Fung’s First Letter to KLM



FUNG Chi Wood (Mr.)

xxx Hong Kong

Tel: (852) xxx xxx

Fax: (852) xxx xxx



17 February 2007



P.F. Hartman (Passenger Business)

E.F. Varwijk Inflight (Services Flight)

Y. de Haan (Operations)

KLM Head office

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

P.O. Box 7700
1117 ZL Schiphol Airport
The Netherland

(sent by surface air mail)

Public Relations
KLM Corporate Communications (AMS/DR)
P.O. Box 7700
1117 ZL Schiphol Airport
The Netherlands
Telephone: +31 20 64 95219


Customer Care Department

KLM Head office

The form on this web page is filled:


Corporate Communications Media Relations (AMS/DR)
PO Box 7700
1117 ZL Schiphol Airport
The Netherlands
Tel.: +31 (0)20 649 45 45
Fax: +31 (0)20 648 80 92


(This letter is sent by emails to the above persons/departments, a hard copy was sent to the Head Office with supporting documents.)


Customers Relation Department / Administrative Department

KLM Royal Dutch Department

18/F, Vicwood Plaza

199 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong

Tel:(852) 2808 2118;  Fax:(852) 2808 2730



(This letter is sent by surface mail with supporting documents, and by email, to the KLM office in Hong Kong.)



Elin Wong, Manager, Corporate Affairs, Dragonair
  Tel: (852) 3193-2874, Fax: (852) 3193-2121 

Dragonair House
11 Tung Fai Road
Hong Kong International Airport
Lantau, Hong Kong.
Tel: (852) 3193-3193, Fax: (852) 3193-3194

(sent by email)


Mr. Algernon Yau Ying-Wah, Managing Director

Hong Kong International Airport Services

6T253 Passenger Terminal Building
Hong Kong International Airport
Lantau, Hong Kong

Tel: (852) 2180-2116, Fax: (852) 2186-6710

(sent by fax)


Dear Sirs/Madams of KLM:


1.           I had a very bad experience with your flight and hope your company could make improvements.


2.           On 26 December 2006 (public holiday in Hong Kong), I and my wife were prevented to embark on your flight in Hong Kong even we arrived at the boarding gate on time, it was 12 minutes before the scheduled departure time. (departure time 11:10, KL 888, economy class, from Hong Kong to Amsterdam)


3.           After coming back to Hong Kong, I called your Department in Hong Kong last month (January) trying to contact the staff of your Department, a Miss L answered saying that no staff in the Customer Relation Department was in office, I told her my phone number and she promised to ask someone to call me back. But I received no call.


4.           On 26 Jan. 2007 I called again asking a face to face interview with the staff of your company, a Miss L of the Administration Department in Hong Kong said that I have to write my complain and only written complain would be entertained, and meeting in person would not be arranged, a written reply to my complain would be given later. Hence this is my written complain. Please excuse me for writing this letter a bit late, as I was trying to contact your company.


5.           On 26 December 2006 I and my wife arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport around 9:10 a.m. and went to the check-in counter of your company directly. The processing was finished at about 9:20 a.m. Your staff at the check-in counter did not say to us about anything about the time of the closing of the gate but only about the boarding time. He wrote the time “10:40” on the boarding passes without saying anything. As 10:40 was only 10 minutes later than the boarding time 10:30 printed on the boarding passes, hence I assumed that what was written by him was the boarding time that was changed to be 10 minutes later.  Also, the time “10:40” was written besides the words “After boarding closure time passengers will be refused.” on my boarding pass, the word “boarding” was written before the words “closure time”. This created confusion, and this meant boarding time to me, as closure time would not be so early as 30 minutes before the plane departure time.


6.           Moreover, on the yellow small sticker on the top of my boarding pass, it was written “Please board your flight at least 20 minutes before scheduled departure time.” 20 minutes before departure time was 10:50, hence 10:40 should be the boarding time for sure.
     (Copies of the two boarding passes were attached. The sections on the left hand side which should be kept by passengers were torn and taken away by the staff of HIAS Miss S without my consent, she said she had to take those portions away for some purposes.)


