Bentley55 From Panama, joined Mar 2008, 99 posts, RR: 0 Posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 16575 times:
To: Paris, France (CDG) via Amsterdam (AMS)
From: Panama City, Panama (PTY)
KLM # 758
Scheduled departure: 7:35pm
This was my first time taking KLM in several years and I was excited to see if it had progressed since the last time I took it 4 years ago. I was even more excited because I was taking the flight directly from PTY which was started in March of this year.
Today’s flight was at 7:35pm and earlier in the day I tracked the AMS-PTY flight online and was able to verify that the aircraft would be arriving to PTY on time, thus ensuring an on time departure from PTY.
I reached the airport at about 5pm and the airport terminal was not very crowded, it usually starts getting very crowded after 6pm due to all the Copa flights.
View of the terminal
KLM check-in area
I waited in line for about 2 minutes and the check-in agent summoned me. She was very professional and checked me in all the way till CDG. Overall the check-in process was very smooth and uneventful.
I then went to pass through security and immigration.
After immigration I saw that I had a couple of minutes before the KLM flight arrived and I decided to hang around the gate and take some pictures of its arrival. When I got to the gate I saw that it was pretty empty so I was just roaming around waiting for the arrival of my soon to be ride to AMS.
Suddenly, I heard a loud roar and about 3 seconds later a big blue and beautiful MD-11 showed up!
Within seconds the ground handling crew started getting ready for the arrival of the aircraft and guided her in.
I was pretty happy that I was able to capture her arrival, but now I had to kill some time as the scheduled departure wasn’t for another 2 hours.
I decided to go to Continental’s President Club. This is the only SkyTeam lounge in PTY so I didn’t have any other options.
It was about 5:40pm by the time I got to the lounge and it was pretty empty, but would get 100% packed later on, thanks to all the Copa flights.
I decided to take a seat then get some snacks from the limited food options.
To be honest, Continental is a great airline, however it’s President Club’s are kind of bare bones. For US standards I would say that they are the best, but compared to Asian and European airlines, the decorations and food offerings are anemic. As you can see from the pictures, the only things to “eat” were cheese, crackers, and chips. However, I must give credit to Continental for offering complimentary wireless internet and alcohol (hint hint to American Airlines).
At about 7pm I decided to go to the gate as I was getting kind of bored in the President’s club. Once I got there it was pretty crowded and people were getting anxious to start the boarding.
At about 7:05 the first boarding call was made for World Business Class and passengers with small children. Unfortunately people understood this as “we are boarding now and this is a first come first serve basis so hurry up”.
I was greeted by a friendly flight attendant and then proceeded to my seat. Unlike some airlines, I was not personally escorted to my seat. I didn’t really care about it, but it is just an observation.
After storing my stuff in the overhead bins, I decided to take some pics of the cabin before it got crowded.
My seat: 6J. I used seatguru.com to choose this seat. I liked it because I had nobody in front of me to recline their seat, and also no one behind me to. This made it kind of private and I highly recommend this seat to anybody.
My seat in the background.
Here you can see the seat recline. It was not as comfortable as Air France L'Espace Affaires or Continental BusinessFirst, but still beats economy so I have no complaints. I was truly hoping that my flight would have the new WBC, but the old version was still pretty good.
Flight attendants then came and hung my jacket, offered me some champagne and handed out the dinner and breakfast menu. A few minutes later the person next to me discovered that their footrest did not work and was forced to change seats.
Boarding was finally completed and we taxied to the active runway some 20 minutes late. On a side note, the captain came out and personally introduced himself to every WBC passenger and wished them a good flight. I have never seen this before and was very impressed.
At about 8pm we were airborne and started the 10 hour flight into AMS.
Soon after take-off the food and beverage service started. For me it began with a glass of red wine and hot nuts.
Sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the ride!
Appetizer was a shrimp cocktail. It was very small and the shrimp was not fresh. This is not KLM’s fault, I blame the catering company in PTY. For main course I opted for the chicken. This was kind of “plasticky” and didn’t look very good, although the taste was regular. Again, I blame the catering company in PTY.
I still finished the Chicken as I was pretty hungry and I did not think that Pizza Hut delivers to MD-11s at 35,000 feet.
At this point in time I was pretty tired and dozed off to sleep.
After about 5 hours of sleep I woke up and it was already early daylight. I decided to walk around the plane to stretch my legs.
We were about 2 hours out of AMS and the crew began the breakfast service. The breakfast was better than the dinner!
After breakfast we began the descent into AMS and the crew began preparing the cabin for our arrival.
After arrival, we taxied for about 5 minutes to the gate. Unfortunately the window was very wet therefore I could not get any decent shots of other aircraft. But in general almost all the aircraft were blue KLMs. Unlike CDG or LHR, there isn’t much airline diversity and most of the traffic is KLM and NW.
Here is a shot of the aircraft that brought me into AMS.
After disembarking I decided to go to the KLM lounge number 25 as this was closest to the gate for my connecting flight to CDG. It was a VERY long walk and by the time I got to the lounge I was starting to sweat. However, Schipol airport is beautiful and there are lots of nice duty free shops.
I finally made it to the KLM lounge and I was eager to get some coffee, shower, and relax before my next flight. I had about 2 hours layover and I thought that this was a good amount of time to enjoy the lounge.
Free internet access.
I really liked this lounge and felt that it had a really cool design and had all of the essentials needed in a lounge: Food, showers, internet, lots of space to relax and sleep. In general it is a huge step-up from USA airline lounges, however not as good as Asian airline lounges.
With about 45 minutes till departure for my next flight to CDG I decided to go over to the gate.
AF A321 to CDG.
