KLM crisis management at its best

On Friday I return home on TAROM after spending most of the week in Bucharest, where I was giving a course. In Amsterdam I have one hour to make my connection to Zürich. Upon arrival in Amsterdam, we vacate runway 36R safely, but instead of turning left to head for the D concourse, we turn right and eventually come to a stop on one of the deicing pads. The captain then announces that there will be a bit of a hold up as our gate has not yet been vacated.

A few minutes later, one of the engines is shut down and I figure I might as well wave farewell to my connection to Zürich. The captain comes on again and announces that there has been a power outage in the northern part of the Netherlands and that things are taking longer, despite the airport having its own alternative power supply.

Eventually, after about thirty minutes we move off the deicing pad and head for one of the gates on the D concourse. The terminal building is crawling with people, but there is no chaos and everything seems fairly well organized. My original flight to Zürich has been cancelled and instead I have been rebooked to the flight at 21:00, which is in more than nine hours! The problem is, with the power outage it is not even as though you could head into town to pass the time – the trains are not running either! However, by the time I arrive at the KLM Crown Lounge in the Schengen sector, the agent at reception informs me that there has been an improvement and that we have been rebooked to an earlier flight at 15:15.

By this time it is clear that I shall have to cancel the meetings in the office I had scheduled for the afternoon anyway, so I figure might as well try to get back home to Basel instead, where I live, rather than flying to Zürich only to have to take a train to Basel. So I return to the KLM desk, where I am promptly seen to. The KLM agent proceeds to rebook me onto the flight to Basel all the while chatting pleasantly about the day’s events.

The flight to Basel departs on time and eventually I arrive back in Basel just before six in the evening.

Once again, I must say I am mightily impressed by KLM and their very pragmatic and proactive way of dealing with the problem. Not just because of the way they proactively change my booking once the original flight to Zürich has been cancelled, but also by the effort they make to accommodate my travel plans.

KLM gets quite some bashing on online forums like Flyertalk, which I have never been able to fully understand. All I can say is that the airline has certainly understood what good customer service means, and I have yet to be disappointed by them. So thanks again and well done KLM!

3 thoughts on “KLM crisis management at its best”

  1. Similar story here. Rain’s just wiped out a tranche of KL’s schedule, rebooked no hassle by the lounge agent. That typically Dutch combination of efficiency, pragmatism and good nature – and unmatched language skills – should win them many more friends than they have. I don’t want to imagine the American equivalent.

    Best from Crown Lounge 52,


  2. KLM does generally offer good service in case of IRROPS to elites. I think even on Flyertalk people agree on that fact. However if you are lowly non-status pax though..things are very different.

    I think most bashing at Flyertalk is related to two main things: Boarding procedures which very often go past STD, and the cost-cutting in Economy: Lack of food, quantity and quality; fees for first checked bag, no more exit row or comfort seats for elites, and so on.

    However if you are mostly flying business these things will be less visible. The people working in the air and on the ground are usually great. It is the cost-cutting that is pushed down from higher management that is bothering most. More than once I have heard FA’s talking about how embarrassed they are about what they have to serve. That is not a good sign..

    1. Hi Xandrios

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Generally I tend to agree with you. However, in KLM’s defense, I should also point out that a friend of mine was traveling with them from Basel via Amsterdam to Bangkok on that day. When it became clear she would not make the flight in Amsterdam due to the delay, KLM rebooked her onto the Thai Airways service from Zürich to Bangkok and even paid for a taxi to take her to Zürich airport from Basel. The taxi alone will set you back about CHF350. And my friend has no status at all with KLM.


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