The KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Scandal
Filipino Arjean Marie Belco was denied boarding on her flight to Brazil at the Kuala Lumpur airport on July 20, 2013 because of a KLM employee’s assessment that she was “not ready to travel.”

Arjean went through the Malaysian immigration without a problem but she was not allowed by KLM’s Mr. Shawa at the check-in counter to board her connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where she will be attending World Youth Day.

KLM’s Mr. Shawa asked the following questions:

“Why is your passport so new?”
“Your ticket is too cheap.”
“Your ticket was just purchased yesterday.”
“Why flying through Malaysia if there are flights from the Philippines?”
“How much money you have?”

Arjean explained that:

This is her first international travel and she’s a travel scholar attending World Youth Day in Brazil, one of the biggest youth events in the world;
The ticket to fly to Rio through Malaysia was purchased as it was approximately $1,000 cheaper than KLM’s Manila to Rio flight (This is a non-profit scholarship, so of course any non-profit organization will want to save money);
The trip was being planned for a long time and we luckily found a more affordable option to make her trip possible;
Arjean had a bank statement from Cartwheel Foundation showing sufficiency of funds;
Arjean had $100 and PHP 3,370 with her just in case she would have any emergency or meal expenses before her connecting flights to Brazil;
She will be staying with a sponsoring host family in Brazil and showed the staff the address and contact information;
She requested the staff to contact her sponsors in the Philippines and the KLM staff denied the request;
She also requested to call her sponsors in the Philippines and the KLM staff also denied the request;
She showed her folder of documents, which include her proof of enrollment with Pamulaan College and the University of South Eastern Philippines, that she is a Cartwheel Foundation scholar and that she is being sponsored by GoodX and Cartwheel for the trip;
She also showed the media articles published in the Filipino media about her trip.

After all these explanations, Arjean was still denied her right to travel which could be perceived as “discrimination based on appearance, gender, ethnicity, nationality, age or social status.”

The people of had to book a hotel for Arjean while trying to rebook her ticket.

Arjean got stranded for two nights in Kuala Lumpur as there was no immediate solution was given by KLM. Luis of had to fly from Manila to Kuala Lumpur to make sure that she gets to fly out and get the proper treatment from KLM.

After all that happened, Arjean finally boarded her flight to Amsterdam en route to Rio de Janeiro on July 22 without a tinge of apology from KLM.


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