Dutch flag carrier KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is one of the world’s oldest airlines and the oldest airline still flying under its original name.
The airline celebrated its centenary on Monday, October 7 with more than 3500 friends, frequent flyers and supporters at a party inside an airplane hangar at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
At the birthday party, there was cake, of course. And speeches.
But everyone in attendance was anxious to find out which historical or architecturally significant Dutch building was being portrayed in KLM’s 100th miniature Delft blue house.
These small porcelain houses are filled with Bols Genever (a Dutch gin) and are highly collectible. They are gifted to passengers flying on intercontinental flights in KLM’s World Business Class cabins.
KLM Then and Now
While KLM was officially established on October 7, 1919, the airline’s first flight took place on May 17, 1920, on a leased De Havilland DH-16 flown from London to Amsterdam.
The airline started buying its own airplanes in 1921; transported its first large animal (a stud bull named Nico V) in 1924 and began flying with designated cabin crew to attend to passenger comfort and safety in 1935.
airline’s inflight magazine – the Holland Herald – was first published in 1966
and is now the oldest inflight magazine in the world
After a 2004 merger, KLM became part of the Air France – KLM Group and today KLM flies to 162 destinations, employs 33,000 people worldwide and has a fleet of more than 214 aircraft.
The airline carries more than 34 million passengers and more than 620,000 tons of cargo a year.
“Airlines operate in an incredibly competitive environment,” said Pieter Elbers, KLM President & CEO “Fuel prices, geopolitical issues, and exchange rates are among the many outside issues that affect our business and can make it tough to operate the airline.”
While other airlines
have come and gone, KLM’s longevity, said Elbers, has a lot to do with
innovative and pioneering with its operations and its ability to respond to
trends in a timely manner.
For example, KLM was
an early adopter of social media to serve and engage customers.
Today the airline has
a social media team of about 350, one of the largest in the world. Agents are
on duty daily, tackling about 35,000 customer service cases a week, in 10
different languages, via WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, WeChat and
other platforms. Artificial intelligence systems help as well.
KLM and sustainability
KLM flew the first biofuel flight, to Paris, in June 2011. And in March
2013, the airline operated the first intercontinental flight with biofuel, to
The airline now has wide-ranging sustainability programs, including the unusual “Fly Responsibly” program which encourages people not to fly – or to fly less often.
Videos and ads ask customers, “Do you always need to meet face-to-face? Could you take the train instead? Could you contribute by compensating your CO2 emissions, or packing light.?”
“It may seem radical for an airline to ask people to consider other options than flying, but we see it as a pioneering approach to creating a more sustainable future in aviation for all of us,” said Boet Kreiken, Executive Vice President Customer Experience, KLM.
As part of the campaign, KLM recently announced that starting March 29, 2020, it will be replacing one of its daily flights between Brussels and Amsterdam with seats on the Thalys high-speed train.
KLM is also supporting the Delft University of Technology efforts to develop the Flying-V, a highly energy-efficient long-distance airplane design that puts the passenger cabin, the cargo holds and the fuel tanks in the wings of an unusual v-shaped aircraft.
The 100th KLM Miniature Delft house
Each year KLM marks its October 7 anniversary by
revealing a new Delftware miniature house.
Past miniature houses have depicted everything from the Anne Frank House and the Rembrandt House to the Palace on Dam Square.
A great exhibit drawing from KLM’s extensive collection of more the 250,000 images has been on view at the Amsterdam City Archives.
And on October 7, a hoopla event will take place in a KLM hangar at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. During that party, the much-awaited ‘reveal’ of the 100th tiny Delft house filled with Bols Genever (a Dutch gin) will take place.
The small houses are a given out as complimentary gifts to travelers flying World Business Class and there’s always a wave of excitement in the cabin when the cart with the houses start being rolled down the aisle.
Stuck at the Airport will on hand for this year’s big reveal and we’ll share details on that as soon as we’re able.
Stuck at The Airport was honored to be on site for the reveal of KLM’s 97th miniature Delft House, which was made in the likeness of the Hotel New York in Rotterdam.
The hotel is on the site of the former headquarters of the Holland American Line and for many years, beginning in 1872, the company’s ships sailed between Rotterdam and New York and several other U.S. cities.
The airplane of the future may be shaped like a big V.
And it may be super sustainable.
On the heels of its announcement of an investment in a biofuel plant set to open in 2022, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has announced it will partner with Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) to fund the development of an innovative flying machine known as the “Flying-V.”
aerodynamic aircraft design incorporates the passenger cabin, cargo hold and
fuel tanks into the wings of a V-shaped aircraft.
As designed, the unusual shape would reduce an aircraft’s weight and use 20% less fuel than current airplanes. But it would allow the plane to easily land at airports and pull up to gates designed to welcome Airbus A350s.
Designers say the Flying-V will be able to carry the same number of passengers – 314 – and the same volume of cargo as an Airbus A350. But this new plane will be smaller than an A350 and more aerodynamic.
Although the Flying-V will initially fly on kerosene, it is designed make use of innovations in the propulsion system, such as electrically boosted turbofan engines.
Designers say not only will the Flying-V look different and be energy-efficient, it could offer a better passenger experience, with seating in the wings and with a unique new design for seating and lavatories.
A flying scale model and full-size section of the interior of the “Flying-V” is set to be unveiled in October, during KLM Experience Days at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, as a potential aircraft design of the future.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has added an augmented reality bag sizer tool to its app to help passengers figure out if their carry-on bags comply with the airline’s rules.
The augmented reality bag check tool shows a virtual KLM suitcase that is the size of a carry-on bag that fits the dimensions of the bags KLM allows on board.
When the user points their phone at their own carry-on bag, the augmented reality tool can measure the bag against the sample bag.
Here’s a video that shows how the tool works.
While it seems that many passengers ignore most airlines’ rules about the dimensions of carry-on bags allowed, the augmented reality tool seems like a great way for resposible travelres to comply with the rules.
This also seems like a good way to avoid arguments at the gate when KLM gate staffers are being sticklers about enforcing the rules.
If it works well, this is a tool every airline could add to their app.
Passengers could use it to measure their bag before they leave home. In the boarding area, gate agents who feel a bag is oversized could just aim their version of the app at a bag. If there’s debate, both passenger and gate agent could take a screen shot of the results.
Now there just needs to be a way to weigh bags with an app!
KLM’s app offers some other augmented reality features as well, including a 360-degree display of a Dreamliner aircraft and, in the KLM Houses App, a look at Anthony Fokker’s House 98.