At the moment, KLM seems to be struggling with operating its Amsterdam to Miami route reliably, and I blame Nigeria. Is this just a streak of bad luck, or what is going on?
In this post:
KLM cancels three out of eight Miami flights
KLM is currently operating a seasonal 3x weekly flight between Amsterdam and Miami, using an Airbus A330. Ford was supposed to take this flight today (eastbound), and unfortunately this morning he received a message that the flight was canceled, as the plane never even left Amsterdam. Okay, the airline industry is complex, and airlines can’t always operate their network perfectly.
But the last scheduled flight, on February 11, was also canceled. The five previous flights operated fairly reliably, though the January 28 flight was canceled as well. That means of the last eight flights, three were canceled — a 38% cancelation rate across eight services isn’t exactly great, especially for a global network carrier, and when there were no major weather events.
Unfortunately this cancelation throws a wrench in our plans, but of course I never rely on any single flight to operate according to schedule, and left a buffer before our non-refundable plans at our destination.
Why does KLM keep canceling Miami flights?
Here’s what confuses me about the consistent cancelations of these flights.
Like any good aviation geek, I always try to track inbound aircraft to figure out the odds of there being operational disruptions. As you might expect, I was tracking this especially closely, given the two recent cancelations, including one just two days ago. I figured that surely KLM wouldn’t cancel two back-to-back flights on the same route, but I was proven wrong!
Ford was supposed to fly from Miami to Amsterdam, and of course that aircraft arrives from Amsterdam, since the plane just turns in Miami. Using Flightradar24, I saw that the aircraft scheduled to operate the route had the registration code PH-AKF.
That plane landed in Amsterdam early this morning from Lagos, as scheduled, so I assumed that was a good sign. But nope, the flight was still canceled. Okay, surely there must have been a maintenance issue? Well, no, that’s not the explanation either, because the aircraft ended up departing to Sint Maarten around the same time that the Miami flight was scheduled to depart.
Exactly the same was true for the two previous cancelations in recent weeks:
- On February 11, PH-AKA was scheduled to operate the flight; it also arrived from Lagos, then the Miami flight was canceled, and then the plane ended up flying to Atlanta, with a departure prior to the Miami flight
- On January 28, PH-AKD was scheduled to operate the flight; it arrived from (you guessed it!) Lagos, then the Miami flight was canceled, and then the plane ended up flying to Aruba, with a departure just shortly after the Miami flight
Okay, this gets wilder, and I suspect this is sort of how conspiracy theories start, but it’s true. Over the course of the last eight flights:
- Every time the flight was canceled, the aircraft was coming from Lagos
- Every time the flight operated, the aircraft wasn’t coming from Lagos
Would anyone like to try to make sense of that? Obviously these Miami cancelations aren’t about maintenance, since the planes still fly. The only logical theory I can come up with is that the flights are canceled for commercial reasons, because they’re not very busy.
Maybe Air France-KLM look at the collective availability on the 3x weekly Amsterdam flight and 2x daily Paris flight, and then cancel the Amsterdam flight when there’s enough room to accommodate people on the Paris flights? For what it’s worth, on today’s flight business class was full, though I’m not sure about economy.
The real question here is how Lagos fits into all of this. Why does the flight keep getting canceled when it comes from Lagos, while it doesn’t get canceled when coming from other destinations?
KLM has now canceled three of its last eight flights to Miami. In each case, this doesn’t appear to be due to maintenance issues, as the aircraft scheduled to operate the route still flew elsewhere. For whatever reason, the flights keep getting canceled when the aircraft is coming from Lagos, while they operate when the aircraft isn’t coming from Lagos. This one is a real head-scratcher…
What’s your take on this KLM Miami flight situation?