For us, it is very important – especially while traveling – to be respectful, open-minded, curious, honest, inclusive, and accepting of everyone’s gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality in any living situation. While aiming for these life choices, we want to ensure that everyone we encounter can be themselves, can feel safe, and be accepted. That is what we are expecting from everyone, of course. But this is, even more so, our standard when it comes to official partners of our blog Couple of Men. For the past few years, we’ve been traveling around the world with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, our Amsterdam-based partner airline, which serves a total of 10 German airports. Therefore, we take a closer look at SkyTeam partner KLM and introduce you to the LGBTQ+ friendly side of this Dutch airline. So, how gay-friendly is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines?
– paid collaboration with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines –
Is KLM Royal Dutch Airline gay-friendly?
“It’s not the Destination; It’s the journey.” Following Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, for us, long-distance traveling begins with a relaxed time on board an airplane. That’s why it’s important for us to choose an LGBTQ+-friendly airline while planning our next queer adventure. In the end, all we want is to pick an airline that takes care of its LGBTQ+ employees and offers a safe space for gay travelers like us. A place where we can sit next to each other on the plane, hold hands, give a kiss, and feel safe and well taken care of as a gay couple traveling. So, what about SkyTeam member KLM Royal Dutch Airlines: Is the Dutch company with its female CEO Marjan Rintel creating an environment that is supportive, respectful, and non-judgmental towards the international gay travel community and its queer employees?
KLM and Couple of Men
#1 Partner airline of our Gay Travel Blog
To be transparent right from the start, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has been a partner airline of our blog since 2019. In doing so, the Dutch airline is supporting our blog work, i.e., identifying and promoting LGBTQ+-friendly destinations worldwide. In exchange for traveling with KLM complementary, we integrate our flight experiences into our travel stories. So far, we have flown with KLM to Colombia, Peru, and several times, to the USA. German destinations such as Dresden and Berlin are also part of our collaboration, usually as our journey’s starting point. Our collab has made it possible for us to travel around the globe and for KLM to support a small queer business that tries to have an impact on the visibility of LGBTQ+ travel worldwide.
#2 Our experiences as a Gay Couple onboard
What about our experiences as a traveling, openly gay couple? Consistently positive – whether in cooperation with KLM or when we booked our flights ourselves. Friendly, with a smile, be it the ground crew at the check-in counter and at the gate (difficult circumstances aside). On board, we feel comfortable, although this also depends on the other passengers. A helping hand for a selfie, an engaged conversation about our book (because the flight attendant followed us on Instagram), or a friendly smile because we’re holding hands while watching a movie (we like to watch the same film, pressing the play button together at the same time). No, not every KLM flight attendant has the same charm or is curious about our work. But we enjoy the company of a professionally correct flight crew that is usually always available for a laugh and extra service in between their busy schedule onboard.
KLM and LGBTQ+ Employees
#3 Gay Marketing & Sponsorship of LGBTQ+ Events
What is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines doing for the queer community? KLM’s first stand as an LGBTQ+ supporter was one of the main sponsors for the Gay Games in 1998 in Amsterdam. This was a big thing back then since KLM basically stepped in to save the LGBTQ+ event! Though, LGBTQ+ support and marketing to lesbian, gay, and queer travelers on an elaborate scale started much later in the early 2000s. Marketing experts attribute this relatively late positioning to the overall inclusive, LGBTQ+-friendly society in the Netherlands, which has been characterized by a broad integration of underrepresented groups. But it is also important to acknowledge that even in the late 1990s, many companies still shied away from publicly supporting the LGBTQ+ community out of fear of losing customers. However, things started to get in motion after 2004.
News Update: On November 2, 2022, KLM was awarded “Ambassador” status at the Workplace Pride Leadership Awards Gala due to its top score (70%+) in the Global Benchmark. KLM tweeted on their Twitter account: “We’re beyond proud of this award and pledge to keep working on making the workplace a safe space for everyone. 🌈 #overtherainbow”
#4 KLM Over the Rainbow
In 2021, KLM took the next big step of becoming an LGBTQ+ ally. KLM employees founded the network organization KLM Over the Rainbow, which is also represented in KLM’s Diversity and Inclusion circle, as well as Women on Board. Especially for KLM’s many LGBTQ+ employees, it was a big step, but also for the company’s direction as a supporter of the community. In the following years, the LGBTIQ+ network has been working to increase the visibility and support of diversity and inclusion at KLM. Numerous campaigns followed until, in 2021, KLM’s back-then President & CEO, Pieter Elbers, and executive vice president of Human Resources & Industrial Relations, Miriam Kartman signed the Workplace Pride Declaration of Amsterdam. By doing so, KLM officially committed to “a work environment where openness and equality are paramount, and where diversity, inclusion, and the LGBTQ+ community are explicitly taken into account.”
