I booked all my flights on the KLM website. I flew outbound from Singapore to Amsterdam, then stopover in Paris on the way to Malaga. On the return flight, I flew from Malaga to Singapore with a stopover in Paris.
My incident happened on the return flight home in Paris.
As I was boarding the flight with Air Europa in Malaga, the flight attendants decided to check-in my hand luggage as it was a full flight. It was not ideal as my stopover in Paris is 1.5 hour.
Upon touching down in Paris, I had to pick up my hand luggage from the luggage belt and check-in again at another terminal. After picking up my luggage, I went to clear immigration but I was stopped because the security staff said my hand luggage was too big to board.
I flew with KLM from Singapore to Amsterdam, Air France from Amsterdam to Paris, Air Europa from Paris to Malaga, and Air Europa from Malaga to Paris and NO ONE SAID ANYTHING ABOUT MY HAND LUGGAGE BEING TOO BIG.
So I had to go to the check-in counter, where the attendant was extremely unhelpful and said the check-in has closed so I can't pay to check-in my hand luggage anymore. Also, I had to throw away things because my hand luggage was overweight.
Note that the budget Air Europa didn't even fuss over this, unlike Air France.
The attendant then gave me two plastic bags, for me to transfer everything in my hand luggage into these plastic bags. I was initially unwilling to do it as I just bought the hand luggage before my trip so it's brand new, but I had to catch my flight so I just did as I was told. When I was doing the transfer, this flight attendant was very rude and picked up some of my belongings, and asked why was I bringing this and bringing that? And after I was done with the transfer, I was then told by this same ground attendant that it's too late now I've missed my flight.
I then asked what should I do because this is the first time I was being humiliated by a ground staff of a supposedly reputable airline! She was very dismissive and offered no sympathy, told me to go to the Air France counter to buy another ticket.
I was asked to pay for a new ticket at 251 euros. As I was buying the new ticket, I asked the staff what has happened to my checked-in luggage from Malaga. He said they have taken it out and will keep for me until I fly with them 24 hours later.
So I can't check-in my hand luggage but you can dig out my checked-in luggage and remove it from the plane?
There's again no help offered from this staff if accommodation is provided since he claimed it's my fault I missed the flight.
The Paris CDG customer service desk was helpful and I managed to book a hotel to stay for the night AT MY OWN COST. It was 130+ euros at CitizenM, one of the cheapest option at Paris CDG.
I thought it's okay, I will try to claim all the costs back once I'm back in Singapore. My top priority is to return home first.
That's when the drama continues. I sent my complaint in to the website on 19/5 and I received a call from Valentine, a customer service representative based in Sydney on 6/6 to "personally apologize" to me, and that's all she has to offer.
Do note that once you have submitted a complaint, you would receive an automatic response that says "We regret that due to an unusually high volume of incoming requests at the moment, we will not be able to reply within our usual timeframe".
Just for your reference, in the meantime I've reached out to the COO and CEO at Air France and KLM on LinkedIn so they could action it from the top. However, I didn't receive any response. Subsequently I reached out to Peter Verheijde, Customer Service Director at KLM, who is very responsive but it doesn't seem like KLM is taking responsibility of the incident even though they have taken my money for all the flights.
Anyway, Valentine's supervisor Mrs Millar emailed me to say that they cannot offer any compensation for the costs incurred. I went back to Peter, who arranged a conference call together with his colleague Eduard Ollie, to apologize. During the call, they clarified what compensation I'm looking for, and I replied with the costs incurred from a full day delay in Paris.
On 23/6, Mrs Millar sent an email to say they have two offers for me:
1) 100 euros travel voucher
2) 5000 miles
I seriously find it extremely insulting as this is not even 25% of the costs from the delay! It's plain simple that they don't care about their customers because if they do, they would minimally cover the costs incurred. If they care about me as a paying customer, they would exceed my expectations to restore my faith in flying with KLM and Air France.
Instead, they came back with not 1, but 2 tight deals where I've to pay more out of my own pocket and add to their profit margin to fly with them again!
What a joke!
After such a humiliating experience, I wouldn't recommend anyone who is going on a vacation to spoil it by flying with Air France and KLM. They took my money, but are not willing to take responsibility for the incident and lack of customer service.
I've heard numerous bad reviews about Air France and Paris CDG when I was in Amsterdam visiting my friends, and they advised to avoid if possible but now I know for myself.
So if you have any sense, fly with other reputable airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Emirates, British Air, Lufthansa and Swiss Air to save any hassle and disruption in plans. Even if it costs a few hundred dollars more, it's worth it for your time and vacation experience.
Especially if you are a lone woman travelling by yourself. I personally hope this is not due to some racism because I rang my boyfriend to let him know I was stranded in Paris, and he told me there is aggression against Chinese in Paris recently.
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