A One-Off Special Take-Off

KLM’s Social Media Hub receives a wide variation of questions, remarks and compliments on a daily bases. Recently, a very sympathetic post caught my eye. As KLM’s Online Reputation Manager, I decided to pick up this special post and the request that came with it.

Nico Bakker and his wife live in Bali, Indonesia. Nico wrote a post about meeting a 90 year old Dutch man, named Arie. This man had been going on vacation to Bali for 18 years, always with his wife. She died last year, but this year Mister Arie decided to go to Bali anyway, alone this time. Nico wrote; ‘you probably wonder why I am sending you this message.’ And I did. It soon became clear that Nico suggested for us to give Mister Arie an upgrade to World Business Class for his homebound flight, which could very well be the last Indonesia flight Mister Arie makes.

A very sympathetic gesture of Nico to ask this, but it presented a dilemma for me as KLM’s Online Reputation Manager. KLM often receives many requests like this. And, as a rule, we do not reward them. Not because we don’t want to, but we simply receive too many.

Special Santa for once

We read Nico’s message sometime around Christmas. Touched by the selfless involvement of this KLM-passenger and feeling the Christmas spirit, I looked forward to being a Special Santa for once; I decided to go for it and do my best to reward Nico’s request. I consulted with colleagues from all departments involved in operating a KLM flight, and together we made the special return flight from Bali possible for Mister Arie. He did get the upgrade to World Business Class!

Over 17.000 likes

The story of Nico and Mister Arie was a popular one on Facebook; it got over 17.000 likes. When I replied with a post saying we would indeed surprise Mister Arie, positive reactions came flooding in. ‘KLM, I am reading this with tears in my eyes’ was just one of them. The post was mentioned on ‘The best social media’ that same day!

Pampered and pleased.

I was pleasantly surprised by all the positive attention the post received, but not half as surprised as Mister Arie was when, after his vacation on Bali, he was welcomed by an enthusiastic KLM crew at Den Pasar airport. The crew pampered Mister Arie throughout the flight. Surprised and emotional, he kept saying: ‘What did I do to deserve all this?’ Well Mister Arie, you met Nico!


A memorable experience for everyone

Every day, KLM wants to give all passengers a memorable experience. For Mister Arie I was able to top that with an extra surprise, after lots of consultation and as a major exception to the rule. Mister Arie was able to fly home from his vacation in this very special manner thanks to my colleagues from several KLM departments. It’s stories like this that make me proud to be a part of the blue KLM family.

Posted by:   Alice Fokkelman  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

Aamir Shouket

I am a frequent flyer with KLM and love their service and attention to details. I read this story with tears in my eyes. Well done KLM……..


Wonderful! This is a well deserved upgrade for Mr. Arie. I have flown KLM since early 90’s and have logged hundreds of thousands of miles… in economy class… But nevertheless, I don’t see anything wrong to give these nice gifts to the well deserved. Keep up the great work.


Super gesture Only turning 64 next month but looking forward to my upgrade in 26 yrars


That’s the spirit !!!!!!!


This is a great gesture ! This is why it makes me to feel home when I step into a KLM plane anywhere on this globe…


That’s why we love you KLM! There is a on your flights!


goosebumps (or chickenskin :) ) when reading this message. was one of the many likes from the request and happy to read that Klm has given this special attention to mr Arie.

Ira Udwadia

I had been following this story and very pleased now to see you made it happen ! Well done KLM!

Lindani Chiriva

Lovely story. Well done klm!

Jarno Moleveld

Never had the opportunity to fly with KLM, but being Dutch myself and a aircraft spotter that often stands at Schiphol Airport. I would love to experience it myself! I just have a horrible financial status that makes it rather near impossible since KLM is rather expansive. Not even mentioning business class seats. I would love to fly one of the new dreamliners in business class and try to shoot some video’s, could be a excellent promotional video for KLM as well. But dreams may always be dreams, haha.


Wow, very nice and I most say KLM is the best in service .
Sorry to say that my first flight on KLM was last year, before I flew often to other partnership pains.
But I can say, proud on KLM. the best!

Märit Jakobsson

Ni är ett mycket bra flygbolag och har en fantastisk personal vänligen Märit

Sergio De Biasi

That explains why KLM is a special airline. Congratulations.


In een woord GEWELDIG! In one word AWESOME!

Ilonka elskamp

He deserve that and may GOD bless him a little bit more to see his friend nico

Marcel de Ries

What a lovely gesture from KLM. I’ve worked with Arie for a couple of years in the Marine Business and loved his stories about his yearly trip to Bali. It’s nice to see that KLM took very good care of him. Thank you KLM.

Frans van Schie

Well done, Alice ! I hope your manager will compliment you coz you deserved it!

Paul verra

And this is why KLM is the Royal DUTCH airline. No other airline delivers this level of service.

Janet Trim

What a lovely way to make this man feel very special, especially with him making this trip alone after losing his wife last year. It was very brave of him to travel that great distance by himself. You all obviously made a wonderful gesture and should feel extremely proud of the Airline you work for. Thank you for sharing this touching story.


I really followed this story and I am really happy and proud you as KLM gave him the ride back home!!! Much appreciated. Great great job guys!!!!!

Wim B

Great great great, I know Arie very well and this he really deserved soo much. He worked for many years in our company and always stayed positive. Since his retirement we always stayed in contact. So pleased to see this and so many thanks to all involved. To me it couldn’t be better.


