Going back to the 90s when my business life involved a lot of travel around Europe, KLM was one of my favourite airlines.
I had three dreadful experiences with them just in this month’s trip to Toulouse.
On the outward leg, I queued an hour to drop off my bag at Edinburgh Airport having arrived 2 hours prior to departure and having checked in online. They had no separated check in and bag drop queues, so those who had not checked in online were mixed in with those who had.
Even then, the airline knows how many passengers will be on the flight and how many will have bags to check in. They know how many passengers will have to be dealt with at the check in desks.
It was an utter shambles.
On the return journey the flight from Amsterdam landed at Edinburgh, parked at the gate, and then we had to wait a full 20 minutes for steps to arrive to get us off the plane. I mean, was our arrival a surprise?
It gets worse.
My suitcase did not arrive at the baggage reclaim. I filed my PIR at KLM’s baggage handling about 16:00 and went home. At 18:00 I got a text advising my suitcase was in Edinburgh and would be delivered to me “soon”.
After some intervening lies and incredibly poor attempts at “service” from KLM, my suitcase was finally delivered at 11:00 two days after that – 41 hours after in reached Edinburgh Airport.
I judge service businesses by how they deal with things when they go wrong – accepting that even in the most efficient of operations things will go wrong from time to time. If an airline has misplaced a passenger’s bag, it then becomes a damage limitation exercise.
KLM failed badly.
As an aside, like most airlines these days KLM makes you pay extra if you want to take a checked in bag with you, so the passenger is entitled to expect better just from that perspective alone.
In the interest of fairness, all four flights were very pleasant, 3 out of 4 were on time (the other one was just a few minutes late) and check in at Toulouse for the return flights was perfect.
Sadly, KLM has joined British Airways and Ryanair in the “only as a last resort” category.
ⓒ iain Taylor, 2018 🏴 🇫🇷