KLM, standing for Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, is the flagship airline for the Netherlands and is the world’s oldest carrier still operating under its original name. In 1919 an aviation exposition was held in Amsterdam, and after its success several companies were interested in developing a Dutch commercial airline with Queen Wilhelmina awarding the soon-to-be-founded KLM its ‘Royal’ ("Koninklijke") predicate in September of that year. In October of the same year, KLM was officially founded as one of the world’s first airlines by founded by the Dutch pioneer in aviation Albert Plesman. The first flight would not take place until the following year when the company flew two journalists and a number of newspapers from Croydon Airport in London to Amsterdam. The first scheduled services began running in 1921, and the first intercontinental flight in 1924 to Java. During WWII a number of flights were in flight when the Netherlands was invaded by Germany, and by escaping occupation, these aircraft and crew could continue to fly scheduled services temporarily under British Overseas Airways Corporation registration. Some also journeyed to the Australia-Indonesia region, where they assisted in transporting people fleeing the Japanese. In 1945, domestic and European flights resumed following the end of the war. Networks and routes to Africa, North and South America, and the Caribbean were resumed.
In the post-war years, the airline continued to expand and eventually began converting their fleet into jets in the 1950s. By 1990, KLM was carrying over 16,000,000 passengers annually. In 2003, Air France and KLM agreed to a merger in which each airline would continue to run separately as their own subsidiaries under the Air France-KLM holding group. This successful merger created the world’s largest airline group. KLM is part of the Sky Team alliance, along with their sister airline Air France and its close partner Delta Airlines. The main headquarters for KLM is located at Amstelveen, which is close by the airlines’ hub at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
KLM operates passenger flights to over 600 different destinations on 6 continents. The main hub for KLM is at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, and its second hub is at Paris Charles de Gaulle. Within Europe some of the most popular destinations include Barcelona, Copenhagen, Prague, Rome, Berlin, Budapest, Istanbul and Milan. Flights to New York and Vancouver in North America are also popular, as well as long-haul flights to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Accra, Nairobi, Shanghai, Osaka, and Tokyo. Other KLM destinations in the UK include Newcastle, Leeds, Durham, Norwich, London Heathrow Airport and London City Airport.
KLM flights offer a full service flying experience in which complimentary drinks and snack are served all on short-haul flights to all ticket classes, and complimentary drinks and food is served on long-haul flights. In-flight entertainment is available on certain aircraft and certain routes. For KLM routes within Europe, checked luggage incurs an additional fee and can be pre-booked online for better pricing. Long-haul flights include at least one piece of checked luggage for free in each ticketed class. KLM have also integrated social media into their flying experience with their Meet & Seat, which allows passengers to find other passengers flying on their flight by matching interests on the Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. The current frequent flyer programme is called Flying Blue, and miles are transferable between KLM, Air France and Delta Airlines.
KLM tickets can be purchased for Economy Class and Business Class, with a special distinction between World Business Class and Europe Business Class. Economy Class tickets offer the best value with comfort and complimentary refreshments. Economy passengers also have the choice of online check-in or airport check-in. With Business Class, customers can experience more comfortable and private seating, SkyPriority status, power outlets in seat, access to the KLM Crown Lounge and partner lounges, gourmet food and refreshments, and an extra baggage allowance. With World Business Class, passengers can expect the same facilities and services as well as Sleeper Seats that are 190 cm long, 170 - 175 degrees reclinable and equipped with a massage unit and a privacy canopy. Additionally, extra flexibility can be purchased for €14 per person on European flights, offering passengers a no fee service to make changes to their journey.