Sunday, March 23, 2008


So I had to fly to Manila with KLM.

I don't like flying to Manila with KLM.

I don't mind flying to Amsterdam with KLM, but that's about it.

This time the first half of the trip went as follows...

Catch a very, very early train to Birmingham... the freezing cold.
Catch a bus to Birmingham International Airport... the freezing cold.
Wait for a delayed flight to Schipol Airport.
Mull over the pros and cons of actually taking the flight to Schipol.
Take the flight to Schipol Airport.
Arrive at Schipol Airport with moments to spare.
Mince at high speed to the departure gate for Manila.
Confirm viability of flight to Manila due to my lateness.
Confirm that luggage will be on board (key point - read on).
Fly to Manila, with KLM...
...which I don't like doing.

So there.

Upon arrival I was greeted by a very attractive young man who told me what I had suspected all along, that my luggage would not be where I wanted it to be. I was told that I would pass a stand where I was to complete a form and return tomorrow for my luggage.

I went through passport control.
I may have made some snide remarks whilst waiting in the queue.
I definately vocalised the significance of queuing behind a nun.

Eventually I arrived at the luggage collection point; there was no indication of a stand of any sort that would be pertinent to my form filling needs; there was one man waiting to check me through with my luggage...and that was all.

Now I understand that my situation was slightly different to most; I've been there before and had people beyond the borders to assist and support; I certainly didn't feel the need to hunt around and yabber with the locals to the ultimate end of finding a form to complete; I left for my hotel, with a view to fixing everything in the morning. After 24 hours of travelling I do believe that most sentient beings would opt for the same solution.

I bought some pants and socks (Marks and Spencers, huzzah!), a couple of shirts, some toiletries and that was that; about £40 all in all, not bad, and not a break in the bank; I went about my business and made a heap of phone calls to KLM to arrange collection the next day; not an easy task if you were wondering.

The next day, upon finally receiving confirmation that my luggage would be available at a particular time, SW very kindly drove me to the the scolding heat...and waited for me whilst I played the KLM / Manila version of the Crystal Maze. I'll try and summarise the experience as best I can...

Speak with security about accessing the KLM office.
I need to get a security pass.
Locate the relevant distribution desk...
...miles away, down some stairs, through some zig-zag bars.
Request security pass and leave credit card as deposit.
Request location of KLM office.
Not there.
Request location of KLM office.
Locate the KLM office...
...up a flight of stairs, on the other side of the building.
Request luggage retrieval form.
Head back to the main airport.
Access Denied!
Return to the relevant distribution desk...
...miles away, down some stairs, through some zig-zag bars.
Request security pass for different zone.
Return to the main airport.
Locate customs luggage storage room thingy.
Present my retrieval form.
Identify luggage as mine (security issues galore).
Call SW and apologise for leaving him sweating in the intense heat.
Wait some more.
Speak to some 'bloke' with a cigarette who tells me I can go.
Head off to car-park to meet SW.
Remember that 'relevant distribution desk' has my credit card.
Return to 'relevant distribution desk'...
...miles away, down some stairs, through some zig-zag bars.
Sneer at anybody daring to queue incorrectly.
Queue some more.
Return security sticker thing.
Obtain my credit card.
Head back to car-park with luggage...
...through zig-zag bars, up some stairs, down some stairs.
Damage every security guard in view with malicious stare.

All good fun of course.

That afternoon I emailed the lady at KLM about compensation, you know, just the usual enquiry about what I was entitled to; not sure if I would normally do this when I only bought things I was going to use anyway...but after that hideous, heated, hoo-harr I was buggered if I was going to let it lie.

The response...
...I was not entitled to any compensation as I didn't complete the required form upon arriving at the airport.

If you've read this all the way through, apart from being owed a medal, you'll recognise that really...the form thing just wasn't relevant at the time. The organisation, the communication, the situation in general was all entirely lacking.

I don't like flying KLM; I've since spoken to a surprising number of people who don't like flying KLM...which is nice; I think they need to get their act together however, I won't have to test their Progress.