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KLM not recognising Partner airline flights for Frequent Flyer Status.

KLM not recognising Partner airline flights for Frequent Flyer Status.

  1. wonkachocolat

    Hi

    I would like to request some advice how to deal with a frequent flyer programme requalification issue. If you have any suggestions or contact persons whom I can reach out to, I would highly appreciate it.

    Short version
    KLM does not want to recognise 2 flights I booked on Delta but were ultimately operated by Virgin Atlantic. Therefore, I was (these) 2 flights short in requalifying for my 7th year KLM Flying Blue Platinum Status.

    Long version
    KLM’s Flying Blue programme offers a “Platinum-for-Life” qualification which is achieved by requalifying for Flying Blue Platinum membership for 10 consecutive years. The normal annual qualification has just changed to a new system that I am, at present a fan of, but this question relates to the old system which I’ll focus on. The old system required either 70,000 qualifying miles or 60 segments for Platinum status.

    I’ve been a KLM Flying Blue Platinum member for 6 years and 2017 would have been my 7th qualifying year. In the past I have specifically flown on KLM and done several segment runs or mileage runs to ensure I requalify for Platinum. One of my most recent mileage runs was in December 2017 where I flew from Vancouver, Canada to Cancun, Mexico on Delta, specifically to ensure I requalify.

    However, on 31st of December at 9PM, KLM’s Facebook team messaged me in FB Messenger to inform me that 2 of my Delta flights were ultimately operated on Virgin Atlantic metal and that they would not recognise these flights. That meant that I would end the year on 58 flights and not the required 60 and thus lose my Platinum status but even more worrying, I would lose my accrued years of 7 consecutive Platinum status as part of my Platinum-for-Life qualification.

    At it was 9PM on 31st of December, there was nothing else I could do. I could not book any last-minute flights to still leave that night (I live an hour from the airport) and take 2 flights within 2017.

    I have been trying to reason with KLM’s FB team, staff in the KLM Crown Lounges in Amsterdam, the Flying Blue Platinum phone line and Skyteam’s FB team. But I just hit a wall every time where they say I flew on Virgin metal and they will not recognise the flights.

    I really would like to contact someone senior in Flying Blue because I can’t imagine that I am the only one who has had this experience and I have shown loyalty throughout the years. So too, customer acquisition is much more costly than customer retention.

    My reasoning and process why I believe I’ve acted correctly.

    The particular flights relate to a trip I took from London to Vancouver. The flights were

    LHR à SEA à YVR

    YVR à SEA à YVR

    1. Ensuring all segments were on a Flying Blue partner in a booking class accruing miles. (before booking)

    2. Checked the issued ticket that all flights were on DL flights and correct booking classes

    3. Flights were visible on Delta.com where it showed my KLM Flying Blue number and Platinum status.

    4. Check-in at Delta counter at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3.

    5. Luggage had Yellow Sky Priority labels added to checked leggage.

    6. Able to use Sky Priority whilst boarding in London

    7. Purser recognised my Platinum status onboard and came around for my meal selection. I was served first. (Flight from London to Seattle)

    8. In Seattle, was able to use Delta Sky Club lounge (next to gate B1)

    9. Again able to use Sky Priority whilst boarding in London

    Return trip.

    10. Check-in at Delta check-in counter at Vancouver International Airport

    11. Luggage again tagged with Yellow Sky Priority labels

    12. Delta upgraded me to Delta One because of my KLM Flying Blue Platinum status and was able to board using Sky Priority

    13. In Seattle, was again able to use Delta Sky Club Lounge (again next to gate B1)

    14. Flight from Seattle to London, Purser again recognised my Platinum status and took my meal selection.

    I only noticed an issue when only the SEA to YVR and YVR to SEA flights were showing as accruing miles on my Flying Blue account about a week after the end of the trip.

    I tried to add the 2 flights namely LHR to SEA and SEA to LHR using the Claim missing miles feature but that didn’t work.

