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Delayed with KLM

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KLM – frequency and handling of delays

History and recent development

KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij), or Royal Dutch Airlines by its English name, is considered to be the biggest Dutch airline and a true pioneer of aviation. Having been founded in 1919, KLM is the world’s oldest airline still operating under its original name. First chairman was pilot and business man Albert Plesman; aircraft constructor Anthony Fokker played a major role in the airline’s history, contributing the technical know-how. Consequently, the first planes KLM owned were all Fokker aircrafts. In 1934 KLM decided for the first time to buy a Douglas DC-2 instead of a Fokker aircraft, much to the displeasure of co-founding father Anthony Fokker. For this airline, the era of widebody aircraft began with the introduction of the Boing 747 to the KLM fleet in 1971. In 1988, KLM signed a cooperation agreement with Northwest Airlines – the cornerstone for the oldest transatlantic airline alliance. In 2004, KLM merged with Air France to form the Air France-KLM-Group. This merger was widely discussed in the Netherlands, since the former national airline is now dominated by Air France with 81% of the shares in the holding; the French state holds 18.35% of the total shares. Despite the French dominance, KLM is still allowed to keep the title “koninklijke” in its name. Air France-KLM is the world’s largest airline in terms of passenger kilometers.

Major destinations

KLM’s main hub is Amsterdam-Schiphol (AMS), but since the merger of KLM and Air France, both airlines profit from two hubs, the second being Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport (CDG). A member of the SkyTeam alliance, KLM prides itself in operating the leading long-haul network from Europe to international destinations. Besides a strong network inside Europe, serving destinations such as London-Heathrow (LHR), Frankfurt (FRA), but also, for example, Kiev (KBP). Of major focus of KLM are the transatlantic routes, on which KLM has successfully positioned itself as a reliable carrier at a reasonable price over the course of the past few years. Major destinations include New York (JFK), served four times daily, San Francisco (SFO), served seven times per week, Toronto (YYZ) and Vancouver (YVR), each being served at least seven times per week.

Services and quality of service

The fleet operated by KLM is comprised of 116 aircrafts, the average age being 9.9 years. KLM is a four-star airline according to SKYTRAX rating, receiving four stars on both short haul and long haul business class flights, and 3.5 stars in economy class. In 1991, KLM discontinued its first class services en route to the Caribbean, and subsequently on all flights; it is one of the few scheduled air carriers offering only two classes. The airline was also awarded Best Airline in Europe in terms of staff service in 2013 at the World Airline Awards. Passengers generally emphasize the quality of service; however, occasionally, the choice and quality of food is criticized as well as the comparably limited options of inflight entertainment.

KLM – delays are not frequent

According to FlightStats , the average on-time performance for KLM is 88% in departures and 92% on arrival, which makes delays an uncommon experience on KLM flights. The majority of all flights delayed are withheld by an average of 45 minutes or less, making excessive wait times more of a rare exception than the norm. The same applies to cancellations, with the average percentage of cancelled flights hovering around 1%. Customer reviews hardly mention these instances, but on the rare occasion where a flight delay or cancellation has occurred, passengers confirm the airline’s good service in handling the situation. Thus, the service and handling process of KLM is in accordance with the overall excellent ratings and reviews the airline receives for its services.

What rights do I have?

Under EU law, you can get up to 480£ compensation in the event of a delay, cancellation or overbooking of your flight.
This is true regardless of the ticket price and up to 6 years retrospectively.


What to do when delayed?

  • gather information
  • Take photos
  • You are entitled to vouchers
  • Keep documents from the airline, such as letters, tickets, vouchers
250 €
< 1,500km
3H Delay
400 €
1,500km - 3,500km
3H Delay
600 €
> 3,500km
3H Delay
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