In the early hours of 28/01/2017 (4:00 am), I arrived at Heathrow airport to do my check in for a 6:30am flight bound for Amsterdam. At the check in counter, I met a lady named Valerie who appeared very visually upset at the time she called me over.
As soon as I arrived, she asked me to show her my carry on, which I did, and she complained it was over weight, and advised I go and redistribute the weight. I left to do as advised and returned 15 minutes later, only for her to come up with the complain that my check-in luggages were bigger than the size limit for bags permitted on the aircraft (Even though the bags did clearly fit tightly in to the reference benchmark for acceptable baggage size). At that point, I became confused about her juggle between weight and size constraints, which she had not mentioned before.
When I asked her for some clarifications she simply said: You either pay for excess size and excess weight or get out of here !!!. At which point I lamented about such harsh words and called a member of her management team to lay the complain. Rather than the manager listening to the case and investigating properly, they both joined hands to continuously threaten me with the following words:
1. If you keep talking, I will stop checking you in and you will not fly.
2. If you keep complaining you will run out of time, so keep quiet and pay the money.
3. Just pay the money and go.
At some point during the whole fiasco, I got very infuriated because my bag is clearly a zipper bag and so could be reduced in size as required. I offered Miss Valerie the option of reducing the bag size so I can pay only for the over weight charge and she was adamant about her claim and started being very insulting, asking me to pay 610 Euros or leave her desk. She then went on to order the immediate removal of my items from her scale. At which point, I asked her what I did wrong to necessitate such treatment, and she turned round to say: I don't care what happens to you, if you don't want to pay the money, then leave.
The manager further added insults to injury by telling me the following: The airport is a place for travelling, not where we cater for your baggage needs. It is either you pay or forfeit the flight. When it became clear that no one was going to listen to me, I paid 610 Euros cash for which according to her, was the cost of one extra bag and an over sized baggage.
My major grievances with the way I was treated this morning are:-
1. Valerie was very insulting and was supported by her manager, without him bothering to understand and listen to what the issue was.
2. Even when I offered her the option of reducing the size of the bag, she was adamant about my paying the money and constantly insulted, and threatened me to that effect.
3. She felt it was not her responsibility to explain what the charges were for, nor seek to listen to other options I can explore to reduce this cost.
4. She clearly had a visual upset as soon as she realised it was me she called to serve. Right off the bath, I got a very nasty treatment from her.
5. If she was willing to stop threatening me with uploading my bags and was willing to listen to me and seek to understand that it was possible to reduce the size of that bag, my total cost would not have exceeded (200 Euros).
They were at least 4 passengers (3 blacks and a Chinese girl - who literally screamed and cried for the same treatment this morning). On a summary basis, this would suggest a negative racial bias in the way their staff approaches customers.
I have sincerely lost faith in the willingness of KLM management of handle my complains, and if I don't get a reasonable level of closure in this case, I will take my case to the press including the audio exchange which was recorded unknown to Valerie and her superior who are ranting in an abusive manner. When I told her I was going to report the case to KLM, she simply said: Got to hell. This is not the right way to treat even the least of their customers. No matter what, we the customers matter.