KLM continues to allow discrimination against women on its flights, that is the result of five months of conversations with our national pride. The reason was a flight from New York to Amsterdam at the beginning of May, where a group of Orthodox Jews did not want to sit next to my wife. The men refused to take a seat, which delayed the flight and made the atmosphere grim.
Eventually my wife and I decided to take a seat elsewhere on the plane. Shortly thereafter, I wrote a column and asked KLM why it adheres to the policy that it is not the passengers who discriminate, but the people who are discriminated against. The situation was not only uncomfortable for us, but for everyone. KLM air staff and ground staff at JFK airport were also struck by the situation.
As a result of this column, we received many positive reactions, including from Jewish Dutch people. Someone pointed out to us that a well-known orthodox woman in Israel no longer accepted this behavior of her fellow believers and had successfully taken the case to court. After a company had a boycott after a similar experience, the Israeli airline El Al adjusted the procedures:
"Anyone who now refuses to sit next to another passenger is immediately taken off board," said El Al's CEO. The intimidating behavior of these "cheradic" Jews on the flight of KLM seemed to have been preceded, they clearly forced their discriminating vision on the other passengers. After El Al condemned this behavior, they will fly more often with KLM and other airlines that still allow this discrimination.
The KLM employees we have spoken with over the past five months have all agreed with us, if you do not want to sit next to a woman you have to leave the plane. But the KLM board has therefore made a different choice. "Worthless response from Van Raak", the director of KLM Netherlands said in an internal mail, which also accidentally ended up with me.
The question is who is right. Are men allowed for religious reasons to refuse to sit next to a woman and can airlines allow this behavior? Anyone who believes there is discrimination can report this to the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights. You can also ask this institute for an opinion. Let's just take this matter to this organization. They can make an independent assessment as to whether KLM should allow discrimination or not.