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hoons90
Topic Author
Posts: 3646
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2001 10:15 pm

KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:16 am

Link: https://onemileatatime.com/klm-racism/

Although I want to believe that this is a simple misunderstanding, honestly it seems rather disingenuous and convenient for the crewmember to claim that they simply forgot to write the sign in English. I can't rule out that it was a simple mistake or misunderstanding, but the tone in which the FA addressed the passenger does not do much to abate the misunderstanding. Her tone comes across as rather patronizing, as if she is talking down to a child.
Video: https://twitter.com/hyunmoyang/status/1 ... 2845408256

You can criticize "PC culture" and call it an overreaction on the part of the customer, or the public, but I don't believe that it is good business acumen to be obtuse to the heightened sensitivities surrounding race/discrimination that has been brought about by the coronavirus situation, and how quickly things can escalate in terms of public reaction. Many Koreans have expressed concerns about discrimination that they could face abroad as a result of the coronavirus situation. It's reasonable to believe that many Koreans will hesitate to give KLM the benefit of the doubt, and it's hard to blame them for being cynical especially in light of the circumstances. The Korean MOLIT even sent KLM an official warning, asking them to provide a written plan delineating the measures that the airline will take to prevent this issue from occurring again. It's hard to deny that this is a liability for the airline.

At most of the customer service jobs that I've had, putting up our own signs (handwritten or typewritten) was strongly discouraged and all official communication directed at the public had to come from HQ. I think cases like these demonstrate why many large corporations have such policies in place. Ad-hoc, especially handwritten notes can become a liability and produce some undesirable side-effects.

I flew DL ICN-MSP a couple of days ago and there were no such lavatory restrictions. If there is such a high risk of crew members contracting the coronavirus on a flight to/from Korea (with a whopping 28 cases in a country of 50+ million), then I wonder why crews from other airlines haven't cordoned off any lavs from customers. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, no?
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airbuster
Posts: 438
Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2007 12:43 am

Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:13 am

The guy says he forgot to write it in English. Maybe he thought of Korean first. I’m sure that on that flight they didn’t have separate toilets for Koreans and “other” people.

Confront a person alone first, give them time and a chance to explain. This individual went to twitter to show the world an assumption of wrongdoing.
FLY FOKKER JET LINE!
 
hoons90
Topic Author
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:57 am

airbuster wrote:
The guy says he forgot to write it in English. Maybe he thought of Korean first. I’m sure that on that flight they didn’t have separate toilets for Koreans and “other” people.


As evidenced by the picture of the lavatory door, the door was left unlocked and showed "Vacant". Only someone who reads Korean would have been able to understand what the sign meant.
The holes seem to line up a bit too well for it to be a coincidence, IMO. Again, not ruling out that it was an honest mistake/oversight, but it's reasonable to be cynical especially given the circumstances.
Furthermore, if the crew are going to put up handwritten signs (which should be a last resort for the reasons I mentioned above), it shouldn't be on a whim. If this sign was vetted by other crewmembers, I think it's reasonable to say that someone would have pointed out that there ought to be a message in English as well. Negligence is still a fault.

airbuster wrote:
Confront a person alone first, give them time and a chance to explain. This individual went to twitter to show the world an assumption of wrongdoing.



The FA escalated the situation by falsely accusing the passenger of prohibited activity (photographing the sign), and by speaking in a dismissive tone. If the passenger perceives that she was wronged, and she wants to use a public platform to pursue more accountability from the airline, is that not her prerogative?
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mileduets
Posts: 34
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:16 am

Accusing the Korean flight attendant of racism because she first wrote the sign only in Korean is a bit far fetched. For me this is more of an example of how social media is used to pillory a person (and the whole airline). The flight attendant shouldn't need to justify reserving a lavatory for crew members. Imho they should have just put up an "out of order" sign, which would have allowed only crew members to access it also.
The flight attendant admittedly didn't do a very good job in explaining the underlying reason and putting up the sign in Korean only first, but recording this without her knowledge, demanding to read the tablet and to expose all on twitter is far more arrogant and malicious.
 
hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:35 am

mileduets wrote:
Accusing the Korean flight attendant of racism because she first wrote the sign only in Korean is a bit far fetched.


I'll agree with you on the racism part (racism and xenophobia are not exactly the same), but I don't think we can completely rule out discrimination. At the very least, more caution could have been taken to mitigate doubt about this being an honest mistake.

mileduets wrote:
For me this is more of an example of how social media is used to pillory a person (and the whole airline).


If the airlines expect to benefit from social media, they should be prepared to deal with the sword's other edge. Also, this is not just a service failure at the individual level--discrimination, especially in light of what is transpiring nowadays, is a significant social issue in Korea and other countries in Asia. You might consider it to be pillory, but this didn't come out of nowhere.

mileduets wrote:
The flight attendant shouldn't need to justify reserving a lavatory for crew members. Imho they should have just put up an "out of order sign", which would have allowed only crew members to access it also.


I don't think the argument is about whether or not it's wrong to reserve lavatories for crew members. It's whether or not it is being done in a discriminatory manner. The jury is out on whether or not it was, but the airline could have taken some simple precautions to take discrimination out of the question.
KLM is not a small mom-and-pop store. It's a major airline and having a crumpled up, poorly written handwritten sign is not a professional look.

mileduets wrote:
She admittedly didn't do a very good job in explaining the underlying reason and putting up the sign in Korean only first, but recording this without her knowledge, demanding to read the tablet and to expose all on twitter is far more arrogant and malicious.


