KLM, where the K is for Karing

July 29, 2018 § Leave a comment

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When Arnold Neuhaus was a small lad growing up in Amsterdam, he entered a contest sponsored by KLM, and won. The prize was a flight over Amsterdam, but he wasn’t able to collect because of his sister’s illness. Eighty three years later, with the help of his seven-year-old great-grandson, KLM delivered with a surprise for “Grandpa Nol’s” ninetieth birthday.

How’s that for a caring company?

Each year, AirHelp rates airlines by looking at their on-time performance, quality of service, and claim processing. I’m going to call that a “care” index (work with me here). Back in 2016, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines came in second. Since then, though, they’ve seen a bit of a dip in their ranking. Last year they came in at 11, and this year, it’s 11 again.

But KLM cares about caring, and maybe they’ll soon regain their number-2 spot. (Good look trying to be number 1. Qatar Airways seems to have a lock on that.) Take, for instance, their special-assistance program. It’s called KLM CARES.

And this summer, they’re introducing Care-E, a luggage-carrying robot that can scan your boarding pass and take you where you need to be, even if the gate changes. KLM tells CNN Travel that Care-E is currently in testing, with plans to debut it in New York’s JFK airport and San Francisco International later this year.

Care-E looks like another step toward airport robot domination, and it’s an upgrade of KLM’s Spencer, who, alas, couldn’t carry your bags.

Last year, the airline introduced the KLM Care Tag, a smart luggage tag that uses GPS and a speaker to provide helpful “tips and tricks” as you travel around Amsterdam. It’s another technology that’s in beta mode, as it was available only during September of 2017.

The Care Tag. Yeah, it’s kind of like having a stewardess riding on the back of your bike or on top of your roller bag. Of course, that’s not going to happen (though the images are kind of seared into my brain). But don’t be surprised if a member of the KLM cabin crew sneaks up behind you on the street to zip up your backpack or adjust your child’s shoulder strap. “It’s not the blue uniform that make us stand out,” they say, “It’s because we care.”

And if you still don’t believe me about KLM’s karing kulture, here’s a video in honor of Mother’s Day, for those who live far away from Mom. It’s actually my favorite of this whole bunch.

By the way (#1), do you know what KLM actually stands for? It’s Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, which translates to Royal Aviation Company.

By the way (#2), in case you’ve never heard of AirHelp before . . . besides rating airlines (and airports), they want to help you get compensation for any flight delays, cancellations, or overbookings that have affected you in the last three years. Just let them know the details, then “sit back and relax while [they] jump into action.”

(Lilit Marcus, “KLM’s New Airport Robot Care-E Will Guide You to the Gate,” CCN Travel, July 11, 2018;

[photo from KLM, used with permission]

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Anne Frank: The Immeasurable Value of a Red-Plaid Diary

June 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

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If Anne Frank hadn’t died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 and had gone on to survive the normal maladies of life, she would have turned 84 on June 12 last week.

It was on her 13th birthday, 71 years ago, that she received the gift of a red-plaid autograph book and began using it as a diary. The first words she wrote were,

I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.

She then continued to chronicle her life as a young German-born Jewish girl living in Amsterdam under the tyranny of German occupation, as she and her family hid from the Nazis in a set of secret rooms. After two years, in 1944, they were discovered and deported to Auschwitz.

In describing the role of her diary, Anne is also defining the roles of a good listener: A rare confidant who values acceptance over judgment (realizing there will be time for editing and feedback later). A safe friend who reflects back what is heard, allowing the speaker to work through her problems rather than forcing quick solutions. A concerned companion who offers silence—like blank pages—to be filled with another’s valuable stories. An empathetic advocate not afraid to hear raw emotions and honest truth.

May we all be givers of that kind of comfort and support. May we share the qualities of Anne’s red-plaid diary. May we be that kind of gift to someone who needs to be heard.

(Anne Frank, Trans. Susan Massotty, The Diary of a Young Girl, Eds. Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler, New York: Everyman’s, 2010)
[photo: “Anne Frank Diary at Anne Frank Museum in Berlin,” by Heather Cowper, used under a Creative Commons license]

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