Big Time Fail for KLM & Air France! YVR to AMS. Brutal Customer Service.
I rarely, if ever, complain about service or lack thereof.
However, I am sitting in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and I am really not impressed with KLM ( @KLM or @KLMCanada ) or Air France ( @AirFranceCA ) at all at this moment. I am sitting with my wife who is not happy. I am starting to type this, as I am not happy. And, we are still over 4 hours from Paris!!
Sad part is that it started in Vancouver and just seems to carry all the way through to the homeland of Holland. Started with trying to check in online, for almost a full day before our flight from Vancouver to Paris – connection through Amsterdam. Connection to the Air France/KLM online check in was a bit of a nightmare.
The Friday evening, 24 hours before the flight departure, I could not get thru to the Air France/KLM site to book our seats. I tried again for much of Saturday morning and I still could not get thru. When I finally id get thru on Saturday afternoon, I find that my wife and I are practically sitting on two different planes! I have been assigned a seat in Row 8 and she row 38.
I can never figure this one out, you book tickets waaaaaaay in advance and you book “two” people at the same time, and yet airlines seemed to be compelled to put you through the ringer to try and sit together. I have no understanding and really no care to figure out seat assignment processes.
Anyway! We get to the airport 3 hours early, as I want to deal with the seat issue, only to find out at that point that we are now delayed an hour and 15 minutes. Oh well – that one is completely out of our control. We are just 4 hours early for a flight now, feeling like my Mom now and getting the airport this early. Again, not in our control and could be worse – right?
We get to the ever so “helpful” check in and inquire as to our seating issue. At this point we are asked if we “reserved” our seats? Thinking to myself, I thought that is what we did when we “bought” the tickets. This is not so in the airline world. The airline opens the online booking 30 hours before flight takes off and this is when it is a “first come first serve” seating plan. Since most like windows and aisle seats, only middles get left which makes it impossible to get seats together unless you get on really early. I explained that I did try to book online early but could not get through until this afternoon when it was too late to “fix” “my situation”.
We are informed that at this moment, at the desk, there are no seats together and that this is a full flight, and chances are “slim to nil” that we sit together, but we can put you on a “waiting list” for seats together. Or, we can pay 120 Euros and have our seats together as one of the seats is a KLM “comfort plus seat”. This was my assigned Seat in row 8. We can have the other one be “upgraded” to comfort plus and then we sit together. We figure we will take out chances as we are both peeved at this silliness that apparently, only the 2 of us understand, or that the 2 of us, thinks is a bit ridiculous. You assign the seats and then I have to pay to sit together?!? I don’t get it.
Either way, after traveling a bit too much for work, I have learned that it is no use arguing with an airline as you rarely win and anyone who can make a decision is rarely the one you are talking to. Policy quotations are typically the best answers you get. We walk away and start to think that for a 9-hour flight, a bit stupid to sit apart, so we decide that we will pay the 120 Euros and get our seats; we will just pretend that this was planned from the beginning.
We go and get our seats and are now sitting together in “comfort plus” in row 10. 120 Euros poorer, but happier nonetheless.
All good – right?!?
We get our connecting boarding passes from Amsterdam to Paris, and we make sure that our return tickets home have us seated together.
I can hardly wait to see how that plays out on our return next Saturday!
We head toward the gate as we are really early now and there is not much else to do. About 60 minutes before our flight is to leave, I hear a page for me, and then my wife, to report to the desk for a message.
I go by myself to check out the call and am then told that, “we were able to accommodate you, and we now have you 2 sitting together in row 31”.
I show the woman at the counter my receipt for 120 Euros and the 2 boarding passes for row 10 and explain – thanks, but no thanks, already took care of it by myself, as the “slim to nil” offer of 2 hours ago did not sit well with us, and we needed to make sure that we had our seats together. At this point I am thinking, the right “customer service” thing to do is apologize and perhaps even offer a refund of the 120 Euros or portion thereof, rip up row 31, and just let me enjoy row 10 with my wife.