Hallo Wim..dank je wel voor je reply. Het zou fantastisch zijn als je meneer Arie eens kon opzoeken in Vlaardingen. Hij is erg alleen en praatte met mij heel vaak over zijn werk. Dat zou mooi zijn, als is het maar een uurtje. Klein gebaar maar een geweldige impact voor meneer Arie.


Leo van der Voort

Heel goed gedaan KLM, je bent de beste en oudste vliegtuig maatschappij van de wereld!


Wish it is my parents who get this oppurtunity ..
Well done KLM …

Ingrid van Dijk

Zeker wel verdiend en zeker positief van KLM dat ze dit verzoek positief hebben opgepakt!

Görel Skoglund

KLM you are fantastic. I hope MR. Aire hade a wonderful flight and a lovely holiday!
Groeten uit Zweden
Görel och Lennart Skoglund
Tjörn Island


What a lovely story! Arie and his wife (may she R.I.P.) seem like a wonderful couple. The manager and KLM out did themselves. I wish the best for them. Maybe one day I could be on a KLM flight. I’m looking forward to that day.

Denis Whelan

So wonderful of KLM to pamper this man in such a generous manner – I’ve always enjoyed flying with KLM and will fly with them again but this time with so much more respect after their kind action.

Azmi Nordin

Wonderful gesture

Izad Yusof

Brovo KLM!


Two Thumbs up for KLM…. I have always wanted to work at KLM and now, I want it even more. This is my kind of company and a level of service that I would give as well as expect to receive. Have flown (passenger) with a few competitors in the past but KLM is my go to airline! NL is where always go. Congratulations KLM. Keep up the great work! Now I wanna book a ticket too.

Abdul Halim Bin Abdullah

Hello good afternoon, my name is Abdul Halim Abdullah from Malaysia Johor Bahru. Last year in March i travel to Jakarta by KLM, when i am went back to malaysia Jakarta To Kuala Lumpur i have lost my Handphone Samsung Note 4 Inside my luggage bag. I have made a report at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on the same day arrival, but until now i havent got any response from your side, i am very disapointed, i still keep my copy of report if you need


… And you thought, this blogpost would be the best place to inquire about it? Think again ;-)


Wat een prachtig gebaar! Als meer mensen zich op zouden stellen zoals dhr Nico zou de wereld een klein beetje mooier worden. Veel geluk en gezondheid voor nico, zijn vrouw en alle medewerkers van KLM die dit mogelijk hebben gemaakt.

Ingrid Veldkamp

I got some tears of happyness, soooo great.

Brenda Joyce Pahde

Well that is one of the nicest message that I have read in a long time. Have been with you since Christmas Eve 1964 and now know why. Well done Blue Team!

Marianna Michailidou

A memorable customer experience!!! Humam attitude and corporate social responsibility that gives valuable experience to business, satisfaction and recognition to customer. Well done!!

Carolyn Timko

This was a very kind and generous gesture bestowed on a elderly passenger who probably will not be ever going back to Bali. I love KLM and wish I could fly with them on all me flights. My husband and I flew to Amsterdam on KLM in the 90’s and we had a flight attended that was one of the best we have ever had and we were not in First Class. We asked for her name and sent in a letter of recognition of exceptional service and we received a letter back thanking us.

Dorcas maher

Well done klm – there are always exceptions to rules – you made the right decision!

Georgette Viller

All it takes is one person to take the 1st step; I am proud of you, Alice. In al companies, particularly large corporations, people tend to hide behind the obstacles ” the company” has in order to do or get something like this done. You started the motion, and that is all it takes to be able to achieve “feel good actions” which not only benefit a particular other, but join several into working for the good of it and lift up the spirits of all. I congratulate you, and all KLM employees who took part in this event, making KLM shine brightly among air carriers. Keep it up!

Luiz de Lima

Congratulations for your gesture: a 90 years old airline surprising not only a 90 years old traveller, but a lot of people toward the world. This is what we may call friendship. Thank you, Nico, for asking and many thanks to KLM to say yes!

heather blaine

I have always loved KLM and this story just reinforces this sentiment. Well done to you all including Nico. This story truly made my heart sing with joy for Mr Arie.


Every KLM experience I have had has been a really good experience. World #1, in my modest opinion. It seems even the exception is exceptional!! Brilliant!! I’ve never met Arie or Nico.. but two great guys!!

Ting Siew Chai

Salute to Nico and all the staff of KLM who got involved in this great gesture to make the return flight from Bali for Mr. Arie such a memorable one! Though he flew alone, yet he was surrounded by so many angels of KLM! I’m so touched by what all of you have done with so much tender loving care which makes a 90-year-old frequent flyer of KLM receive an invaluable Santa present in reality! Alice, your first move and effort make this beautiful gesture to cross all the boundaries set by rules! Well done KLM! Have heard from my nephew who used KLM to fly from Kuala Lumpur to London that KLM offer a super feel-like -home flight! Hope to fly to Holland by KLM in future! Holland is one of my dreamlands to visit on earth and now the KLM, my dream flight on earth!

Jorge Eduardo Leal Medeiros

A grand and royal gesture from the oldest and most traditional Airline in the world.. The original international Airline spirit, very rarely seen today, still flies high with KLM.. Congratulations!!

Jorge Eduardo Leal Medeiros

A grand and royal gesture from the oldest and most traditional Airline in the world.. The original international Airline spirit, very rarely seen today, still flies high with KLM.. Congratulations!!


Well done! Exceptions should be made if necessary. The world could be a better place if we all care a bit more about each other. You did

Mark Dercksen

Royal service from the oldest and most reliable airline in the world. Proud on Royal Dutch Airlines KLM

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