View Full Version : KLM Seat Faff - and how long to process Refund

24th Dec 2017, 11:14
It's a bit longwinded....about seatings and refunds from KLM on LHR-AMS-JNB route.

I had posted this on another forum, unfortunatly I just had two, shall we say, less than helpful replies.

Checked in LHR for the LHR-AMS-JNB flight, and found I was given a middle seat on the l/h side of the aircraft, rather than a window seat I had requested and paid for, on the AMS-JNB leg. Reason was a change in a/c, I understood the flight was quite full, and so I figured I would just ask for a refund upon my return home, so buckled up, ready for eventual take off.

There were a couple boarding as we were all sat in our seats getting 'comfy' and after a few minutes a member of the cabin crew approached me and requested that I move. Not understanding what was going on, I asked why, as I was sat in the correct seat assigned to me on my boarding card (despite it not being the window seat, but that's history now). I was told that 2 other pax were going to sit where I was sitting - i.e. one in my seat, the other one next to my seat, which at the time was vacant. I explained that I had already been moved from a window seat to a middle seat, but due to a/c change, and the flight being full, I understood the situation, however I was reluctant to move, as the only option was yet another middle seat, but this time in the middle of the a/c (I was sat on the left h/s). I was told that I had no choice, as the other 2 pax were going to take my seat and the one next to it.

I then spoke to a really helpful chap (I 'think' he was a senior cabin crew member), who apologised profusely, and said he would find out why I was being moved, and that he would sort it out. Long story short - I moved to the other side of the a/c, as 2 other pax had kindly agreed to move sidewards one seat (in the same row) to accommodate me. So despite a bit of disruption, everything turned out fine for all concerned. The cabin crew chap took my email address, and told me he was requesting a refund for the seat I had originally paid extra for.

But.....and here is the niggling issue for me. I have not heard anything from the 9 Nov refund request that he said he was making for me. So, I requested the refund online, and explained the situation (the KLM page where it states 'Request refund' for optional extras, such as seats etc), but then received an email saying this was the wrong route to take and could I contact customer care.

Despite the social media KLM team being really helpful in the past, I didn't hear from them for a few days, so I checked they had received my msge, and they then explained they were quite busy at the moment, and directed me to a link to a refund form for me to complete. I understand customer service can get very busy indeed sometimes, so again, I was fine with that.

My refund request on the 9 Nov, has become a refund request on the 1 Dec, which was rejected on Dec 11, as I didn't use the correct form (the one from the KLM website page for refunds) and so I completed the correct refund form, and my 3rd attempt was on Dec 13.

Apart from the seat issue, I was quite happy with KLM and their service, and I would be happy to fly again with them, but I would just like to be reassured their customer service is usually a bit better organised than this.

The original cabin crew member appeared to be a little 'stressed' when requesting I move, however the senior cabin crew member handled it really well, a real professional.

Anyway, if you haven't already fallen asleep after my lengthy tome, I have 2 questions.

1. What could have caused the mix up with the seating at LHR (Tthe 2 pax that took my seat boarded in AMS. When we arrived in JNB we spoke briefly, and apparently the seat I occupied - which they eventually sat in - was flagged up red when they were checking in at AMS).

2. How long does it take to obtain a refund for what appears to be a straight forward request? I would just appreciate an idea of what is an acceptable length of time to get this sorted before I contact them again.

Many thanks.

Squawk 6042
24th Dec 2017, 12:03
I paid air miles for a specific seat on a KLM flight in October this year.

When checking in on-line I found I was assigned to a different seat and nothing else was available. Same when I got to the airport check-in desk, aircraft was full, no change possible.

After the flight I contacted the air miles programme via their webpage, explained what had happened, and they refunded my air miles after I completed an on-line form.

This took about two weeks. The only difficulty in the process was that the on-line form required an 'EMD' number, which looks like an e-ticket number but is something else and I had to send an e-mail message to KLM/Flying Blue to get this as it was not printed on any of my travel documents.

24th Dec 2017, 22:23
Can't help with any refund advice, but this changing of pre-selected seats seems to happen all the time, which rather makes a mockery of going through the exercise.

For my medical / toilet issues,we try to select the rearmost row of 2 seats, which because of the shape of the fuselage reduces the rows from 3 seats to 2, and I pick the aisle. Recently I confirmed this when checking in Online 23.59 hrs before a flight alone without Mrs. ExS on that occasion, but couldn't print a boarding pass so had to queue and talk to a human at the airport, when I was given a boarding pass for a seat further forward and in the middle of 3.

Ugly scenes followed, ending with a Supervisor categorically refusing to tell me why the change had been made.