The FA escalated the situation by accusing the passenger of doing something wrong (photographing the sign). It's unclear if this is due to the lack of proper training/education that resulted in the FA not being well versed on the policy, or if it was a defence mechanism. Any reasonable person would be aggravated if they were accused of violating policy when they weren't. It's the FA's job to de-escalate and remain professional. The audio recording shows the tone in which the FA addressed the customer. The fact that the FA refused to give their name also suggests that they have something to hide, or they knew that they screwed up.
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Amsterdam
Posts: 449
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:46 am

Everywhere all the time things are written and said in English. English speakers are lucky.
Now 1 time its not the case and its right away discrimination and the whole world must know. Pathetic.

Things are almost never written in Dutch.
That’s discrimination.
 
ME720
Posts: 181
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:00 am

Amsterdam wrote:
Everywhere all the time things are written and said in English. English speakers are lucky.
Now 1 time its not the case and its right away discrimination and the whole world must know. Pathetic.

Things are almost never written in Dutch.
That’s discrimination.


It was not written in dutch or English as it was clear that the lavatories were off limits to Koreans only!
Or that is what the sign implies, at least. Your reaction is besides the point. In this case, using one language is clearly discriminatory. It is clearly not an innocent
Mistake. Had it been only in English we would not be talking about this. It would have been an issue had it been only in Dutch, on a Korean airline flying to amsterdam! KLM is an international airline, flying an international route. With a 100 year history of doing so, they. Should know better.
 
hoons90
Topic Author
Posts: 3646
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2001 10:15 pm

Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:02 am

Amsterdam wrote:
Everywhere all the time things are written and said in English. English speakers are lucky.
Now 1 time its not the case and its right away discrimination and the whole world must know. Pathetic.


Context matters.

For the record, I don't believe that KLM purposely set out to discriminate against Korean passengers, but how this event unfolded and how they reacted to it raises the possibility of some degree of deficiency or inadequacy in their sensitivity training for employees. It's tough to deny that many Asians feel especially vulnerable and sensitive on the subject of discrimination in light of the coronavirus situation. A shrewd company, especially one that deals with a lot of international customers, would benefit from keeping abreast of different customer expectations and cultural idiosyncrasies, and how they interplay with certain circumstances such as the coronavirus situation.

Amsterdam wrote:
Things are almost never written in Dutch.
That’s discrimination.


I won't argue with that, but that is a whole other discussion.
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juliuswong
Posts: 2021
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:19 am

The fact that the crew mentioned that they need to stay "healthy" in order to provide service to all passengers is insinuating they are discriminatory in nature. Koreans are very ethnocentric like Japanese, if KLM doesn't handles them tactfully, it will lead to a PR meltdown. So far, no post on Facebook yet, but their IG is hit with multiple posts.
- Life is a journey, travel it well -
 
mileduets
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2020 5:45 pm

Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:44 am

hoons90 wrote:
I'll agree with you on the racism part (racism and xenophobia are not exactly the same), but I don't think we can completely rule out discrimination. At the very least, more caution could have been taken to mitigate doubt about this being an honest mistake..


Of course it's discrimination: They only wanted crew members to access it and not passengers. Do you really think the crew intentionally only wanted to exclude Korean passengers?
How I interpret the FA's action: She was told by the Head FA/ pilot to put up a sign stopping passengers using one lav and reserving it for crew members. Being in a rush or a bit negligent, she only wrote it in her native tongue first. Addressed by the passenger she noticed her mistake and became defensive. Small error - big effect.

hoons90 wrote:
If the airlines expect to benefit from social media, they should be prepared to deal with the sword's other edge. Also, this is not just a service failure at the individual level--discrimination, especially in light of what is transpiring nowadays, is a significant social issue in Korea and other countries in Asia. You might consider it to be pillory, but this didn't come out of nowhere.


When posting on social media, KLM tends to respect passenger privacy, I expect.
Did the passenger inform or ask the crew member that he was recording the incident?
I don't think so. If you record a conversation and put it online, this is a serious infraction of privacy.

hoons90 wrote:
I don't think the argument is about whether or not it's wrong to reserve lavatories for crew members. It's whether or not it is being done in a discriminatory manner. The jury is out on whether or not it was, but the airline could have taken some simple precautions to take discrimination out of the question.


Of course it's discriminatory to reserve a lavatory for crew members only. Imho the crew should be allowed to do it, however. How this was executed, was a mistake. They should have just hung up a generic "out of order" sign. I don't think the FA intended to be discriminatory against Koreans only. She was just negligent and made a mistake of judgement, when she hang up the handwritten sign.

hoons90 wrote:
KLM is not a small mom-and-pop store. It's a major airline and having a crumpled up, poorly written handwritten sign is not a professional look.


I completely agree with you on this point.

For me the infraction on privacy by recording and publishing the conversation and the accusation of racism online is just more serious than the error/neglect by the crew member.
Last edited by mileduets on Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
 
hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:12 am

mileduets wrote:
Of course it's discrimination: They only wanted crew members to access it an not passengers.


May I kindly suggest that you consider the connotation in which I used the word "discrimination".

mileduets wrote:
Do you really think they intentionally only wanted to exclude Korean passengers?


This can't be ruled out as per my reasoning above.

mileduets wrote:
How I interpret her action: The flight attendant was told to put up a sign stopping passengers using the lav. Being in a rush or a bit negligent, she only wrote it in her native tongue first. Addressed by the passenger she noticed her mistake and became defensive. Small error - big effect.


The crux of the matter is, this is not the dominant narrative in Korea. It's far more cynical. Your explanation is very simple, but if the circumstances were that simple, this issue would have not escalated to this point.

It's not like Koreans are an unreasonable bunch and raising a stink about every small transgression. Over 80 foreign airlines serve Korea, some of which have been doing so for over 60 years, and I can't think of any other foreign airline that has generated so much badwill in Korea in recent times. And it's not like social media is a new phenomenon in Korea.

mileduets wrote:
When posting on social media, KLM tends to respect passenger privacy, I expect.
Did the passenger inform or ask the crew member that he was recording the incident?
I don't think so. If you record a conversation and put it online, this is a serious infraction of privacy.


