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Old 14.01.2015, 15:03
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Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

Let me start by saying I’m not normally one to recommend avoiding a company or a service provider based on my own experiences, just check my posting history. That said, I would implore you all to never fly with KLM. Why? Because they’re literally a flock of bastards.

It’s been a month and a half since my unfortunate encounter with them. I’ve been trying to reach a satisfactory resolution with them but all I get is empty apologies. I’ve got the feeling it’s very easy for them to say sorry whilst doing this . Exasperated I’ve decided to share my experience with my fellow forum members.

I am a frequent flyer, on many airlines, to many different parts of the world. Flying with KLM twenty years ago wasn’t a bad experience, but since then they’ve jumped into bed with Air France, and it seems they’ve taken on the French model of customer service. I’ve flown with KLM a few times since the merger, and most of these times they’ve managed to screw something up: I once turned up to my gate to board a connecting flight in Schiphol to be informed that KLM had decided due to my late inbound flight I wouldn’t make the connection. The plane for my connecting flight was stood in front of me on the tarmac. And boarding hadn’t started yet. When I pointed this out they said that they’d taken it upon themselves to allocate my seat to someone else but that I would have the pleasure of a night’s stopover in Amsterdam. For a journey what was supposed to take three and a half hours. Thanks KLM.

There are other reasons why I used to hesitate booking with KLM: their apparent inability to seat groups together which number two or more, or the fact that they believe 4 miniscule pretzels constitute an on-board snack (although you do get the choice between sweet of savory). But following my latest experience, I do believe KLM have managed to outdo themselves in their discourtesy and ineptitude.

I had to fly to a destination that had no direct flights from Switzerland, this left a choice between KLM and Air France. Aids or Cancer. But it was a pretty important engagement so I went with the lesser of two evils and booked my flight through cheaptickets.ch. First mistake. However I had used cheaptickets.ch a number of times in the past, without issue.

When making the booking there was the option to pay for a checked bag. Normal for a Budget airline, but not for a national Flag Carrier, but that’s for another discussion. Knowing my partner, and judging by the length of the trip I decided one bag would be sufficient for us both so paid the extra fee. All well and good we were ready for our trip.

We turned up at Zurich airport in good time, ready to fly with cheaptickets.ch issued tickets in hand and our single piece of checked luggage. At check-in we were surprised when we were informed by the check-in assistant that we would have to pay extra for the baggage. “No!” said I, and produced my ticket which clearly stated a single piece of checked luggage for outward and return journey.

The check-in assistant examined the ticket and saw that I had a point. After much umming and arring, she decided to call her superior. The superior told her over the phone that according to “the system” we had not paid, so would have to pay again once again. She passed the message on to me and in disbelief I pointed again at my ticket, where it was printed in black and white. Agreeing with me she then went to check in person with her superior taking my ticket as proof, moving off at the speed of John Goodman. Without legs.

An age later she returned to say that the situation was still the same and we’d have to resolve it at the Customer Service desk. Off we trundled to the desk and were confronted by a Customer Service assistant who’d printed off our ticket and pointed out that we didn’t any check in luggage for the outbound flight but had TWO bags for the return leg. “Ah ha!” I said, “There’s the issue, we don’t need two bags for the return journey, just this one there and back will do”. Thinking the issue would be resolved there and then, I was astonished at the reply that came back. “Sorry, you have to pay, I can’t change it, I’m not allowed”, the words of a small cog that will never be a big cog, “There’s nothing I can do.” A jobsworth.

It came on immediately, a burning behind my eyes, a hotness in my belly, and a sudden urge lean over the counter and grab the assistant and shake the life out of her whilst screaming unpleasant names into her face. However I didn’t do this, I bit my tongue, and tried again to elucidate where the issue was and how it could easily be resolved.

A short while later a colleague of the customer service assistant, having until this point nothing to do with our discussion, lent in and told me it was my fault for booking with cheaptickets.ch as they’re “shit”. That was too much and I lost my temper. How could it be that this mess was my fault for booking through a third party? What was perhaps most shocking as that once my voices were raised, this other assistant started screaming and shouting at me. He told me “to f**k off” and that I should have some “ respect”. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t aware working as a customer service assistant in an airport was a position that automatically commanded respect.

