KLM Review

I am writing this on the plane from London to San Francisco.

Joan and I were in Spain. Our travel plans had us traveling to Edinburgh on Thursday, but Joan’s passport was stolen. We went to the US embassy in Madrid and got a temporary passport to replace the stolen one. However, in the process we missed our original flight to Edinburgh. One of our few choices for a replacement flight was to fly on KLM from Madrid to Amsterdam on Friday, and with a short 55 minute connection from Amsterdam to Edinburgh. Unfortunately the flight to Amsterdam was late, making the connection only 25 minutes. (The flight out of Amsterdam was in fact itself delayed by about an hour, but we didn’t know that at the time, so there was actually an 1h25 for baggage transfer, but probably KLM didn’t know that at the time either.)

Under the circumstances, it is understandable that our checked luggage did not make the connection, even though we did. I was disappointed, but not surprised. The surprise was KLM’s handling of the situation thereafter. The first note of trouble was the empty baggage service office in the Edinburgh airport. There was no one at all to report the missed luggage to. There were two phone numbers on the window to the empty office [1]. I called the first number and navigated the phone menu to the missing luggage option. Instead of a person, I got only a recorded message that I had to report the luggage on their website. We then departed the airport. Once reaching the hotel I went to the website to file the report, and was told that I would have to report at the airport office (the one that was unstaffed). So KLM’s instructions were circular [2]. The office was unstaffed and displayed only two phone numbers. I called the second, which explicitly stated that for KLM flights we were to contact them. Nonetheless I left my phone number and asked that they call. As I write this, they still have not done so. The second phone number was useless. The first phone number pointed to the website, and the website pointed to the unstaffed office. Needless to say, this was worst than useless.

I tried various other ways to contact KLM on their website, filing various complaints and suggesting they call me. For example, because the lost baggage page was a dead end, I tried making a claim just to tell them about the circularity. They only emailed me to say I would have to wait 21 days before making a claim. They ignored the circularity, which was what I was actually trying to report. I tried Twitter, and @KLM on Twitter said they would try to address the situation by forwarding the information to the relevant department, but nothing ever came of that. Joan was finally able to break through on the phone to someone at KLM by using other phone tree options. It took her two hours. She convinced that person to file a report, even though it wasn’t the normal job of this person. Now we finally had filed a report. All this effort just to tell KLM how to contact us about the luggage. @KLM on Twitter happily reported that a PIR number had finally been assigned, not realizing that it was all Joan’s work working through unofficial channels. Days later KLM still couldn’t tell use where our bags were. We moved from Edinburgh to London by train. Finally on the day before we were scheduled to to fly home from London, KLM told us their system indicated that our bags had been sent on a later flight to Edinburgh. Presumably their computers could have told us that in seconds if only we had been allowed to talk to someone or their website had been properly set up. If only KLM had told us that in a timely fashion, not five days later, we might have been able to go the the airport to search (though it was KLM’s job to deliver our bags to our hotel). KLM did not say what happened to the bags after the flight to Edinburgh. Why they couldn’t call the airport and ask someone, I don’t know. Perhaps they are waiting for someone at the airport to call them?

The point of this recitation is not that KLM lost our luggage. Things like that happen. It should be rare, and possibly it is, but the problem is that KLM has a completely broken system for dealing with the occurrence, at least for airports like Edinburgh.

Until KLM states that they have rectified their broken policies (e.g. circular referrals) in this regard, I can only recommend that no one check-in luggage with them. I suspect that some of this comes from subcontracting at certain airports, and perhaps one need not fear checked luggage at airports they handle themselves, but how would one know? The best plan is to just avoid checked luggage on KLM altogether.


  1. EDI Baggage Office Sign
  2. KLM Lost Baggage says
    Reporting missing baggage online For most destinations, you can report your lost baggage online within 2 days after arrival. Note that you currently cannot report your missing baggage online if you’re arriving at: Aalborg, Aberdeen, Bangalore, Belfast, Belgrade, Billund, Birmingham, Bristol, Budapest, Cardiff, Copenhagen, Cork, Damman, Delhi, Dublin, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Genua, Glasgow, Graz, Guayaquil, Hong Kong, Humberside, Inverness, Kiev, Leeds Bradford, Liberia, Lima, London City, London Heathrow, Manchester, Moscow, Mumbai, Naples, Newcastle, Norwich, Osaka, Port of Spain, Poznan, Quito, Rome, Saint Petersburg, San Jose, Seoul, Southampton, Split, Taipei, Teesside, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Vaxjo, Verona, and Zurich. If you’re arriving at 1 of these destinations, please go to the baggage desk at the airport to report your missing bag.
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