There is no expectation of privacy in a public place such as an airplane cabin, and from what I recall, the faces of the FAs were not visible in the video, which complies with company policy. Yes, their voices can be heard in the video, but it's not the same as a private phone call that was done in confidence--other passengers were within earshot of the conversation.
Without concrete evidence, the passenger doesn't really have a case and it becomes a he said-she said scenario. I've worked with plenty of sly coworkers at my old jobs that got away with saying "I don't recall".



mileduets wrote:
For me the infraction on privacy by recording and publishing the conversation and the accusation of racism online is just more serious than the error/neglect by the crew member.


Once again, there is no expectation of privacy inside an airplane cabin. They are wearing their uniform and carrying out their work duties. They are under the microscope, whether they like it or not. If privacy was relevant here, this conversation would have not taken place within earshot of other passengers.
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SeoulIncheon
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:52 am

Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:38 am

The source is from a travel form not available to public (for those familiar with Korea: Naver cafe) - there is a comment that says European(-looking) passengers were allowed to use that "crew only" lavatory.

One more thing of note to non-Koreans: Not sure about pricacy law in EU (the KLM aircraft is considered part of Holland in flight), but recording a conversation in which the person recording is a party to is perfectly legal (even without the other party's consent) and it is very common practice in Korea especially whem a customer has disagreements with service agents.
 
SeoulIncheon
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:45 am

hoons90 wrote:
mileduets wrote:
Of course it's discrimination: They only wanted crew members to access it an not passengers.


May I kindly suggest that you consider the connotation in which I used the word "discrimination".

mileduets wrote:
Do you really think they intentionally only wanted to exclude Korean passengers?


This can't be ruled out as per my reasoning above.

mileduets wrote:
How I interpret her action: The flight attendant was told to put up a sign stopping passengers using the lav. Being in a rush or a bit negligent, she only wrote it in her native tongue first. Addressed by the passenger she noticed her mistake and became defensive. Small error - big effect.


The crux of the matter is, this is not the dominant narrative in Korea. It's far more cynical. Your explanation is very simple, but if the circumstances were that simple, this issue would have not escalated to this point.

It's not like Koreans are an unreasonable bunch and raising a stink about every small transgression. Over 80 foreign airlines serve Korea, some of which have been doing so for over 60 years, and I can't think of any other foreign airline that has generated so much badwill in Korea in recent times. And it's not like social media is a new phenomenon in Korea.

mileduets wrote:
When posting on social media, KLM tends to respect passenger privacy, I expect.
Did the passenger inform or ask the crew member that he was recording the incident?
I don't think so. If you record a conversation and put it online, this is a serious infraction of privacy.


There is no expectation of privacy in a public place such as an airplane cabin, and from what I recall, the faces of the FAs were not visible in the video, which complies with company policy. Yes, their voices can be heard in the video, but it's not the same as a private phone call that was done in confidence--other passengers were within earshot of the conversation.
Without concrete evidence, the passenger doesn't really have a case and it becomes a he said-she said scenario. I've worked with plenty of sly coworkers at my old jobs that got away with saying "I don't recall".



mileduets wrote:
For me the infraction on privacy by recording and publishing the conversation and the accusation of racism online is just more serious than the error/neglect by the crew member.


Once again, there is no expectation of privacy inside an airplane cabin. They are wearing their uniform and carrying out their work duties. They are under the microscope, whether they like it or not. If privacy was relevant here, this conversation would have not taken place within earshot of other passengers.


The FAs are representating the company KLM while on duty. There is no privacy to be expected when they openly represent KLM to outside entities (like passengers) because what the FA does is what KLM does. This is not a private conversation between two individuals. It is official correspondence between KLM and the customer, without any confidentiality imposed.

Btw while mileduets assumes that the FA in question was a female, but it was a male flight attendent. From my experience there is only one FA who speaks Korean aboard and the rest don't speak Korean. The fact that the Dutch FAs went an extra mile to ask a Korean FA to write the signage down means this is not just a negligence; a blatant attempt to single out Koreans.
 
debonair
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:12 pm

mileduets wrote:
Of course it's discriminatory to reserve a lavatory for crew members only.


Absolutely not! Working as flight attendant for many years with different airlines, it is standard practise to block toilets for the crew *on high risk* flights. Gastroenteritis is very common in many places around the world, especially Africa. To prevent the crew from serious illness, the airlines have special countermeasures in place, like return catering and crew only toilets.
 
dtw2hyd
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:52 pm

airbuster wrote:
The guy says he forgot to write it in English. Maybe he thought of Korean first.


How would non-Korean passengers know what was written?

By not writing in all possible languages, the main purpose of protecting crew is defeated, all others touch the door latch unnecessarily trying to open. Anyone could be infected passing it on to the crew.
All posts are just opinions.
 
Pyrex
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 2:12 pm

debonair wrote:
mileduets wrote:
Of course it's discriminatory to reserve a lavatory for crew members only.


Absolutely not! Working as flight attendant for many years with different airlines, it is standard practise to block toilets for the crew *on high risk* flights. Gastroenteritis is very common in many places around the world, especially Africa. To prevent the crew from serious illness, the airlines have special countermeasures in place, like return catering and crew only toilets.


Return catering for crew only? So they knowingly serve customers food that they suspect may be bad? Which airlines do this, so I know to avoid them.
Read this very carefully, I shall write this only once!
 
debonair
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:06 pm

Pyrex wrote:
Return catering for crew only? So they knowingly serve customers food that they suspect may be bad? Which airlines do this, so I know to avoid them.