By this time a good hour had past and realising we were getting nowhere I decided in the end to pay the excess and run to the gate in order to catch my flight. Which I didn’t. Returning to the customer service desk to try and rebook the flights I found the assistant who had shouted and sworn at me already on the phone to cheaptickets.ch telling them a complete fabrication of what had gone on before. As a result of his efforts, the cheaptickets.ch agent was completely uncooperative, as was he. I left the airport with no refund, no rebooking and a big fat “f**k you” for my efforts.

After a few dozen phone calls and several weeks later I’ve eventually received a full refund from cheaptickets.ch. KLM on the other hand have not accepted any responsibility for the way I was treated or that they were in some way culpable. I guess the lesson is for stress free flying, never book through a third party. Hindsight also says I should have coughed up the luggage straight away, but call me old fashioned, I expect once you’ve paid for a service and have proof you’ve paid, that you should get it.

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is my story. Sorry that it is so long winded, but I hope truly and deeply that you’ll bear this in mind if you ever have the choice between KLM and another airline. If that isn’t enough, just remember the pretzels.

Last edited by Loz1983; 14.01.2015 at 17:12.
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:18
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

Did you post this on FB or Twitter? My experience with airlines is that they tend to ignore you when calling/emailing but react quickly to FB and Twitter. At least in my case that finally got AirCanada moving....
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:19
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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Blah blah blah - crap service - blah blah blah
And to cap it all off you owe me 5 minutes that I will never get back - you bar steward.
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:21
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

Classic rant

I always check if you save anything when booking through a broker.
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:23
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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And to cap it all off you owe me 5 minutes that I will never get back - you bar steward.
It's a form of therapy. I feel better now
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:30
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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Classic rant

I always check if you save anything when booking through a broker.
Same here - check on a broker site - if the price is significently better on the the broker site I go with it - if not I stick to the airline site. Far easier to manage bookings.
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:30
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

I didn't read the post, just the headline, however I have a tip which may or may not help others.

I've just flown KLM return from BSL to AMS. Had no problems at all. I didn't book on the KLM website as I found I could book on the Air France website, for exactly the same price, but it includes a check-in baggage allowance of 23kg. The KLM website doesn't.
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:31
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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Did you post this on FB or Twitter? My experience with airlines is that they tend to ignore you when calling/emailing but react quickly to FB and Twitter. At least in my case that finally got AirCanada moving....
What he said.

Basically KLM sit somewhere between Easyjet and Ryanair on my personal scale. And rather closer to Ryanair.
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:34
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

What I learned the hard way is that they really don't care about you if you've booked through a third party. So if anything goes wrong you're helpless.
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:38
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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What I learned the hard way is that they really don't care about you if you've booked through a third party. So if anything goes wrong you're helpless.
Same as most airlines. It is the great broker con.

All fine and dandy when it goes OK - but hell on earth when it doesn't!!
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:45
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

I think a lot of the national carriers have terrible customer service. Last time we flew "home" was with BA. It was not possible to reserve seats online as we had 2 kids and one of them was under 2 at the time. I called them to see if they could reserve the bulkhead seats for us, so our little one could sleep in a cot (it was a 12 hours flight). No, they said, but we'll make sure you can get a seat there when you arrive.

Except that by the time we arrived at the airport, those seats were already taken by people who did not need them! So there we were - 6 families with babies under 2 who were forced to sit with babies on their lap. For a 12-hour flight at night!

Ah and don't get me started with the BA crew!

Last edited by Clumsy Maman; 14.01.2015 at 16:28. Reason: the usual typos
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:54
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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I think a lot of the national carriers have terrible customer service. Last time we flew "home" was with BA. It was not possible to reserve seats online as we had 2 kids and one of them was under 2 at the time. I called them to see if they could reserve the bulkhead seats for us, so our little one could sleep in a cot (it was a 12 hours flight). No, they said, but we'll make sure you can get a seat there when you arrive.

Except that by the time we arrived at the airport, those seats were already taken by people who did not need them! So there we were - 6 families with babies under 2 who were forced with babies on their lap. For a 12-hour flight at time!

