Queen Mathilde and her daughter, Crown Princess Elisabeth, are eligible to claim 600 euros in compensation from Dutch airline KLM after their flight back from the Kenyan capital Nairobi was delayed by nearly four hours, Het Nieuwsblad reveals.
The Queen was in Kenya for an official visit for Unicef, and for the first time was accompanied by 17-year-old Princess Elisabeth, who is heir to the throne. The two visited a refugee camp and took part in Unicef classes aimed at putting an end to child marriage and female genital mutilation.
When it came time to fly back to Schiphol airport, however, they were faced with a long delay at Nairobi, as technical problems with their Boeing aircraft kept the plane on the runway. KLM later issued a statement: “We regret the inconvenience that resulted for all of the passengers on board.”
In the end, the flight touched down at Schiphol just under four hours later than scheduled. The Belgian royal party included officials, bodyguards, Unicef representatives and a dozen journalists.
Under EU laws, passengers who experience a delay of more than three hours are entitled to claim damages from the airline. For a flight of more than 3,500km, the tariff set is 300 euros. Had the delays gone over four hours, the damages would have doubled to 600 euros each. The exception would be force majeure – circumstances outside the airline’s control – which is not the case here, a spokesman for EUClaim, which works with passengers to claim compensation, said.
Passengers have to start the procedure to claim compensation themselves. The newspaper was unable to determine whether the Queen and princess intended to do so. KLM would not comment on whether it intends to invoke force majeure. Unicef Belgium issued a statement saying it was a pity, “that this unique trip, which otherwise went off perfectly, ended in some disappointment for the tired members of the delegation.”