In the gate lounge I again approached an Agent, younger and more helpful, and he eventually giving me my original seat ! He then explained, and I subsequently heard the same supervisor give him a bollocking for explaining to me, that 2 inbound pax. were to be deported (from the USA ) and the Federal Agents had demanded the rearmost middle tier of seats, i.e. 4 seats together for 2 crooks and 2 agents, and they didn't want anyone sat in the adjacent seats across the aisle on either side. I also learned from another source that the airline had been given strict instructions not to advise pax. of this reason for seat re-assignments. ( why ? Presumably they didn't want their charges to be the centre of prurient attention ? )

In the end, the posse didn't board, and the crew offered my window seat companion the whole row of four to sleep on, leaving me where I had originally chosen to sit, and with spare space alongside, i.e. no fight for the armrest !!

2 months later, Mrs. ExS and self experienced another change on arrival at the airport, moving us from the same two of 2 seats to a row of 3, leaving me in the middle, with a fat slob at my side. I won't bore you with that one, suffice to say no extra charge for the seats we had selected, so no contest.

Hotel Tango
25th Dec 2017, 12:18
And they happen in all classes. I had a situation with Delta Airlines where I pre-selected First Class seats for my son and I (him window and me aisle) on the same PNR by the way. On check-in I was re-assigned the aisle seat in the row behind! As a matter of interest I asked the guy who got my seat if he had specifically requested it. He replied not at all. So we did a swap and all was resolved. However, why the heck did that happen in the first place?

Hotel Tango
25th Dec 2017, 12:21
Then there was the time my wife and other son were traveling KLM on pre-paid extra leg room seats. Once boarded a cabin crew member tried to seperate them to accomodate another couple! She simply refused and (politely) told them to find another solution as she couldn't see the logic of splitting one pair to accommodate another!

Squawk 6042
25th Dec 2017, 13:49
Yes, it is annoying when you make the effort to pre-book a seat and even pay cash/air miles for a specific seat and then they want to move you for someone who never made the effort but is more 'deserving' in some way.

As ExBAW has already noted above, it does make a mockery of the pre-book idea.

25th Dec 2017, 18:17
Thanks everyone. It does, then, appear to be quite common.

I still wonder though, why I was allocated a seat at LHR which was then flagged 'red' to the couple who checked in at AMS, who eventually took my seat (!).

Apart from that faff, the service was fine, at least they treated pax as adults and didn't 'insist' on closing the window blinds, as happened to me with other airlines. But that's another story..

25th Dec 2017, 20:15
I can give one reason for seat change ! Checking in for another code-share airline when I still qualified for B.A. Staff Travel concessions, I was give seat 96Z - or similar, right down the back anyway. I expressed surprise and remarked that I used to fly these things and didn't realise that seats went so far back ! Oh ! Really ? who did you fly for, said the ( relatively ) young lady, and than Oh, I used to fly for B.A. too, do you remember so and so, blah blah blah, and we chatted for awhile about mutual friends and experiences.

Then she asked for my boarding card and replaced it with a seat much nearer the front. Just before boarding an announcement was made for a Mr. XX and a passenger presented himself to the desk, and was advised that his seat had been changed, whereupon he was given a new boarding card for my original 96Z.

I kept very quiet and enjoyed my flight !

Hotel Tango
25th Dec 2017, 21:54
Ah, but in those days it was rare to have seats allocated until you checked in at the airport. And you certainly didn't have to pay for preferred seating. The system was far more easily corruptible in favour of staff travel :) I certainly benefited a number of times too in past times. But now days you are charged for this, that and the other, so it's quite understandable if pax get grumpy if the airline fails to deliver what they charged extra for.

28th Dec 2017, 07:34
As a data point, I had a cancelled flight from KLM with a clear-cut case for reimbursement plus travel expenses as my luggage went walkabout without me. They never argued paying but it did take a couple of months of constant chasing / filling out forms to finally get my refund. I found the KLM rep on Twitter to be the most helpful.

28th Dec 2017, 18:15
My cynical guess is that the Twitter account is highly visible all around the world! Sadly, for many companies, I suspect, this is the way to go.

28th Dec 2017, 22:34

I think baggage claims in general, regardless of the airline, take a long time to process because it is a department which is so vulnerable for fraudulent or inflated claims. I imagine most baggage claims are scrutinised very closely.

For delay compensation or a seat allocation refund it should be much faster for them to see that yes the flight was delayed and why or yes, your seat was changed.

29th Dec 2017, 05:15
When I worked for an airline in the late 70s they estimated 30% of claims were fraudulent or seriously inflated. In many cases (NPI) the actual contents often did not match the claim. Not exactly a process that can be easily automated.