How Delta Charged Me a Change Fee for a KLM Flight

AMS-YYZ on KLM July 1 2013 -022No one likes to get nickeled and dimed by the airlines, but I understand that some of their charges make sense from a business point of view. However, last week when I flew from Amsterdam (AMS) to Toronto (YYZ) on KLM I got “nickeled”—get this— $124.90 by Delta Air Lines for changing my business class ticket (thanks, Princess Cruises!) to one on an earlier flight the same day.

Here’s how it went down: When I arrived at the Munich Airport for my evening flight to Amsterdam, I decided that since I was booked that night in an AMS airport hotel (and so wouldn’t have easy access to the city) I might as well get on KLM’s morning flight the following day to Toronto instead of waiting around for the evening one. With the extra time I had before departing for Amsterdam, I went over to the KLM service desk where I found a friendly agent.

She checked to see if there were seats available on the earlier flight and to my relief, there were. She then said she could normally switch it with no problem but since my travel agent (Princess’ agent) booked the ticket via Delta, she needed final authorization from Delta. I’m guessing that since Delta and KLM are SkyTeam partners, Princess’ agent must’ve booked through them for a corporate discount.

The agent said she could only reserve (not book) a seat on the earlier flight because Delta needed to clear the switch first. When she informed me that Delta’s European office was closed as it was after hours on a Sunday, I suggested I call their 24/7 800 number back in the States. She gave me her desk phone to call, and I dialed. After I waited on hold for 14 minutes on their elite frequent fliers-dedicated line, the agent said she was sorry but she needed the phone. She then told me to try calling when I got to my hotel or to just go to the airport super early in the morning to get it cleared.

DeltaAMS-YYZ-Change - Copy_editedInstead, I took to Twitter and also emailed my wife back in Toronto to call for me. She got through quicker than my tweet, and relayed what the agent told her: I could get on the earlier flight, but there would be a $124.90 charge.

I can totally justify KLM wanting to charge me a fee to switch flights, but it’s difficult to swallow the idea that Delta was charging me since they weren’t operating the flight—and the KLM agent never mentioned that there would be a charge. On top of that, I wasn’t flying Delta at any time during the trip. It just seems outrageous they can get away with it. Am I out of line or not?

If I were KLM I would be ticked off too.

FYI: Despite the 80-minute delay sitting on the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport tarmac while one of the A330-200 engines got fixed, my seven-hour-and-fifty-minute flight across the pond was quite pleasurable. I posted some pics in the photo gallery below so you can see what I mean.

Johnny Jet

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Johnny Jet

I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

8 Comments on "How Delta Charged Me a Change Fee for a KLM Flight"

  1. Maybe Delta was implementing the change fee, instead of KLM, since the initial reservation may have been made through Delta via Princess, and KLM would have charged you the fee if Delta had not? I have a feeling this kind of thing will happen a lot as airlines consolidate frequent flyer programs.

    Twitter and Facebook are becoming great ways to get stuff done and have issues resolved quickly in this modern age.

    • The KLM agent never mentioned their would be a charge

      • It doesn’t follow that there would not have been one. Her SOP may be to wait until she’s making the change to inform the customer that there will be a charge. It is a little bit late, but it would be a good idea to ask KLM if they do charge a fee in those cases.

  2. Hello,

    That’s really true that Twitter and Facebook are becoming great ways to get stuff done and have issues resolved quickly in this modern age.

  3. Unfortunately, the airport agents may not always be checking all the rules associated with a ticket. The Princess contracts with many carriers may be subject to fees for making simple or complex changes and it should have been advised by the Princess Cruise confirmation at the time you booked.
    On a second note, KLM stopped handling their own ticketing nor used their own ticket stock. KLM tickets are automatically issued on Delta Airline ticket stock.
    And lastly, even on a code-share flight an airport agent should have the ability to move a customer to a different flight as long as the inventory is available, especially if it is next day. Sometimes customer service is best when an agent uses common sense and thinks a little outside the hard sided corporate box :)

  4. My experience is that US carriers charge everyone change fees, while foreign carriers largely waive them for their premium class passengers and their elites. Delta ticket = Delta policies, regardless of whose metal you’re on.

    By the way, nice to see KLM are still using Dutch aircraft. I love the clam shell speed brakes on those Fokkers.

  5. I believe that the Princess agent was required to advise you upfront that they were actually booking you on KLM via Delta (codeshare). If they did not, take the issue up with them…

  6. Great post.

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