You Won’t Believe My Experience Booking KLM With Children
KLM with children
Booking and managing your booking with a major airline company shouldn’t be an arduous task. I expect the airlines to work with me in answering my millions of questions, in order to avoid problems at the gate or on the plane. I expect airline representatives on the phone, social media or in person, to be knowledgeable about the companies policies and up to date on the latest changes, in an ever growing political environment. What I received was less than competent representatives, a refusal to honour policies stated on their website and a social media representative that failed to even honour the promises he made to me just a few hours before. This is my review of booking a long-haul flight through KLM with children.
Booking my flight to Canada
I was fortunate enough to have my parents book and pay for our flights to Canada. They wanted to visit me while my hubby was away, again, but with so much going on back home and the cost was virtually the same, they spoiled me with tickets for the kids and I. They used their travel agent to make the purchase, using the points they accumulated with their RBC Infinity Avion travel visa. I don’t know the exact numbers but they have been doing this for a few years now so I imagine the tickets were free or near free, just by using their visa for all their purchases. Booking flights through KLM with children is no small feat but we made it work in the end.
Signing into KLM My Trip
I was able to sign in with my passport details but I wasn’t able to connect my tickets to my account. I called the online helpline and they were less than helpful. He assured me that he was able to log in, and therefore I was doing something wrong. I ended up speaking with 4 different agents before a lovely woman from Texas (of course it was a woman) noticed that my name was spelt wrong; the R was missing from Christine. What kind of name is Chistine, honestly. While it is my name, and I should have noticed it when the travel agent asked me to review the details, but lets be honest – when I tell you my name isn’t working in the log-in feature, there are only so many reasons for this.
Either way, they fixed it and I was able to log in. I loaded my flight details and waited patiently for my 4 day family-travel window to open.
Family travel Seat Selection Policy
According to KLM website, they allow families with children younger than 12 years old to reserve their seats free of charge up to 4 days in advance. I started calling 6 days in advance to double check, since the website said “at least 4 days in advance” – for me, that means I can call before 4 days, but it could be a poor translation.
At 6 days, I called and the agent told me it was automatic at 55 hours. This is not in line with their site, so I asked for a supervisor, they also said 55 hours automatically, with KLM’s algorithm. I hung up and tried again, the next agent said 30 hours automatic. Hung up, tried again. 3rd agent says it is a mis-translation and I need to call at 4 days, not before 4 days. Ok, lets call back in 2 days.
Monday afternoon rolls around, it is now 4 days before my flight. I call. The agent then tells me it is automatic 4 days before and I don’t need to do anything. This sounds like a reasonable explanation, and her supervisor also told me this was true. So I let it go. She says I should see it on my account before dinner.
Well, dinner rolls around and I see nothing. Maybe it’s local time and I need to wait. Tuesday morning comes, still nothing. I call, again. Did I mention that my kids have been home sick from school this whole week so I get to deal with that, and these people, at the same time. Oh what fun in my house it has been.
Tuesday, 3 days before departure, I call. I ask why my seats are not scheduled yet. 2 agents tell me that it is automatic and I just need to be patient. It will be assigned 55 hours before departure. I read them the website and tell them they are not inline with their own policies. Finally, a supervisor agrees that their website contradicts what they have been told and will look into it – on hold for a few minutes. She comes back – the children are not listed as children. They would never have been picked up by the algorithm had she not fixed this error. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I have been calling for days now, telling you my kids’ age, and calling them “children”. She fixes the problem and says the algorithm will kick in shortly and I need to wait until Wednesday evening. ARGH
Wednesday afternoon. I call. The seating chart is closed and I can no longer get my seats assigned, but they would have done it for me on Monday, had I reached them sooner. There is now nothing I can do, but wait. I need to wait until 30 hours before departure and select my seats with everyone else. If they are all full, I get to wait until I surrender my bags and have them fix the mistake. Worst comes to worst, I get to argue with passengers to move so I can sit with my small children. PERFECT!
I get sent to several different agents, all passing the buck and blaming the last agent for the problems, before one continues guarantee me that they will not seat us apart – it is a security risk and just can’t happen. I don’t believe her, since every agent so far has been wrong.
KLM via Social Media
I tried contacting them via social media. So far, only twitter has been responsive – though I think they are all in the same building – or even the same person. First they tell me to just select the seats and they will waive the fee because of all the trouble they have caused – I did this Friday. Saturday, they ask me why I haven’t completed the payment yet and conveniently double-back on their offer. The agent on the phone says she can’t honour what social media offered, and can’t give their own offer – I just need to wait. When I contact them again on Wednesday, they ask me to again make a seat selection and they will waive it – only problem, the seat map is now closed and I can’t see what is available. Well, if I can’t see it, neither can they and there is no longer anything they can do for me. He also gives me a load of pre-scripted garbage that explains the family policy and they apologize for my troubles – though they have failed to address any of the concerns I brought up with them.
I got an email at the 30 hour mark, that I am able to check-in and select my seats immediately. I can’t tell if they select them before hand, while the map was closed, or if they only do it when I come online to check-in, so I do it right away, not taking any chances.
I checked in, uploaded our passport information – now that my ticket and passport match, and checked our seat selection. They did schedule us together, not in the best of seats so I changed them (free of charge) but still, we were together.
I can’t tell if this was the way it should be; I would hope that they try to keep people on the same ticket together but then why couldn’t I have just picked my seats for free when I booked my flight in the first place?
At the end of the day, I got what I wanted. I am sitting with my kids, and I wasn’t charged a fortune for it – because frankly – when they say I have the right to pick a seat before others because of my kids, why would I pay $60 per seat to do it early. I am not picky about which seats I get, I just want us to be together. 4 days before everyone else is fine with me, there will be enough options open that I am satisfied in waiting.
What I am not ok with, is the lack of knowledge on the parts of the customer service agents and their supervisors. How is it that I am able to quote their website and they still aren’t able to honour it. I have reached out to their customer service complaint department and have yet to hear a response from them. Social Media has been silent and phone agents can only apologize for the inconvenience. See also: The Ugly Side of Traveling with Kids
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