    I then messaged KLM’s FB team as they have been awesome in the past. However, I only received a response at 9PM on the 31st of December. The response stated that only Delta flights operated by specific partners accrue miles. It referred me to the exact page I used to check that I bought a ticket in a booking class which accrues miles namely:

    [URL]https://www.flyingblue.com/earn-and-spend-miles/airlines/partner/185/delta-air-lines.html[/URL]

    Thinking back, I realise I was not on a Delta aircraft between London and Seattle as the interior was different and had British staff. But I was treated like a member of a Delta partner on all flights and had no reason to believe anything was wrong.

    Like I said, I believe customer retention is better than customer acquisition. I’m hoping someone in Flying Blue has had similar experiences and that there is some leniency or maybe a challenge that I can do to not lose my 2017 Flying Blue Platinum status.

    If anyone has any advice, tips or contact details, I would highly appreciate it.

  2. rickyw

    Hi there –

    You could try [URL]http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/klm-airlines/[/URL] for a list of better contacts

  3. wonkachocolat

    [QUOTE=”rickyw, post: 51394, member: 1436″]Hi there –

    You could try [URL]http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/klm-airlines/[/URL] for a list of better contacts[/QUOTE]

    Thank you, that’s very useful. I’ll contact them through these details too.

  4. David W

    It’s a gray area because Virgin Atlantic isnt a Skyteam airline and it doesnt seem like they are a partner of KLM either.

    Do you know if your ticket has a DL flight number but says “operated by Virgin Atlantic” or something? Delta stopped operating LON-SEA in March 2017, letting Virgin take over the route completely.

  5. wonkachocolat

    [QUOTE=”David W, post: 51454, member: 29″]It’s a gray area because Virgin Atlantic isnt a Skyteam airline and it doesnt seem like they are a partner of KLM either.

    Do you know if your ticket has a DL flight number but says “operated by Virgin Atlantic” or something? Delta stopped operating LON-SEA in March 2017, letting Virgin take over the route completely.[/QUOTE]

    Yes that was point 2. I specifically looked for Delta flights and checked the booking classes for DL flights accruing miles on KLM’s Flying Blue. My issued ticket only shows DL flight numbers and so too, all of my boarding passes show DL flight numbers.

    I understand your comment that Delta stopped operating LON-SEA several months earlier but I don’t think an average traveler or even a seasoned frequent traveler should be expected to know full schedule of an airline. I realize as airline geeks we know the schedules of many airlines, but as I say, I can’t see this as a proper requirement within a loyalty programme. Hence I listed the various checks I had done regarding DL flight numbers and booking classes.

  6. David W

    Sorry – I misread. You booked with Delta and is crediting to KLM. I made the wrong assumption that you booked with KLM.

    On Delta’s website when you search for LON-YVR, yes you are given DL flight numbers but there are notes that tell you the flight is being operated by another airline, including the specific airline.

    On FlyingBlue’s website, when you search for how to earn miles with partner airlines, there is a page for Delta – [URL]https://www.flyingblue.com/earn-and-spend-miles/airlines/partner/185/delta-air-lines.html[/URL]

    It specifically states that you’d earn of Delta is the [I]operating[/I] carrier and if marketed with a Delta, KLM, Air France or SkyTeam partner flight number. VS is therefore ineligible because it’s not part of SkyTeam.

    You could try to further argue with KLM but I dont know if they’ll do anything.

  7. wonkachocolat

    [QUOTE=”David W, post: 51471, member: 29″]Sorry – I misread. You booked with Delta and is crediting to KLM. I made the wrong assumption that you booked with KLM.

    On Delta’s website when you search for LON-YVR, yes you are given DL flight numbers but there are notes that tell you the flight is being operated by another airline, including the specific airline.

    On FlyingBlue’s website, when you search for how to earn miles with partner airlines, there is a page for Delta – [URL]https://www.flyingblue.com/earn-and-spend-miles/airlines/partner/185/delta-air-lines.html[/URL]

    It specifically states that you’d earn of Delta is the [I]operating[/I] carrier and if marketed with a Delta, KLM, Air France or SkyTeam partner flight number. VS is therefore ineligible because it’s not part of SkyTeam.

