5/27/2011

Freaky Friday - The 'this is just wrong' post

If KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines, gets it their way, I won't be running this, come November:



Why, you ask? Well...

My mom is my most loyal supporter. And a fantastic mom (sorry, guys, my mom is the best). However, she also suffers from a severe case of diabetes. And is assigned with a seizure alert dog (service dog) because of that. Her service dog literally gave her her life back. And has saved her life on several occasions.

What we did? We called KLM last January (11 months prior to the date of the flight) and asked them if it was okay to take the service dog with us in the cabin. 'No, problem! KLM is service dog friendly and knows she's obliged to take service dogs on the plane.'. Okay, so, we booked the flights. Only to find that it wasn't as 'easy' as KLM had told us. The service dog has been approved on the flight. However, there are only 3 or 4 Economy Class seats on that plane that provide enough leg room for the dog to lay at my mom's feet. And KLM won't (not can't, 'won't'!) guarantee that my mom will get one of those seats. And yes, we've booked 11 (!) months in advance.

KLM Customer Care (caring about whom?) literally told her that if a Premium Member comes along, that passenger will get the seat. To make matters even worse, if she doesn't get one of those 3 or 4 seats with her service dog, she won't be allowed on the plane. Because it won't be safe for the dog. But yet, KLM won't guarantee that they can give her one of those seats. And yes, she has already paid for the flight. And is willing to pay extra if that is what it takes to give her any guarantees. And yes, because of international laws KLM is obliged to give her - and any passenger travelling with a service dog - one of those seats and to let her/them on the plane.

Even after hiring an attorney (hiring the firm I work for as an attorney) and letting her (moi and several colleagues) work on it, KLM wouldn't change the way they handle this - now or in the future. 'KLM won't change her policy towards disabled passengers with a service dog.'. After 30+ phone calls, a news paper working on it, and writing them, I received a phone call from KLM Customer Care saying that they could (could, yes, could - not would) make an exception in this case and reserve a seat, but they still wouldn't guarantee anything. That leaves us with...nothing, right? Again. Yes, sounds nice, but we're left with the same 'no guarantees for service dogs' situation. Plus, they won't guarantee anything for future flights, and - as said - won't change their policy towards passengers traveling with service dogs. What makes me feel even more awful, KLM told the journalist that contacted them on this matter that they had done nothing wrong, and that it was just my mom. Basically KLM states that they won't obey the international laws mentioned above. Disturbing, very disturbing. Equal rights? Apparently not.

Why this is such a shame? I have always loved flying with KLM. Their cabin crew is superb! What they're doing now, changes everything. I honestly can't believe that these things still happen in this day and age.

So, no New York Marathon for me, I guess. I can't even begin to describe how this makes me feel.

And now I'm beyond angry, mad, pissed off. And I believe I have every right to. This calls for an angry run.

10 comments:

Francisco Villegas..Marathoner/Triathlete said...

Sue them Christel, demand what's right and keep pushing. You can also contact the government and make it your fight to change policies. Speak for those who can't mon amie.
You have every right to be mad I would too but it is time to flex some muscle and make it an issue people can be aware of.

Beth said...

That is completely outragous!! I just do not see how they can get away with that. I think if you just show up they'll HAVE to let her on, right? I mean, making a scene in person is going to be more effective than over the phone.

Val's Adventures said...

Have you tried tweeting about it? I have a friend who has had great results with resolving customer service issues with United Airlines by tweeting about it. Funny how they don't like having things broadcast to thousands (or millions of people) and they will make the issue go away.

nikeathena said...

I would like to "like" Francisco's comment. Yes, get mad, but put that anger into something productive that will help make things better for all people. If you don't back down KLM will be forced to adhere to international law. If no one makes a fuss, there's no one to hold them accountable. You can be that person and you have a huge online support community to help you. Just let us know what to do and we'll fight with you.

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

That is majorly messed up.

pmcd20 said...

Hopefully something will get sorted soon, The last thing ya need is to major stressed out about his while training for a marathon.

Eric said...

Bit of a different issue, but similar as well. Because I'm over 2m in length, I have trouble fitting into the normal Economy Class seat. Because of that I have a legal right (anyone over 2 meter I believe) to a seat with extra leg room, which usually are the ones next to the emergency exits.

Now if I can't pick and reserve a seat in advance, I still have the right to a seat with proper leg room. This means, and I love this part, that I can be the last passenger to check in, have some other passenger kicked out of their seat, and still get the extra leg room.

Like I said, it's different and similar at the same time, but perhaps the principle applies here as well.

T said...

Damn, C. I can't believe them.

This is NO comparison to your mom's story, but at Christmas I was stranded in O'Hare airport in Chicago due to a snow storm. For three days I was on the standby list to try to get a flight out. They had a big board where they listed all the passengers on the standby list in order. I slowly over three days watched my name go down the list - like, get further and further away from a seat. The reason? A Premium Member could just walk up and they would automatically be put at the top of the list, despite HUNDREDS of unshowered people who had been spending the night at O'Hare for several days. I saw the Delta agents threaten to call the police on a mother who had spent three nights in a row at the airport after she politely asked if they could provide us with any sort of food vouchers. (No.)

The Green Girl said...

I am so sorry, girl.

I second Val's suggestion - if you really want to fight this, social media is the way to go these days.

Becka said...

That is CRAP!!!