In Egypt many airlines did (at least in the past) catering from local hotels, like the Hilton as the catering provider were not able to reach the European minimum hygienic standards. Also no fresh water was accepted. So on top, as extra safe-guard for the crews, pre-packed meals were catered from Germany.
Egypt, Kenya and Tunisia flights were always something very special, as most of the passengers declined the food on the way home due to diarrhoea and vomiting...
 
dtw2hyd
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:30 pm

debonair wrote:
mileduets wrote:
Of course it's discriminatory to reserve a lavatory for crew members only.


Absolutely not! Working as flight attendant for many years with different airlines, it is standard practise to block toilets for the crew *on high risk* flights. Gastroenteritis is very common in many places around the world, especially Africa. To prevent the crew from serious illness, the airlines have special countermeasures in place, like return catering and crew only toilets.


All Wuhan evacuation flights implemented that policy. Have you heard anyone complaining? No. Many appreciated. I am sure several airlines have this policy now.

If this decision was taken during crew briefing, they could have printed in all languages and stick it the door before boarding started.

Crew saying "we are the management" and refusing to give names, all signs of panic and mishandling of the situation.

I thought handwritten placards are an AI thing :duck:
All posts are just opinions.
 
BuildingMyBento
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:38 pm

mileduets wrote:
hoons90 wrote:
I'll agree with you on the racism part (racism and xenophobia are not exactly the same), but I don't think we can completely rule out discrimination. At the very least, more caution could have been taken to mitigate doubt about this being an honest mistake..


Of course it's discrimination: They only wanted crew members to access it and not passengers. Do you really think the crew intentionally only wanted to exclude Korean passengers?
How I interpret the FA's action: She was told by the Head FA/ pilot to put up a sign stopping passengers using one lav and reserving it for crew members. Being in a rush or a bit negligent, she only wrote it in her native tongue first. Addressed by the passenger she noticed her mistake and became defensive. Small error - big effect.

hoons90 wrote:
If the airlines expect to benefit from social media, they should be prepared to deal with the sword's other edge. Also, this is not just a service failure at the individual level--discrimination, especially in light of what is transpiring nowadays, is a significant social issue in Korea and other countries in Asia. You might consider it to be pillory, but this didn't come out of nowhere.


When posting on social media, KLM tends to respect passenger privacy, I expect.
Did the passenger inform or ask the crew member that he was recording the incident?
I don't think so. If you record a conversation and put it online, this is a serious infraction of privacy.

hoons90 wrote:
I don't think the argument is about whether or not it's wrong to reserve lavatories for crew members. It's whether or not it is being done in a discriminatory manner. The jury is out on whether or not it was, but the airline could have taken some simple precautions to take discrimination out of the question.


Of course it's discriminatory to reserve a lavatory for crew members only. Imho the crew should be allowed to do it, however. How this was executed, was a mistake. They should have just hung up a generic "out of order" sign. I don't think the FA intended to be discriminatory against Koreans only. She was just negligent and made a mistake of judgement, when she hang up the handwritten sign.

hoons90 wrote:
KLM is not a small mom-and-pop store. It's a major airline and having a crumpled up, poorly written handwritten sign is not a professional look.


I completely agree with you on this point.

For me the infraction on privacy by recording and publishing the conversation and the accusation of racism online is just more serious than the error/neglect by the crew member.


Better to write "don't take photos" in Korean the lavs, given that we're talking about Korea, South. Better to add "don't squat," too.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:19 pm

According to the passenger who brought this situation to light, she took a picture of the sign, and then one of the flight attendants came to her seat and told her that taking photos inside the plane is banned, and told her to delete the photo.

The passenger responded by asking to see the policy stating that photos can’t be taken, and apparently that proved that the only photography that is prohibited is of crew members and other passengers without their consent.


Does one really need consent to take pictures of people for non-commercial use in the Netherlands? Is that a contract of carriage issue if not in the law? Either way, it's ridiculous - again, there can't be an expectation of privacy in a public place. It's not a hospital room, nor a clothing store's fitting room.
 
hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:32 pm

BuildingMyBento wrote:
Better to write "don't take photos" in Korean the lavs, given that we're talking about Korea, South. Better to add "don't squat," too.


Uhh... what?
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mileduets
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:58 pm

SeoulIncheon wrote:
The source is from a travel form not available to public (for those familiar with Korea: Naver cafe) - there is a comment that says European(-looking) passengers were allowed to use that "crew only" lavatory.

One more thing of note to non-Koreans: Not sure about pricacy law in EU (the KLM aircraft is considered part of Holland in flight), but recording a conversation in which the person recording is a party to is perfectly legal (even without the other party's consent) and it is very common practice in Korea especially whem a customer has disagreements with service agents.


To record the conversation would pass in EU law - it could be used if it came to a court case or as evidence if the matter was presented to KLM to demand explanation/ satisfaction. What is not OK is to publish such a recording on Social Media without consent. This is what I refer to as pillory. It's considered very much a bad habit to publish sth. immediately on social media instead of trying to resolve the case with the other party directly. This tends not to facilitate a solution.
 
hoons90
Topic Author
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:13 pm

mileduets wrote:
What is not OK is to publish it on Social Media. This is what I refer to as pillory.


Enough of the victim blaming. You have to consider the power dynamics at play here: one individual versus a monolithic corporation. Do you think that the customer would have gotten anywhere if this issue wasn't publicized? This is a more serious issue than just a lapse in customer service. It is a case that warrants deeper investigation, and when the airline's reputation is at stake, it makes it more likely that the company will remain accountable throughout the process.

