Before Departure

This adventure began 3 weeks before departure when KLM’s computer system went wrong and KLM’s [alleged] Customer Service team displayed a level of incompetence beyond belief.

In March, we purchased seat upgrades for our 4 flights. We’d had confirmation and our seats showed up on KLM’s “My Trip” website. The first issue was fairly unimportant and not uncommon. KLM had offloaded our first flight to German Airways who only have one seating level in economy; our seat numbers remained the same. However, KLM did nothing about the amount paid for upgrade. I applied for a refund which, after 2 weeks, appeared. And then the nightmare began.

On 28th September, we noticed all the booked seats, apart from German Airways had disappeared. A phone call to customer services resulted in their reinstatement. Just 24 hours later, they were gone.

This was the first of 4 repeat calls, and an identical pattern. Reinstated and disappearing 24 hours later. Every time unequivocal promises were made that the seats would stay in place. Emails were sent to confirm this. Annoyingly, during this period, our seats on one flight had been sold and no more “upgraded” seats remained. We reluctantly accepted nearby standard seats.

Having had enough of phoning, I moved to their Facebook chat channel. A further 6 interactions produced much the same result. At one point, the agent said the problem was the “reserved” seats now cost more than we’d paid so we’d need to pay the difference. My reply did not include the expletives I wanted to use. I wasn’t paying. It was clear the agent(s) weren’t slightly interested, several times saying “be patient, another department is handling the problem”. Platitudes!

Time to move on, so I called Viking’s flight office. What a difference! A very polite and friendly agent told me that it was something they didn’t deal with (I’d bought the seats from the airline.) “However, leave it with me in case there’s anything I can do and I’ll phone you back.”

About 2 hours later she phoned back and told me she’d spent 40 minutes on the phone with KLM’s “Trade Liaison” office. She said although they couldn’t complete “the fix” they’d identified the real problem. I’d booked the seats before Viking had issued the ticket. The computer had not allocated my payments to the correct ticket number. I’d have to phone KLM because his “office id” couldn’t make that sort of change.  She then gave me a glossary of KLM buzz-words to convince Customer Service I knew what I was talking about.

It took 1¼ hours on the phone, but with the apology for the time it had taken, she explained that adjusting seat prices to match my payments was very complicated. It was obvious to me that the Facebook agent was doing nothing until I backed down and handed over more cash.

So, it had taken around 11 days, 5+ hour of phone calls and message exchanges, not to mention stress about flights, all of this to sort out a bug in their computer systems met by a lack of understanding and bloody-mindedness by Customer Services.

After this trip I going to raise a formal complaint (not messing until we’ve finished the KLM roundtrip) and it may well be a while before we fly KLM. 

Now… let’s begin our Golden Wedding tour!