KLM fined for not refunding cancelled tickets

The Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) gave KLM a proper slap on the wrist yesterday as it decided to fine the royal airline for non-refunds of cancelled tickets during the corona crisis.

Over the past year, the ILT scrutinised the practices of 14 different airlines amongst which not only KLM but also Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and Air Arabia Maroc are now in for a fine. Exactly how much it’ll cost the airlines is not yet known, reports the NOS.

Violation of passenger rights

As many people who’ve had to cancel a long-awaited trip during the pandemic may recognise, the investigation of airlines treatment of passenger rights revealed that “The refund of tickets purchased from a travel broker or online platform is not going well.”

Amongst others, the inspectorate found that “passengers actually never receive the ticket money back within seven days” — excuse us?

To make matters worse, passengers aren’t always offered the choice of getting their money back or receiving a voucher for another flight.

Different treatment if you book through a travel agent

The inspectorate also found that passengers who book via third parties are worse off in the case of a cancelled trip than those who get their ticket directly with the airline.

Although the airline is ultimately responsible for the direct reimbursement, nine out of 14 airlines refer passengers back to the travel agent — leaving them to deal with an exhausting amount of phone calls and confusion. The ILT has now reminded airlines of this fact. 🙃

KLM response

According to the NOS, the CEO of KLM, Pieter Elbers, says he’ll look carefully at the report by the ILT and talk to them. Elbers emphasises that the past two years have been hard on KLM but that they’ve always aimed to treat their customers as best as possible.

What’s your experience with getting your money back for a cancelled flight? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: sarymsakov/Depositphotos

Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
A Dane with a special place in her heart for Minnesota, Christine is now falling in love with everything Dutch. Between finishing her bachelor’s degree, learning Dutch, and doing yoga teacher training, you will find her wandering about the Hague. Always up for visiting new places, she loves to explore the Netherlands with friends and takes pride in scoping out cute cafés (wherein to discuss books, big plans, and food).


  1. Due to travel ban I have requested a voucher from KLM. On their website they say 7 working days. When contacting them I now have been told 8 to 12 weeks. Not acceptable as that is money out of my pocket now.

  2. KLM cancelled my trip in early 2020, refused to give me a refund, but convinced me to take an extra 20% more when I rebooked. Now they tell me they will not honor the 20% more. So they kept my money for 1 1/2 years (they still have my money), they are not giving me the 20% in addition, and I don’t have a refund. 🙁

  3. I have been waiting on a refund of 6K+ since May 25th 2020. I call KLMs customer service line, I am disconnected because of long waits. I finally get through, I am referred to another number which refers me back to the original number. I have spent hours calling in circles with no results.


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