If airlines want to embrace social media, they have to take the bad with the good. Communicating through social media is the new norm in this day and age, and it's the companies' responsibility to adapt to this new reality.
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mileduets
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 8:52 pm

Airlines usually take written complaints seriously and follow up upon them if they are factual and well supported. There might be a cultural difference when it comes to the role of Social Media. To use it as leverage in a complaint process is frowned upon here. It's considered bordering blackmailing.
 
hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:09 pm

mileduets wrote:
Airlines usually take written complaints seriously and follow up upon them if they are factual and well supported. There might be a cultural difference when it comes to the role of Social Media. To use it as leverage in a complaint process is frowned upon here. It's considered bordering blackmailing.


This does not appear to be a simple customer service indiscretion or discourtesy that doesn't deserve any attention from wider society. Mundane complaints are communicated ad nauseam through the same social media channels yet don't see the light of day in the mainstream media. The fact that this case didn't end there suggests the situation is more complicated than you suggest.

The fact that the vast majority of the 80+ airlines that serve Korea haven't had PR issues escalate to this level indicates that this isn't just about someone pulling out the race card and the public having it out for a particular company for frivolous reasons.
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mileduets
Posts: 34
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:19 pm

Do you want to imply that KLM, unlike other airlines, has an inherent problem of systematic racial discrimination? That's quite an accusation that you base on this simple incident.
 
hoons90
Topic Author
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:58 pm

mileduets wrote:
Do you want to imply that KLM, unlike other airlines, has an inherent problem of systematic racial discrimination? That's quite an accusation that you base on this simple incident.


I'm not suggesting the existence of any systematic, institutionalized discrimination that is officially sanctioned by the company. But we can't rule out individual cases of undue discrimination that manifests itself as a result of biases and misconceptions on the part of the employees. Airlines conduct sensitivity training for that very reason--to mitigate the risk of such prejudices from manifesting while employees are carrying out their duties and representing the company.

This is more than just a customer service indiscretion that can be swept under the rug with monetary compensation. Discrimination is a social issue with social consequences, and warrants a thorough, transparent investigation with accountability to the public.

I have lived as a visible minority for over two decades, and I like to believe that my intuition has been honed enough to be able to tell whether or not a negative interaction is a simple discourtesy, or if there could be something more that warrants further investigation. It's not appropriate to pull out the discrimination card at every opportunity, but I don't think one should be naive either.

For the record, KLM and Lufthansa are the only airlines that I've personally suspected discriminatory treatment. Having actually worked for a western airline with stringent sensitivity training, I like to believe that it actually helps a lot.
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ME720
Posts: 181
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:32 pm

mileduets wrote:
Do you want to imply that KLM, unlike other airlines, has an inherent problem of systematic racial discrimination? That's quite an accusation that you base on this simple incident.


It is not a simple incident. It is a serious incident.
This one got out, and was made public by the person involved. maybe many more Similar incidents never made it to the social media.
 
Nick614
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:50 pm

ME720 wrote:
mileduets wrote:
Do you want to imply that KLM, unlike other airlines, has an inherent problem of systematic racial discrimination? That's quite an accusation that you base on this simple incident.


It is not a simple incident. It is a serious incident.
This one got out, and was made public by the person involved. maybe many more Similar incidents never made it to the social media.



It is very simple, if the lav was reserved for crew members only then it is not discrimination.
 
hoons90
Topic Author
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:03 pm

Nick614 wrote:


It is very simple, if the lav was reserved for crew members only then it is not discrimination.


Straw man argument. That's not what this issue is about.
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Nick614
Posts: 25
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:36 pm

hoons90 wrote:
Nick614 wrote:


It is very simple, if the lav was reserved for crew members only then it is not discrimination.


Straw man argument. That's not what this issue is about.


Thread title: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea.

Situation: Person was denied lav access, didn't like it and/or the way they were treated, claims racism/discrimination.

Fact: IF the lav was reserved for crew only, then it is impossible for there to be discrimination in denying access to non crew members.

That leaves disagreeing with how the person was treated or if an airline should have a crew only lav.
 
hoons90
Topic Author
Posts: 3646
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:03 am

Nick614 wrote:
hoons90 wrote:
Nick614 wrote:


It is very simple, if the lav was reserved for crew members only then it is not discrimination.


Straw man argument. That's not what this issue is about.


Thread title: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea.

Situation: Person was denied lav access, didn't like it and/or the way they were treated, claims racism/discrimination.

Fact: IF the lav was reserved for crew only, then it is impossible for there to be discrimination in denying access to non crew members.

That leaves disagreeing with how the person was treated or if an airline should have a crew only lav.


I'm not sure if you're being willfully obtuse, but this is not why people are upset.

Situation: - A handwritten sign is put up in the Korean script only, indicating that the lavatory is for crew use only.

- The lavatory itself is left unlocked and shows "vacant". There are no such signs written in any other language, and only those that understand the Korean language would be able to read it.

- The FA catches the passenger taking a picture of the sign, and confronts her, falsely accusing her of violating policy for taking a photo inside the cabin. Customer documents the actual photography policy and proves the FA wrong.

- Customer asks why the sign was only in Korean and gets a disingenuous response, and is talked down to in an aggressive manner.

- Customer decides to post the picture and her account of what happened on social media, which is a legitimate platform for voicing concerns. The situation goes viral in Korea especially in light of the coronavirus situation.

- The dominant narrative regarding this incident becomes overwhelmingly negative in Korea not just because of the sign, but also because how the airline staff treated her. Because the sign was in Korean only. Not simply because the lav was restricted to crew.

Facts:

- KLM was officially censured by the Korean government and was requested to provide a proposal that delineates the steps that they will take to prevent these issues from happening again.

- KLM made it to the news cycle and generated nationwide discussions surrounding the issue of discrimination especially in light of the coronavirus ourbreak

- KLM will hold a press conference in Seoul to address this issue.

- Around 82 foreign airlines serve Korea. Air France, KLM, Lufthansa among others have been flying to Korea for close to 35 years now, and until this incident, haven't caused any sort of controversy to this extent. This suggests that this issue is not merely just a customer service faux pas, and that KLM will have to change the way they do certain things in order to regain the Korean public's trust.
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hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:11 am

To add, the recording the passenger made clearly shows the FA expressing concerns about the coronavirus with regards to the rationale behind restricting the lavs. And the sign was only in Korean. Put the two and two together and think about what sort of discussion this would generate.

Is it possible that the FA was just assuming that the Korean passengers were coronavirus carriers? Can't rule it out. But the airline could have done more to mitigate any risks for misunderstanding, and if the Korean public isn't willing to give KLM the benefit of the doubt, that's the way the cookie crumbles for KLM.
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mileduets
Posts: 34
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:06 am

hoons90 wrote:
I'm not suggesting the existence of any systematic, institutionalized discrimination that is officially sanctioned by the company. But we can't rule out individual cases of undue discrimination that manifests itself as a result of biases and misconceptions on the part of the employees. Airlines conduct sensitivity training for that very reason--to mitigate the risk of such prejudices from manifesting while employees are carrying out their duties and representing the company.


Now keeping in mind that the FA in question is Korean: Do you suggest KLM should target sensitivity training to FAs of Korean nationality/origin for being more sensitive to Korean cultural sensibilities?
That sounds a bit far off.
I'm pretty sure this Korean FA working in a predominately non Korean work environment is well experienced in cross cultural matters. He made a mistake of judgement or of neglect by putting up this sign and by reacting the way he did. It seems obvious to me he did not just want to block this lav for Koreans, but for all non-crew members, like it is common practice. This is blown completely out of proportion.
 
hoons90
Topic Author
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:26 am

mileduets wrote:
Now keeping in mind that the FA in question is Korean: Do you suggest KLM should target sensitivity training to FAs of Korean nationality/origin for being more sensitive to Korean cultural sensibilities?
That sounds a bit far off.
I'm pretty sure this Korean FA working in a predominately non Korean work environment is well experienced in cross cultural matters. He made a mistake of judgement or of neglect by putting up this sign and by reacting the way he did. It seems obvious to me he did not just want to block this lav for Koreans, but for all non-crew members, like it is common practice. This is blown completely out of proportion.


Every employee working in the front line should receive routine sensitivity training that is updated on a regular basis, in tandem with changing social milieux and circumstances. I'm sure that in future training classes, KLM will reference this event.

Also, it's not that Koreans are unjustifiably sensitive given the current circumstances. Iberia has made the news too for alleged discrimination against a Japanese passenger. While it's understandable that someone would want to take precautions for their health, this shouldn't be done under the automatic assumption that most Asians are potential coronavirus transmitters, which is what the Korean public suspected the crew of doing once two and two were put together.
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SeoulIncheon
Posts: 101
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:00 am

mileduets wrote:
hoons90 wrote:
I'm not suggesting the existence of any systematic, institutionalized discrimination that is officially sanctioned by the company. But we can't rule out individual cases of undue discrimination that manifests itself as a result of biases and misconceptions on the part of the employees. Airlines conduct sensitivity training for that very reason--to mitigate the risk of such prejudices from manifesting while employees are carrying out their duties and representing the company.


Now keeping in mind that the FA in question is Korean: Do you suggest KLM should target sensitivity training to FAs of Korean nationality/origin for being more sensitive to Korean cultural sensibilities?
That sounds a bit far off.
I'm pretty sure this Korean FA working in a predominately non Korean work environment is well experienced in cross cultural matters. He made a mistake of judgement or of neglect by putting up this sign and by reacting the way he did. It seems obvious to me he did not just want to block this lav for Koreans, but for all non-crew members, like it is common practice. This is blown completely out of proportion.

The FA in question was not a Korean. Listen to the recording, the person clearly has European accent, and is a male. Well it looks like your assumption is that fact should not get in way of your narrative but something I will note. And as I said before, European passengers were not blocked from using this toilet.
 
SeoulIncheon
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:03 am

ME720 wrote:
mileduets wrote:
Do you want to imply that KLM, unlike other airlines, has an inherent problem of systematic racial discrimination? That's quite an accusation that you base on this simple incident.


It is not a simple incident. It is a serious incident.
This one got out, and was made public by the person involved. maybe many more Similar incidents never made it to the social media.


Now we have another report of similar incident from NRT-AMS flight. Two very similar incidents from same airline in a very short time frame, it looks like KLM probably has systematic racial discrimination - and people of colour are not welcome on KLM. Well good reason to fly Emirates Qatar Etihad or maybe other European airlines that are willing to accept people of colour!
 
SeoulIncheon
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:13 am

mileduets wrote:
SeoulIncheon wrote:
The source is from a travel form not available to public (for those familiar with Korea: Naver cafe) - there is a comment that says European(-looking) passengers were allowed to use that "crew only" lavatory.

One more thing of note to non-Koreans: Not sure about pricacy law in EU (the KLM aircraft is considered part of Holland in flight), but recording a conversation in which the person recording is a party to is perfectly legal (even without the other party's consent) and it is very common practice in Korea especially whem a customer has disagreements with service agents.


To record the conversation would pass in EU law - it could be used if it came to a court case or as evidence if the matter was presented to KLM to demand explanation/ satisfaction. What is not OK is to publish such a recording on Social Media without consent. This is what I refer to as pillory. It's considered very much a bad habit to publish sth. immediately on social media instead of trying to resolve the case with the other party directly. This tends not to facilitate a solution.


