About two months ago I came back from a magnificent travel experience to the UK and Paris. I fully intend to write all about it as it was my very first solo trip ever! But this post is not about that per se. I plan to break down the solo trip experience so that it will not be too heavy in one posting.
Anyway, I just wanted to share a little bit about my experience travelling for the first time with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines as they were my chosen carrier to take me on this wonderful journey.
From the get go, I would say it was not exactly all smooth flowing. My own unfamiliarity and inexperience with them probably contributed to the little bumps along the way but thankfully their customer service team is well trained and equipped to help iron out any hurdles or uncertainties that I faced.
The booking was unique in its own right. The selection of flight dates, times and class was all standard. Then when it came to payment was when I discovered the first uniqueness, or rather the second because KLM's baggage allocation is only 23 kilograms(!). I believe it was simply KLM's way to ensure secure payment is made. Thus, when I opted to pay for my ticket via bank transfer, I was quite surprised when first they gave me a pre-reserved booking number, and secondly that I needed to make the payment not directly through KLM's website linked to my bank, but rather I literally had to take it to a new window altogether and open my bank's website for the transaction to take place. The instruction on the pre-reserved booking notice was that once the transfer had been made, I need to send them a notification via email with the transaction number and the accompanying pre-reserved booking reference number so that they will know that I have paid.
After the successful transaction, I realised that I had forgotten to put in my booking reference number as one of the details in the payment. Worrying that they might not be able to match the email information to the booking reference, I quickly sent them an inquiry through their website to let them know the situation. I was pretty impressed that rather than taking their time to respond, they first sent me an automated email that told me their acknowledgment of my concerns, and shortly after an actual customer service representative replied my email telling me that they will require a few days for the transaction to clear on their side. Sure enough, after a few days, they sent me another email and told me the transaction is completed and I was confirmed to be on the flights chosen.
The next matter I faced was when I wanted to indicate that I would require Halal meals on the flights. I tried countless of times to make the selection through their website. But every single time the page would load with a message that the request failed and I needed to call customer service line to make such changes. So I searched their website for the number in Malaysia and after several clicks to get to the right page, I found the number and promptly called them. When I spoke to the customer service representative, I found the experience very pleasant and uncomplicated. They reassured me that my request is taken note of and will be honoured.
I was however, not able to choose my seat unless I had opted for that right for a fee. But when I checked in online, when normally passengers could change seats upon availability, KLM did not allow me that option. So when I reached the airport, I had to confirm with the staff at the bagdrop counter the details of my seating arrangements. Thankfully, from KL to Amsterdam I was given the aisle seat. Although, from Amsterdam to Edinburgh was a window seat, it was hardly a big a deal as it was only for about an hour or so.
During the flight I did a quick check with the flight attendant when I noticed absolutely everyone was getting the same food. I asked if I would get a Halal set, and the lovely flight attendant patiently explained that all meals on KLM are Muslim friendly. That put my mind at ease tremendously. And I thought it was really clever of KLM to do this.
I went about the rest of my trip feeling very happy with KLM's performance. Despite the little bumps, they were overlooked easily thanks to their wonderful employees.
Then on the last day of my trip as I was preparing to fly out from Paris to head home, I received a call from KLM. The night before I attempted to check in online. Oddly enough KLM website indicated that they could not find my booking details. Not wanting to panic, I let it be until the next morning and sure enough there was another email to indicate that check in was open and immediately I set out to check in. I hadn't realised the full detail of the flight because I just assumed that it had all the same details as when I first purchased it. I did find it odd that KLM sent me a re-issuance of ticket. When the call came in I'd realise that my flight was at a later time and via Air France transiting in Singapore instead. KLM told me through the cracked phone line that their flight was cancelled and that I would be compensated through a voucher for the changes in flights. The voucher would be sent to me via email and I could use it at a later time.
To be frank, I was just relieved I was still going home that day. Not that I did not want to stay in Paris longer but I do have things to get back to in Malaysia and I'm not exactly lavish with resources or even annual leaves! So with the promise of the compensation, I endured the extra few hours falling ill in Paris, and I even endured the 13-plus hours in a full flight seated at the window seat with two seatmates who wouldn't budge throughout the flight. Also, I wished that KLM had informed Air France that I would require a Halal meal because I was absolutely famished at the end of the flight!
But all's well, that ends well.
When I got back to reality, I tried to see if the voucher had been sent. But even after a month had passed, still no sign of it. I rechecked the re-issuance of ticket email as it had some details about my voucher. There were a few links where I could go to do online redemption. So I tried that but was always unsuccessful because it seemed the ticketing number was wrong. Time passed and I almost forgot about it since I was preoccupied with my work. But this morning, I received another email from KLM tempting me to go on another trip. That reminded me of my elusive redemption voucher. So I set out my hunt for the customer service number and once again, very pleasant and easy experience, it was resolved in a matter of minutes.
All in all, while things were not necessarily idiot-proof and it was cumbersome to have to call them up over every little thing, I would say that the company truly place a high priority in ensuring their customer service team are tip top in managing customer issues. There was not a moment throughout dealing with their customer service rep that I was close to losing my temper. Although, it would be even better if customers do not need to have to call them up to sort things out. Nevertheless, I would still give KLM another shot. I do have a voucher to redeem with them anyways.😏
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller