pay Commissions for This?

On Monday, December 15, IBM stock closed the trading day at $153.06 per share. The next day – less than 16 hours later – crack-shot financial analyst and author Anne-Marie Baiynd went out on a limb and warned that IBM shares might go down as low as $152. With that keen market insight, it’s a wonder Baiynd isn’t running Goldman-Sachs.

According to an insightful story phoned in to Yahoo, “Baiynd is going to watch the $157.70 mark to see if the sellers come in and attack that region,” quoting her as saying, “As the buyers come in, if they cannot push this up over $157, and it begins to lose support, we are going to come back down and test that low again.” Without explaining any rationale, Baiynd considers the magic number of $157 (plus 70 cents) to be the pivot point where IBM will either soar or basically close where it was the day before. Surely, millions of day traders who followed her sage advice are out today sizing up new Maserati’s for Christmas.

Clearly the story went over well with the readership, judging by the majority of comments. A sampling below:


It’s no wonder regular people feel the financial system is hopelessly skewed against them. Wealthy traders benefit from analysis derived from inside knowledge and therefore invest in sure things. Pudwackers who sit in their underwear in front of a laptop refreshing their eTrade account every two seconds have to suffer fools like Anne-Marie Baiynd.


John Wayne

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