First-class traveller Heather Cho flew into a rage when a junior flight attendant committed a heinous double crime – offering her macadamia nuts without first asking whether she wanted them, and presenting them in a bag rather than following the airline’s correct protocol of serving them on a plate.

The row took place as flight KE086 was preparing to take off from New York’s JFK airport to Incheon with 250 passengers on board.

Cho – daughter of airline chairman Cho Yang-ho – yelled furiously at the steward and then became embroiled in a further altercation when she questioned the chief flight attendant about standards of in-flight service and demanded to see the airline’s manual.

Dissatisfied with his interpretation of nut-handling guidelines, Cho eventually ordered the pilot to taxi the aircraft back to the terminal in order to eject the unfortunate chief flight attendant. The flight subsequently arrived in Incheon eleven minutes late.

Cho today quit from all flight service-related posts – but will retain her positions as senior vice-president and board member.

“I sincerely apologise for unintentionally causing public concern,” she said in a statement quoted by the Korean Times. “I seek forgiveness for all those who have been hurt.”

But that might not be the end of the matter. Cho now faces a possible 10-year jail sentence as South Korea’s Transport Ministry weighs up whether or not she violated aviation safety laws, which state that passengers should not cause disturbances – including yelling or the use of violent language.

“We’ll see whether her behaviour was against the law,” an official told the Korean Times. “Even though she is senior vice-president at the company, she was a passenger at that time, so she had to behave and be treated as a passenger.”

First-class passenger? More like a first-arse passenger in our manual. And she definitely didn’t need any more nuts…