7.           If 10:40 was meant to be the gate closing time, this would be 30 minutes before the departure time 11:10, this is unreasonably early. How can you expect all passengers could finish getting on the plane 30 minutes before the departure time?  Furthermore, if 10:40 was meant to be the gate closing time, it was only 10 minutes after the boarding time 10:30. How could all passengers get on the plane within 10 minutes?


8.           On my boarding pass, no closing time of the gate was indicated. It was written only the words “After boarding closure time passengers will be refused.” But what was the closure time?  On the sticker on my boarding pass, it was written “Please board your flight at least 20 minutes before scheduled departure time.” But nothing about closure of the gate was mentioned.


9.           I did ask at the counters of other airline companies at the Airport later on that day. They had the closing time of the gate stated clearly on the boarding pass, one company printed “10 minutes before departure time”, another one stated “15 minutes before departure time” written by hand by the staff at the check-in counter. I think 10 or 15 minutes before departure time are reasonable gate closure time. If your staff at the check-in counter had stated and warned me in proper writing and/or spoken words clearly about the gate closure time, if I had know beforehand the arrangement on the closure of the gate of your Company, I would have come to the gate earlier than the gate closure time in order to get on board, and would be earlier than 12 minutes before departure time! But because I did not know the gate closure time, so I assume that the closure time would be the plane departure time.


10.       Can you please tell me now what was the gate closure time of my flight? Your staff at the gate did not tell me. They just said it was written on my board pass. You see, your staff at the gate even were not sure what was the preset closure time! They did not know what was written on my board pass. I had to read out loudly to them to explain there was not closure time written on it. But of course, they did not listen to me. They just closed the gate at their own will depending on the conditions.


11.       I and my wife arrived at 10:58 to the gate, 12 minutes before the schedule plane departure time. All of the staff (about ten) were still standing at their duty positions, some at the ticket machine, some were lining up to serve the passengers (no passenger was there at that time). So the gate was just closed, might be less that one minute. Buy the door of the jet bridge leading to the plane was still open. Miss S of HIAS, standing at the first position of the staff line, meeting us before other staff, said to us unsympathetically that the gate was closed and we had to take a later flight, and asked us the reasons for being late. We were surprised and angry and asked Mr. S, Duty Manager of HIAS, to open the gate to let us to go on board. We said it was unreasonable to close the gate so early, and your staff did not wait for us even just for one or two minutes even though they knew that we had checked out at the arrival counter and we should be inside the airport preparing for boarding. We argued with them about the time of closure of the gate. Mr. W (later I learnt he was the Service Manager of your company) said to us in a loud voice. I asked him who he was and who was in a higher position, he or Mr. S. I was thinking they were staff of the same company. Mr. W asked me to guess impolitely instead of answering me directly. Later he told me his position in your company and I then learnt that he was the only staff of your company on the spot. He claimed in a loud and impolite voice that he was leaving and did not want to talk with me because he considered me was “too excited”. Actually I was irritated by his manner and conduct, and by the unreasonable closure of the gate, and the unexpected great damage on my trip if I could not get on that flight.


12.       But no one showed any apology and sympathy to us. We were in total helpless situation. We argued with Mr C of HIAS, and. Miss S of HIAS just kept on urging us to follow her to get back our luggage, intending to ask us to leave the spot. I asked the HIAS staff there I wanted to contact your company. I asked for the telephone numbers of your company, the numbers given were 28082111 and 28082118. No one was answering at these numbers, maybe it was public holiday on that day. The HIAS staff failed to help me to contact your company. No one was willing to help us. The only staff of your company Mr. W had left.  All the staff remaining there were not staff of your company but of another company.  Realizing that they could not give us any assistance, I and my wife had to leave the place and follow Miss S of HIAS to go to the Departure Hall of the Airport to get back our luggage.


13.       We don’t know why Mr. W decided to leave us. He was the only person from your company whom we could contact and ask for assistance at that time. We thought we were very badly served and left behind in helplessness. Miss S of HIAS led us to the booking counter of HIAS (Hong Kong International Airport Services) to get another air tickets. She was just doing her prescribed job, she did not give us any advice and could not answer any of my questions and requests. To our surprise, we were told that if we wished to travel on the same flight on the next day, we had to pay Hong Kong dollars four thousands something for each person! In comparison, we paid about six thousand something dollars for one air return ticket from Hong Kong to Lisbon, but we had to pay about two-thirds of the cost of our original return tickets in extra in order just to get one way from Hong Kong to Amsterdam.


