Kenya: Senator Sues KQ for Downgrading Her to Economy Class

A Kenya Airways plane at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (file photo).
19 January 2021

A nominated senator has sued Kenya Airways for placing her in economy class despite booking a business class flight from Nairobi to Mombasa.

Ms Beatrice Kwamboka, an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) lawmaker, wants the airline compelled to refund part of the payment she made for the flight on December 28, 2020.

In the petition, Ms Kwamboka says the decision to change the class was without basis or reasonable justification because she had long reserved and paid for the seat and had been issued with a receipt.

The legislator says she booked the flight for herself and her two children on December 6 in preparation for the holiday festivities.

No apology

Ms Kwamboka said she was shocked on the travel date to learn that her seat had been improperly sold to another client, much to her inconvenience, and without an apology from the airline.

"The petitioner has hitherto failed to understand the basis of the respondent's conspicuous acts of discrimination and bias," she says in an affidavit.

Ms Kwamboka further says her holiday plans were ruined as the airline's employees allegedly humiliated her by forcing her to travel in a class that does not match her status.

"The petitioner is deeply disturbed by the callous manner in which she was treated by the respondent's employees and humiliated by being forced to travel in a class that is not commensurate with her honourable standards, lifestyle and financial ability," she says.

Orders sought

Ms Kwamboka says the transfer after booking and payment of the airfare was discriminative, an affront on her consumer rights, unfair and unreasonable.

She says the move forced her children to travel without her and that they were left stranded for hours at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi before she could find an alternative means of travel to Mombasa.

"The respondent has undoubtedly opted to unjustly enrich himself with the airfare paid by the petitioner, which is obviously not commensurate with the services she received in return," the affidavit says.

She adds that the airline has ignored pleas to apologise to her and reimburse the excess airfare.

The senator wants the court to direct the respondent to "pay to the petitioner exemplary and or punitive damages or such other relief as the court considers proper in the circumstances".

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