Inside Traveller readers are used to our regular list of airlines to avoid where we highlight airlines that are having financial problems or have other issues which suggest they should not be used. We have never before put an airline on this list for reasons of bad attitude to customers but, in the case of KLM, we are happy to make an exception.
The EU is threatening KLM with legal action because it is currently only agreeing to pay the expenses of passengers who were delayed by the volcanic ash issue earlier this year for the first 24 hours of the delay. Many passengers were delayed for several days and KLM refuses to pay.
We do have some sympathy with airlines on this point. The EU legislation on delays and cancelled flights is badly-drafted and imposes much stricter penalties on airlines than on any other form of public transport. We feel that airlines should protest and try to get back some of the compensation for this unique event from their governments. However, such a protest should be done at a much higher level, with all airlines involved. For one rather insignificant carrier to go its own way is stupid and puts its customers at a serious disadvantage. Nor can we understand why KLM is paying for the first 24 hours of the delay – they appear to be accepting the theory but then quibbling about the amount which makes their case look very shaky.
This shows KLM in a very poor light. They appear tight-fisted and arrogant. If all other European airlines can pay (even Ryanair has paid) why not the silly Dutch? Are they above the law?
Unfortunately, the volcanic ash issue will be forgotten in due course but we would urge you not to forget the attitude KLM has shown in this case. The only way we would ever be persuaded to book a ticket with them is if most of their Board resigned and they made a public apology. Their cheap, grubby behaviour deserves wide-spread publicity and we very much hope it rebounds on them.
Meanwhile, just remember, there are plenty of other, fairly honest, airlines so you can leave KLM well alone.