KLM books flights, hotels for stranded travelers after Saturday cancellations
KLM is attempting to help all travelers stranded elsewhere in Europe on Sunday by arranging a new flight for them, but the airline does not yet dare to say whether it will work. The first victims of flight cancellations have already flown back to the Netherlands, but the airline is still working on rebooking people halfway through the day.
On Saturday, KLM was forced to cancel the flights of passengers in 42 aircraft, which flew empty from European destinations to Schiphol. A spokesperson explained that the measure was necessary because of adverse weather conditions and runway maintenance. In addition, Schiphol has been struggling with staff shortages for some time, for example in the handling of baggage. According to the spokesperson, this combination of circumstances meant that KLM had to intervene.
It is unclear how many people were affected by the move, but it could be thousands of travelers. The airline chose to cancel flights with many transfer passengers. Since transfer desks were very busy at Schiphol, KLM intended to prevent large groups of travelers from being stranded at Schiphol itself.
For many who became stuck elsewhere in Europe and could no longer go to the Netherlands, KLM offered hotel accomodations. The spokesperson emphasized that it depends on someone's situation what KLM does and does not reimburse.
A Dutch woman who was stranded in Stockholm on Saturday because her flight to the Netherlands was canceled said that she first had to stand in line for hours in Sweden before being assigned a hotel. "It was a fairly luxurious conference hotel." But because of all the hassle, she and other stranded travelers didn't get to the hotel until late at night. "No one could have eaten anything in the meantime."
Early Sunday morning, the first people from Sweden were put back on the plane. She herself was able to return with a flight that would leave a little later in the morning. "Who has been rebooked to which flight seems completely arbitrary."
The operation at Schiphol is now running again, KLM indicates. There are still several delays, but planes often leave only half an hour later than usual. That does not mean that the flight schedule is completely in order. KLM already announced on Friday that it would cancel up to 50 flights a day during the Whitsun weekend to keep the situation manageable. Sunday morning there were indeed several cancellations on the departure boards, especially of short flights within Europe.
Reporting by ANP