Friday, October 11, 2013

Nominee for Worst Airline Voucher: KLM's Travel Discount Certificate

When my family was traveling last summer, we missed our KLM flight in Amsterdam after our incoming plane arrived late.

Spending an unexpected eight hours sitting around the Amsterdam airport wasn't in our vacation plans, but at least our discomfort was slightly lessened when KLM apologized by giving us each a certificate for a discount on future flights.

Each of our four Travel Discount Certificates is good for 50 euros ($67.80) off a future flight on KLM or its partner airlines, Air France and Delta. If you've been delayed flying KLM you may have received the same thing.

While you may be happy to get the certificate, trying to actually use it is not so pleasant.

Amazingly, there's no way use these certificates online not at, or Air France. Delta's booking system does have a field where various coupons and vouchers can be entered when making a reservation, but weirdly, it does not accept the KLM certificates.

So rather than spending, say, five minutes online making reservations, you have to call a representative.  Be sure to go to the bathroom first, because in my case, it took 40 minutes on the phone to get a Delta flight reservation booked, and even then I wasn't done.  (I may have been lucky; other people online report having spent 50-plus minutes struggling to use the certificates.)

Here's the kicker: After making reservations on the phone, you then have to mail in the certificates, then wait up 14 days before the discount is applied. And since they'll have to convert euros to dollars, there's no way to know what the final price will be (but something tells me we won't get the most favorable exchange rate).

In the Internet age, this horse-and-buggy system is bizarre. Note that each of these certificates has a unique number, and each has the name of the passenger on them. Yet, even when I gave the numbers to my faithful Delta booking representative Joel, he could link them to nothing in the Delta computer system.


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