KLM apologizes for tweet about plane fatalities on MH17 anniversary

KLM had to apologize for a tweet posted by KLM India on Wednesday. The tweet, posted on the 5th anniversary of the MH17 disaster, spoke about what seats you are most likely to die in if you're in a plane crash.

"According to data studies by Time, the fatality rate for seats in the middle of the plane is the highest. However, the fatality rate for the seats in the front is marginally lesser and is least for seats at the rear third of the plane", the tweet read, according to Luchtvaartnieuws.

KLM India's social media team meant it as an interesting piece of trivia. But the timing - exactly five years after 298 people were killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine - led to outrage. MH17 was a code share flight for KLM.

It is also unusual for airlines to speak about plane crashes in their marketing, according to Luchtvaartnieuws. The tweet was therefore picked up by media worldwide, including by The Washington Post in the United States.

KLM removed the tweet some 12 hours later and posted an apology. "We would like to sincerely apologize for a recent update. The post was based on a publicly available aviation fact, and isn't a KLM opinion. It was never our intention to hurt anyone", KLM India tweeted.

Earlier this week the Dutch airline also caused social media outrage with a tweet about its breastfeeding policy. In response to a question on Twitter, KLM said that mothers are "permitted" to breastfeed their babies on board a flight, but can be asked to cover up if other passengers take offense. 

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