KLM passengers in the past few months have gone through hell with a complete operational meltdown at Schiphol airport that has led to cancellations, delays, and airlines flying empty planes or planes without checked bags.
European Union has a comprehensive Flight Compensation Regulation that deals with delays, cancellations, and downgrades that is often referred to as just EC 261/2004.
You can access the EU’s page for Air Passengers Rights here.
The issue with EC 261/2004 is that its enforcement is left to national bodies that don’t proactively deal with problems but merely process consumer complaints.
This has led to gross and blatant violation of the law, but few airlines have put it in writing and on display at their hub like KLM.
Note from the reader:
At the airport Amsterdam you will find the attached sheets with “Disruption information”. Direct at the main counter for rebooking etc. The counter is some times closed. And if a staff is available, you get the attached document. Available in different languages. Interesting is, that you have to do everything alone, such as looking for a hotel etc.
KLM Disruption Notice:
The problem is that it is KLM’s and not the passengers’ responsibility to provide the hotel and meal vouchers and cover all expenses.
Not all passengers may have the means or expertise to do this by themselves, as the monetary outlay can easily be hundreds of euros for a night or two in a hotel, especially if there is a widespread disruption.
The transfer expense may also NOT cover transportation to/from the airport, and the food expense per meal may not be enough for a hotel breakfast, lunch, or dinner (you would get all three – 75 euros per day).
Also, any idea how long it takes for KLM to process these compensation claims? Do we talk weeks, months, or years?
These National Enforcement Bodies should take a stricter approach to ensure that airlines follow the EC 261/2004 law to the letter.
Right now, they are not, but blatantly disregarding it, especially regarding rebookings, lying about the cause of the delays, not offering the required Duty to Care, and denying valid claims.
Airlines are well aware that most passengers fail to follow up and demand what they are owned.
I have avoided the Schiphol issue by choosing not to fly/to/through it for several months. I may have to fly there in December, but I will likely continue the journey to London by Eurostar.