Now Air France Loses its Cool…

Big “P” hype has put the frighteners on Air France-KLM, the European airline holding joint venture, and the French flag carrier has now ordered wide-berth demarcation between adults and children — as in unaccompanied minors — on all its flights.


Another blow to common sense as in-flight paedophilia-hype grips airline.

The goal, says a report just published in Le Figaro is to prevent accusations of sexual touching. The requirement, the newspaper says, has been validated by the French Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which called it part of “general policy in relation to the problems of paedophilia”.

The Big P-decree has, on safety grounds, been strongly criticised by airline staff unions who are worried more about how to care for such minors in times of in-flight disturbances, air disasters or cabin decompression.

“How can a passenger sitting on the other side of the aircraft help an (unaccompanied) child seated across the aisle?” Guillaume Pollard, a union representative asked. For the unions the directive also contradicts instructions given by the crew at the beginning of each flight. These state that in case of cabin decompression adults must first fit oxygen masks to their faces before helping any child sitting next to them. In addition says the union the directive goes contrary to standard procedures for preparing the cabin during an emergency evacuation. These call for children to be placed between two adults.

The Air France procedure involving separating all adults from unaccompanied minors was taken to avoid discrimination claims such as one successfully brought against British Airways. BA was ordered to pay a male passenger 4167 euros after it asked him to move because he was sitting next to a child travelling alone. Air France risk assessors advised that the solution was to apply the procedure to men and women and thus avoid any discrimination accusations.

“For legal services, perceived concerns about sexual touching are higher than those of overall air safety, Le Figaro quoted an unidentified cabin crew member as saying.

In response an Air France spokesman noted: “Since the introduction of this procedure, no security incident has been observed” . The statement said the directive had come into force in mid-July 2009. Air France was reported elsewhere as saying the measures related to concerns raised on long-distance flights to the US.

UPDATE: According to a report August 31: “Some of the company’s pilots have decided not to apply the directive because they consider it places unaccompanied minors at risk.” Air France declined to reveal how many cases of sexual touching had occurred. The pilots union Alter told Libération newspaper “The number of complaints is confidential, Air France clearly is not keen on any publicity”.

Commenters on the Libération website August 31 were overwhelmingly critical of the measure, widely regarded as ridiculous and  excessive. One commenter pointed readers to the air flight safety website for what he called the real issues.

“This debilitating paranoia has been caught from the Anglo-Saxon countries. This is the way to teach children to be afraid of everyone, never to talk to any stranger, never to answer questions, and at the same time it stops adults from ever coming to the aid of any child in need…” wrote one commenter under the pseudonym Waterkloof (24).

Calling the measure “Apartheid” another commenter, pierre60, wrote:
“So are women also to be separated from men, children from adults? And don’t forget the barbed wire, watchtowers, etc… Under the pretext of protecting people against themselves we are creating a totally inhuman world. This is taking security to the level of the absurd…”

(The directive may also clash with France’s Good Samaritan law. This places a legal obligation on passers-by to come to the aid of someone in distress unless in doing so they put themselves in harm’s way. The photographers at the scene of Princess Diana’s fatal car accident in Paris in 1987  were investigated for violation of this law — non-assistance à personne en danger.  A conviction carries a maximum 5 year jail penalty and a fine of up to 100 000 euros).

A Google search on “Air France et l’attouchements sexuels” generated 15 800 results but the only relevant responses — those in the first 6 pages — produced no reports of recent or indeed any arrests for such offences on the carrier’s aircraft.

Earlier in the year the Air France-KLM group provoked a passenger outcry by announcing an additional seat charge for obese passengers. At the time the group said airline regulations required all passengers securely to fasten seat belts during flight and this was clearly an issue for passengers unable to squeeze into one 44 cm airline seat. Adverse publicity however forced a hasty retraction.

  • Risk aversion and health and safety excesses are a growing threat to plain old common sense and adult responsibility as our societies become seriously infantilised by intrusive Big Brother governments. Tell us your views in the comments.

Story: Ken Pottinger

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