How Bluey Became More Than the KLM Mascot for My Family
In the summer of 2015, just a few days before my 35th birthday, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As I was reeling with the shock of getting cancer at “such a young age”, I went through the motions of getting scans and referrals, meeting with doctors, and undergoing a mastectomy. After the surgery there was a scary period of not knowing — not knowing what the tumor test results would reveal, not knowing what the rest of the treatment plan would be like, and in general not knowing what the future may hold. So my husband and I decided to get away.
We picked a destination we’ve always wanted to go to, Croatia, and booked flights with KLM for ourselves and our two young kids.
This is the story of how our 4 year old son Declan, made a friend on that trip, and how that blue friend has come to mean something special to all of us.
I first came across Bluey, the KLM mascot airplane, when choosing meals for our flight. Declan had a little toy airplane that he liked, but was more into trains at the time. I had a feeling that Declan would be excited about Bluey, but had no idea how far it would go. On the flight, I let him watch the Bluey animated film, and when his meal was served with a Bluey coloring postcard, he was hooked.
When we landed at Schipol for our transfer he was beside himself with excitement — there were so many real Blueys at that airport to watch!
We traveled around Croatia and had an amazing time, despite my anxiety over cancer. Declan carried his KLM postcard with him wherever we went, and the little toy airplane he brought with acquired the name Bluey. When we arrived home, KLM called to tell us that we’d left a our Nexus tablet on the plane. So we arranged to go back to the airport with the kids. While Declan and his brother Rowan giddily watched planes on the tarmac, my husband and I were amazed by the service that KLM offered. They really went out of their way to return the tablet to its rightful owners.
After that, Bluey fever seriously began to set in. Declan put his Bluey badge on his shirt on the flight home and then asked to wear it everyday to school. It managed to stick through a few washes before getting a special place on his bookshelf. The plane he named Bluey was always by his side though.
When his Flying Blue KLM loyalty card arrived in the mail, he gave it a special home on his bedside table. Because of that card, he’s declared that Air France is his friend. Now, he sleeps with Bluey, and goes to school with Bluey. Every time he sees a plane in the sky he calls it Bluey. He sometimes tells me stories about where Bluey is going when he sees it in the sky: “Bluey is going home now” or “I think, Bluey is going to the beach now, Mommy.”
The Holiday season came and, of course, Declan wrote a Christmas card to KLM and the “real” Bluey.
While recovering from surgery I needed a way to spend time with the kids without moving much. So I invented an airplane game where we’d pretend to travel around the world in Bluey while sitting on a bed. Declan would laugh every time Bluey was hit with “turbulence” as I tickled him.
When I was hit with pneumonia during radiation therapy, Declan made me a card, with Bluey of course.
When life gets tough you need symbols to remind you of what you’re living for. Bluey has come to represent what we’d want for our family: the freedom, health, and youthful imagination to soar above the clouds even when in reality you’re confined to your bed and making daily hospital visits. In my professional life I’m a growth marketer and spend much of time trying to engineer magical brand moments like these. They don’t happen easily, so I’d be remiss not to write about the one that’s happened right under my nose.
So thank you, KLM! We are happy to share with you and your fans the amazing service we received, and for creating something that has brought my family happiness in tough times. Declan continues to draw Bluey’s adventures day after day.
We are planning our next trip now that my treatment is complete. Declan has already asked that we “Fly Blue”. My husband and I don’t always give him what he asks for, but this time if we can do it, we will.