We welcome to the blog today Kristin from That Traveling Family sharing her experience flying transatlantic with KLM.
This post is part of our flying with kids series – come and see all of our family-friendly airline reviews
We opted for KLM for our flight from Chicago to Bucharest, both because of price and the many long layover options allowing us to spend a few hours enjoying Amsterdam en route.
Booking: KLM customer service saved our trip
When booking, I made the regrettable decision to go through a third-party booking site, although I should have known better when flying with a lap infant. Dealing with customer service is pretty much inevitable with a lap infant, and adding a third-party site just makes that process worse.
The booking was easy, but, as any parent flying with a lap infant knows, booking the flight is just the beginning. I made the mistake of waiting to add my lap infant until two weeks before the
Two weeks before our flight, I was informed that I could not bring my lap infant because the flight was sold out- wait, what?! Yes, apparently you pay a percentage of the current market rate for the seat, and none were available. Therefore, no ticket for baby.
After HOURS of no luck on the phone with both the third-party booking site and Alitalia (who I was technically booked through), I called KLM nearly in tears. The kind customer service person informed me that it was not their ticket, and they couldn’t make changes to it.
But, after explaining my predicament, she called in Air France, KLM’s partner airline, and somehow the two agents worked some major magic getting my little guy on the flight. PHEW!! They were truly amazing and saved me when I was at the end of my rope.
Check-in with KLM
With e-mailed confirmations of my added lap infant in hand, we arrived at the check-in counter. KLM’s website does state that you can check-in online, but we were unable to. This may be due to our third-party booking, but in my experience, lap infants always have to check-in in person.
Immediately it was apparent that there was an issue. After a lot of typing and concerned whispering, I was informed that my lap infant did not have a ticket. A bit of panic set in, but the agents continued to frantically work on my issue, so I assumed that meant there was some hope.
After nearly 20 minutes of multiple phone calls, managers clicking away on the computer, and multiple re-checks of my print out, they somehow got him on the flight. Yet another reason we always arrive early for flights, especially with lap infants.
Check out our Baby Travel Guide for everything from packing lists to tips for getting through the airport.
Boarding with KLM
After speaking with the gate attendant to see if there were any open seats on the flight, she was able to move our family to an open row allowing us to spread out a bit – mark another point for KLM Customer Service!
Priority Boarding is available for families with young children, but we chose not to take advantage of this perk. I prefer to let kids run and play for as long as possible before confining them on a long-haul flight.
Our Flight with KLM
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Our flight took off time, and was overall rather uneventful- which is just what I like in a flight!
The flight attendants were wonderful about letting me hover around the galley to bounce a fussy baby, and offered us extra snacks and drinks.
The 3/4/3 seat configuration in economy worked well since I was traveling with the 2 boys alone. Long haul in economy is never ultra comfortable, but with decent leg room and a row to ourselves, we were all able to stretch out for a little nap. We do a little thing I call “airplane bunk beds”. My older son makes a little bed on the floor and the younger sleeps across the seats. I’m sure in turbulence this isn’t ideal, but we’ve had terrific success with getting the guys to sleep this way.
Plane leg pillows on KLM
Have you ever tried leg pillows on a long haul flight? KLM is one of the airlines that DOES allow these comfort devices as long as they do not attach to the seat. You can see our full review of these products here.
Entertainment for kids on KLM
The kids receive a cute little gift pouch full of crayons, a patch, passport cover, lanyard, and an activity book to keep them entertained on the flight.
As for on-screen entertainment, each seat has its’ own entertainment system. With an entire KLM Kids section filled with tons of movies, games and music, our older son was in heaven. Even the baby enjoyed their branded KLM “Bluey” airplane cartoons.
Meals on board KLM
Kid-friendly meals can be ordered ahead of time, but we didn’t realize this. However, they had a few extras on hand because our guys got little blue kids pack boxed meals.
The pasta for the adult meal was actually pretty delicious for airplane food. Plus, free wine with dinner…. Yes, please! Not to mention, they gave out stroopwafels for snacks.
One fantastic perk of flying KLM is that many of their flights include long layovers in Amsterdam. Arriving at 6 a.m. with a 10-hour layover, we quickly dropped our luggage at the airport temporary storage (approximately $10/bag) and hopped on a train for the 15-minute trip to get downtown.
If your layover isn’t long enough to escape to the city, Schiphol Airport has partnered with KLM to create a “Bluey” themed play area, in addition to all of the airport’s other family services.
KLM Family Information
- KLM Alliance: Star Alliance
- Reduced Fares for Kids: Children under 11 fly at a reduced rate
- Seats: Assigned seats can be reserved for a fee
- Baggage Allowance for Children: 1 Collapsible Stroller- carried on, if it fits in the bin, gate-checked or checked at no cost; 1 Car Seat- brought on to the plane or checked, free of charge. For Children with a Seat: Carry-on and checked allowance is the same an adult
- For Lap Infants: 1 carry-on bag (up to 26lbs) and 1 checked bag (up to 22lbs)
- Baby Cots: Limited Cots are available and can be requested on KLM My Trip or by calling KLM
- Child In-Flight Beds:
In flightbeds/seat extensions are allowed as long as it does not attach to the seat
Overall impressions of KLM flying with Kids
KLM customer service saved the day several times, and the flight was comfortable and family friendly. Between their “Bluey” cartoons, kids’ entertainment, and playground at the Amsterdam airport, it seems that KLM is focusing on making flying much more pleasant for kids and parents.
Thanks to Kristin for sharing her family’s experience with KLM, and showing us that so much of the flying experience is about the customer service you receive along the way.
That Traveling Family is a family travel blog focusing on showing parents how to navigate the world of independent travel with young children. Our goal is to raise curious and compassionate kids while spending more time connecting as a family.
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