KLM and drinks

Old Apr 22, 2024, 4:57 am
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KLM and drinks

Hi all, curious about your views on KLM's approach to serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks vs other airlines. KLM has been my main airline for the past 3 years (Platinum), though I'm also flying a lot of AF, BA (Gold), as well as EK/QR (no status). Mostly flying business.

Recently, I had two interesting experiences. On a long-haul flight, KLM didn't offer any alcohol aside from the welcome drink (the wine menu was distributed but orders ignored). When I explicitly asked for wine, the crew brought a glass filled to about 20%. My request to top it up was acknowledged but ultimately ignored. I raised the matter with the cabin manager, who said that "many passengers drink too much". I was too taken aback to argue. Meanwhile, on a morning short-haul CH operated flight, the tiny water bottles were not given to passengers, who also asked for a coffee. When I asked to have water in addition to my coffee, the crew made a face and had a demonstrative think before generously handing me the bottle.

Up until then, I already considered KLM's premium soft product to be the weakest in the skies if you like to drink, be it wine or soft drinks. Drinks are never topped up, the Crown lounges actively discourage drinking (bar dragons in non-Shenghen, and an unpleasant, zoo-like self-service corner setting in Sheghen), requests for another round are often met with attitude or patronising remarks ("another one?"). However, things seem to be deteriorating further.

Do you share these experiences? If so, why do you think is KLM rationing drinks? I understand that the Dutch aren't known for service/hospitality, however 1) KLM is a truly international airline serving international customers, and 2) champagne continues to flow abundantly on AF.

When it comes to long-haul Y and PE, I see no difference between KLM and other Western airlines. This is specific to C. Is this all a cost-saving exercise or has the crew actually managed to convince management to give them full discretion on this matter?
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Old Apr 22, 2024, 5:16 am
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I can't say I've experienced anything of that nature on board myself.

I do dislike that the non-Schengen lounge has a staffed bar, however. And I strongly dislike that KL serves Codorniu cava (which btw is sold at the local Albert Heijn) in short-haul C where AF somehow does manage to serve real Champagne. It's not as if KL's product is priced better for it.
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Old Apr 22, 2024, 5:40 am
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Originally Posted by dubistokay
When it comes to long-haul Y and PE, I see no difference between KLM and other Western airlines. This is specific to C.
KLM does not serve any liquor in long-haul Y (not even a digestif), and if you push, the FA's would even try to persuade you that this was never the case (there was a small discussion here). By contrast, both AF and DL serve liquor on long-haul. AFAIK, all three serve some wine and beer on long-haul, though I've never tried it on any of them.
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Old Apr 22, 2024, 7:11 am
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Originally Posted by ok986
KLM does not serve any liquor in long-haul Y (not even a digestif), and if you push, the FA's would even try to persuade you that this was never the case (there was a small discussion here).
My last long-haul economy flight with KL (which was admittedly pre-covid, since then it's been C or W) the stewardess *suggested* a glass of Baileys to me. Which was actually exactly what I was thinking of asking for so it was like she read my mind.
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Old Apr 22, 2024, 8:50 am
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Originally Posted by ok986
KLM does not serve any liquor in long-haul Y (not even a digestif), and if you push, the FA's would even try to persuade you that this was never the case (there was a small discussion here).
And I remember a flight to Muscat (I think it was 2015), when the FA asked if we wanted a cognac after dinner.
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Old Apr 22, 2024, 9:23 am
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I have the experience the other way around. Apart from the shortest flights (say AMS-BRU) KLM usually serves beer and wine in Y. With AF however I noted they dropped the wine on several flights (AMS-CDG fi). I can't believe KLM dropped alcohol in J. You must have faced a bad crew/day with catering problems or so. If the latter, of course crew best had explained.
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Old Apr 22, 2024, 9:36 am
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It sounds like maybe this was the specific crew or route that caused their reluctance.
Was this a flight to a big party destination?

I've been on flights where a significant part of the passengers are (still?) drunk and it really is no fun for the other passengers or the crew
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Old Apr 22, 2024, 10:03 am
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I just wish KLM would offer an alternative beer to Heineken...
Surely there are other NL "craft" breweries that KLM could offer on their World Business flights?
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Old Apr 22, 2024, 10:41 am
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Originally Posted by EricBauman
Was this a flight to a big party destination?
Does Amsterdam count?

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Old Apr 22, 2024, 1:55 pm
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Originally Posted by mikem004
Surely there are other NL "craft" breweries that KLM could offer on their World Business flights?
Pretty sure that Uiltje at least has the capacity to cater KLM J with a basic pale ale or similar. Sad that it doesn't happen.
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Old Apr 22, 2024, 2:26 pm
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Originally Posted by gojko88
Pretty sure that Uiltje at least has the capacity to cater KLM J with a basic pale ale or similar. Sad that it doesn't happen.
But, even if it has the brewing capacity, it surely doesn't have the deep (marketing) pockets that Heineken has - nor do many other Dutch breweries for that matter.
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Old Apr 22, 2024, 3:21 pm
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Originally Posted by KL895
But, even if it has the brewing capacity, it surely doesn't have the deep (marketing) pockets that Heineken has - nor do many other Dutch breweries for that matter.
True, but if AF can afford not to serve crap wine from the highest bidder, then surely KLM can do the same with beer. It's all about priorities.
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Old Apr 23, 2024, 5:23 am
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They could at least serve one of the many craft beer brands that fall under the Heineken portfolio of brands surely?
e.g. Affligem, Texels, Lagunitas, Oedipus, amongst others...
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Old Apr 23, 2024, 7:18 am
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This has been discussed in the past. Heineken being Heineken, I'm sure if it's not free, then KLM pays cents per can.

Still, at least in the front - certainly they could work with Heineken to offer at least Brand if nothing else. Brands like Lagunitas would definitely fit, also with competition like BA with their Brewdog specials etc.
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Old Apr 23, 2024, 7:42 am
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Originally Posted by dubistokay
..., the Crown lounges actively discourage drinking (bar dragons in non-Shenghen, and an unpleasant, zoo-like self-service corner setting in Sheghen), requests for another round are often met with attitude or patronising remarks ("another one?"). However, things seem to be deteriorating further.
Last year, that change in the non-Schengen lounge where you can't pour your own drink anymore infuriated me when take-off of my longhaul flight was delayed by 3 hours to midnight, and the bar was closing shop at 22:00.... I was just in time to make them pour me 3 glasses of wine to keep me going until boarding
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