Well KLM FAILED to properly explain and satisfy the passenger(yes the FA of KLM failed to make proper explanation so that means KLM failed), so KLM should not complain about its wrongdoing being made public. It's nothing different than posting a bad review on tripadvisor.
 
lukeyboy95
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:55 am

SeoulIncheon wrote:
mileduets wrote:
hoons90 wrote:
I'm not suggesting the existence of any systematic, institutionalized discrimination that is officially sanctioned by the company. But we can't rule out individual cases of undue discrimination that manifests itself as a result of biases and misconceptions on the part of the employees. Airlines conduct sensitivity training for that very reason--to mitigate the risk of such prejudices from manifesting while employees are carrying out their duties and representing the company.


Now keeping in mind that the FA in question is Korean: Do you suggest KLM should target sensitivity training to FAs of Korean nationality/origin for being more sensitive to Korean cultural sensibilities?
That sounds a bit far off.
I'm pretty sure this Korean FA working in a predominately non Korean work environment is well experienced in cross cultural matters. He made a mistake of judgement or of neglect by putting up this sign and by reacting the way he did. It seems obvious to me he did not just want to block this lav for Koreans, but for all non-crew members, like it is common practice. This is blown completely out of proportion.

The FA in question was not a Korean. Listen to the recording, the person clearly has European accent, and is a male. Well it looks like your assumption is that fact should not get in way of your narrative but something I will note. And as I said before, European passengers were not blocked from using this toilet.


You have no way of knowing whether they have Korean background whatsoever. Plenty of Koreans have extremely Americanised or Anglised accents due to diasporas or studying. The accent does not dictate the nationality or ethnicity. They could also have been Turkish or Sudanese.

You also earlier state non-Korean customers were using the lavatory. You have no evidential proof of this, it's hearsay.

Please keep the debate on track by stating what you actually know to be fact.
Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
 
hoons90
Topic Author
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:07 am

Photo of KLM representatives apologetically bowing at the press conference in Seoul:

https://imgnews.pstatic.net/image/214/2 ... ?type=w647

Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200214003700320
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Nick614
Posts: 25
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:15 am

hoons90 wrote:
Nick614 wrote:
hoons90 wrote:

Straw man argument. That's not what this issue is about.


Thread title: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea.

Situation: Person was denied lav access, didn't like it and/or the way they were treated, claims racism/discrimination.

Fact: IF the lav was reserved for crew only, then it is impossible for there to be discrimination in denying access to non crew members.

That leaves disagreeing with how the person was treated or if an airline should have a crew only lav.


I'm not sure if you're being willfully obtuse, but this is not why people are upset.

Situation: - A handwritten sign is put up in the Korean script only, indicating that the lavatory is for crew use only.

- The lavatory itself is left unlocked and shows "vacant". There are no such signs written in any other language, and only those that understand the Korean language would be able to read it.

- The FA catches the passenger taking a picture of the sign, and confronts her, falsely accusing her of violating policy for taking a photo inside the cabin. Customer documents the actual photography policy and proves the FA wrong.

- Customer asks why the sign was only in Korean and gets a disingenuous response, and is talked down to in an aggressive manner.

- Customer decides to post the picture and her account of what happened on social media, which is a legitimate platform for voicing concerns. The situation goes viral in Korea especially in light of the coronavirus situation.

- The dominant narrative regarding this incident becomes overwhelmingly negative in Korea not just because of the sign, but also because how the airline staff treated her. Because the sign was in Korean only. Not simply because the lav was restricted to crew.

Facts:

- KLM was officially censured by the Korean government and was requested to provide a proposal that delineates the steps that they will take to prevent these issues from happening again.

- KLM made it to the news cycle and generated nationwide discussions surrounding the issue of discrimination especially in light of the coronavirus ourbreak

- KLM will hold a press conference in Seoul to address this issue.

- Around 82 foreign airlines serve Korea. Air France, KLM, Lufthansa among others have been flying to Korea for close to 35 years now, and until this incident, haven't caused any sort of controversy to this extent. This suggests that this issue is not merely just a customer service faux pas, and that KLM will have to change the way they do certain things in order to regain the Korean public's trust.


Just because people are upset about something doesnt make it a big deal. IMO it is a huge overreaction and as I stated before doesn't involve discrimination in any way. Must be slow news if a rude crewmember is making headlines.

Also you are required to obey instructions from the crew onboard an aircraft. This should only be a complaint to the airline about a rude crew member. Maybe this lady is rich or thinks she is more important than everyone else.
 
hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:41 am

Nick614 wrote:
Just because people are upset about something doesnt make it a big deal.


KLM themselves consider it to be a big deal, otherwise they wouldn't hold a press conference about it.
It might not be a big deal where you are, but in Korea it's a big deal. As someone who is very familiar with Korea, there are hardly any slow news days there.

Nick614 wrote:
IMO it is a huge overreaction and as I stated before doesn't involve discrimination in any way. Must be slow news if a rude crewmember is making headlines.


You cannot rule that out for sure unless if somehow you have access to the FA's mind.
I never said that it was discrimination. I said that it cannot be ruled out (especially in light of recent circumstances surrounding the coronavirus) and the airline can take steps to mitigate the risk of any future potential misunderstandings.


Nick614 wrote:
Also you are required to obey instructions from the crew onboard an aircraft. This should only be a complaint to the airline about a rude crew member. Maybe this lady is rich or thinks she is more important than everyone else.


Falsely accusing the passenger of prohibited activity and instructing her to delete the photo seems like an abuse of the FA's authority to me. Also, it's not at all implausible that a sign only written in Korean restricting lav use would raise some eyebrows and warrant the attention of other Korean travellers that have legitimate concerns about discrimination abroad. The possibility of discrimination can potentially affect society, not just one individual.
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NLDru
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:46 pm

SeoulIncheon wrote:
ME720 wrote:
mileduets wrote:
Do you want to imply that KLM, unlike other airlines, has an inherent problem of systematic racial discrimination? That's quite an accusation that you base on this simple incident.