But alas, this is not to be. We need to see the receipt to show that I actually paid for the upgrade, call someone and try and figure out how this could have happened, and then wonder how it happened. Never once acknowledging the pain in the ass system that is running amuck with the booking process at KLM. Never once just saying sorry for the mess that they have caused, not me!
After 5 minutes of phone calls, and me showing an indignant look, we resolve to rip up row 31 and “re-issue” row 10 – yes – re-issue the boarding passes. You see, no one checked when they booked the seats together in row 31 to see if in fact we were now together in row 10 and once again. They cancelled the row 10’s. We are still out the 120 Euros, but what the hell, we would be together – right!
Now, If you really think about it, this means that the boarding passes I had for row 10 really did not have to be “paid for” as we had originally done, as someone else was going to get those seats anyway. You see, when they give me row 31 boarding passes, they throw away my “old” row 10’s ( the ones I paid for ) back into general population). I bet the house, kids and wife; that no one was going to be out the 120 Euros that I was when they would have been offered those seats that were now “available”, as the flight is FULL!! We got ripped off! Not once did the agent offer to refund the 120 Euros if I took rows 31. My “old” row 10 seats would have been free for the next guy – 100% for sure!
I did not want to cause a huge scene, as my wife is even more choked now, and I am not thrilled to say the least, but this is a trip to Paris, and I am adamant that nothing is going to bug me anymore with this. I will eat the 120 Euros, I have my seats, and we are off to Paris! I am obviously not going to get 2010 customer service, but it’s all good; we are off to Paris. I have my new row 10’s in my hand (same as the old row 10’s mind you) and we are sitting together. I might be fuming, but suck it up, and let’s go.
What else could piss me off today? Funny you should ask!
When we get to Amsterdam, get off the plane and head to the boards to see where our next flight with be gating. We seem to remember that our layover was tight before the 1 and 15 delay in Vancouver, so we better hustle to get to the gate.
It is at this time that we take a good look at our boarding passes and compare them with the board. The board says that we are leaving Gate C5 at 6:55 (18:55), but we thought that we were leaving at 4:55 (16:55). There is a flight at Gate C5 leaving at the 4:55 time. It is now 4:15 and we have cleared passports etc. We start for the gate. While walking, we check our actual booking receipts and sure enough we were “originally” booked for 4:55, but YVR agents have put us on 6:55. Lesson learned – not only do you have to make sure you take care of your seats – you also need to make sure your airline books you on the right flights!
There are people on the flight that we were just on, that are also connecting to Paris at 4:55; so we know that in theory, we can make this flight. In theory. We get to the gate and tell our newest KLM dilemma to the gate agents.
Again, nothing but surprise from the agents, and again asking for me to show the documentation to prove that, yes in fact, we are right again.
They screwed up our flight!
At this point, we are told that we are out of luck as our baggage is booked to 6:55 and that luggage needs to be with us on the flight. We know that! Can you get the luggage over here quickly so that maybe we can make this flight? I am sure that you will guess the answer to that! ”We are sorry for the problems, nothing we can do”.
My wife is choked again, but pleasant, and throws out, “how about a lunch on KLM then – Ha Ha”. “Lunch is over (as she looks at her watch)”, is the response, “sorry for the trouble, there is nothing we can do” and she hands us back our passports and boarding passes. Bye Bye!
Well thanks KLM. My dinner plans in Paris meant nothing to you and obviously nothing to me anymore. The friends that I had in Paris this weekend and the arrangements that I made are none your concern. Only mine.
Guess what KLM, there may be “nothing that you can do”; there is something I can do to make myself feel better about this whole ordeal. I can write about it and I can make a different airline choice for next time.
Piss poor customer service from Vancouver, right through to! Let’s hope I don’t have to add anything more to this post by the time I hit Paris!
I just want to send out a heart felt “Thank You to the KLM/Air France Team at YVR and AMS. “ Thanks for the memories for our first trip to Paris. You are definitely making it interesting and you are for sure making this trip blog worthy!
I hope this is the end of the “interesting” stories about this trip to Paris, at least from an airline perspective!
Ciao for now @kootenayborn