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Picture this...

January 1st of this year and you have just arrived in the international airport in Amsterdam at 8 am.  You are traveling with your 2 year old son and your wife, who is pregnant.  Your connecting flight to New Delhi is scheduled to depart at 10 am.  Not bad, a 2 hour layover, it will give you time to stretch, walk around the airport, have a bite to eat or have a cup a tea since it is so cold.  You look at the departure screen to see what gate the flight is going to depart from when the worst thing happens.  Your flight is delayed till 11pm.  That is a 13 hour delay.  How are you going to break this to your wife, what are you going to do for 13 hours in the Amsterdam airport, hope family is not waiting at the airport in Delhi for you.  You knew there was a possibility of this happening since New Delhi was having problems with fog for a few weeks.  You heard that flights your friends and relatives were on a few weeks earlier were delayed.  Then you remember your family and friends saying the airline they flew on provided them with a hotel room to sleep, relax or to shower in. Maybe your wife will understand.

faceYou tell your wife about the delay and she starts asking you 100 questions, which you can answer none of them.  You tell her you will find out about the hotel room the airline will provide.  You walk over to the airline desk were their are already a load of desi people yelling and arguing at the staff.  You listen for a while and you hear someone say 'they are not going to give us a hotel room!", you almost faint.  Maybe you heard wrong, so you ask the airline representative yourself and you heard right.  No hotel room will be provided and you have to wait in the airport till 11pm. 

This has got to be a mistake.  But it is not.   This did happen to me.  What airline was this that did not provide the basic of human needs to its passengers that were 7000+  miles away from home and from their destination.  What airline was this that preferred to save a few dollars then save loyal customers.  ... Northwest/KLM.

nwa klmWhile other airline like Royal Jordanian, United, Lufthansa, Air India and Tarom (that's right Tarom) gave their passengers hotel rooms or sleeping accommodations because of the fog delays in New Delhi, Northwest Airlines in partnership with KLM did not. 

I tried to reason with their representatives for over half an hour explaining to them that I was travelling with a two (2) year old son and a pregnant wife and that we needed sleeping accommodations. I even informed her that other airlines were having the same problem and they were giving their passengers sleeping accommodations. Their representatives was not willing to facilitate my request. By that time the hotel connected to the airport was full - no rooms were available.

For 12 hours my 2-year-old son, my pregnant wife and I spent our time sitting in chairs and sleeping on the cold Amsterdam airport floor in the bitter chill of January. We were not prepared for such a scenario. We brought no blankets. My son cried for hours because he was so cold, he could not sleep. All we had was our coats. As a result of this ordeal our 2-week trip to India was ruined. My son became sick with the flu and wife had backaches and also caught a cold. My wife and I also spent $11.00 US dollars each to take a shower in the hotel airport so that we could relax our body and get rid of the stiffness and aches that we got by sitting in a chair and on the floor for 12 hours.

My question to you is what type of policy is this for a major international airline to have for not being able to accommodate its passengers with basic human needs? Are these people so cheap? I am disgusted with this policy of Northwest airlines, making over 200 passengers wait in the airport for over 12 hours and only providing us with lunch and dinner coupons.

refugeeYou should have seen the sight in the airport in Amsterdam. People sleeping in chairs and on the floor. We did not look like Northwest passengers, we looked like refugees. Was it because the flight was to India and 90% of the passengers were of Indian origin. Would we of have been treated differently if the flight were to any other part of Europe or North America?

When I got back from India I wrote a letter of complaint to Northwest Airlines  and sent the letter by registered mail. I did not received a response from the airline at all. I followed up by a complaint form on their website, www.nwa.com and also by writing another letter a month later. They still did not respond. So what did I do next...I wrote a letter of complaint to my Congressman and to my Senator, the United States Department of State, the Unites States Department of Transportation, the FAA and other airline agencies, the Better Business Bureau, Northwest Airlines C.E.O. John H. Dasburg, senior executives and the Board of Directors for Northwest Airlines.

Finally they responded in the middle of April.  They responded by saying it was not the policy of the airline to provide hotels rooms for flight delays and they gave me three discount airline vouchers with an expiration date.  The vouchers probably are not enough to cover for a flight from Newark, NJ to JFK, New York.

What should you do? Well if you don't want to take a chance of this happening to you, if you want to fly on an airline that you know will take care of you and your family if their is a delay,  then DO NOT FLY NORTHWEST/KLM.  Boycott them.  It is better to spend an extra $50-100 dollars on a flight to India knowing that the service will be good and that the airline respects your patronage.  Remember if you do fly Northwest/KLM  you are taking a chance that what happened to me can happen to you.

dotIf you had a bad experience with an airline you should report it.  Report it to the airline, their CEO and the United States Department of Transportation.  Definitely if you had a bad experience with Northwest/KLM... you should report it.


Story by Satinder.