Author’s Note: After Rwanda, we flew to Italy. The trip continues and so do the travel reviews. This blog is #6 of nine. “Winning A Trip to Rwanda” features a more comprehensive introduction. See links below to start at the beginning of this series.
We can laugh about it, now that we’re all right. – Del Griffith
Everyone has their bad days. Including airlines.
It’s how you handle those bad days that leave a lasting impression.
Our trip to Africa included flying KLM Airlines from Amsterdam to Kigali along with a side trip from Amsterdam to Florence. When we arrived at the Kigali airport on Sunday evening to depart our now beloved country of Rwanda, we noticed KLM had sent us a message informing us our flight the next morning to Florence was cancelled. This was about 18 hours before the scheduled flight.
With a pending near nine-hour flight looming, along with hotel reservations the next night, this news left us in a bit of a frenzy. We attempted to “chat” with KLM representatives to at least get the ball rolling but their response time took too long and we ended up boarding our flight. Upon landing in Amsterdam we took a B-line to KLM customer service.
Thankfully we got in at 6 a.m. because the line just a few hours later was probably about a two hour wait.
Anyway, we found out the original flight to Florence was cancelled because of severe weather as the region was experiencing one of the biggest storms in history. The departure and arrival board was filled with cancelled flights. Thankfully, we got seats on a flight leaving just before 9 p.m. but still with the possibility of cancellation up to departure time.
So we spent the day partially in Amsterdam followed by hours in the airport.
At 10 a.m. (the scheduled departure time of our canceled flight) I noticed it was merely drizzling and by 11 a.m. the sun was parting the clouds. Oh well. Near the end of the day, however, we received a message from KLM letting us know we were eligible for a complimentary meal as well as a hotel stay and all we had to do was find a KLM kiosk.
We had already eaten breakfast and lunch, so with little time left to make the rescheduled flight we hunted for a kiosk and realized these machines exist outside of security. We weren’t about to go through all that again. As for the hotel stay, we had that covered as we communicated often with the hotel in Florence to let them know of the circumstances and that we might ultimately not make the trip. Overall, the message from KLM was vague and we simply dismissed it as something filled with hoops to jump through in the event we got stranded in Amsterdam.
Still no flight cancellation announcement as we boarded a bus to take us to the airplane. The bus rode around the terminal and dropped us off where we boarded. We were told to head to another gate to board the aircraft.
We already lost a day in Italy now this delay pretty much ended any chance of at least getting in to Florence at a reasonable hour. Once on the plane, it was announced we’d be sitting for about 15 minutes to either wait for the wind to die down or for runway clearance. I’m not sure the exact cause but for whatever reason the heater was left on. After 10 minutes of warm air pumping through the ventilation system passengers began fanning themselves and taking off jackets. Warm air inside a stuffy airplane mixed with exhaust fumes does not make for an enjoyable experience.
Well, we finally got going and to the pilot’s credit he announced to expect some turbulence and assured his passengers the plane was built for the rough air.
And he was right.
Upon landing in Florence we hit some serious air pockets and the plane rocked back and forth on approach. I wondered if the pilot might hit the engines to abort the landing and make another run but after some of the worst turbulence I have endured we finally landed in Florence without much further ado.
After the previous 24 hours I fully expected the cherry on top of this day to include missing luggage but to my surprise all three checked bags hit the belt.
We got in late, missed a day in Florence but arrived safely in Italy. Though friends and family said things like “KLM is a great airline,” “You’ll love KLM” and “Classy airline” I was not impressed by this long-standing airline’s lack of communication, voucher promises that came a bit too late and overall sense of dropping the ball. I do wonder why they canceled the initial flight so early when their own policy seems to allow for canceling up to the departure time. Even a delayed departure would have worked in this case.
But, we have touched ground in Italy for the first time and I hope to post some Italian adventures forthwith.
Start from the beginning: