What Are KLM’s Delftware Houses?

Yesterday, KLM released details of its 101st Delftware house. While the announcement would excite many, some may be left wondering what a KLM Delftware house is. Simple Flying decided to find out exactly what this 68-year-old tradition is all about.

KLM, Delftware House, 101 Years
KLM gives every intercontinental business passenger a Delftware house. Photo: KLM

Airlines frequently give away items onboard aircraft. While some frequent fliers might just dispose of the gifts, others regard them as highly collectible. In some cases, unique gifts are given out on special occasions, such as a collectible pillow on British Airways’ first Airbus A350 flight. In our opinion, KLM’s traditional Delftware houses certainly fall into the definition of collectible.

101 houses

KLM yesterday revealed the latest addition to its Delftware house collection. House number 101 is a replica of an 800-year-old building named De Moriaan in the southern Netherlands town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The 101st house was revealed by the airline to celebrate its 101st birthday, which took place yesterday. KLM is one of the oldest airlines in the world, behind British Airways that can trace its roots back to August 1919.

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Commenting on the 101st house, KLM’s President and CEO Pieter Elbers said,

“It is important that we hold on to our KLM traditions in times of crisis. For our loyal customers, our miniature houses symbolise their ties with KLM, which we want to cherish and preserve. This is why we didn’t hesitate to produce house number 101.”

KLM, Delftware House, 101 Years
The airline released its 101st Delftware house yesterday. Photo: KLM

But what is the significance of the house?

KLM has been presenting guests with Delftware houses since 1952. You don’t even need to be a VIP or frequent flyer to bag one. The airline gives them out to any passenger traveling in business class on an intercontinental flight. It doesn’t matter if they’re a baby or an adult, or even if they haven’t paid for the flight ticket.

When the houses were first given out in 1952, unfair competition rules prevented airlines from dishing out gifts. KLM had the houses made and filled with Dutch Genever, a drink with 35% alcoholic content. When other airlines complained about the practice, KLM said it was merely serving a drink. Today, on some flights, customs regulations mean that such alcohol can’t be given out. In this case, empty houses with no cork are given.

Since 1952, one house per year has been released by KLM, except for 1994. That year, when KLM celebrated its 75th anniversary, it released 15 houses. This means that every house since then has lined up with the airline’s age, i.e. house 100 was released on the airline’s 100th birthday.

KLM, Delftware House, 101 Years
KLM releases one house per year on its birthday. Photo: KLM

Anybody can buy a house

Even those who never fly with KLM on an intercontinental flight can still buy a Delftware house. The houses are available to purchase from €17.50 ($20.59) up to €100 ($117.62) for a special edition of the 100th house on its dedicated website. If you’re keen to snag one, they are currently offered at 10% off.

Collecting these houses is a serious business for some. Indeed, with this in mind, KLM has released a dedicated app in which passengers can track which houses they have. However, for those wishing to fill the collection now, the whole set is currently on sale for €1,750 ($2,058). The airline will even buy back houses or exchange duplicates for a fee.

KLM has a showroom around 10 miles from Schiphol Airport with two complete collections of all 101 houses. All the airline’s special releases also featured.

Do you have any KLM Delftware houses? Let us know in the comments!