Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Not good.

I phoned the travel agent – a major British one, with branches everywhere. KLM hadn’t bothered to tell them yet that the Amsterdam-Hartford flight has been cancelled. My ticket, it seems, is 100% non-refundable no matter what KLM proposes to do with me. If I bought a refrigerator and the shop sent a completely different one unsuited to my purposes, I could send it back and retrieve my money. I googled “travel ombudsman” and learned that there is no such person in Britain and that “no other business activity enjoys such contractural freedom”.

Today I will phone KLM and try to find out what they propose (and whatever it is, beg them with tears in my voice to give me my money back). My current “confirmed e-ticket” shows me taking off from Heathrow at 9:55 and landing in Hartford at 15:40. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes, I think, allowing for the time difference. I suppose I could put up with another two hours; three at a pinch. After that I’ll have to forfeit the ticket, buy one on a sensible route for my companion Lizzie, and stay home. I’m too old to devote a five-day break to hopscotching around the airports of the western world.

I’m cross.


Knitting soothes, as always. I’ve finished row 34 of the 13th centre repeat. The box for the lettering, with its hole-y border, has been established. On row 35 – that’s today, insh’Allah -- I will start knitting letters.

The Heirloom Knitting group seems suddenly full of people who have finished the whole shawl, or nearly. I think there should be a honour roll for them somewhere. This is surely the most elaborate lace pattern ever published in English.


There was a major crisis on Friday when I left my bag on the 159 bus when we got off on Regent Street. It wasn’t a total disaster – no money, no cards were involved – but in it were my beloved old Palm with lists covering all aspects of life, including Current London Exhibitions which was why I was carrying it, and this useful little container…

…given me by a friend at Camp Stitches long ago, and containing, as well as that wool needle, those collapsible scissors given me by another friend.

I suffered over the weekend when I reached a point in the Adult Surprise when I needed to leave some stitches on waste yarn. Rachel has scissors all right, but no wool needle. There is no substitute.

However, long story short, I retrieved the bag on Monday morning from the Arriva office on Brixton Rd. Everything was there. I wish I could have brought their inventory away with me – the Palm had been promoted to “mobile telephone”, and the knitting things must have proved a real puzzle. They were listed as “pedicure kit”.


  1. While the ticket may have been nonrefundable, I'm fairly certain that KLM would be bound by contract law to provide you with another flight option. Once you have paid your money, you have entered into contract with them, and they are bound by that to provide you with transport. They cannot just take your money and run with it.

    The only situation where they would have the right not to do anything would be if you failed to show up at the contractual time for your flight, which would put you in breach of that contract. Well, there may also be "act of God" clauses that indemnify them, but clearly that would not apply in this instance.

  2. Anonymous10:20 AM

    Hi Jean,
    I have a question, How did you learn that your flight has been cancelled? The Amsterdam-
    Hartford flight is still listed on the KLM web page, and they are still taking reservations. Something doesn't sound right. Any cancellation should show up on the webpage, or on the computers that your travel agent uses, before you would ever hear about it.

    And Mel is correct; they have to refund your ticket price if the failure is on their part. You entered the contract in good faith.
    It is non-refundable only if you don't show up, or if there is an act of God, like a flood or snowstorm. Otherwise, you should get your money back.

    Good luck. I was hoping to see you at the airport in Hartford.


  3. Quite right you have a contract with KLM - I just hope they will honour it in a way that is acceptable to YOU.

    That sock-purse must have been an initiative test for the clerks to identify - at least it is in a foot shape. There was a pair of those folding scissors in the desk drawer at home when I was little. I can't remember what became of them. I can remember being a bit miffed when I wasn't allowed to keep them in my pencil case!

  4. Pedicure kit? Hilarious! Just what one should do on public transport, shape one's toenails and freshen up the polish (the mind boggles).

    How frustrating about the travel. I imagine by now you must have a bad taste in your mouth about the whole expedition. So frustrating and I hate booking flights over the internet. Something bout all the connections to be followed that affects my mind the same way musack in a stupidmarket does - wipes it blank. Good luck with getting it all fixed.

  5. Aunt Jean:
    it is usually the case with these things that if KLM cannot offer you a closely suitable alternative, then you can get your money back. I have found that the airline is best to assist with this, and that travel agents make it more complicated. I looked online, and it seems like KLM should be able to put you on a Delta code share flight through JFK - still only the one stop. I am happy to help try to talk to them when I'm back home next week.

  6. Maureen in Fargo3:53 PM

    Are you aware the Northwest/KLM has merged with Delta? All the Northwest/KLM signage is changing this week to Delta, in airports and on planes, everything. My Northwest WorldPerks miles will switch to Delta Skymiles, my WorldPerks VISA card will soon be a Delta Skymiles VISA card, the whole shebang. As Northwest was the major carrier to Fargo, we've kept current with the news. Anyway, you should be able to switch to a Delta flight with no problems, if there is something that works for you.

  7. A pedicure kit? So what was the needle to be used for? Removing toe cheese?

    Good luck with your KLM fiasco. Something sounds really fishy with the whole situation and you shouldn't be losing all of your money for a nonexistent flight.

  8. I generally like KLM but sometimes they get in a muddle or the left hand doesn't seem to know what the right hand is doing. We had trouble yesterday on the KLM/Northwest flight - when we got our boarding passes in Dublin and booked our seats we were told that we had aisle seats. Such was not the case when we got on the flight - we had seats one behind the other in the centre of the plane and one in from the aisle. We were very envious of the people seated in pairs on either side of the plane.
    My husband said next time we should use the travel agent - after Theo's comment I would doubt that.
    Janet (aka James in Seattle)

  9. KLM/Northwest cancelled our flight from San Francisco to Minneapolis last September. They put us on an earlier flight that left San Francisco before our connecting flight from Auckland arrived. The phone agent wanted to charge us for making a change to a flight the next day. A conversation with a supervisor straightened everything out promptly.
    I suggest you call the reservation number and ask for a supervisor immediately.

  10. wow -- how wonderful you got your bag back.
    And kudos to all of you knitting the shawl ... amazing!!

    The ticket situation ... well, I spent the better part of last evening with someone I had just met whining about how impossible/difficult/unpleasant traveling is these days ... and ticket frustration is just the start. On the other hand, for special occasions, one bites the bullet and does it. But it just isn't fun anymore!

    And we won't talk about how non-US airlines make it very difficult to claim miles/upgrades for their flights when they have co-shares that become US flights when you hit the US... we have a wedding to go to in Houston this summer, and I kid you not: we are going to drive!
    Good luck on getting it all straightened out!!

  11. Would ABTA be of any use? I know they're usually concerned with bailing out doomed charter holiday makers, but Trailfinders should be a member