Dutch airline investigates homophobic email in wake of breastfeeding row

James Rothwell
KLM is investigating an email which suggested it would act on complaints from passengers about a same sex couple being on board  - AFP

Dutch airline KLM has launched an investigation into a customer services email which suggested that staff would intervene during a flight if anyone felt uncomfortable about a same sex couple being on board.

A screenshot of the email, sent to an unidentified customer by "Aaron" in the airline's UK reservations department, provoked outrage after being circulated on Twitter. 

The email suggested that, if a passenger complained about a same sex couple being on board, "the cabin crew can approach the said party and base [sic] on the response they were given, then they would act and respond accordingly." As the screenshot of the email went viral, social media users poured scorn on the airline and accused it of bowing to homophobic attitudes.

"I hope the email circulating from your reservations team about this & same sex couples ref others being uncomfortable is a fake. Otherwise your organisation is shameful & despicable & I’ll never fly with you," wrote Twitter user Andrew Beardsley.

The airline replied in a Twitter message: "We completely understand this reply is offending and we distance ourselves from it." A KLM spokesman told the Telegraph that it had launched an investigation into why a staff member had sent an email which "does not represent our official point of view at all."

"We take this very seriously," they added. It comes after a similar furore involving KLM earlier this week where an American woman claimed a flight attendant had approached her with a blanket while breastfeeding, which made her feel “uncomfortable and disrespected”.

At the time, a KLM spokesman wrote on Twitter that "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."

However, a spokesman for KLM appeared to row back on that position in a statement to the Telegraph last night.  They said:

"Of course mothers can breastfeed their children during our flights. By no means is the mother obliged to cover up herself or her child."