14.       I asked Miss S of HIAS to tell Mr. W that I wanted to continue my trip and did not mind to take another flight on the next day, but I did not wish to pay any extra money. If that could be arranged, I would not pursuit any compensation in future although I was one day delayed, and I would call the reporters of the mass media to come to report that matter if my case was not settled well.


15.       Some time later, Miss S of HIAS, possible after contacting Mr. W as I saw her had made a phone call, told me that I could take the flight to Bangkok to catch KLM flight from there to Amsterdam, but I had to pay and buy my own ticket to Bangkok. I asked at the HIAS counter, the cost of one ticket was two thousand something Hong Kong dollars.


16.       It would have saved me a lot of time and trouble, and would have reduced my anger a lot, if I were politely accompanied and assisted by your staff. But I was accompanied only of a minor staff of another company without any knowledge of how to help, lacking decision power to handle my case, and with no reasonable sympathy in her heart.  She was so arrogant. Both Miss S of HIAS and Mr. W did not show any sympathy to my situation and did not have any altitude of apology, they did not treat us as the customers but consider us as trouble-makers by creating troubles to them.


17.       We spent more than one hour in the Departure Hall, trying to contact your company in Hong Kong, at last we got the telephone number 27369188 from the HIAS counter, they failed to give me this number at first. Why your staff at the gate or Miss S of HIAS did not give me this telephone number at the beginning, to save me time and effort? I had to spent a lot of effort and time in order to get it. Why your staff was reluctant to help, and not cooperative with me? Trying to cut any contact and any assistance to me, trying to hide something from the passengers? Trying to treat the passengers in the ways they like? Trying to hide what was happening from the company? Or trying to serve your customers?


18.       When I called that number, a Miss L answered. She said her position was agent, her got the record showing that I and my wife had not checked-in, she explained that the record of checking-in was deleted because we did not get on the plane. She said she got the record that I and my wife did not get on board the plane, and because of our “exited manner” it was not appropriate to let us on board. I asked if there anyone of higher position who could help me. The answer was negative. Did your company get the report that the gate was closed before my arrived at 10:58 a.m., 12 minutes before the departure time? If you were told that the reason to reject my request to re-open the gate and allow me to get on board was just of my ill temper, did your staff believe that I would cause trouble if I were on board the plane? If bad temper was the reason for not getting on the plane, then the same bad temper of Mr. S of HIAS, and your staff Mr. W, shouting impolitely to me at the gate, should be unqualified for doing their jobs to handling your passengers. We were already angry for being not allowed to get on the plane. Their rough manners were responsible to intensify the anger of me and my wife. They should calm us down by saying apology and should help us to get in touch of your company and showed us all alternatives we could choose, in friendly and polite manner. But these were not done, but just the opposite, we were deserted behind by your staff.


19.       At first, Mr. W did not wish to meet me. After contacting Miss L of your Hong Kong office, I knew that I could not get in touch with any staff of higher rank to help me. I wanted to meet with Mr. W face to face, to make sure what Miss S of HIAS told me was from him, and wished to settle the case with the staff of your company, as I did not wish to settle my case with a minor staff of another company which had no responsibility on me. I told Miss S of HIAS that I wished to meet Mr. W in person, and gave her my name card to reveal my identity. Then about twenty five minutes later, Mr. W appeared and stood inside the HIAS counter, while I stood outside the counter, we talked face to face. AT that time he was polite. He gave me his name card. I told him your Hong Kong office had the report saying that I was refused to get on board because of my ill temper. I asked him if he had had any slight intention to re-open the gate to let me on board. He replied frankly saying no. I was astonished by his lies to your company. He did not have any indication or intention to re-open the gate, but reported to your office that I was not suitable to go on board the plane. He just said to me roughly at the gate that he did not wish to talk to me because I was ill-tempered, but did not mention anything about whether I and my wife were in suitable condition or not to get on board the plane.


