The Story Behind Seat 42K: The Truth Behind The Glamour

In an unguarded moment, I told a colleague who also blogs for KLM that I write about special passengers. I do this because I cherish those memories. Although these stories are rather personal, I want to share them with you, so that you too can get to know the passenger in seat 1A or 42K.

Amsterdam-Los Angeles

On our way to Los Angeles, I spot a striking woman in Business Class. She is attractive, elegantly dressed and seems slightly arrogant. She wins me over, however, by responding enthusiastically to my offer to taste various wines before making her choice.

Hollywood Los Angeles

During the flight, it turns out that the air-conditioning system is faulty. Ice-cold air is blasting into the cabin exactly over the row where she is seated. Despite her cardigan and the many blankets I give her, the cold in seat 2A is just too much for her. The senior purser is also unable to adjust the temperature, and even the cockpit crew gets involved.

Eventually, the captain offers to move the passenger to the upper deck, where the temperature is pleasant. This sounds like an excellent solution, but unfortunately it simply isn’t an option for the lady in question.

Things are not always what they seem

She tells me that she won’t be able to get down the stairs on arrival in Los Angeles. Having suffered a stroke, she is often dizzy, and a 9.5-hour flight usually doesn’t help, which is why she has arranged wheelchair service on arrival.

I’m somewhat shocked at the fact that I’ve fallen into the trap of pigeonholing people. You don’t expect pretty, young, elegant women to need a wheelchair. I extend my sympathies and ask her why she has chosen to undertake such an arduous journey all on her own. Will she be visiting family, I ask. Only then do I spot her walking stick, which is decorated with the same pattern as her fashionable pants.

She tells me she is a writer and that she is on her way to Hollywood to interview a world-famous actress. Since her stroke, she has been working part-time.

The stark contrast is intriguing, almost as if she’s leading a double life. In the afternoon, she’ll be helped off the plane by the wheelchair service and, after a good night’s sleep, she’ll be fully prepared for her interview with the world-famous actress. No one will know what a challenge her trip was, because they’ll only see the elegant writer with the glamorous job.

Glamourous Writer

Posted by:   Renata Beck  | 
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Miguel Ángel Soto

Wonderful story, I really enjoyed..


I fully understand how some folk with certain sickness are willing to sacrifice an entire week just to enjoy one normal moment. Hidden lives and resources of sick folk trying to enjoy life. Well done KLM for accommodating this lady so very well. Such a shame she couldn’t enjoy the warmer deck.

Walter Fokkens

What a nice story. Makes you think.
Keep publishing!

jonathan smith

yes….one never knows what´s behind the cover of the book. At least the lady had her priorities right…have some wine…and let the dizziness take care of itself…hahaha!!! Yes, nice story


hi klm love


Is this the end of the story “because they’ll only see the elegant writer with the glamorous job.”?? That seems to be the last sentence for me. If it is then I’m pretty disappointed.


I have a close colleague who is disabled and needs an electric joy-stick operated wheel chair. From business travels I know that all airports offer special services including carrying the person to his or her seat. The stairs are no problem for such medical assistants. This is common knowledge among flight assistants and could have been offered to a business class client on KLM cost in a case where the plane has a default.
Nevertheless, frequent flyiers know that the board crew of KLM is one of the best because they don’t treat you as number 2a or 48f, but like a human being. Selling cheap seats is common practice in nowadays flying industry. Offering great on board personal service is the business secret of KLM and a few others.


well I do not remember my seat number but sure thing my story had happened in 1962 . when I was force to leave my homeland ( Cuba ) my grandparents make me in the name of their love to leave right a the beginning of the Cuban revolution the Roman Catholic Church from Cuba made the arrangements between their archdiocese and Miami to save some teenagers that were to old to be accepted in the last group of Peter Pan , leaving Cuba saving them from the communist. I that fly was the last one to land in Cuba by them.


I gave this lesson to a cab driver the other day. The security guard saw me putting my own groceries in the cab, and said, “Don’t tip that guy.” I told the driver this (and that my response to the guard was “That’s my business”.) The driver told me that he offers to help if people aren’t young and fit, and besides, he thought I had fewer groceries than I had.

That’s when I told him I was in the process of being listed for a heart transplant. I walked to the store and pushed my own cart around the store. To be honest, some days those electric buggy carts that you sit in and drive around the store look pretty tempting, but I know I’ll be getting side-eye the whole time I shop. I try to do as much for myself as I can, which currently includes being able to load my own groceries. The moral, I told him, was that you can’t always tell by looking.

He helped me bring my groceries to the door, and he got a tip and an education.


Very thoughtful story…… never should underestimate people by their appearance.

Hope you meet more wonderful travellers.

Bjørn-Helge Øye

I, myself was once in seat 1A, march 2006, from Incheon to Schiphol. Arrived in a wheelchair and assisted onboard by KLM cabin crew and a cane to my ‘luxury’ seat after long time being hospitalized. I still remember the strange looks from fellow passengers on why was he, a young middle aged man with a pony-tail and a MC-leather jacket, given this extra support and attention. Similar upon arrival when I was assisted off the plane and taken through the transit area on a transport vehicle and assisted through immigration. Little did they know I was on my way back home to arrange for the funeral of my dear beloved wife that had passed away with lung cancer.

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