I have been a KLM customer for over 40 years; have done this flight between Canada and Amsterdam over 100 times, most of the time with my family. During my days as International CIO I used to be a platinum elite member of KLM/Delta. During this time I did obviously encounter problems with delayed and cancelled flights, booking issues etc. And they were always somehow solved without too much of a problem. But I have never encountered this persistent unwillingness and incapacity to solve an issue as in the case I am describing below.

Jean Thie

The solution could have been so simple!: Cancel the first 'wrong' booking and allow us to re-book the same flight with KLM including the proper seat selection. I proposed this in early January, but the cooperation between KLM and Air Canada seems to be so bad or inefficient that such a simple action was to complex for the two corporate entities of the same company to work out.

Booking with KLM: a corporate deception strategy?

We had an very unpleasant experience booking with KLM early January, combined with a persistent unwillingness of KLM to correct its errors. ( I usually make frequent screens shots during online bookings and follow up which allows me to provide clear illustrations of the following points made- the corresponding screens shots and displayed in the annex of this page)

System Error or Corporate Deception?

  • I made online bookings while I was on the KLM website, logged in under my KLM profile, selecting a KLM flight.
  • When I received my booking conformation e-mail from KLM the usual KLM flight number was replaced by an Air France flight number!. (screenshot)
  • This would seem rather innocent, perhaps some sort of computer error, I never use the Air France website or book an Air France tickets, because, all the 1-transfer flights are KLM fights and all Air France flights (on the KLM site) are 2-transfer flights, via Paris (Screenshot)
  • That night there seem to have been some IT issues with the operation of the KLM website: To give you an example of an 'IT' issue, while one Amex payment was processed for my flight, in my KLM Profile 'My Bookings' page two! bookings showed up, for different dates. Not a very re-assuring experience.
  • At that time it took me 1.20 minutes on the telephone to reach a Delta KLM agent who was very helpful in eliminating one of these 'bookings'. The first one was a transaction I explored, but never completed, although the website listed it as as booked! flight. The agent told me she would inform the IT department about the problem.
  • We have made the trip between Ottawa and Amsterdam, many times in our past. Virtually always with KLM. Never Air France. Also last year twice. Fairly seldom encountered any problems with online bookings, seat selection, and ┬ásimple upgrades to economy comfort. But this time pure horror!
  • In the following weeks I made made many calls to agents without success. The answer always was: "the seat map is closed". Hard to believe, because the plane was still almost empty (see screenshot 4), and by attempting partial bookings on the KLM website, for the same flight, the same departure days, I could actually do seat selection and select the upgrade I was looking for; The KL/ Delta agent also told me that with a Delta codeshare, the seat map would not be closed.
  • The service desks had made it clear to me that as soon as seats had an AF flight number, the seats was closed. In my case was it an IT error or corporate deceit?
  • I started to do more serious research work on the KLM bookings site, various flights, their typical behavior with early bookings (2 months before departure). The pattern of early seat selection always was similar. The seats around washrooms. See screenshot 4. I have many similar screenshot for other flights.
  • So it certainly seems like a systemic approach by KLM to ensure booking of the least desirable seats, through using Air France as codeshare. AF flight number means, you are stuck in those seats.
  • Of course agents tell you that you can always check in a few days before departure, but our experience has been the last few years that not a real option if you fly to Canada with a Canadian Permanent Resident Card. The online check in or check in at a kiosk at the airport (Amsterdam to Canada) is not possible.
  • to be expanded further....




SCREEN SHOTS and Explanations


KLM Assigns Air France Flight number to their early bookings: A CORPORATE DECEPTION STRATEGY?

screen shot 1

Below is the typical interface you encounter on the KLM website. All -transfer flights are KLM flights, All two transfer flights are Air France flights. At the time of booking, I had signed into my profile and had selected the 1-transfer flight


screen shot 2

After I selected and booked my flight, the booking e-mail provided. Looking back at this, strangely enough, I never received my tickets in a separate e-mail.

Why no electronic tickets?

For the same two flights we took last year I received electronic tickets. But no electronic tickets this time. Is KLM trying to hide something? Or do they not issue electronic tickets anymore?. The following screen shots a provide the possible explanation. KLM seems to want to hide the fact that it assigned "Air France" seats to us.


screen shot 3

Now the surprise. In the fine detail of the booking confirmation, I noticed, my KLM choice resulted in a Air France Flight number. Strange, I was never on the 'Air France' website, but I thought, well KLM is owned by Air France, so it probably should not matter. How wrong I was.

After many hours on the telephone with service desks it became clear that the Air France was actually being used to block seat selection, and even surprisingly also block upgrade of seats. I was blocked seat selection but also the North American Service desk.

So I decided to do some analysis of early booking seats selection patterns on KLM aircraft.

Screen shot 4

Early Bookings on KLM turn out to be the worst seats of the Aircraft.

The screenshot below is a composite of screen shots taken on the 17 of January at 5.32 PM. About 14 days after my booking. It is clearly visible that the least desirable seats are darkened out on this seat map. It is my conclusion that most of these seats are 'Air France seats' , where seat selection is blocked until check in.

There are a few seats forward that I would assume are seat selected through the 'normal' KLM booking and seat selection process. I have made many more screenshots of the same flight at later dates, and they all show a similar 'forced' seat assignment. With an AF flight number you can only make changes to your seats when online Check in opens. Good luck to anyone that tries to change then, or upgrade, as we have been trying to do since our booking on January 3rd 2018.

Screen Shots 5

There is absolutely no way I could have made my booking at the Air france website for Canada. As the screen shot below shows they are totally different in design. Also I was signed into my KLM account when making the booking.

Screen shots to be continued and expanded.........

  • interactions with service and help desks
  • empathy but no action
  • typical replies
















On This Page

  • corrupted online booking system with KLM
  • Service desks unwilling or incapable to help
  • a corporate strategy to fill the the poorest seats in early bookings
  • screenshots of the 'shit' hole seats (using Trump's analogy) where you get stuck in early bookings
  • These seats are 'marketed' by KLM using Air France flight numbers; therefore KLM seat selection and upgrade policies do not apply;
  • no upgrades to economy comfort possible
  • The service desk strategy: "the seat map is closed", no changes or upgrades possible until check-in!; by that time 2 months from booking few seats for change or upgrade are available!
  • for travellers to Canada with a Permanent Resident Card online check-in is impossible in Amsterdam; an eTA is required, which is only available for visitors to Canada, but not for residents. So KLM requires check in in person!
  • The only way out is a $600 'charge' to re-book the same flight flight???
  • screenshots of the booking process
  • screenshots of the to AirFrance allocated shit hole seats on KLM flights
  • Analysis of seat allocation for early online bookings (screenshots) show that the poor seats are selected (greyed out first) on KLM flights
  • It would seem an unusual coincidence that all early bookers prefer seats to in the rear of the aircraft, as close as possible to the toilets.


Conclusion: All signs of a Corporate strategy to deceive KLM customers, using Air France as scapegoat