I’m sorry to repeat my rant of a few months ago, but this KLM hand baggage policy or lack of compliance with it is now really ticking me off. Whilst I have discussed this before things don’t seem to be improving.
For those not familiar with the issue I’m talking about short haul European flights, more specifically flights between Amsterdam Schiphol and UK regional airports.
These can be very popular routes since KLM are the most wide serving major carrier to UK airports. Yes they provide more regional airport connections to international destinations than British Airways, our national carrier. They have achieved this through a combination of strategic routes and the acquisition of Air UK in 1997. I for one am glad I can access the world via a short flight from near my home to Schiphol. Compare this to fighting traffic on a 4-8 hour car ride to Heathrow; yes it can take that long.
To be fair I’ve been taking short haul KLM flights to Schiphol for 15 years now. Little wonder I’ve become Platinum Elite for life on their frequent flyer scheme, Flying Blue.
Yet, in spite of frequent use of this route I’ve noticed in recent times that I’ve been denied the opportunity to take one carry on (yes that is right one carry on) onto the plane. The reason cited is that it is a full or busy flight.
This happened yet again today (the day I am writing this). As I present myself at the KLM flight check in desk to drop off my checked bag I’m told I can’t take my carry on onto the craft because it is a “busy flight”. I enquire further. The KLM check-in lady says that after the first 60 passengers present themselves they will then start making carry ons subject to being withheld at boarding.
The current KLM hand baggage policy
Now as I read the hand baggage policy on the KLM website: www.klm.com it says that for Economy class on European flights I am allowed:-
1 bag (within the size allowance)
1 accessory such as a handbag (no thanks) or a laptop
Collectively the combined weight is a max of 12 kg.
For future reference as a SkyTeam Elite passenger (which I am since I hold Platinum Elite status) if I was to fly Business Class I am allowed the following KLM hand luggage allowance:-
1 bag (standard size) plus
1 smaller bag and
1 accessory bag.
Combined maximum weight of 18kg.
For those of you keen on size here are the allowed size dimensions in centimetres:-
1 bag = 55 x 25 x 35 cm
1 smaller bag = 45 x 20 x 35 cm
Okay good, I’m glad that we’ve got that sorted.
So why am I getting upset?
Simple really. The reason I am getting upset is because:-
1. The KLM cabin baggage policy is not being enforced
2. The procedures applied for “busy” flights is not fair
I must admit to being polite at check-in but I did explain to the lady that from my previous experiences their application of the policy had room for improvement.
As it turned out the specific flight that I am discussing today just reinforced my previous experiences.
As I sat in my seat on the flight I watched economy class passengers gleefully walk down the aisle with 2 or 3 pieces of hand luggage. They were not all size compliant to the KLM baggage policy either since, some were a fair size bigger than my one piece cabin bag with wheels which I know from experience and measurements is an acceptable size for the cabin.
Further, as we took off there was again space in the overhead bins for my one, single piece of luggage.
Heck, if worst comes to the worst people can put hand luggage under the seat in front of them.
Now when it comes to it I am a pretty compliant guy. I stick to the rules no matter how much I disagree with them.
I accept that as a paying passenger I should honour the requests of the airline staff and their policies. If only they’d enforce them so other people complied too.
Someone at work once said that I was “the most ethical guy” he knew. Yes I was shocked too and I think he needs to get out more.
Another colleague once told me to my face that I was very black and white. Well yes I am. That is why I dislike people who push in at queues or break the speed limit, or any misdemeanour. I actively loathe anyone I see who uses a handheld phone whilst driving.
These are all examples of people breaking the rules. They break the rules to gain an unfair advantage or think they are above the rules. But why?
One of the reasons why is simple. The rules are not enforced. And it is the compliant, well meaning, respectful individuals like myself who suffers. And I’m sick of it.
I even do my bit to help the airlines. Sod this extra one small carry on of a computer bag nonsense. I managed to fit 2 computers, yes 2 into my carry on bag. I also fit my essential work papers, electronics and personal items which I don’t want to lose. I’m going above and beyond the KLM carry on baggage policy there by fitting it all into one appropriately sized carry on. If want to know what bag I use, this is it:-
Samsonite Suitcase Base Hits 55/ 20 Upright 55 cm/ 39 Liters, Black 59142 1041
Why do I fit so much into one bag? And why does having access to them during my flight concern me so much? Well it is because I want to retain control of these essential items and be able to access to them as I need. I don’t want to be denied control of my valuable items by an airline who doesn’t treat all passengers equally on hand luggage sizes and number of items. Or dare I say it, any airline that treats more loyal passengers less equally in terms of hand luggage than others.
