The One with the Thoughts of Frans

Fun With American Customs & Airlines: Special Thanks to

A few years ago I booked a flight to America and I got a confirmation e-mail listing the details of the flight. Because it was my first time with an e-ticket, I assumed that was all that I needed. I don’t mean the type of e-ticket you print yourself but the airlines call it e-tickets anyway. Turns out I was supposed to have received another e-mail and that the reservation number I got wasn’t an actual e-ticket number. It was apparently a problem with KLM’s system. Even though I paid with iDeal, it hadn’t properly registered it. The woman working for KLM at the check-in desk quickly made a few calls, found out the problem was known, and within 5 minutes she’d gotten me a boarding pass to Detroit. She told me that they were working on getting my connecting flight in order.

At the other side of the ocean, about 8 to 10 hours later, things were less nice. Customs was making a fuss about my lack of a connecting flight ticket. Gee, if you want people to have all their tickets fixed up at customs, how about you stick those airline desks before you have to pass through customs, or otherwise shut your stupid pie-hole about it. I was in luck: I could see the airline desks from customs, so I could point at the NWA desk and be like “well, if you want all ticket issues to be resolved you should put those desks before this checkpoint. I need to go to the NWA one over there.” He grudgingly admitted that my logic was flawless, added a stamp to my passport and stapled this green immigration paper in a way that made it stick out annoyingly. That crooked stapling became a recurring theme during all of my subsequent visits to the US except one.

So then I went to the NWA desk. I told the woman that KLM had messed something up with my reservation and that they should’ve fixed it by now. KLM told me they’d probably fix it in about 1-2 hours, so that presumably would’ve been before the plane even left Amsterdam. She then asked if she could see the boarding pass I’d gotten in Amsterdam and said “you were late, weren’t you?” I said something like “um no, I just told you, KLM messed something up with my reservation because something went wrong with this payment system where my money was transferred but the system didn’t register this correctly.” She replied, “so you were late.” I tried one or two times to explain the situation again, but I met a blank stare and a repetition of the notion that I must’ve been late. I ended up saying something like “sure… could you get me my ticket for the connecting flight please?”

Her NWA computer didn’t have me in it with my KLM e-ticket number (that the KLM woman gave me), so she had to phone a colleague who did have access to KLM’s booking system. Consequently she could type in some code on the NWA computer which finally resulted in my ticket. I still don’t know why she couldn’t have just typed my name, but oh well.

Perhaps to compensate for all of the trouble, the connecting flight to Chicago was executed in the most comfortable plane I’ve ever been in. The seats were wide, there was plenty of leg space. I can tell you that I would’ve preferred the preceding 8 hour flight in that plane.


  1. After our experience with customs at Heathrow, do you really think I’d have received a different reaction there? Actually, I probably would have, he probably would have said Fuck you get the hell out of my airport! ugh. Why do the “United” places need to be so goddamn bitchy about their shit?! grr.

    April 12, 2010 @ 13:14Permalink

  2. After our experience with customs at Heathrow, do you really think I’d have received a different reaction there?

    Definitely not. That was so freaking ridiculous. Hello, tourism? One of the biggest industries in the world? Ever heard of it? You want to make tourists feel welcome, not to scare them away.

    April 12, 2010 @ 17:34Permalink

  3. […] my last post about airlines, this one’s about […]

    April 28, 2010 @ 21:18Permalink
    Fun With American Airlines and British Airways | The One with the Thoughts of Frans

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