Once I got to the gate, the boarding had already begun and I just went straight onto the aircraft. I was assigned 8A, but when I went to my seat I saw that I had ½ a window and was unhappy. I didn’t complain to anyone but as soon as they closed the aircraft door, I moved 1 row back to which was an emergency row. It was much better because I had a ton of leg room and felt more like business class than cramped up row 8.
Champagne was served and we started a prompt pushback and taxi for take-off.
At this point in time by camera battery died so I could not take anymore pictures. It didn’t really matter because I was pretty tired and with jet lag so I went to sleep for the short hop to Paris.
In general KLM is not a bad product, and it was a good flight. However I don’t feel that KLM has kept up with the competition for their premium product. To be fair, I was not on the new WBC, but when factoring in the service, food, lounge, etc, it is still not as good as Emirates, SQ, Virgin, Continental etc.
To be honest, once Continental jumps ship from SkyTeam I don’t think I will be flying KLM long haul anymore. However I do recommend KLM to those who have not tried it, but if you can fly on a cheaper fare on a better airline I would advise you to fly that other airline.
I hope you guys enjoyed my trip report and I invite you guys to leave any questions and/or comments.
Tomorrow I will post the return portion of my trip.
CAP2008 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 255 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 16334 times:
I'll have to give KL a try some day. I guess they're going to hold on to those M11's for a few more years. WBC on the M11 looks comfortable, but you're right, its not up to par with the competition and even the rest of the KL international fleet.
Thanks for sharing
The mother of the last KC-135 pilot has yet to be born.
Hardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 50
Reply 3, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 16230 times:
Thanks for the great trip report.
Quoting Bentley55 (Thread starter): In general KLM is not a bad product, and it was a good flight. However I don’t feel that KLM has kept up with the competition for their premium product. To be fair, I was not on the new WBC, but when factoring in the service, food, lounge, etc, it is still not as good as Emirates, SQ, Virgin, Continental etc.
You better dont expect much from their new premium product onboard the B77W.
You can check out my pics and comments on this link:
I recall that this has been changed. I think they actually give out codes to access the T-mobile hotspot connection now. but for the alcohol part, they better change that in 5 years (ill be 21) because ill be showing up and asking for a drink, better be ready for me. =D
Cgnnrw From Germany, joined May 2005, 1130 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 15410 times:
Nice report. I few KL World Business Class a few times in the mid-90s. It doesn't look as if it has changed much since then. I agree they are probably better than most US carriers, average for European carriers but below Asian standards.
Schipol is one of my favorite airports. I haven't been through there in about 3 years. The improvement look great.
Davescj From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 2292 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 15343 times:
What a great TR! I was particularly happy to see both a KLM C cabin report, the MD 11, and of course, Panama City! What a great combo!
Quoting Phileet92 (Reply 4): I recall that this has been changed. I think they actually give out codes to access the T-mobile hotspot connection now. but for the alcohol part, they better change that in 5 years (ill be 21) because ill be showing up and asking for a drink, better be ready for me. =D
No, CO has free internet
It is DL that has TMobil hot spot, free only for Crown Room Club members (not any other lounge, including partners).
As for the drink, CO has great offerings once you're 21! There is a reason they have won best NA lounge for 5 straight years!k
As to KLM, are they going to end up with the same hard product as AF? How long will the MD11s be around?
Once CO jumps to *A, it will be interesting to see what happens with their product. CO has consistently won customers by being the best in the USA, IMHO; I hope they continue to do so.....esp gaining biz pax loyalty.
Cambrian From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 619 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 15135 times:
Interesting trip report. KLM do have a very good global network and they seem to actively develop and pioneer markets, unlike airlines such as BA which tend to be more cautious.
KLM offers a reliable product, but nothing special, and the dinner looked very bad for a J product. I was very surprised to see that they advertise that they give you mineral water on the menu. Surely that is expected! Did you get another Dutch house for your collection? That is a nice touch...
Perhaps they are downgrading their offering to be more consistent with Northworst?
On the plus side, they still fly the MD11 and Schipol is a great airport.
CityofAthens From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 14951 times:
Thanks for taking the time to write this report and share your thoughts and photos ... I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
I continue to be impressed with KLM's route network too ... I was not aware that any European airline (other than perhaps IB) served this city. As a poster mentioned above, when compared to a fellow competitor such as BA, KLM indeed seem to take a much more adventurous approach to the markets they decide to serve ... I bet the crew enjoy flying to these places.
Bentley55 From Panama, joined Mar 2008, 99 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 14755 times:
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 11): The main meal looked a pretty poor/dull offering for J class, ok if you choose KL because of a cheaper fare but not if you could choose a better product for the same price.
How is PTY for spotting? - any good areas pre security?
I agree, KLM is good if it is the cheapest fare. However, if you can get better airline and/or better price then go for it.
Honestly, i dont think there are any good spotting areas pre-security. The CO Presidents club used to be the best spot in my opinion, but they blocked off the windows during the renovation of the terminal.
Anyways, 95% of the planes at PTY are Copa 737s, so it is not a good place for wide bodies and/or airline diversity.
BA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8413 posts, RR: 55
Reply 13, posted (5 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 14403 times:
Quoting Bentley55 (Reply 12): Honestly, i dont think there are any good spotting areas pre-security. The CO Presidents club used to be the best spot in my opinion, but they blocked off the windows during the renovation of the terminal.
Anyways, 95% of the planes at PTY are Copa 737s, so it is not a good place for wide bodies and/or airline diversity
- Thanks for the info, will bear in mind - re the activity, it's the Copa machines I'm looking to clean up on, big gap in my log book!