In 2019, we joined the Pride campaign Journey of Process, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in NYC. Together with other influencers and members of the KLM Over the Rainbow community, we learned about Amsterdam’s queer history with gay tour guide Henk. And along the way, we discovered the deep-rooted, company-wide positive mindset towards LGBTQ+ employees and queer travelers, along the way. We felt genuinely included in their community. We were also able to ask plenty of questions about how gay-friendly KLM actually is on the inside. The common answer: very gay-friendly!
As part of our work with our partners, we are also working on diversifying similar campaigns in the future to give other marginalized groups within the LGBTQ+ community their deserved representation. The visibility of transgender, intersex, and LGBTQ+ people of color needs to be the focus of our work as activists and gay travel bloggers.
KLM and LGBTQ+ Travelers
KLM regularly makes stands to support the LGBTQ+ community. For this purpose, KLM not only changes its social media logo to a rainbow version. KLM also releases clear statements and social media campaigns for Pride Month, the International Day Against Homo-, Bi-, Transphobia and Intersexism (IDAHOBIT), and Pride Amsterdam. On Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, KLM also stands behind the queer community in terms of community management. An excellent example of this commitment was this year’s IDAHOBIT campaign. To raise awareness and show solidarity for IDAHOBIT 2022, three special flights operated with a predominantly LGBTQIA+ crew left Amsterdam Schiphol airport to one of the 170 international KLM destinations.
#6 Implementing a gender-neutral booking option
Already a few years ago, some major US airlines announced significant news for LGBTQ+ travelers. They implemented a so-called “gender-neutral booking option” for non-binary, transgender, and intersex travelers. Similar steps are still pending for the majority of European airlines. According to the article “Non-binary Airline Passengers Ask: What’s Gender Got to Do With It?” in the New York Times on June 22, 2022, a similar option will be introduced at Air France in the coming months. For KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, that move is on schedule for 2023.
“KLM expects to have non-binary options in 2023, and Air France will have them available ‘soon,’ according to Arturo Diaz, a spokesman for both airlines.” This step will hopefully result in fewer challenges for queer travelers and raise awareness for the needs of marginalized groups of travelers.
NEW: Would you like more choices, more amenities, and more comfort? Travel in KLM’s Premium Comfort Class and enjoy more space in a separate cabin on intercontinental flights.
*We update these offers regularly. If your destination or desired date is unavailable, check out nearby destinations on the KLM website!
#7 Pride & gay-friendly KLM destinations worldwide
And last but not least, and on a practical note: KLM is an airline that excels in offering direct flights. From Amsterdam, flights depart daily to over 170 direct destinations worldwide, including numerous LGBTQ+ and gay-friendly destinations. Some of the world’s most favorite cities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer travelers’ such as New York, Barcelona, London, Zurich, Berlin, Copenhagen, Madrid, Vienna, San Francisco, Toronto, and Stockholm, are just one flight away. Most of them are known for their famous Pride demonstrations and vibrant LGBTQ+ communities. But also adventurous destinations such as Southern Africa, Costa Rica, or Japan are served directly from Amsterdam. Which LGBTQ+-friendly travel destinations are on your bucket list? LGBTQ Destinations for Your Next Trip >
Our answer to the question: How gay-friendly is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines?
We hope we can give you a taste of KLM and why it should be considered a gay-friendly airline. Other airlines and international companies have been LGBTQ+ supporters long before KLM Royal Dutch Airlines or have been more consequent in achieving the goal of being recognized as an LGBTQ+ ally. However, considering the size of the airline, the open mindset of the Dutch people, and the recently taken steps, we think they are on a good way to becoming the proud flight companion we all deserve!
Please understand that we wrote about our experiences with no guarantee that they will be the same for you. If you have any questions about your trip planning, email us or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you around the world and the next time on a KLM plane.
Karl & Daan.
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Please note! We could create this article in collaboration with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and KLM Over the rainbow. Nevertheless, our photos, our videos, and our opinion are sincere and honest, as always.