Air France/KLM has a no-show clause in its terms & conditions. This is important for passengers who have a ticket with a number of flight segments. Take for example a ticket Brussels-Amsterdam-New York-Amsterdam-Brussels. It shows that Belgian travelers flying KLM need to change planes in Amsterdam, which is inconvenient to many passengers. If they fly a Belgian carrier they have a non-stop flight without a plane change. Therefore, KLM offers Belgian customers a lower fare than Dutch flyers to compensate for the inconvenience.
This way the carrier hopes to be competitive on the Belgian market. Thus, Dutch customers need to pay a higher fare for a shorter flight as they fly only the route Amsterdam-New York-Amsterdam. It illustrates once again that air fares have more to do with market conditions than with the cost airlines incur.
No plane change
However, it opens the possibility for Dutch flyers to buy a cheaper ticket Brussels-Amsterdam-New York-Amsterdam-Brussels and to start and end their trip in Amsterdam. So they skip the segments Brussels-Amsterdam and Amsterdam-Brussels and, thus, also a plane change. KLM’s cost are lower for Dutch customers compared to Belgian travelers. Nonetheless, the airline does not allow Dutch customers to do this.
Those who do, will be denied boarding in Amsterdam due to a clause in KLM’s terms & conditions. This is very profitable for KLM. The reason is, of course, that KLM keeps the fare paid without incurring any cost. But the Belgian consumer organization goes to court and demands that KLM stops this price discrimination.
A fine of €2,500
A Belgian judge rules that applying the no-show clause in its current form is illegal. If KLM continues the practice, it will have to pay a fine of €2,500 ($2,800) a day. To those who know KLM well it is no surprise that the carrier will not terminate the price discrimination, despite the ruling. Rather, the airline will change the wording of the clause while continuing the practice.
Change the wording
The judge also argues that it’s KLM’s legitimate interest to prevent passengers from circumventing its price structure by charging a fee. Therefore, KLM argues that the judge only says that the no-show clause is not clear enough to consumers. Thus, clarifying rather than scrapping the clause will be sufficient according to KLM.
However, the Dutch Consumer Association is also planning to go to court for the same issue. It will be interesting to wait and see how a Dutch judge will rule.
Related: “Can I be denied boarding?”
Tags: plane change, compensation, air fares