    You could try to further argue with KLM but I dont know if they’ll do anything.[/QUOTE]

    Thank you, you’ve quoted the exact page I quoted in my initial post. I used that page to check the Delta Booking Classes on KLM specifically because I’ve had issues in the past with China Southern and Air Europa having 0 miles booking classes.

    Yes, I booked on Delta ticket stock (ticket number starting with 006) but through a travel agent, so it only showed Delta and the DL flight numbers. I therefore checked whether any DL flight numbers are excluded (as some carriers have flights that do not accrue for various reasons). But as none are listed, in my view, the 2 first bullets (on the page both you and I linked to) are relevant.

    If I read your 2 posts correctly, you are inferring that I am wrong and should just accept it or in the last reply You’ve mentioned I should argue it with KLM, which is exactly the point of my initial post. I was asking if anyone knew how to contact the people that I’ve not contacted yet. I listed the various KLM departments I’ve already contacted.

    Thanks for your contribution. I agree that in hindsight, this extreme specific technicality of “[I]operating”[/I] as you quoted, I am wrong. But, like I’ve set out my reasoning in the initial post, I don’t think it is reasonable for a company to have such punitive specific rules based on a very small technicality (as you highlighted “[I]operating[/I]”) that would affect a loyal customer who has qualified for it’s highest status many years in a row. If I was a Flying Blue Ivory member and this would be the first year that I might qualify for Silver and I made obvious mistakes, I could understand their view.That’s why I asked for any tips on advice about potential challenges or something they would consider.

    Companies use terms and conditions and technicalities when selling a product and to protect themselves but I don’t see how relying on such a technicality is conducive to nurturing loyalty or rewarding past loyalty (This was my 7th year of Platinum status but I was a Silver and Gold member for years before and have been loyal to KLM for 15 years [my whole adult life]

    Hoping there are people with some advice. As I said I realize that in hindsight, I am technically in the wrong. Looking for advice on who to contact to argue the various points

  8. rickyw

    Hi, I think David was just trying to be realistic. Lots of folks come on this forum without the knowledge or experience in frequent flyer programs that you definitely have.

    Honestly, your best bet would be to contact one of those senior managers from the Elliott.org site.

    I’d be prepared for a lengthy argument, and you may need to prepare evidence on how much you’ve spent with KLM over the last few years. Show them how valuable of a customer you are to them. Maybe even outline your future travel plans and show how you can very easily book with another carrier

  9. wonkachocolat

    [QUOTE=”rickyw, post: 51505, member: 1436″]Hi, I think David was just trying to be realistic. Lots of folks come on this forum without the knowledge or experience in frequent flyer programs that you definitely have.

    Honestly, your best bet would be to contact one of those senior managers from the Elliott.org site.

    I’d be prepared for a lengthy argument, and you may need to prepare evidence on how much you’ve spent with KLM over the last few years. Show them how valuable of a customer you are to them. Maybe even outline your future travel plans and show how you can very easily book with another carrier[/QUOTE]

    Thank you Ricky. The information about Elliott.org has been very helpful and much appreciated.

    I agree, realistically I most probably won’t get them to budge. Honestly, after all the previous contact with them, I’ve made peace with it and have changed my booking behaviour to not only focus on KLM and Skyteam airlines as I’ve done previously but rather at airlines who represent the best value for the route I want to fly.

    That’s a good tip about past spend. I luckily keep a detailed spreadsheet of all tickets and related info. What I did try to highlight to them was all my J travel coming up in the next 3 months but that didn’t help much.

    The upside is, I could book on any airline and had some good experiences with other airlines’ J products.

    I’ll report back regarding any success I might have from the Elliott.org listed senior managers.

