KLM Staff Assaults Pax In Cape Town

Mon Jan 15, 2001 1:25 am

Just read an article in today’s Independent (not online yet)-my words:

The incident involves a member of KLM’s ground staff at Cape Town airport, and an AMS-bound pax in wheelchair, a week ago.

The pax had requested a wheelchair (which she received) and required a person to push the wheelchair from the gate, to the waiting 744 (all stands in CPT are remote). The KLM employee refused to do this, citing her pregnancy. She then began to snatch items from this pax, telling her that she couldn’t carry all the items with her on the a/c.

The KLM lady is then reported to have hit the pax with a bag after loosing patience with the old lady. The employee in question, denies having “hit” the elderly lady, but simply having dropped a bag onto her.

All other KLM ground staff refused to help the pax board the a/c.
No word on who eventually helped her board.

This sounds like fairly poor service in my opinion; the bottom line for me, was that the KLM lady’s behaviour was unacceptable. Why didn’t a member of the cabin crew come off the a/c to assist???

N.B. I am not trying to put KLM under a bad light, I have flown with them before with no problem, I am simply posting an article which I thought was interesting.

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Thoughts/comments?? Please try not to say “Oh that’s just typical of KLM”, how would you have solved the problem??

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RE: KLM Staff Assaults Pax In Cape Town

Mon Jan 15, 2001 1:46 am

Most airlines do not require their employees to push wheelchairs, lift carry-on luggage, etc. Especially if the employee is pregnant!

The airport should provide trained personnel to assist passengers with disabilities. This includes assisting completely disabled passengers who require to be lifted out of a wheelchair, put into a straight-back aisle chair that will fit down the narrow aisle of an aircraft, and again lift the passenger from the aisle chair into their seat.

I'm sure the KLM staff member did not intentionally hit the wheelchair-bound person. Occasionally people become irritated if they have to wait too long for assistance and they take it out on the airline employee. This sounds like one of those instances.
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RE: KLM Staff Assaults Pax In Cape Town

Mon Jan 15, 2001 1:49 am

It is NOT the job of ground staff to push wheelchairs! If the lady needed assistance she should have booked it beforehand - and KLM could have hired professional help - ie ambulance drivers to lift the old girl.

Having worked in the business, I know how difficult OAP can be. Airline staff do not go to work to have their backs wrecked. If a pax needs help he/she will have to pay for it. It is not the KLM staffs fault that all planes at CPT are remote parked and pax hence need to be lifted. Mayby the catering van could have lifted the lady!

CA´s ofcourse should not be expected to lift her either.

If she has not required lifting, she should be asked to climp the stair herself. The old woman could have booked a helper to go with her, thats another option.

But KLM staff should not hit pax - even if it is sometimes very understandably if they do.
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RE: KLM Staff Assaults Pax In Cape Town

Mon Jan 15, 2001 1:50 am

In Detroit, the airline staff will get on the PA and page a skycap to the gate, who will in turn push the wheelchair to where it needs to go.
My views as expressed above are my views alone and do not constitute the views of my employer.

RE: KLM Staff Assaults Pax In Cape Town

Mon Jan 15, 2001 2:28 am

I had forgotten to mention that KLM has since sent the lady a letter of apology and flowers.
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RE: KLM Staff Assaults Pax In Cape Town

Mon Jan 15, 2001 3:28 am


of course an airport should have personnel for such things, for helping people and assist handicapped ones.
but that´s no excuse for the klm staff not to help the old lady, and still if that old lady became grumpy.


i couldn´t believe what you were saying!!! that´s an old lady sitting in a wheelchair, all by her own, and you write stuff like she must pay for it and it´s not the ground staff´s job to help her, ground staff don´t want to get their backs wrecked!!! are you cold-hearted or what!
that´s totally unacceptable service from any airline and no one, repeat, NO ONE, no ground staff, no CA and no one else should even think of hesitating to provide assistance!!!
of course, the old lady could have asked for help and could have emphasized her disabilities when she booked the flight, which it seems she has not, but that´s no excuse for neglecting her!!!

If only pure sweetness was offered, why's this bitter taste left in my mouth.
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RE: KLM Staff Assaults Pax In Cape Town

Mon Jan 15, 2001 3:34 am

There had been some reports of a racist attitude of KLMs cabin crew in the 80s by Pakistani travellers too 
.....up there with the best!
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Mon Jan 15, 2001 3:52 am

No mention was made of anything to do with racism.
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RE: KLM Staff Assaults Pax In Cape Town

Mon Jan 15, 2001 4:06 am


It can hardly has come as a surprice for the lady in question that she was in a wheelchair. surely she could have made the nessasary arrangements before she decended on the KLM staff. If she is so "helpless" that she cant take care of herself - including getting onto the aircraft! she either should not travel, or make sure she has helpers along.

Once she got on the aircraft, I suppose you find that it is the duty of the flightsattendets to help her to the toilet aswell?
No way Jose.

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