As a frequent flier with Sky Team it is inevitable that at some point I’ll find my flight was cancelled with KLM. In fact, over the years I’ve experienced this with various airlines, however KLM is one of the most frequently used airlines by myself.
The date was Sunday 24th March 2013 and I was due to fly from the UK to Detroit, via Amsterdam Schipol Airport.
On arrival at my regional UK airport there was a whiteboard notice telling me that my flight was cancelled with KLM. It was the second scheduled flight to Amsterdam that day yet somehow the first flight was not a cancelled flight, but had not taken off yet.
Why my flight was cancelled with KLM?
Anyone who was in the UK in March 2013 will remember what the weather was like at this time. It was cold, icy and some heavy downpours of snow. As it turns out the snow was not too bad in this area of the country yet there was black ice on the runway.
A KLM stewardess informed me that due to safety reasons the KLM policy and view of the pilot was that it was unsafe to take off. This was in spite of the fact that some non-KLM airlines were still using the runway. The fact KLM have such a rigorous safety policy actually gives me reassurance. I will be less likely to question a flight cancellation with KLM in the future.
What happened after my flight was cancelled?
The whiteboard advising me of the flight cancellation with KLM stated that I had to go to the Servisair desk for assistance. This meant quite a long queue for me, maybe waiting 40+ minutes even though I am Platinum Elite with KLM’s Flying Blue frequent flyer scheme.
Whilst I like to be at the airport in plenty of time, typically 2 hours + before my flight, this was from my local airport. My taxi driver was only able to drop me off around an hour before take off. This meant virtually everyone else on the flight had arrived so I was at the back of the queue.
The Servisair desk.
Once I arrived at the Servisair desk the staff were very helpful and kind. Since they had to deal with around 80 frustrated and angry passengers before me this was a notable achievement. Naturally they knew that the flight was cancelled with KLM and began the process of looking at options to get me to Detroit. I asked if there were maybe flights direct from major UK airports such as Manchester or London. (My taxi driver was still with me at this point so we could rush there if needed.)
After checking the staff advised that there was no availability on those flights.
The solution after my cancelled flight
Eventually the Servisair staff came up with a solution to get me to Detroit as quick as possible. The plan was to get me to Amsterdam that day, then place me on the earliest flight to Detroit the next day. I would then arrive in the office on the Monday afternoon and only lose half a day’s worth of work time.
So how was I going to get to Amsterdam? I hear you ask. Well, you may remember that my flight was cancelled with KLM yet the KLM flight prior to mine, also heading to Amsterdam had not taken off yet. I guess my cancelled flight was to avoid a major backlog and the earlier flight would take off when it was safe to do so.
As it turned out this flight took off around an hour or so after my flight was due to take off. Approaching late morning a lot of the black ice had melted or been treated by this point.
Arriving in Amsterdam
The Servisair staff advised me that once in Amsterdam that I was to go to the KLM desk in the luggage collection area of Schipol Airport.
As instructed I went to the KLM desk and explained that my flight was cancelled and they would sort me out with a hotel. This was quickly resolved and the KLM staff even offered there and then to check in my luggage. I decided not to do so since I could access various things from my check-in luggage whilst I killed time for the rest of the day.
I was issued with my ticket information for the early flight the next day to Detroit. I was also given a voucher to go to the NH Hoteles Schipol Airport.
I had little problem on departure the following day.
I was able to check in with plenty of time for my next flight. Although I was given a ticket with a designated KLM flight number it was actually a code share and meant flying with Delta.
I have suffered various cancelled flights in my time and received a mixed range of service. The worst was with US Airways. Not only did they delay me for over 27 hours but they did not put me up in a hotel even though I was flying Business Class. The flight was delayed due to technical faults as opposed to weather or external conditions. This entitled me to compensation which they never adequately provided. As a result of this shocking service I have black listed US Airways.
KLM are a different story all together. Even though my flight was cancelled with KLM due to bad weather conditions I was treated with respect. I received comfortable accommodation, the quickest re-routing possible and great service. I never want to say that my flight was cancelled, but if it is I want to receive the service I saw from KLM on this occasion.