Have Too Common a Name? Get Forced to Sit in Coach. Drink Too Much. Use That As Excuse for Mauling Flight Attendant.

Korean Air faces a fine for giving a passenger the wrong ticket for travel Seoul and San Francisco. The mix up was caused by two passengers with a similar name. Their last names were both ‘Kim’.

The passenger who triggered the Transport Ministry investigation is a singer who purchased a business class ticket named Bobby Kim (we don’t know the first name of the other passenger). He was so distraught over being given someone else’s economy ticket that he had six glasses of wine during the coach flight.

High jinks ensued:

The popular R&B singer, who is a citizen of the U.S., was probed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation when he arrived at San Francisco International Airport for allegedly sexually harassing a female flight attendant while intoxicated on the U.S.-bound flight.

According to the airline and witnesses at the scene, Kim inappropriately touched the female crewmember and hurled sexual insults after having six glasses of wine.

A spokesperson of Oscar Entertainment, the singer’s agency, said Kim started drinking heavily because flight attendants refused to change his seat to business class despite his persistent complaints about the airline’s mistake.

Apparently giving a passenger the wrong boarding pass is a violation of South Korea’s aviation security law.

Under the country’s aviation law, an air carrier that doesn’t fulfill its security program ― by ensuring correct ticketing procedures critical for flight safety ― is subject to a fine of up to 10 million won ($9,240).

Imagine how distraught the passenger would have been if he’d missed out on Korean’s new business class seat!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I once was checking in at LAS and received another passenger’s boarding pass. Similar name, but by no means the same. It was 5AM in the morning, so I sleepily glanced at it and headed to security. And I went through security without an issue – despite the name on the boarding pass NOT matching the driver’s license. I didn’t notice until I sat down in the lounge and realized my boarding pass was to a different city. I went to the gate agent for MY flight, who was really really horrified. Oh, TSA agents.

  2. I flew Virgin America a couple weeks ago and when I boarded the aircraft, as the gate agent scanned my boarding pass it gave an error message that I had already boarded. I assured her that wasn’t the case. But when I came to my seat, someone was sitting there. He showed me his boarding pass with the same seat assignment, so I went to the back of the plane to discuss with a flight attendant. Eventually they determined that his boarding pass was in my name it as well. This was during IROPS so I’m hoping that he cleared security under his own boarding pass and then swapped flights going stand-by.

  3. Why does it matter who’s name he cleared security under? He still went through the process.

  4. Kim is the most common last name in Korea, and this is a Korean airline that made the mistake?

  5. 1. First fault.
    His real name was Robert Kim. And there was other guy, named Robert Kim also in that flights.
    So, in ICN airport, they issued business ticket for the other Robert Kim, and this Robert Kim got just economy seats.
    2. Second fault.
    Well, I can understand this confusion. But I could not understand next situation. In that flight, there was plenty seats left in Business class. Moreover, there was an upgrade in the gate for the other person. BUT, Bobby Kim did not have any chance to upgrade his seats.

    They wanted to cover these faults up by giving heavy alcohol.

  6. I traveled to Jeju in Korea and stayed at Hyatt Regency Hotel. They asked my name and took me to the lounge which surprised me. They said my oceanview suite will be ready but it turned out to be their mistake. They mistake my name for someone else… What’s more, they didn’t ask for ID when eventually checking me in 3 hours later..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.