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Senator Kwamboka loses seat downgrade case against Kenya Airways

By Frankline Sunday | Dec 25th 2021 | 2 min read
By Frankline Sunday | December 25th 2021

Nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka has lost a court case against national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ).

Ms Kwamboka had sued the airline claiming that she was humiliated following a downgrade of her flight seat from business to economy.

High Court judge Hedwig Ong’undi ruled that the national carrier had acted reasonably by informing the senator and other passengers that the plane they were to fly in from Nairobi to Mombasa had developed a technical hitch.

According to the judge, KQ also gave Kwamboka the option of either taking up an economy class seat with a refund of excess airfare, or wait for another flight that would offer her a seat in the business class.

“The respondent (KQ) tried its best to mitigate the challenges it faced when it was forced to use an aircraft whose carriage capacity was smaller than what had been initially booked,” ruled Justice Ong’undi of the Constitutional and Human Rights Division.

At the same time, the judge found that the senator could not prove in her case that she got an inferior service by sitting in the economy class.

“The petitioner has in no way proved that the quality as stipulated in Article 46 of the Constitution was not reasonable or satisfactory,” Ong’undi said.

He also ordered her to pay the airline the cost of the case. 

In the suit filed early this year, Kwamboka complained that her business class seat was sold and KQ did not offer an apology to her.

According to her, the decision to have her fly in the economy section on December 28, 2020 was unfair as she had paid her ticket in advance.

Moreover, she claimed KQ did not reimburse the excess air fare she had paid, and argued that the downgrade was against her consumer rights.

In opposing the case, KQ argued that after its plane developed a technical hitch, it decided to accommodate the affected passengers in another plane, or downgrade their class with a refund of the excess airfare.

It said that the original flight had 12 business class and 84 economy seats, while the replacement had nine business and 88 economy seats.

KQ said its controller called Kwamboka to inform her of the changes. When he could not reach her, the judge heard, he sent a text message.

The company said the senator was offered a comfortable seat in the economy class and issued with a downgrade form for a refund.

At the same time, the senator was asked if she could wait for a 5pm flight, in which she would fly in business class.

The court heard she rejected the two options. 

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