20.       Can I ask what is the accepted condition of a passenger in order to let him to get on board? Is it simply because he is in angry manner then he is not suitable to go on board? It was because I was unreasonably refused to get on the plane that caused my anger. If the gate were to be re-opened upon request and I were allowed to get on board, do you think I would continue to be in bad temper, and would cause trouble to other passengers and your staff? Please tell me what were the true reasons for not letting me and my wife to get on board?


21.       Mr. W explained to me the reasons to close the gate in time, saying that your companies had so many fights, and all passengers on board the plane would be delayed and could not just wait for one or two persons. These were nonsense. As I said in this letter, the plane would not be delayed even if the gate was re-opened and letting me and my wife to get aboard. Actually the gate should wait at least 5 more minutes before it closed, because the plane left the parking station 5 minutes before the scheduled departure time. If the gate had been waiting for 5 more minutes, I and my wife would go on board in time! This would cause no delay of the plane and cause no convenience to any body. Why the gate was closed so much early and not waiting a just few more minutes? Why the plane had to leave the parking station before the scheduled departure time? Please explain to me.


22.       Mr. W further explained to me that he believed in democracy and therefore would treat anyone alike without any preferences. Hence he treated me as ordinary person without any special arrangement, although I was a public figure in Hong Kong. I told him I did not ask for special treatment, if I did not disclose my identity it would be unfair to him. I showed him my name card to let him know who I was, just as I wanted to find out what was his position in your company. My action was fair and honest. If he thought that I put extra pressure on him to make decision, that would not my intention. I just requested a fair and reasonable treatment. I just asked to take another flight on the next day on the same time (since there was only one such flight each day by your company) free of charge, since I did not take the flight that day, and I promised to him if this could be done, I would not demand any compensation in future, although I would lose one day traveling time. Is this reasonable and fair? I did not ask for any special arrangement. But Mr. W said I had to pay four thousand something dollars for each ticket for the same flight on the next day. He offered me to take the flight free of extra charge either in Taipei or in Bangkok, but I had to pay for the air tickets to go to these places by meself. Realizing no other alternatives, I decided to buy tickets from the HIAS counter to fly to Taipei to catch the free flight of your company to Amsterdam.


23.       I asked Mr. W if he wished to report to his superior before he made his final arrangement, he declined to do so and also reject to help me to get in touch with his superior upon my request. He said it was no need to do so. It was public holiday on that day, but was there a staff of higher rank in duty on that day in Hong Kong, I wonder? Why I was refused to get in touch with him? Was he so busy? Why my case could not be properly and happily be settled on that day, but had to be settled by launching complain and possible compensations afterwards. Is your company trying to give good service to your customers, or to induce the dissatisfaction and anger of your customers?


24.       Mr. W reminded me that I could raise complain to the Consumer Council. Is this the policy of your company to ask your customers to settle the dispute outside but not with your company, through the government channel, social means, political methods, and legal procedures?  Why did he not mention to me that your company has a Customer Relation Department in Hong Kong and give me its address and telephone? Did he know such a Department? I have to find out by myself later.


25.       At the gate I was told I could take another flight, and I might have to pay one thousand something dollars for that by a staff (possibly he was Mr. C of HIAS), without getting further information. At the HIAS counter in the Departure Hall the first time, I was told to pay four thousand dollars something for one ticket for the same flight on the next day by the staff at the counter, and no more information nor alternatives was given to me. Later in the Departure Hall, I was told by Miss S of HIAS (possibly by the instruction of Mr. W) that I could take the flight in Taipei or in Bangkok free of charge, but I had to buy tickets to get there. Why I was not given at the gate, or at least at the HIAS counter, all such information and alternatives? Did your company want me to buy the tickets for the flight on the next day at first, in order to earn extra money from me? But later after knowing my identity, your staff changed his mind and let me to take the flight in Taipei or in Bangkok free of charge.


26.       May I ask whether my original flight KL 888 on 26 December 2006 was full or not? Was there anyone to take our seats after I and my wife failed to go on board?


27.       Did your company fix the gate closure time? How many minutes was it before the plane departure time? How did your company instruct your staff about the time of closing the gate? Were they instructed not to wait any passengers after the preset fixed closure time, or to wait for a few minutes after the fixed closure time if there were late comers?