Ah and don't get me started with the BA crew!
Exactly, as with all these things, it only takes one bad experience to turn your opinion on them. Bad service I can forgive though, even the fact a member of the ground staff was shouting and swearing in my face. What I can't excuse is that they've admitted no responsibility for what happened and that I was somehow to blame.
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Old 14.01.2015, 15:56
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

Two excellent lines in this post commanded my full attention:

"Why? Because they’re literally a flock of bastards."

and

"this left a choice between KLM and Air France. Aids or Cancer."

I therefore heed your advice!
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Old 14.01.2015, 16:00
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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Two excellent lines in this post commanded my full attention:

"Why? Because they’re literally a flock of bastards."

and

"this left a choice between KLM and Air France. Aids or Cancer."

I therefore heed your advice!
Perhaps I should have gone with Air France, at least if they don't get you off the ground they'll put you into a hotel...

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Old 14.01.2015, 16:03
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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What he said.

Basically KLM sit somewhere between Easyjet and Ryanair on my personal scale. And rather closer to Ryanair.
I flew KLM the first time last year. Never again. I would rate both Ryanair and Easyjet above KLM.
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Old 14.01.2015, 16:32
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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I flew KLM the first time last year. Never again. I would rate both Ryanair and Easyjet above KLM.
I just booked a KLM flight. I'm suffering buyers remorse. Why are they bad??
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Old 14.01.2015, 16:35
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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Perhaps I should have gone with Air France, at least if they don't get you off the ground they'll put you into a hotel...

that's no oil painting
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Old 14.01.2015, 16:44
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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I just booked a KLM flight. I'm suffering buyers remorse. Why are they bad??
They're fine. Always try to avoid using a broker when buying flight tickets (or hotels, but I often still do that as it can be cheaper) as any complaints are always with whoever sold you the ticket, not the end supplier.

So if you book a flight via cheaptickets.ch (for example) and you paid for luggage and the airline refuses, then you need to complain to cheaptickets. If your receipt says "luggage paid for" but for whatever reason they didn't pass that on to (or pay, even) the airline for this, then you're stuck. Pay up at the airport and claim back from cheaptickets.ch once you're done. It's not the airline's fault the company you used didn't inform/pay them properly.
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Old 14.01.2015, 16:52
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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I think a lot of the national carriers have terrible customer service. Last time we flew "home" was with BA. It was not possible to reserve seats online as we had 2 kids and one of them was under 2 at the time. I called them to see if they could reserve the bulkhead seats for us, so our little one could sleep in a cot (it was a 12 hours flight). No, they said, but we'll make sure you can get a seat there when you arrive.

Except that by the time we arrived at the airport, those seats were already taken by people who did not need them! So there we were - 6 families with babies under 2 who were forced to sit with babies on their lap. For a 12-hour flight at night!

Ah and don't get me started with the BA crew!
I'm not sure this is strictly true as you can pay for seats and reserve in advance or wait until online check in opens and check in and reserve at same time.

Folr a 12 hour flight, i would seriously consider buying a ticket, if only to have a bit more guaranteed space with a baby, 12 hours is a very long time.....

Why should the airline not sell the seat next to you if the flight is full ?

Sure it's a pain in the ass, but then so were high prices we paid for tickets. Tickets are now a lot cheaper and somewhat more flexible, the airlines make where they can, seat reservations and baggage being two sources of revenue
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Old 14.01.2015, 16:53
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Re: Avoid KLM - the flag carrier that think's its a budget airline

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They're fine. Always try to avoid using a broker when buying flight tickets (or hotels, but I often still do that as it can be cheaper) as any complaints are always with whoever sold you the ticket, not the end supplier.

So if you book a flight via cheaptickets.ch (for example) and you paid for luggage and the airline refuses, then you need to complain to cheaptickets. If your receipt says "luggage paid for" but for whatever reason they didn't pass that on to (or pay, even) the airline for this, then you're stuck. Pay up at the airport and claim back from cheaptickets.ch once you're done. It's not the airline's fault the company you used didn't inform/pay them properly.
I used skyscanner.net but that directed me to the KLM website and I booked through them - I assume this means I booked direct but skyscanner got referral money not broker money?
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