If the airline thinks I can do without access to my most precious set of valuables why is it okay for someone else to carry not so valuable items with them to avoid checked baggage. Argue with me all you want but do each one of these travellers with 2-3 bags really have that many items they can’t be without on a 1-2 hour flight? If I’m forced to be without company sensitive data they can be without their third set of clothing.
Furthermore I know of at least one colleague who had to concede his hand baggage at the gate whilst flying in the US to great cost. Once his bag was returned to him when the plane landed he noticed that his work laptop had been stolen. That is why I always have a lockable carry on bag. (By the way this happened with a US carrier not KLM.)
And do you know what makes my current story of woe even more laughable?
As I went to board the flight the ticket agent was delighted to inform me that I’d been upgraded. Yes I’d received a complimentary upgrade. This was, no doubt, in recognition of my loyalty and high status with them as a frequent flyer. Oh and it was also because it was a “busy flight”.
I expressed my gratitude to the upgrade, which does happen from time to time but I never expect it.
At this point once I’d gratefully acknowledged the upgrade I added a question. I asked if that meant I could now bring my one carry on with me onto the plane, after all it more than met the KLM hand baggage requirements for travelling Business Class. The boarding agent laughed, although admittedly it was respectfully and not offensive. Then with a smile she said “No”.
So there I was, honoured to now be flying Business Class (again thank you KLM) with supposed rights to one normal size carry on and one smaller size hand baggage allowance. Yet I was allowed to bring nothing on. I had to concede my bag at the bottom of the flight of stairs before boarding the aircraft.
Then I watched and watched and watched as others boarded. The plane doors closed and we took off for our flight to Amsterdam. For the entire duration of that flight there was enough empty space in the overhead bin above my head to store my bag. Yes, not only was there space on the plane, but there was space right above my flipping head! The KLM hand luggage policy had become a joke.
Can you believe I then caught a connecting flight from Amsterdam. This time I wasn’t upgraded. However I was sat at the front of economy and saw a guy in Business Class board with 3, yes 3 bags. None of them looked like computer bags unless you classify a rucksack close to the size of my carry on as a computer bag?
I was able to bring my hand luggage with me on this flight so I was far more content. Yet I still found the perverse nature of this incident a difficult pill to swallow.
I guess the authorities were onto something though. After arriving in Norway security staff were at the boarding tunnel with sniffer dogs to sniff out dubious objects in our hand luggage. Yes, you’ve guessed it, Mr 3 bags was pulled over and detained. This was to much amusement of some passengers I may add. (- that comment isn’t referring to me although I did have a quiet chuckle to myself afterwards).
So should I really be directing this frustration at KLM? An airline I’ve admired and loved for many years. In fact I do still think very highly of KLM as an airline, even though they don’t offer a First Class cabin.
Well, in fact I think I direct my overall frustration at all airlines. In fact the US based carriers are probably the worst ones of the lot for not applying a consistent policy.
First of all they introduce penalising charges for people to check their bags. So what happens? The result is that many people try to carry all their luggage on board. So you often see people with 2-3 large bags trying to board a plane because they want to avoid checked bag fees.
Then as we wait at the gate for yet another overbooked US flight (overbooked flights seem to happen more in the US than anywhere else in my experience) we get calls over the tannoy from airline staff. They give begging calls for passengers to volunteer to check their bags. For crikey’s sake why do they have to volunteer! Just enforce your darn one bag policy will you?
I have my lowly, one carry on and these other passengers have 3 large bags taking up all the cabin space.
Let us make it one rule for all shall we? One piece of hand baggage for all passengers.
If you can’t fit your essentials into one bag then you have to check it. End of story. And no more whining about your computer, tablet, mobile phone etc. I can fit all that and a second computer plus work papers in one size compliant bag, why can’t you!
I will respect the fact that the ladies require a hand bag and don’t begrudge them of that. If they can fit all their hand luggage in the ladies hand bag (because crikey some of them are big enough) then that is great. If not, the ladies can have one carry on (size compliant) and one respectably sized hand bag for their ladies needs.
So how difficult has it got to be? Please KLM; no in fact all airlines, please have a standard one bag per passenger policy and ENFORCE IT!!!!!!!!