28.       This time I saw the plane of my fight left the parking station 5 minutes before the scheduled departure time. That indicated the plane was not delayed even for one minute. It even took off (or left the station) 5 minutes earlier than scheduled departure time. Why your staff did not wait for us for another minute or so, since your plane had 5 extra minutes (it left the station 5 minutes before the departure time) to wait for late comers? Your unsympathetic staff wasted time to argue with us for not re-opening the gate, but did not consider the great inconvenience caused to us without getting the fight, and they only thought of saving the trouble to re-open the gate, and in fact, to re-open the gate would cause less than 5 minutes, and would not even delay the fight a little bit. We stood there requesting and arguing again and again with your staff, from 10:58 a.m. (12 minutes before the departure time) until the plane left the station at 11:05 a.m. (5 minutes before the departure time). That period of 7 minutes was wasted, by not letting us to board the plane.


29.       Can I ask when was the gate of my flight closed? Why the plane left the station 5 minutes before and not at the scheduled departure time of 11:10 a.m.? Do all planes not leave the parking stations at the scheduled departure time? What aims can they achieve to leave earlier than the prescribed departure time? To have enough time to get preparation to take off, or to join the take off queue at earlier position to save some time, in order to make sure they will arrive their destinations in time? Can I ask you how much time is needed to re-open the gate of the plane? How much time would be needed for re-opening the gate and letting us to walk on board the plane and then closing the gate again? If this just causes a few minutes, why this was not done, to compensate the unreasonable early closing of the gate?


30.       Your staff knew that I had checked in and should be in the airport waiting to get on board. Why they did not wait for me for a few minutes? I am sure you know how will be the consequences for any passenger if he cannot get on board the plane. This time, I have to pay five thousands something Hong Kong dollars in total to buy two tickets flying to Taipei. Hence I lost money. I took the flight in the afternoon from Hong Kong to Taipei, then I took your company’s flight to Bangkok, then to Amsterdam. I lost one day of traveling time, and spending about 24 hours in the air, from Hong Kong to Taipei, then to Bangkok, then to Amsterdam, and then finally to my destination Lisbon. That was the longest fight I have never taken. I and my wife were very tired after 24 hour flying in the air. That was cause just by closing the gate one or two minutes too early, and by refusing to re-opening the gate, with a bit of trouble but causing no delay of the flight. I and my wife had to take these consequences and sufferings. I was lucky that I was on my vacation and did not have to attend any important meeting. Otherwise the lost would be immeasurable. If I had booked the hotel and car, I would have further financial lost. My joy and mood for vacation was badly affected. Did your staff and you aware of all these great possible consequences and inconvenience incurred on your customers for failing to take their flights, and did your staff consider this before they decided to close the gate? No passenger will want to delay the flight, but there are always some unforeseeable happenings that cause passengers could not come to the gate well in advance. This time, the unclear message about the gate closing time was the cause.


31.       This time, I did not know your closure time, as mentioned above. To my common sense and traveling experiences, the gate would not be closed until the scheduled departure time. Therefore 12 minutes would be pretty enough for me to get on board. I and my wife came to the gate 12 minutes before the closure time, it would only take us less than one minute to walk through the jet bridge and get on the plane. The plane would still have 11 minutes to get ready to take off without any delay. Why not waiting for us and close the gate so early?


32.       Can you tell me how many passengers in Hong Kong missed the flights of your company because they arrived after the gate was close at the Hong Kong International Airport in November 2006, in December 2006, and in January 2007? What did they do? How many of them were offered to catch the flight in Taipei or in Bangkok on the same day free of charge? Were they offered the same flight the next day free of charge, why?


33.       I wonder the effectiveness of writing this complain letter. But I have to try in order to know the result. I wish my case could be settled within certain degree of reasonableness. I wish your company will settle my case well and I need not to pursue further action outside. I would be most grateful if you could reply me soon and answer all my questions in this letter.


34.       I hope this lengthy letter could assist to a little bit of the improvement of your company. Wish the very success of your company! Happy Chinese New Year! (Tomorrow is the Chinese New Year)



Yours truly,





(Signed, on hard copies only)

FUNG Chi Wood


Enclosed (in air and surface mails, and in faxed letter only): 

Photocopies of my boarding passes.


*Remark:  To protect privacy, the names of the staff mentioned in my letter are not disclosed on the internet, they are disclosed in the copies sent out to KLM.