Q: I think I’ve reached a dead end with KLM and wondered if you could help. At the end of January, I contacted the airline through Facebook about tickets to Tanzania. My family and I are planning to fly there for three weeks in June and then extend our layover in Amsterdam for a week on the return trip.

KLM quoted me a price in dollars, including all taxes and fees, and we followed the link to purchase tickets.

This week, checking my Visa statement, I saw that I was charged approximately $1,200 more. KLM charged me in euros instead of dollars.

The airline admitted its mistake, but its offer to resolve this was either to give us a full refund or upgrade our seats to “economy comfort” on the leg from Amsterdam to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Only one way.

Unfortunately, in the time that has passed, fares have gone up around $300 more per person — making a refund a hassle and not really worth it.

The minor upgrade on one part of our journey doesn’t seem like enough to me. Yet the airline refuses to upgrade both ways in and out of Dar es Salaam.

I feel cheated. Any suggestions?


A: KLM misquoted your fare. If it had refunded your tickets quickly, you would have had a chance to rebook your flights to Tanzania with another carrier.

KLM’s offer to “upgrade” you to roomier economy-class seats one way is a little ridiculous. First of all, those seats have about the same amount of legroom as all coach seats used to, so it’s really not doing you any favors. And what about your return trip?

I recommended that you send a brief, polite e-mail to the airline, which you did. But KLM only repeated its insufficient offer, this time by e-mail. Interestingly, Delta Air Lines, KLM’s partner in the U.S., gets to clean up this mess. Ah, code-sharing! Don’t even get me started on that consumer-unfriendly practice.

The way I saw it, Delta had two options: either honor the original fare or buy you a ticket on a competing airline for the same route, and at the rate you thought you paid when you booked your tickets.

After much back-and-forth among you, me, KLM and Delta, I received word from Delta that you would be refunded the difference between the price in dollars you were quoted and the amount in euros you were charged. You and your family also will be upgraded to “economy comfort” from Amsterdam to Dar es Salaam.


Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org or e-mail him at chris@elliott.org.