KLM Airlines Changes Their Infant Policy

klm, klm infant policy, klm car seat, flying klm with an infant

Baby On Board?

**UPDATE: FEBRUARY 2016**
Sad to say that KLM backtracked on their commitment to allow car seats be installed rear facing. Their website states that car seats must be turned forward facing during cruising altitude so as not to interfere with the recline of the seat in front. Because they are a European carrier, they are not beholden to FAA regulations that state definitively state that car seat safety is more important than recline. There are several examples of poorly-treated passengers in the comments below, and Petra has detailed her extremely unpleasant experience HERE.

Boo, KLM.

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Last summer I wrote about Laurel, and her experience on KLM when traveling with her 1-year-old son, H. Although she had purchased a seat for him, she was asked to remove him from his FAA-approved car seat as it interfered with the recline of the seat in front. European regulations are more flexible than Canadian and US rules, who deem that infants under 24 mos in their own seat MUST be in a car seat. From EASA’s website:

…passengers wishing to use their car seat as a child restraint device (CRD) on board an aircraft should contact the airline or travel agency through which the ticket has been booked, in order to obtain information on which CRDs are acceptable and also to ensure that the car seat can be installed properly on the seat of the particular aircraft with which they will fly.

Ultimately KLM apologized to Laurel and supplied a voucher in the amount of  H’s one-way airfare, which she thought was fair.

And now it seems KLM has revised their infant policy…

Baby H is going to be a big brother (yay!) so back in January Laurel was inquiring about the use of the CARES Harness (which she also had issues with – another story!) and KLM representative Bjorn-Hugo Haugen responded:

From: KLM Web Response <[email protected]>
Date: January 30, 2012 9:44:42 AM GMT+01:00
To: <[email protected]>
Subject:Re: Special services  (KMM22090967I15977L0KM)

Dear Mrs Xxxx,

We thank you for your e-mail.

If a seat has been reserved for your child, you may bring your own car/child seat aboard on the condition that it fits between the armrests of the aircraft seat (42 cm/16.5 inches). Only child seats that display no defects and that carry a visible seal of approval awarded by the European Union or an official government agency may be taken aboard.

Officially approved brands:
UN Standard ECE R44-03 and 44-04
US FMVSS no. 213
Canadian CMVSS 213/123.1
German T�V/958-01/2001
Types marked approved by Transport Canada
Types marked approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Types marked approved by Joint Civil Aviation Authority (JAA)

For more information, please contact the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Reservations Office at telephone number 0871 231 0000 or visit our website at http://www.klm.com

Kind regards,
Bjorn-Hugo Haugen
Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Delta Air Lines

Have Baby Will Travel Reader Peter got in touch via my Facebook Page to let me know the policy had changed. Now on KLM’s website it reads: (emphasis mine)

If a seat has been reserved for your child, we recommend that you bring your own car/child seat (child restraint device) aboard on the condition that it fits between the armrests of the aircraft seat (42 cm/16.5 inches). Only forward facing child seats that display no defects and that carry a visible seal of approval awarded by the European Union or an official government agency may be taken aboard.

So it would appear as though KLM is trying to avoid any situations like Laurel’s from happening again, which is fair. The problem is that no such car seat is available or appropriate for young babies – or at least those under 20lbs.

Laurel had a conversation with KLM via their Facebook page, and it appears they still don’t fully understand the issue. And the EASA’s stance is still fairly flexible:

…passengers wishing to use their car seat as a child restraint device (CRD) on board an aircraft should contact the airline or travel agency through which the ticket has been booked, in order to obtain information on which CRDs are acceptable and also to ensure that the car seat can be installed properly on the seat of the particular aircraft with which they will fly.

But they do recognize here that kids need to be buckled up in their own seat:

Children under two years are too small to sit alone in a standard airline passenger seat. They must be secured by an approved “child restraint device” on EU airlines.

To compare, I had a look at Lufthansa’s and Air France’s infant policies, and nowhere did the distinction of “forward facing” appear. Lufthansa did say that “Other passengers must not be inconvenienced by the use of the CRS and it must not block the aisle in case of a possible emergency evacuation.” But Air France actually says, you must “make sure to install the seat on board as indicated by the manufacturer’s instructions (front or back facing the seatback)”.

So the problem is, if you are traveling with an infant 20lbs or less, and you choose to purchase a seat for them, there is really no appropriate car seat to use on KLM. The infant carrier car seats are rear facing only, and the convertible seats that will accommodate smaller infants must be rear facing at that stage for the appropriate recline.

Laurel contacted Maxi Cosi, The Netherland’s most popular car seat manufacturer, and their response to her was:

We are complete (sic) suprised that KLM has changed the infant policy, requiring child seats on board the aircraft to be “forward facing”.

We as manufacturer of carseats produce only rearward facing car seats for newborn.

So it would appear as though there is no option to fly KLM with a small infant, unless you choose to fly with them as a lap infant and try to get a bassinet – although if you’re traveling with twins you’re effectively SOL. It’s enough to wish KLM would just stand up and say no, you can’t fly with an infant in their own seat, like Alitalia:

An infant who has not reached his or her 2nd birthday may not occupy a seat and must be accompanied by either a parent, or an adult over 18 (the parent can be under 18, as long as he or she has legal responsibility for the child). It must be pointed out in any case on the accompanying adult’s reservation.

Crazy right? Although at least there’s no room for misunderstanding there!

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