Yesterday I was meant to take a flight from Bristol in the UK to Frankfurt (via Amsterdam) on KLM. This was a positioning flight for my upcoming flight home in Lufthansa First Class. Boarding was more or less on time, and I got a cool view of the EMB-190 that was to take us to Amsterdam. I’d bagged the exit row too, so legroom was great!
After about 15 minutes sitting on the plane (which was very lightly loaded with about 30 passengers) I started to think something might be wrong. Sure enough, about five minutes later the captain made an announcement that ‘our pushback tug slightly bumped into the nose of the aircraft, and we need to see if it needs checking’.
Uh oh, I thought. This doesn’t sound good.
About 15 minutes later, we got another update that KLM maintenance had decided the nose would need inspecting, and they were trying to find someone who could check it.
Given it was 5pm on New Years Eve at an out station, I wasn’t hopeful. But everyone was calm, some even relaxed. Shoutout to the passengers behind me who played several rounds of cards during the delay!
About ten minutes later, the captain came back with bad news. ‘I am very sorry, but its bad news – this flight has to be cancelled. I sincerely apologize’.
At this point, you would think everyone would be yelling, screaming, and pushing to get off the plane. But yet, everyone was calm and collected. I think a lot of it has to do with how KLM handled the delay. Here’s two things that impressed me.
The captain deserves some serious credit. Not only did he get out of his seat and stand in front of everyone to make the announcements, he also walked through the cabin after each announcement checking if anyone had questions. He was polite and took ownership of the situation, and I think people appreciated that.
The Flight Attendants
During the delay, the flight attendants came through the cabin offering water and juice, along with snacks. I’m not sure if this is a standard thing with KLM, or just because the plane was half empty, but it was a welcome surprise.
All in all, KLM made the best out of a tricky situation. Nobody likes to be stranded (especially on New Year’s Eve!) but it is amazing how airlines can make bad situations better with these small details!
The cancellation did mess with my onward flight, but I was luckily able to find a new itinerary that worked – stay tuned for a post about my process for rebooking during these sorts of problems!8