KLM Airlines Changes Its Car Seat Policy. Again. And Again.

klm car seat policy

Is KLM still deserving of their crown?

**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.

*************************

Have Baby Will Travel has been online for over five years, and while we’ve helped thousands of parents and family members with tips about flying with a baby, it’s always been via navigating existing policies regarding kids on planes. As much as I would love it if airlines would consult with traveling parents on what would actually make their lives easier, it never occurred to me that they would actually listen.

Then, last summer, Laurel booked a seat for her (then) 1-year-old son, H., on a KLM AMS-YYZ return flight. On the leg home, she was asked by the flight attendants to remove his car seat, since it interfered with the recline of the seat in front. After an exchange with KLM’s president that Laurel deemed unsatisfactory, she wrote to me, and I wrote a post detailing her ordeal, and wondered why KLM seemed to value a passenger’s comfort more than an infant’s safety. Ultimately Laurel was refunded the amount of baby H’s one-way airfare, which she felt was fair.

Then, in July, a Have Baby Will Travel Facebook friend pointed out that the KLM car seat policy had changed and directed me to a link on their website. The policy used to read online as:

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.

Then it was changed to (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.

I wrote about KLM’s change to their car seat policy, and took that change to mean they were trying to avoid another incident such as Laurel’s – and I like to toot my own horn in thinking I had something to do with that. One problem, though, such a forward facing child seat simply does not exist for infants under a certain age and weight. And it’s not recommended to put a rear-facing car seat in a forward facing position – regardless if it’s on an aircraft.

Then something happened that surprised me. KLM responded via Twitter, and said that they would comply with car seat recommendations, and would change their policy accordingly.

klm tweet, twitter, klm, klm car seat, klm infant

KLM’s Response via Twitter…

Now all of this happened happened back in July. And there were times I thought that maybe KLM was just giving lip service to get me off their back. But yesterday I checked the website, and here is what it now says used to say (see ed. note above) as KLM’s Car Seat Policy:

Car/child seats
If you have reserved a seat for your child, we recommend that you bring your own car/child seat (child restraint device) on board.

  • The car/child seat must be able to fit between the armrests of the aircraft seat (42 cm/16.5 inches).
  • Your child and the child seat need to be secured according to the seat manufacturer’s instructions.
  • A child seats may show no defects and must carry a visible seal of approval for use on board an aircraft by the European Union or an official government agency.
  • The use of a car/child seat must be reserved in advance. Please contact KLM Telephone Reservations or your local KLM ticket office.

Now, the fact that the use of a car seat has to be reserved may make work for the KLM staff, but what it does do is ensures the car seat can be used, and properly, and that the seat in front of the car seat will likely have the recline restricted, so not to book someone paying a premium end up there.

Seriously, in my opinion, WIN/WIN.

 

Rarely am I surprised. This surprised me. I’m also really proud that I, and my little website, had a hand in getting a major airline take a look at, and then revise their airline policies. I’ve never flown KLM, but now I wouldn’t hesitate to give them a try.

This was one small step for KLM, but one giant leap for traveling parents everywhere!  (NOPE. See ed. note above. Boo, KLM).

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16 Responses to KLM Airlines Changes Its Car Seat Policy. Again. And Again.

  1. I love how you are a go-to resource (and advocate) for children’s travel safety.

  2. Allyson at 10:04 #

    Great article Corinne! It’s nice to know real traveling parents are having some impact with the airlines. But my fingers are crossed this change will not become a veiled way for KLM to limit the number of infants/toddlers on board!

  3. Meghan at 15:50 #

    I recently stumbled upon your website and became extremely worried as we just booked a flight with KLM and are going to be traveling with 2 kids under 3 both in car seats. I would never have thought that I needed to call and reserve my car seats. I will be calling my travel agent and asking about this. Next is to find car seats that are in their requirements, any suggestions?

    • Corinne at 09:18 #

      Don’t worry, Meghan! Most FAA-approved seats should fit, my preference is the Cosco Scenera simply because it’s so light and easy to travel with. Good luck!

  4. Theo at 11:23 #

    Hi Corinne.

    I know that this post is pretty old but I want to share with you an experience I had two weeks ago with KLM. They pretty much put me through the same process they did Laurel, and if not for my insistence that the crew was wrong about their policy, they would have had me check in my car seat and strap my 12 month old daughter directly to their chair. I have filed a complaint with KLM and will share the results on here.

  5. Lisa at 15:49 #

    FYI – KLM did exactly this to us just this past Sunday (October 5th, 2014). They would not allow us to use our rear facing carseat because it didn’t allow the person in front to recline, and refused to relocate us to bulkhead seats because babies with bassinets were there (even though those parents weren’t paying for the bassinet and we were paying for a seat).

  6. Petra at 09:49 #

    Hi Corinne,
    This just happened to us yesterday on KLM flight from Amsterdam to San Francisco. They forced us to check in an infant car seat plus they also pulled out a terrorist card on us. I would like to write a guest blog post on your blog if you let me. Please email me and I will send you my story. Thank you,
    Petra

    • Corinne at 10:58 #

      So sorry to hear of this, Petra! Would love to learn more about your situation. Please email me at corinne (at) havebabywilltravel (dot) com

  7. Verena at 15:43 #

    Has anyone taken the all new britax advocate clicktight -faa approved – on a klm flight, yet? On the website is says that it is 20, 5 inches wide. More than the allowance that’s stated on klm’s website. The whole reason we bought this seat aside from its awesome safety ratings was the fact that it is faa approved.

  8. Ivan at 15:45 #

    Here is what KLM representatives wrote to me on Facebook:

    “In case you have booked an extra seat for your baby, you may certainly take the car seat on board and secure your child in a rear facing position during take-off and landing in the seat. While in the air your baby can stay in the car seat, but the seat has to be facing forward… If it is not possible to install this the right way it is unfortunately not allowed to be used on board.”

    So it seems that it is not possible to use rear facing car seats on KLM flights.

    • Corinne at 14:59 #

      That is awful, Ivan. Thanks for pointing it out. Unfortunately, being a European carrier, KLM does not have to abide by FAA regulations.

  9. Petra Cross at 01:27 #

    Hi Corinne,

    Our baby had her car seat removed by KLM this few weeks ago and they also managed to pull out a terrorist card on my husband. I wrote down about this unfortunate incident here: http://www.petracross.com/klm

    I recommend parents that want to keep their infants safe stay clear of KLM. KLM is in the process of updating their infant car seat policy yet again, but not really for the better. You can read details in my post.

    Thanks, Petra

    • Corinne at 09:42 #

      Thanks, Petra! Will update my KLM posts 🙂

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