Warped Children’s Welfare- Statement to Kenya Airways (KQ)

KQ depicted gross negligence in the manner in which nine passengers’ en-route from London to Harare, via Nairobi on Tuesday 6 December 2011. Three middle aged women travelling separately with six children arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International airport the morning of this same Tuesday, supposed to connect to Harare that same evening. That was never to be.

They were informed that the flight to Harare was overbooked. KQ denied its responsibility of providing these passengers with hotel accommodation, since these passengers (some) were on stand-by. It finally turned out that these unfortunate passengers spent the entire Tuesday at the airport, slept in the airport and spent all Wednesday at the airport. They were only offered seats for six on Wednesday for the evening flight (KQ 0720). The other two had to remain, and as I write they haven’t been informed if they are to be put on any of the Thursday or Friday flights.

One can imagine the anguish, pain, trauma and discomfort these passengers went through, especially the children. KQ never made any attempt to accommodate the six children in this team travelling to Harare. The kids spend 38 hours in the airport, with no decent lodging for sleep, apart from the walk-ways where they could be seen sleeping uncovered, without meals, but getting food from expensive airport restaurants (at their own cost).

In these 38 hours, they did not shower since their toiletries were in the main luggage. KQ is the Pride of Africa (?) and if this indeed the picture of Africa, then we have a wake-up call to how passengers are treated, and in this case, the plight of the six children spending 38 hours in the airport because the airliner was not bothered to check them in a hotel.

When persons, particularly children are denied the right to the basics of life, food, shelter, safety and comfort, they are not simply denied ‘things’ that are necessary for survival, but their dignity and sanity is fundamentally distorted by such deprivation and neglect by this airline, the pride of Africa! These six children looked exhausted through travel, unfamiliar food (from take-aways) and the discomfort of spending such hours in the airport.

It is a violation of the right of a child to have to scavenge to comfort, shelter, food and privacy for that long in an airport. Such fundamental violations of basic rights are profoundly and often traumatic to the children’s little minds. Denial of the children’s rights can distort the generosity of existence for these children and eventually can pose an actual danger to fear of travel due to the insensitive attitude of the airline.

KQ displayed a blatant neglect of the plight of these families. It is a known fact that to avoid paying hotel bills, KQ short-changes passengers by not explaining to them their rights to decent hotel accommodation and meals. The airline prefers to leave the passengers stranded. Such a scenario leaves the passenger with a long traumatic blow, let alone the families and friends waiting to pick them up at their destination.

Those waiting in Harare were not informed, thus were left in wonder of what fate had fallen upon their relatives. The mental torture that these passengers went through is but a blame that lays squarely on KQ. If KQ sticks to the argument that they don’t provide hotel accommodation to passengers on stand-by, why is it that these passengers were not informed of this whilst still in London? Parents would anticipate such an eventuality and would have prepared themselves in case this was to be.

KQ’s negligence shows that there is a correlation between the denial of the children’s rights and the flourishing of the business community that values profit more than children’s welfare. KQ should have given these families priority either for hotel accommodation or earlier flights. Who is to blame to over-booking? Definitely not the passenger! It is therefore imperative to all sane and sundry to realize that this gross negligence on the part of the airline has the potential to hurt these children for life.

This is an experience they would not want to remember in life, but, that won’t be forgotten so easily. KQ should value children’s comforts and rights and respect human dignity, even in cases where the concerned individuals do not know, or cannot claim their rights. If the airline is not well versed in this aspect, be advised that there are many organizations out there willing to educate and train your stuff on such basic tenets in business.

Post published in: Africa News

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