THE KOREAN HERALD/ANN: Korean Air said on Tuesday that it will strengthen penalties for ticket cancellations from January 1, following a recent incident involving a group of K-pop fans cancelling their tickets just before takeoff, which caused a costly delay.

According to Korean Air, passengers who cancel their tickets after passing through the departure gate will receive an additional 200,000 won ($176) of penalties.

The current penalty amount is 120,000 won for long-distance routes, such as those to the US and Europe, and 70,000 won for mid-distance routes like those to Southeast Asia. Passengers pay a penalty of only 50,000 won for short-distance flights such as those to Japan, China and Hong Kong.

“The decision came after continued cases of some passengers abusing the penalty fee system and cancelling their flight tickets right before takeoff, even after completing immigration and boarding the plane,” Korean Air said in a statement.

It added that at least 35 flights have experienced such cases in the past year.

On Saturday, fans of K-pop group Wanna One requested to leave a Korean Air flight departing Hong Kong for Incheon, after they managed to get closer access to Wanna One members, who were reportedly onboard after visiting Hong Kong for the Mnet Asian Music Awards 2018.

The fans, reportedly from Hong Kong and mainland China, had bought full-fare refundable first-class and business-class tickets so they would be able to snap photos of the singers.

Despite the cabin crews’ request that they be seated for takeoff, they left the plane. As a result, the plane departed from Hong Kong International Airport an hour late, and the airline had to compensate the other travellers onboard for the delay.

According to Korean Air, when a passenger demands to voluntarily leave the plane after boarding, all passengers inside the plane have to re-board for security reasons.