  10. Donna

    You have nothing to lose by pursuing this. I would keep writing up the chain of command and asking for a status reinstatement based on the years of loyalty to KLM and see where it goes. I would reference that you made an honest mistake with your booking and see if they will consider bridging the missing segments. I wouldn’t argue at this point, I would gently ask and see where it goes. If it goes sideways, then I would definitely reconsider your relationship with KLM and move on.
    I was 30 miles short one year for AA PLT and they gave it to me based on years of loyalty and status with US Airways (which merged with AA in 2015). I wrote to the CEO, Doug Parker. Sometimes it works.

  11. wonkachocolat

    [QUOTE=”Gia, post: 51522, member: 1566″]You have nothing to lose by pursuing this. I would keep writing up the chain of command and asking for a status reinstatement based on the years of loyalty to KLM and see where it goes. I would reference that you made an honest mistake with your booking and see if they will consider bridging the missing segments. I wouldn’t argue at this point, I would gently ask and see where it goes. If it goes sideways, then I would definitely reconsider your relationship with KLM and move on.
    I was 30 miles short one year for AA PLT and they gave it to me based on years of loyalty and status with US Airways (which merged with AA in 2015). I wrote to the CEO, Doug Parker. Sometimes it works.[/QUOTE]

    That’s great advice Gia and thank you for including your AA PLT experience. I’ve not opened up with the fact it was an honest mistake from the beginning, but I definitely see your point so I will try that line or reasoning with them. I also agree, I rather prefer to ask gently and have had some very emphatic KLM/Skyteam members on calls through the years. So I am hoping to reach one of them.

    Your example of your AA PLT experience is exactly what I am hoping for. I have a AF KLM American Express card which also gives you some segments, so I was hoping they would maybe use this feature to bridge my missing segments.

    Yes, I have mentally prepared myself that it might go sideways as I know KLM’s culture is to stick to the exact rules. But I still believe it is worth pursuing and asking for some understanding.

    Great advice thanks!

  12. wonkachocolat

    Hi everyone,

    Thought I’d give you all an update and express my appreciation for your constructive advice and tips.

    I wrote to all the addresses I could find. Thank you for the tips about Elliott.org, Rickyw. It was very helpful. However 2 weeks ago I used a different tactic. As I originally opened my account on a Netherlands based KLM site, my phone numbers for KLM and Flying Blue service centres were all Dutch numbers. It makes sense as both Air France KLM and Flying Blue’s offices are at Schiphol in Amsterdam. I recalled a situation where I was flying out of London on a Delta flight last year where I needed to speak to Flying Blue and the Delta gate agent gave me the UK number for Flying Blue. That call was very different as the call centre person really seemed to try and understand the issue and help the passenger. I felt she went above and beyond.

    That made me wonder if I could again get hold of the UK service centre. I called up their UK number and had about a 2 hour wait before getting cut off (bad start) but called again the next day. I used Gia’s advice (thank you) and just came clean from the start admitting that I was wrong and due to flying on Virgin Atlantic metal I missed the requalification requirements. Only then did I explain the situation as I did above in my original post.

    The friendly lady looked at my profile and at my past flying record. I then also mentioned some of my upcoming travels (as suggested). She explained that she couldn’t do anything but that she would speak to Flying Blue head office.

    About 45 minutes later, she e-mailed me and said that Flying Blue agreed to extend my Platinum status !!!

    I noticed a day later that my profile showed my status would expire in March 2019 (meaning the 2018 requalification/extension had been processed).

    This past weekend I flew on the 30th of March (where I still had status anyway) and back again on the 2nd of April. My status was clearly showing on all boarding passes, my profile still shows Platinum and I got my elite miles multiplier on all flights too.

    So I can now confirm, everything worked out and they’ve extended my status for another year.

    On a side note, KLM’s new qualifying system using XP is fantastic. It would make it a lot easier for me to requalify. Actually, as a comparison, I flew the same amount in Q1 I would normally need to requalify (so 25% of my annual requalification requirement on the old system), but after the conversion into the new XP system, I’ve already achieved about 40% of my annual requirement.

    Thank you for all the advice and information. It’s much appreciated

  13. David W

    I’m glad it worked out!

  14. Donna

    Bravo!

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