KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has been referred to the Dutch Civil Aviation (ILT) on allegations of breaching air travel equality law.
A complaint alleging KLM Royal Dutch Airlines breached air travel equality law, Regulation (EC) 1107/2006, has been filed by Miss Christine Wanjiku with the Dutch Civil Aviation Authority (ILT).
The complaint concerns an incident occurred at Amsterdam Schiphol airport on 22 August 2013.
Miss Wanjiku had requested assistance. The passenger has a developmental delay. The passenger alleges she was not provided assistance upon arriving at Amsterdam. As a result, the passenger spent several hours at the airport without receiving any assistance.
Miss Wanjiku had a similar experience with KLM in 2012. On that occasion, an investigation of the Dutch ILT concluded that “the passenger received a wrong PRM code due to the information provided on behalf of the passenger.”
This circumstance is denied by the passenger’s relatives, who claim having provided the airline all information pertaining to Christine’s condition.
ILT requested “KLM and the airport authority investigate how to prevent reoccurrence in the future.”
Following the first incident KLM Royal Dutch Airlines apologised unreservedly to Miss Wanjiku and her mother. The Dutch flag carrier blamed the incident on an “unfortunate mistake occurred at the time of the booking regarding the nature of assistance required to assist Christine.”
The Dutch authority’s request seemingly fell on deaf ears, as the same exact incident reoccurred last August.
The correct code to provide Christine adequate assistance is “DPNA” (disabled passenger with intellectual or developmental disability needing assistance). Instead, the young woman was booked the code “WCHS” (Wheel Chair to top of Steps - passenger is able to walk but unable to ascend or descend stairs).
"Christine should have been registered as DPNA for she is mentally challenged. Sadly, she has been registered as WCHS," a spokesperson for Amsterdam airport assistance services said. “When KL 566 arrived at Schiphol airport, Christine was not met by our assistant. Cabin crew must have let her get off the aircraft with all passengers making it impossible for our assistant to meet her. When Christine would have been registered DPNA cabin crew would have handed her over to our assistant making sure nothing would go wrong.”
The incident was easily preventable by storing Christine’s correct code in her passenger profile. KLM partner airline Air France uses a system named Saphir Card. The card stores the passenger’s needs and requirements.
Saphir Card eases the booking process, avoiding the embarrassment of having to describe the different ability or specific need for assistance at each trip. It also prevents miscommunication arising from the wrong information input at the time of booking, ensuring that the most appropriate assistance is always available. Sadly, KLM does not offer this solution.
Caroline Vanhecke, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Head of Customer Care and Legal Affairs for the UK & Ireland said KLM deny any wrongdoing. The top manager blames Amsterdam Schiphol assistance services for Christine’s incident.
“It is hard to understand that this has gone wrong again,” the spokesperson for Schiphol assistance said. “This can hardly be called a coincidence anymore. “
Reduced Mobility Rights believe the airline triggered the incident by entering the wrong assistance code in the booking. KLM cabin crew failed to prevent the incident by not following the established handover procedure that requires passengers requiring assistance to leave the aircraft last.
“Hopefully this incident will help improve assistance for other reduced mobility passengers,” the passenger’s mother said. “May our disappointment be a learning experience for others.”