Airline investigates email suggesting same-sex couples could face in-flight intervention

A KLM plane

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is investigating why a customer service email claimed cabin crew could intervene if a passenger felt uncomfortable about being on the same flight as a same-sex couple.

A screenshot of the email, widely shared on Twitter, suggests that cabin crew members would decide the “best course of action” in the case of a homophobic complaint.

“Same as with the same sex relationship that you gave as an example, if needed be the cabin crew can approach the said party and base on the response they were given, then they would act and respond accordingly,” the message reads.

The email appears to have been sent from a staff member named Aaron in the airline’s UK reservations team.

After the comments were flagged on social media, the KLM Twitter account replied: “We completely understand this reply is offending and we distance ourselves from it.

“We’re currently investigating the e-mail reply as it totally doesn’t represent our official point of view at all.”

KLM faces breastfeeding backlash

The email also referred to KLM’s policy on breastfeeding, which caused its own Twitter storm on Tuesday (July 16).

After a Californian mother reported being asked to cover herself while breastfeeding her child on a flight, the airline tweeted: “Breastfeeding is permitted at KLM flights. However, to ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this.

“As an international airline company, we transport passengers with a variety of backgrounds. Not all passengers feel comfortable with breastfeeding in their vicinity and sometimes these passengers complain to the cabin staff.”

In the wake of a widespread backlash, KLM issued conflicting follow-up statements on its policy.

According to a Guardian report on Wednesday (July 17), the airline said it permits breastfeeding on all flights but caveated: “We strive to ensure that all of our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable onboard.”

On Thursday (July 18), KLM updated the statement on its website to clarify: “Of course mothers can breastfeed their children during our flights. By no means is the mother obliged to cover up herself or her child.

“And we absolutely don’t want to make the mums of our youngest passengers feel judged about the most natural thing in the world. That is why our cabin crew may suggest the mum options to ensure some privacy when feeding their child.”