October 05, 2002
What money buys you at KLM

Last night I flew home to Nice on a one-way business class flight. This was because of hasty arrangements at the end of my former project resulting in an almost-last-day purchase, and because this flight was the same price as a return economy ticket (in which case our travel office authorizes the purchase of a business class ticket for this type of flight).

After having left a sizeable amount of luggage at our company's office in Amsterdam for shipping home to me next week (and after great help from two of my colleagues, Sjoerd and Runar, in getting it all there in the first place) I headed to Schiphol to pick up my ticket and check-in for the flight. I had a stuffed-full carry-on suitcase, my laptop bag and a garment bag with me.

All the RoyalWing / Platinum Elite check-in desks were closed, so I headed to the SilverWing / Business Class desks instead. I gave the garment back for checkin and handed over my ticket and RW-card.

KLM Agent: Is that all you'll check in?
andersja: Yes; I'm moving from Holland, but have shipped all the rest of my luggage.
KLM Agent: I'll have to weigh that carry-on suitcase
[having flown approximately 200 flights with KLM the last 2 years, this is the second or third time this question has been asked to me, and no matter the weight, I've never had any issues]
andersja: Sure, no problem (puts the suitcase on the belt for weighing)
KLM Agent: That's 15 kilos, I'll have to check it in
andersja: Uh.. it contains a bottle of Jenever and a bottle of liqueur given to me as leaving presents from colleagues; I'd rather not have them break
KLM Agent: Well, it's over 10 kilos, so I'll have to check it in.
andersja: I've never had a problem with hand luggage on my last 200 KLM flights?
KLM Agent: Didn't you hear me? It's over 10 kilos, noone lets you board with hand luggage weighing more than 10 kilos -- just try with any of my colleagues (turns around and talks to KLM colleague to his left)
KLM Agent: (to colleague) - we can't check in more than 10 kilos of hand luggage, right?
KLM Colleague: Is he flying Business class?
andersja: ... and I'm RoyalWing
KLM Colleague: He can take 2 x 10 kilos, then, but they need to be in separate items weighing less than 10 kilos
KLM Agent: uh... well your suitcase is more than 10
andersja: yeah, I know; how about I take out the bottles and put them into a separate bag once I can get one from the tax free shops?
KLM Agent: uuhh.... (gumpily) you better do it; I will put a note in your reservation that they'll have to check it at the boarding
andersja: whatever
KLM Agent: It's for saftety you know
andersja: I know - hey an occational exception for faithful frequent flyers is not going to kill anyone
KLM Agent: remember to put them in a bag
andersja: bye

Conclusion: while money can buy you the entire first row in Business class (me, yesterday), it still can't buy decent service and politeness from KLM employees......

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Dear mister Andersja,

Though i can confirm that some people at KLM can be very rude, i would like to point out to you that in Dutch society there is a very strong sense of "politeness yields politeness". Not pushing yourself to be a RW-member too hard might really change things for the better.
Good luck with your business in Nice and your flights with KLM or any other airline (try SAS, they're great!)

Remco (Rotterdam)

Posted by: Remco Wijnings on October 19, 2002 05:54 PM

KLM agents are a bit too rude for my taste too. I used to fly via Schiphol (on economy class:-() and not once had a pleasant experience. At the best, it is an indifferent experience. May be because I've a brown skin and beard often, I always get asked this question - "Are you sure you don't have anything in your bags that you don't know about?" The third time I got asked this, I had to ask them how am I going to answer that question, if I don't know about it. They simply repeated it. I can live with indifference, but adding idiots to deliver that is rude :-)

Posted by: Babu on October 20, 2002 11:54 PM

In the US, there was an article a while back about the head of transportation saftey wanting to throw out a few rules, one of which was the pair about packing one's own bags and whether they were in your posession in the duration from car to desk. Considering my luggage has a handle, I have to laugh at such inane questions. It's not for safety -- they take some perverse pleasure in your torture.

Posted by: lowmagnet on October 22, 2002 03:58 AM
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