It is not a simple incident. It is a serious incident.
This one got out, and was made public by the person involved. maybe many more Similar incidents never made it to the social media.


Now we have another report of similar incident from NRT-AMS flight. Two very similar incidents from same airline in a very short time frame, it looks like KLM probably has systematic racial discrimination - and people of colour are not welcome on KLM. Well good reason to fly Emirates Qatar Etihad or maybe other European airlines that are willing to accept people of colour!


KLM is a multicultural company and is very diverse. Both ground and air personnel consist of white, black, Arabic and Asian personnel. When hiring staff, KLM does not judge by race, skin color, religion, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Since 2011, KLM has been a member of the International Workplace Pride, where workshops are given to KLM staff members on how to deal with diversity and different cultures.

To say that passengers of a different color are not welcome at KLM, that is very strange. This would mean that the 10,000 KLM employees with a different ethnic background would not be welcome at KLM either.

I am curious how diverse and multicultural South Korean airline companies are?
 
hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:02 pm

NLDru wrote:

I am curious how diverse and multicultural South Korean airline companies are?


Both KE/OZ hire FAs and pilots from dozens of countries, and from my personal experience, KE staff at outstations come from diverse backgrounds.

I don't think KLM is inherently racist, but they need to take certain measures to prevent such misunderstandings in the future, such as better sensitivity training and promptly updating standardized operating procedures/directives based on new developments, making sure they are vetted so that it doesn't come across as discriminatory. The airline itself admitted (at the press conference) that staff not following procedure contributed to this controversy.
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hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:36 am

BuildingMyBento wrote:

Better to write "don't take photos" in Korean the lavs, given that we're talking about Korea, South. Better to add "don't squat," too.



BuildingMyBento wrote:

They should have given her a macadamia to shut her up.


Please spare us your thinly veiled stereotyping and derision of Koreans. It's a nuisance for those who want to discuss this issue like adults. I think it will be better received in 2-chan, 4-chan or whatever-chan.
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hongkongflyer
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:29 am

dtw2hyd wrote:
debonair wrote:
mileduets wrote:
Of course it's discriminatory to reserve a lavatory for crew members only.


Absolutely not! Working as flight attendant for many years with different airlines, it is standard practise to block toilets for the crew *on high risk* flights. Gastroenteritis is very common in many places around the world, especially Africa. To prevent the crew from serious illness, the airlines have special countermeasures in place, like return catering and crew only toilets.


All Wuhan evacuation flights implemented that policy. Have you heard anyone complaining? No. Many appreciated. I am sure several airlines have this policy now.

If this decision was taken during crew briefing, they could have printed in all languages and stick it the door before boarding started.

Crew saying "we are the management" and refusing to give names, all signs of panic and mishandling of the situation.

I thought handwritten placards are an AI thing :duck:


But this is not a special evacuation flight, so you are comparing apple to orange.
 
hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:20 am

I think that BuildingMyBento's thinly veiled display of prejudice in this thread against Koreans can actually help explain why this KLM incident has become such a hot button issue in Korea, and why Koreans are hesitant to give KLM the benefit of the doubt. Due to Korea's complicated history and power dynamics with neighbouring countries, Koreans are very conscious about anti-Korean sentiment, and are not unfamiliar with the concept of being silenced and blamed for "playing the victim card" when they stand up for injustice and unfair treatment. It is difficult to not assume the worst in people, when in this very thread, we have someone like BuildingMyBento disparage and dehumanize Koreans without any shame, like it's nothing.

It's possible that there are employees of KLM that harbour negative views about Asians or Koreans as a whole, and however unfortunate their views are, ultimately people are entitled to their opinions and feelings. However, it becomes problematic when those thoughts (subconsciously) translate into actions, when someone is carrying out their duties in an official capacity, representing a company. Most often, such prejudice will manifest in passive-aggressive ways, and in ways that make it difficult for the person on the receiving end to tell whether or not it's discriminatory treatment or just a fluke. That's why for many Koreans, it's not just a matter of looking the other way and giving the benefit of the doubt. It's more complicated than that.
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hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:27 am

Too late to edit, but "stand up for injustice" should be "stand up against injustice". Apologies for any confusion.
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Chipmunk1973
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:34 am

As an Aussie of Dutch heritage (both parents), all I can suggest is that Dutch people do tend to come across as blunt and direct if you’re not familiar with the culture. At first I was confused by this but eventually realised it was not trying to be insincere, but just to be honest, upfront, and direct. But that action can be seen as positive or negative depending on the circumstance and/or situation.

If you’re a Star Trek fan, I’d suggest they have a strong Vulcan trait.

Rgds,
C1973
Cheers,
C1973
 
hoons90
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Re: KLM discrimination controversy in Korea

Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:43 am

Chipmunk1973 wrote:
As an Aussie of Dutch heritage (both parents), all I can suggest is that Dutch people do tend to come across as blunt and direct if you’re not familiar with the culture. At first I was confused by this but eventually realised it was not trying to be insincere, but just to be honest, upfront, and direct. But that action can be seen as positive or negative depending on the circumstance and/or situation.

If you’re a Star Trek fan, I’d suggest they have a strong Vulcan trait.

Rgds,
C1973


I appreciate that, but KLM is an international airline with international customers and their service philosophy should reflect that if they want to maintain goodwill.
Korean Air and Asiana are usually the most expensive options out of Korea, yet they continue to dominate market share partly because their service philosophy commands a premium. For example, ICN-LAX is the largest Asia-Mainland US city pair in terms of O&D, yet KE/OZ basically have this 1400+ PDEW market to themselves.
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Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos