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8 Days Around The World -Pt 3: Dutch Trijet Rules!  
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 17837 times:


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Raison d’être
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Apparently nobody goes around the world for no reason. So what're you doing over the holidays? Reply that you're visiting a loved one, going bungee jumping, or even lazing on a beach will get you an instant nod of approval. But saying "just flying around" - wouldn't. Being purposeful is our reason for being, it seems. Going walkabout - that wonderful Aboriginal rite of passage - doesn't have a place in today's world. After all, heaven forbid that you fail to update your Facebook status because there's no internet access. No, in the real world, "flying" is a means to an end - not an end in itself. And it's destinations that matter: "so how was London?" I am asked on my return. Very cold and dark, I say. Hotel's nice and really convenient for the airport. Lots of running hot water in the bathroom. Polite bus drivers... my friends outside this forum are so barking up the wrong tree.
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LONDON (GMT)
December 27, 2010
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It's a cold morning with hard-packed snow on the pavements - so let's start with some cold, hard facts. This third RTW installment is the longest distance flown so far within a single calendar day. Leaving a wintry London before dawn, I plan to be in balmy Honolulu just after dinner. It looks deceivingly short thanks to the time difference, but airport-to-airport in real time pushes beyond 24 hours - while total distance travelled today at 7,040 nautical miles is only little short of the two previous stretches between Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, and Dubai and London combined (at 7,498 nm). Yeah, it'll be a long day.

But it's not a bother. The one over-riding thought as the first Hoppa bus of the day deposits me at Heathrow's Terminal Four at 4.40 a.m. is the fact I'll soon be flying on a trijet. I haven't been able to concentrate on much else. If pressed for one reason why I'm doing the RTW, this will have to be it: riding on one of the very few scheduled passenger MD11 flights in existence on the only airline in the world that still operates it. Even if KLM vows to keep theirs flying for a few years yet - don't count on it - we aren't likely to see planes designed like this anymore.

Away from hard fact and in the realm of soft sentimentality, the MD11 brings back distant memories of its handsome predecessor, the DC10, in the days when flying was a much grander affair. So is it worth travelling half-way round the world just to catch a plane with a third engine fitted at the base of its vertical stabilizer? For sure, it must be: this RTW journey exists only because I'm not able to resist confirming the Expedia option showing KL as operating an MD11 between AMS and SFO. The rest, as my credit card company keeps reminding me, is history.

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An interesting offer came when I attempted to check-in on my computer last night. My pre-selected window seats haven't changed, but I'm also offered the options to upgrade to economy comfort for 120 euro, or business class for 463 euro, on the AMS-SFO sector. KLM's economy comfort (basically Y class with extra legroom) doesn't excite me, but the J class upgrade is really good value considering the fare I paid for Y. So hey, why not splash out a little more? But my attempt at trading-up ended in frustration: the site tells me at the payment stage there's a "technical" problem, and leaves me wondering if the upgrade went through.

My instincts tell me I'm still stuck in Y, but this morning at T4, the queues for SkyTeam's economy class check-in are so messy (where exactly do these lines start?), I'm reluctant to join them. There's a sense of déjà vu about it all - and not in a pleasant way - I remember the state of disarray here while trying to check-in for an AF flight exactly one year ago yesterday, and it seems nothing's changed.

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The much shorter lines at the premium class desks look much more inviting, and so I try my luck there, explaining my predicament to a friendly agent. She confirms I'm still booked in Y and suggests I try the ticketing desks first to check about the upgrade. So off I pop to another counter where a ticketing agent says he knows nothing of the online offer. The only upgrade to business class he can offer is based on the published fare, and that'll cost me a couple thousand euro! No, thank you. Looks like I am destined to join the muddle of Y queues.

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As it happens, the check-in experience isn't as horrendous as it looks from a distance. I first get my boarding passes - for all three flights today, including the last SFO-HNL sector on Delta - printed quite easily at an empty self-service kiosk within the premium check-in zone. One of the reasons why the Y class area looks more chaotic than it should be is because of a shortage of these kiosks. Combine that with T4's space constraint, inexperience in using these machines by passengers headed out on multiple sectors - almost everyone is on these early morning KL and AF flights - and what you get is a scrum of confused and frustrated travelers, in their hundreds. Once you learn how to bypass them, the queue (when you find where it starts) for the bag drop is at least reasonably organized and fast-moving. The whole rigmarole takes me more than an hour - faster, I am certain, than for many others here - and I'm glad to be finally moving on. I just love Heathrow.  

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Mercifully short queues at security are painless, and I'm soon tracking via an uninspiring shopping mall down to gate 15, where the boarding process for LHR's first flight of the day to Amsterdam is already underway. There's no view of the plane from here - a B738 is scheduled, though I'm secretly hoping for a last minute substitution with a -700 or -900 - but in any case, it's still dark outside. I join the boarding queue and am soon aboard.

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London (Heathrow) to Amsterdam 371 km
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight KL 1000 Boeing 737-8K2 PH-BXW
Dept: 0657 Arrv: 0901 (on time)


Good morning! The welcome is more efficient than warm, but it's pleasant enough. My seat is close to the back of this well-maintained 3-year old baby Boeing christened Patrijs. (KLM's 737NG fleet is named after birds - which kinda reminds me of JAL's MD11 J-birds, which I had the privilege of riding when they were still around.) Apart from a very small, 2-row business class forward section in the standard European configuration, it's all economy seats in the dark blue fittings that I've associated with KLM ever since I can remember. Considering this is an almost full flight with plenty of bulky coats and hand baggage to stow, the crew gets everyone seated quickly, in a remarkably smooth boarding process.

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It seems we are almost ready to go. Outside an Irish-registered AZ A321, having spent the night here, is parked alongside awaiting a departure home later. Aboard KL1000, the first of several cheerful updates from the flight deck welcomes us aboard. This is very much appreciated, of course. But what I haven't yet grasped is the ability to make out - much less spell - Dutch names, and to fully appreciate Dutch humor. "Good morning, this is (I don't catch the name) the First Officer speaking... hmmm, but today, the Captain on this flight. Hahaha. Also on the flight deck is (another name I don't catch), the First Officer; you can call him Purser on this flight. Hahaha." After hearing that, I take comfort in the thought this may just be funny talk from the man in command of a plane belonging to trusty, reliable KLM - the world's oldest airline, after all. (Had this been a cockpit announcement from a less reputable airline, I would have been a little worried.) The speech ends with wishes for a good flight on "this really fantastic Boeing 737-800."

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Our departure is however delayed due to a missing passenger, and after removing the checked baggage, we finally push back more than 20 minutes late. Legroom is standard and not uncomfortable for the short 40 minute sector. I am also rewarded with one of the few empty seats on this flight right next to me, so I can hardly complain. We taxi out, crossing nearby runway 27L that's busy taking early long haul arrivals this morning, and push on to 27R, the active departure runway, where there's no further delay. The CFM56s are a lot louder during climb than I've heard them before, and we're quickly into cloud in a mildly bumpy but uneventful hop across the North Sea.

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Two trolleys, each manned by two crew members, are rolled out immediately the seat belt signs come off. Breakfast is dispensed in an efficient and yet friendly manner, which is somewhat how I've always pictured service aboard this most egalitarian of regal airlines. The food offering isn't fancy but is of good quality: the packed chicken and cheese sandwiches are fresh and moist, there's an offer of good coffee, tea, orange juice and water. Rather nice catering I think.

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Glimmers of a sunrise in the distant east accompany our descent into Schiphol. The First Officer/Purser comes on to say we're 10 minutes out. It's a bit foggy in Amsterdam and temperature's minus one degree Celcius. He warns of a long 15 minutes taxi after landing, and says we'd been allocated gate D10 - a most appropriate one, I thought, ahead of an MD11 ride! Despite the departure delay and long taxi on arrival, we're still expected to be some 5 minutes early at the terminal - which just shows the incredible amount of schedule-padding airlines do these days.
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Our pilot isn't kidding about the fog. Thick cloud obscures almost everything and visibility is poor - it's not until moments before touchdown that I see the snow-covered fields and frozen soil around the airport. Of course, I'm assuming it's the airport because that's what I'd been told - the Schiphol terminal is nowhere to be seen.

We'd apparently arrived on 18R/36L - otherwise known as Polderbaan (isn't it cool that AMS names its runways?) - the airport's longest runway. But it's better known among frequent fliers as the runway located so far from the Schiphol terminal, it's in another town - not to mention the butt of many a sacarstic joke among KLM crew. And no wonder. The taxi (I'd be tempted to call it a 'drive') itself is quite fascinating - passing snowy fields, along and then across a canal, alongside trunk roads, and then crossing a busy eight-lane highway. It's lots of fun. And for someone traveling round-the-world with hardly a decent stop along the way, I think this qualifies as sightseeing. 

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It takes us about 20 minutes to get to gate D10, where we slip in among familiar machines, amazingly four minutes ahead of schedule. The weather is bleak and austere but at least it looks managable here - much better than at nearby CDG which is still reeling from weather paralysis over Christmas. Winter travel is always dicey but this season, things seemed to have turned really bad on both sides of the Atlantic.

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AMSTERDAM (GMT +1)
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It's been a long while since I'd been to this airport - heck I must have been just a kid then - so this visit does feel a little like a first. And what a nice place it is. A single terminal with bright open spaces, Schiphol is uncomplicated and instantly likable. No wonder it frequently wins the top places among the world's best airports. It feels a little like Singapore's Changi Airport without the carpeting - but then maybe that's not entirely coincidental: the original design of SIN was modelled on AMS, wasn't it?

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There's no shortage of shops, food outlets or diversions (like a casino or museum) available to transfer passengers the moment they get off the plane at Schiphol - no dark, windowless passageway to a cheerless security check-point here. Pity the airport's rooftop viewing terrace is only available landside, but the large windows airside with a view of the tarmac aren't too bad either. I don't have to try hard to spot this Martinair 50th anniversary retrojet, and am now quite glad I did, with the airline expected to cease all passenger flights this year. This machine will be headed for Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic next. Parked in the adjacent gates are a couple of MD11s, one of which, I'm almost certain, is my ride today.
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Across the other side of Pier E, which handles non-Schengen flights, is a whole delegation of A330s headed soon for every major DL hub across the pond. More interesting, is this Ukraine International Boeing 737 - one which I initially mistaken for a series 700 or 600 (neither of which the airline operates), but only when I look more carefully at the fuselage, do I realize it's a B737-500 fitted with blended winglets. Outside of the U.S., and maybe parts of Europe, a classic with winglets is quite a rare spotting - and I'm mighty pleased. This unique bird is no spring chicken though: she's 19 years old, having previously flown (without winglets) for China Southern.

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Delft blue pottery, tulips, and the Royal Dutch airline, three meters below sea-level - the essence of Holland, from an outsider's perspective, condensed into one frame. I truly appreciate how this airport frequently, but subtly, reminds you of where you are - so different from say Heathrow that would probably consider any display of local identity that wasn't paid advertising an extravagance.

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Passing the transfer counters, I couldn't resist stopping to ask about last night's mysterious upgrade offer. I doubt if the offer is still good now, but it's worth one last shot I reckon - if they don't know about it at HQ, I can't imagine who would. There's a whole row of self-service machines, but I go straight past them to join a queue to see one of the counter agents. But even before I get there, I'm intercepted by a KLM ground staff asking if she can be of assistance. I explain my situation, to which her immediate response: "Aaah that... humans can't help you!" is rather funny. "Let's try one of these, and see whether the offer is still in there," she says, leading the way to one of the blue boarding pass dispensers.

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The agent stays with me as I punch in my PNR and true enough, there they are on screen: the upgrade offers I saw online last night, at the same prices! Incredibly, all this is happening scarcely an hour and a half to departure. I click the J class option without hesitation, select my new seat - aisle, as unfortunately all windows had been taken, which wasn't the case last night - insert my credit card into a slot, and out pop my new boarding passes, all in less than two minutes. Amazing how little time it takes to transform steerage filler into a low-yielding premium pax worthy enough of being addressed by name. "Mr Lee, do you know how to get to the business class lounge?" she asks. Ain't credit great?  

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Business class lounge number 52, otherwise known as the KLM Crown Lounge, is located upstairs near pier F, a short walk away via Holland Boulevard, a trendy and up-market collection of shops and food outlets with a distinctly Dutch theme. There's a bright and welcoming entrance to the premium lounge that's also open to passengers of SkyTeam carriers, as well as those from a few other non-member airlines, including prospective members CI and GA.

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The interior of this spacious lounge is rather pleasant - the split levels, seperate areas for lounging and dining, and interesting lighting make it worthy of a couple of pics, at least. That's basically why I come in here - the privelege of using a premium lounge is usually quite wasted on me: unless I'm traveling with company, I'm usually wanting to be leaving 10 minutes after I arrive. This place, nice as it is, isn't an exception.

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It's not overly crowded today, but I heard it can be. There are coffee stations, bar counters with a good selection of drinks, and a fair - but not overly exciting - choice of breakfast items. It's about an hour to departure and the large FIDS screen in the lounge indicates the gate for my SFO flight is open. I gulp down a coffee, and am all ready to go.

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It's a short few minutes' walk to gate E6 where my gorgeous MD11 awaits. Operating KLM 605 today is PH-KCK, delivered in 1997 and the youngest of ten trijets with the airline, and also the very last MD11 passenger jet made in Long Beach that's still flying passengers today. She could be a little bit cleaner but looks majestic all the same. Before I forget, much more on the MD11 can be got at this fantastic tribute site: http://md-eleven.net Looking at the list of past operators, I am quite amazed how many passenger carriers had operated the type over a relatively short life-span.

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The light isn't great, so these pics aren't the best: my apologies. (Yeah, blame it on the weather when you can, haha.) Each of KLM's MD11s are named for famous - but largely uncontroversial - European women, and today, it's Swede Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman who'll be winging her way to California. Other MDs include Mother Teresa, opera singer Maria Callas and physicist Marie Curie, making for a truly eclectic mix.

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There can't be a more staunch General Electric customer than KLM: the airline and the CF6 turbofans in their various guises go way back, almost to the first wide-bodies actually. The CF6s powered the airline's DC10-30s, while KLM was the first customer of the CF6-operated B742. The tradition continued with the A310, B743, B744, B763, MD11 and A332, all came equipped with GE CF6s. Meanwhile all of KL's B777s are powered by GE90s. Talk about loyalty. The particular version on my MD11 today is the CF6-80C2D1F I believe.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but there doesn't seem to be much love lost on A.Net with the "old and flawed" design of the MD11, not to mention its predecessor, the DC10 - which is a shame. There's sometimes the odd positive statement, but generally, there are relatively few fans of these trijets. I wonder why that is, and maybe it's due to our obsession with all that is new and latest - and that, by definition, will always be "better". For me, their passing represents the end of a golden era in civil aviation when wide-cabin airliners (that include the B747 classics and L1011 Tristars) redefined the way the world flew, and when airlines were run by people more interested in aviation, than fuel hedging or financial bottom lines. Alas no more.

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The boarding for this flight is a bit of blur to me now. Perhaps I am too transfixed at the view outside, I have nothing recorded in my note book about the process: the horror of it!   I do remember queuing at a seperate, shorter line for J class, and am soon boarding via the single aerobridge heading for door 2L. As you can see, KLM has an interesting configuration at the front of the plane with windows disappearing half-way between doors 1 and 2. A sizable galley complex and washrooms fit in this space. I wonder if any of the other MD11 operators had this kind of configuration?

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continues below...
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57 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 1, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 18112 times:

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Amsterdam to San Francisco 8,808 km
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight KL 605 McDonell Douglas MD11 PH-KCK
Dept: 1120 Arrv: 1328 (on time)

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Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
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There's a cordial welcome at the door, and I am directed left into the World Business Class cabin. It's a really small one: I am seated in the second - and last - row of two, in a middle aisle seat. (And my camera doesn't have a lense with a wide enough angle to take it all in.) There are four passengers already comfortably installed when I arrive, so a cabin shot from the front is impossible without some rude imposition. The signature blue is omnipresent.

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Before settling in, I quickly take a shot of the pair of unoccupied window seats next to me knowing they'll soon be taken. The legroom is a good 60 inches and the seats themselves are fine and comfy, but they're really a generation or two away from the latest flat-bed J offerings with some other airlines. As recliners on a daytime flight though, they're quite ideal. The usual amenities - pillows and blankets - are already at the seat, while a very courteous crew member of more mature years serves OJ or champagne as a welcome drink.

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Sat at my aisle seat 2D, I'm able to survey my surroundings - and yes, it does feel old-fashioned. Forever etched in my mind are those impressions of my first flight on a widebody (an MH DC10) all those years ago - and apart from the blue bulkhead and an LCD screen or two, everything here looks familiar, almost like nothing's changed. McDonell Douglas didn't do much of an interior upgrade from the DC10, that's for sure - well-documented technical weaknesses aside, these interior fittings can hardly compare with those found on the B777s that were being delivered at about the same time as this plane. I guess the MD11 isn't so much an old plane as a plane that looks old.

Having said all that, the attraction of the MD11, for me, is precisely because of its similarity with the DC10, of course. The plane also emits a very noticable - actually quite loud - ambient whine even as we sit on the ground. It all feels amazingly retro and nostalgic.

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There's no center overhead bins in this cabin but with a maximum of 12 passengers, it's probably unnecessary anyway. One aspect of the DC10 (and adopted unchanged on the MD11) that I really like is the size of the windows. They're huge - but sadly, these aren't going to be mine today. My fellow passengers arrive soon after these pictures are taken - they seem to be from the same family or at least are related in some way - and end up occupying all the remaining empty seats. From how they're addressed - a pilot comes out specially to greet the lady sitting across the aisle from me - my guess is they're the family of someone rather important, probably in the top echelons of KLM management.

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Boarding is completed exactly at scheduled departure time, and we push back a couple of minutes later. The CF6s come to life while a safety video is shown. The senior purser, whose name sounds like Usher to me, welcomes us aboard on the p.a. in Dutch and English - we're flying to San Francisco in 10 hours 37 minutes. There's no baggage stowage at the seat, except for what fits into the rather unusual net at your feet. I've never seen this anywhere else before.

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Our departure taxi is much shorter than on my arrival this morning, which suggests we're definitely not using Polderbaan this time - but I'm not sure which of Schiphol's five other named runways we leave from. What I do know is that our 45-second high pitched take-off run is seriously powerful. Not quite rocket-like, but I'm certain the climb rate is impressive enough to satisfy A.Netters.

When the seat-belt signs come off, blue boxy amenity kits and headphones are distributed. The Senior Purser makes his rounds, personally welcoming each World Business Class passenger. His jovial and very casual manner makes this quite a departure from the usual formal niceties you see in the rarefied air of a premium cabin. "So, everything working?" is how he starts the strangest of conversations with me. I ask if his name really is Usher. "Of course it is," Usher replies without hesitation, "now, what can we cook you for lunch?" Definitely unorthodox.

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A drinks trolley takes a brisk tour of the small cabin. Business class is served today by just the one flight attendant - who's quite the gracious host - and supported by Usher, when necessary. The Captain meanwhile comes on the blower to explain our journey: we're set for a northerly routing via wilderness - Shetland islands, north of Iceland, across central Greenland, Yellowknife and Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories, then south over British Columbia, Washington and Oregon states, and into northern California. Weather's generally favorable en route, ETA 20 minutes early where a cloudy day is forecast; temperature's twelve degrees Celcius on arrival.

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Time to sit back and explore the facilities. This World Business Class seat is unsophisticated and everything that can be done with it is at your fingertips. It's quite comfy in the lounging position. In the seat pocket is inflight magazine Holland Herald that's interesting for being entirely in English - and not containing even a sentence in Dutch. It's also one of the best airline publications out there - well, any journal that commissions Pico Iyer, one of my favorite writers, to pen a piece gets my vote! Iyer's insightful essay on how "travel changes and challenges our sense of home" feels almost like it's directed at me, being half the world away from home. But that's the amazing power of his writing.

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The IFE dispensed on 10.4 inch pull-out screens offers a decent smorgasbord of on-demand movies, TV, games and music. While waiting for lunch to be prepared, I find a film I hadn't seen before - but am unable to immerse myself into the Wall Street sequel: compared to the original, this one rather falls flat. Better yet, let me take you on another quick tour of the cabin. Ahead, note the privacy hood you can see deployed in the seat in front of me. It's manually operated. Rather quaint I think.

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These discreet pics of the cabin to my right and left are the extent of World Business Class today. Even if all the seats are taken, I wonder if anyone here paid a full J class fare. Although the holiday season may be a factor, I'm frankly still a little surprised at the weak premium loads on a key route like SFO. This MD11 has a second J class cabin - with another twelve WBC seats located behind the galley complex and doors 2 - but that's getting economy class service today, and used to accommodate lucky spillovers from an over-sold Y class. No wonder I'm offered the upgrade at such a cheap fare.

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Chowtime. I really appreciate KLM's J class menus that clearly identify the flight number, routing and date of departure. For sure, these menus cannot be recycled for tomorrow's flight, unlike those you find on so many other airlines these days. The menu offers signature dishes from Dutch chef Jonnie Boer - almost every dish in fact - and includes a comprehensive write-up of Boer's restaurant in Zwolle.

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The starter of smoked trout fillet, accompanied by Hollandaise mousse, cucumber soup and deep fried capers is, well, interesting. I can't remember disliking it and my notebook only records that it's "unique", so it must have been somewhat okay but probably an acquired taste. In any case, I'm distracted by what happens next...

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It's while we're having the appetiser that Usher comes round on his second bread roll run, not so long after his first. Most passengers waive the bread basket away without really looking, but Usher is insistent: "are you sure?" he asks, refusing to go away. The contents of his bread basket send the ladies sitting across the aisle into shrieks of panic, to the obvious delight of our mischievous Senior Purser whose schoolboy prank has obviously worked. I can't believe this is happening in Business Class - it's so Fawlty Towers! Usher obliges when I ask to take a picture but "as long as you're not planning to sue us," he says.

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The main course isn't cockroach or rat, but it's another unusual signature dish of pike perch fillet in a citrusy gravy, and which tastes better than it looks in the casserole dish. The Senior Purser meanwhile returns to the cabin for Act 2 of his performance (by "accidentally" almost droping a coffee cup and saucer on passenger 2A) that leads to another round of shrieks and laughs. What a strange flight this is turning into!

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The meal ends with a selection of desserts, coffee and chocolate, served by the working (rather than performing) crew member. We're already north of Iceland at this stage of the flight - and it's feeling more nippy on board too. As we head further north, the sun gets ever lower in the sky - it almost feels like dusk already, even if it's just around midday where we are. The lights are dimmed in J class and passengers go into snooze mode.

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Somewhere over Greenland and with about six and a half hours to go, I take a stroll into economy class. The Y cabin is not a bad looking place, having been upgraded about two years ago with new seats and PTVs, but the seat configuration changing to 3-3-3 from 2-4-3 before isn't necessarily better. It looks packed with not a single seat free down here and the pitch quite tight - making me feel a tad better for parting with my 463 euro.

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On my way back, I make a quick dash into a World Business Class washroom - there are two for 12 pax which is a generous ratio today. It's generally clean, but the standard fittings and stark lighting of yesteryear make it look decidedly dated, and a tad sad. No amount of fancy toiletry products can make this out to be more than what it is - a basic loo.

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After a short snooze at my seat, I wake to find the golden red color of what appears to be sunrise on the left side of the plane. Or is this sunset? It's pitch black on the other side of the plane. The polar regions make no sense to me but no matter: I'm happy in my state of ignorance, and thanks to the MD11's large windows, I'm enjoying the view even without a window seat. The detailed map on my airshow has us flying over a wide expanse of arctic tundra, with not even one place named.

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By my reckoning, I'd slept through our crossing of the Northwestern Passages, and we're now tracking rapidly over Nunavut - Canada's most remote northern territory. Although it's too cloudy to see anything (and also, I don't have a window), it's exciting to think about the nameless places we're flying over: the land of the Inuit peoples, and of brave but rather mad explorers. It must be an amazing place.
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About five hours to go and I make my second visit to steerage. The sun is still low in the sky, but the horizon is very slowly brightening as we make our way south, like it's the start of a brand new day. We're amazingly going back almost one time zone per hour on this flight and as is usual about half-way into a long haul, passengers are starting to feel restless. To appease them, KLM serves a mid-flight ice-cream snack in Y at the this time. I capture a couple of slightly better cabin pics than before. But the seating does look rather snug, doesn't it?

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The next few hours are spent reading, sleeping and watching parts of a second, third and fourth movie - I don't seem to be able to settle into one. I too must be starting to feel the strain of flying long haul three days in a row, and am rather glad I'll be taking more than one night's break in Hawaii. Looking forward to a vacation from flying? Wow, that's a new one.

Around the time we enter U.S. airspace over Washington state, the cabin lights in World Business Class are turned on, and service is back in full swing. It's time for the pre-arrival light meal which turns out to be another surprise, on a flight that's full of them. I didn't expect a complete Indonesian meal on an AMS-SFO sector.

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I opt for the noodles which are indeed very spicy, and tasty too. The satay comes with a salad rather like gado-godo but I've never had it with coconut before. There's another spicy cucumber salad and krupuk or prawn crackers. And for dessert, there's the delicious spiced layer cake spekkoek that tastes almost home-made. What a superb meal.

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Daylight has reverted to normalcy now - or at least the normalcy that we know from living on the lower latitudes of this planet. It's early afternoon Pacific Standard Time and the cabin has turned naturally bright. I also notice for the first time the unusual fixed door-like partition on the right side separating the cabin and the space near exit door 1R. I think this is the location of MD11's unique crew rest area but don't know if it comes standard on all planes.

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Usher returns to the cabin carrying some paper and pens, and tries to hand me some. Knowing his penchant for practical jokes, I hesitate taking anything from him now. "This is alright... it is a KLM survey form," laughs Usher. The lady sitting across the aisle joins in, and says she hesitated the same way when handed those forms: "you're always on your guard with this man!" I find out at this time she's the wife of the Captain, and the family are on their way to a skiing holiday at Lake Tahoe. And also that Usher's name is spelt Aaschef. But to me, he'll always be Usher!

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We're soon to start our descent. It's been a privelege flying on the MD11 again, and I wonder if I'll ever get the chance to be aboard a trijet again before they're all withdrawn from passenger service.  Still, as an optimist, I'm secretly hoping for a chance to do that ultimate trijet takeoff from St Maarten! (In case you're tempted to take this particular flight, a word of warning that KL's SFO route turns B77W with the summer schedule starting end-March, swapping with DEL which goes MD11.) I really had the nicest flight on KLM - the crew are excellent. KLM is also one of the very few airlines keeping alive the tradition of parting gifts. The giving away of Delft blue huisje - replica of real buildings in Holland - are much anticipated events. Liberated house number 56 - Herengracht 64 "De Werelt" in Amsterdam - makes it safely around the world with me.

.

.

.

There are some good views of the Bay Area as we come in to land making me wish I had a window seat. It looks like a sunny and pleasant afternoon, and we make the gentlest of landings on 28R. We wait for a Virgin America to take-off from 28L before crossing the runway in a short taxi to SFO's International Terminal, docking at gate A3 two minutes ahead of schedule.

.
SAN FRANCISCO (GMT -8)
.

Amazingly, there are no queues at immigration. I am one of the first through. "And the purpose of your visit Sir?" On vacation in Hawaii, I'm able to answer honestly and without hesitation. (So much better than 'I'm here to do some flying', don't you think? The only time I get away admitting I'm a plane freak to an immigration officer is when I got off the QF A380 inaugural at LAX - but these situations only come once in a very, very long while.) I am stamped in with such genuinely warm wishes for my "Hawaii vacation" that I feel almost guilty. It must be my day. I pick up my bag, which is among the first non-priority ones to appear, and walk to Terminal 1 from where my DL flight departs.

.

.

As my bag had already been tagged to the final destination back at LHR, and my DL boarding pass re-issued at AMS, I join a relatively quick bag drop line. About ten minutes and I'm all done. Travelling in the U.S. can sometimes be difficult but when things work well like today, it's a complete delight. Ironically, this is the same time television networks are reporting weather chaos and a complete breakdown in travel infrastructure on the East Coast.

.

.

But on the West Coast, things are too easy for me today. TSA has short queues and is painless. I'm at the Delta gate areas with plenty of time to spare. This sterile area of SFO is so quiet mid afternoon - with spotting limited to the odd DL and Frontier plane - I instantly regret coming in so soon. But the thought of queueing again later for another rigorous security check stops me from leaving for a wander around the rest of the airport.

.

.

.

This B752 is parked at the gate where it says a nonstop flight to JFK has been cancelled. I'm pretty sure it's here because of the horrendous blizzard on the other coast. When I get to Hawaii, television news is already broadcasting stories - some quite sensational - of passengers trapped on planes overnight at a freezing JFK. During the planning phase of this trip, I'd seriously considered routing my RTW via New York - in order to catch a CO B764 between EWR and HNL - but I'm thankful the MD11 saved me!

.

.

.

My flight to warmer climes departs from 45B, which is one of those awkwardly positioned gates without a view of the plane.  Still, I manage to partially spot that B753 at a distance, as it comes in from MSP about an hour and a half before the departure for HNL. This will theoretically be my second B753 airline - but purists may argue that both this plane and my previous B753 flight (on NW) were on planes originally delivered to the same carrier.

.

.


San Francisco to Honolulu 3,860 km
Delta Air Lines flight DL 1151 Boeing 757-351 N591NW
Dept: 1800 Arrv: 2118 (on time)
.

A boarding call - by zone - starts some 25 minutes before departure and the process is smooth enough considering the almost full load. Welcomes are a bit lackluster, but maybe the crew are as tired as I am. (I'm not quite sure whether my body clock is stuck in CGK or DOH or AMS, but I do know I'm knackered.) Sitting at a window near the back of the main Y cabin is good though - it is where you can best appreciate the sheer length of this skinny plane.

.

.

.

I am lucky again to find an empty space next to me, particularly when almost every other seat on this plane is taken. The blue leather cushions may look a little uninspiring but they're pretty comfy. Legroom is decent. Leading the team is San Francisco-based cabin crew: "Welcome aboard this nonstop Delta service to Anchorage, Alaska... oops sorry, I mean Honolulu, Hawaii." A tad predictable, but it gets big laughs from the jolly holiday-makers heading for the sun. A much stranger announcement comes ahead of the screening of the safety video. "Please pay attention to the safety aspects of this McDonell Douglas 757 aircraft," comes the serious spiel over the p.a. What? This is totally unbelievable. What's amazing is that no one else even noticed the mistake!

.

.

Pushing back a few minutes late, our taxi to 01R is a short one, from where we set off on a decently powerful takeoff. It's already dark outside, so there's not much of a view to speak of. Flight time to Honolulu is 5 hours and 1 minute. I like the fact that "menus" are individually distributed by the crew to those who need them - it almost feels premium, and makes the buy-on-board more tolerable when these menus can so easily be liberated.

.

.

.

It's dinner time over the pacific, and I feel compelled to order the Mile High Turkey Sliders, but promptly fall into a deep sleep after just a couple of bites. When I am next conscious, we're some three hours into the flight, and passing through bumpy weather. The fasten seat belt sign stays on for much of this otherwise uneventful flight.

Our approach into HNL is from the south-west, landing on a slighly wet runway 04R. We're parked at the gate 22 minutes early - and I'm finally in Honolulu, 24 hours and 21 minutes after leaving Heathrow. I'd tried to stay awake for most of the journey and no wonder the last few hours had been among the toughest to resist: it's just been a very long day. But I must say I slept very well on Delta - which proves that if you're tired enough, even an unreclined coach seat is enough.

.

.

.

This airport has a fantastic open-air concept - trade winds, the fragrant smell of fresh tropical rain and good spotting are an intoxicating mix. This NZ B763, soon headed for AKL, and an ANC-bound AS B738 try hard to tempt me, but I think enough of planes for one day - I'm off to the beach. Aloha.

.
WAIKIKI (GMT -10)
.


.

.

.

.
Last Words
.

Every so often on A.Net discussion threads, there will be a question posed about how to catch the flights of a rare plane or other. But frequently the answers aren't too encouraging because we have left it too late. They've all gone, or fly such obscure routes that trying them will require a detour so complex it's an expedition. Some of a rare breed of A.Netters - and I'm not among them - are expert seekers of these planes and will relentlessly hunt them down in deepest wilderness. But that's not most of us.

Which is why I am writing this report really. The trijet is on its last legs as a passenger jet and it flies routes that are still reasonably accessible. There may be about a year, or two at the most, left - which is really no time at all. I shall miss her dearly when she's gone, but am glad this trip worked so well - as I will remember her. And complementing it prefectly is KLM - an airline that's the epitomy of quiet excellence. Just wonderful.

Thank you for indulging me this journey. Dutch Trijets Rule OK!


.
Here's a list of previous trip reports (in chronological order, from latest)

8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship (by airpearl Feb 15 2011 in Trip Reports)
8 Days Around The World - Part 1: Garuda Rising (by airpearl Jan 16 2011 in Trip Reports)
The Jewel Amiss In Crown On Royal Jordanian (by airpearl Sep 26 2010 in Trip Reports)
Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X (by airpearl Sep 1 2010 in Trip Reports)
Flying Mugabe's Private Jet: Air Zimbabwe KUL-PEK (by airpearl Jul 25 2010 in Trip Reports)
On Asiana Business: Chicken Soup For The Seoul (by airpearl Jun 20 2010 in Trip Reports)
Happy 50th Birthday TG! Retro Flight To Hong Kong (by airpearl May 7 2010 in Trip Reports)
Propping Down To Singapore On A Firefly (by airpearl Mar 28 2010 in Trip Reports)
Upping The Game: On Etihad In J & New F (by airpearl Feb 9 2010 in Trip Reports)
The AF A380 Gets TSAed: To JFK On Boxing Day (by Airpearl Dec 30 2009 in Trip Reports)
Software Surprises On Emirates: BKK-DXB Vv On A380 (by Airpearl Dec 20 2009 in Trip Reports)
Gulf Air First KUL-BAH-KUL On Jet’s B77W (by Airpearl Oct 31 2009 in Trip Reports)
Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J (by Airpearl Aug 22 2009 in Trip Reports)
Korean Y Experience - Older A330 & Brand New B77W (by Airpearl Jul 25 2009 in Trip Reports)
The Fiesta Route To Manila: In Economy On MH & PR (by Airpearl May 24 2009 in Trip Reports)
Gulf Air (And Proxy) London Roundtrip In F & J (by Airpearl Jan 6 2009 in Trip Reports)
Flying On Borrowed Time: Thai A340-500 (by Airpearl Dec 7 2008 in Trip Reports)
Singapore Airlines Business Class To Melbourne (by Airpearl Nov 8 2008 in Trip Reports)
The Qantas A380 Inaugural (by Airpearl Oct 20 2008 in Trip Reports)
Trijets Rule OK: Biman Bangladesh DC10-30 (by Airpearl Jun 25 2008 in Trip Reports)
Ups & Downs: CX First Class Across The Pacific (by Airpearl Jun 4 2008 in Trip Reports)
Battle Of The Kebayas: Malaysia Vs. Singapore (by Airpearl May 17 2008 in Trip Reports)
From Song Thaew To 747: Domestic On Thai Airways (by Airpearl Apr 24 2008 in Trip Reports)
Short Hop, Big Suite: Cathay’s New F On 747 (by Airpearl Apr 9 2008 in Trip Reports)
How The Other Half Lives: F Class On ANA & Thai (by Airpearl Apr 3 2008 in Trip Reports)
An Indian Indulgence With Jet And Kingfisher (by Airpearl Mar 20 2008 in Trip Reports)
Inaugural AirAsia X And Routine A380 In A Weekend (by Airpearl Nov 13 2007 in Trip Reports)
Etihad To London In J And F (by Airpearl Oct 23 2007 in Trip Reports)
Cathay Pacific New J Class On A330-300 KUL-HKG (by Airpearl Oct 10 2007 in Trip Reports)


User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1882 posts, RR: 25
Reply 2, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 17653 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Another excellent report, Airpearl!

Great detail and photos documenting all aspects of your trip. I felt like I was along for the ride with you!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Chowtime. I really appreciate KLM's J class menus that clearly identify the flight number, routing and date of departure.

Very cool! I'm amazed by this too ... A lot of printing has to go on each day!  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
It's while we're having the appetiser that Usher comes round on his second bread roll run, not so long after his first. Most passengers waive the bread basket away without really looking, but Usher is insistent: "are you sure?" he asks, refusing to go away. The contents of his bread basket send the ladies sitting across the aisle into shrieks of panic, to the obvious delight of our mischievous Senior Purser whose schoolboy prank has obviously worked. I can't believe this is happening in Business Class - it's so Fawlty Towers! Usher obliges when I ask to take a picture but "as long as you're not planning to sue us," he says.

Wow, amazing! Never heard/seen this type of thing ever before on an airplane. Certainly makes your flying experience memorable. Maybe he should do some stand-up comedy!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
"Please pay attention to the safety aspects of this McDonell Douglas 757 aircraft," comes the serious spiel over the p.a. What?

Oh boy ...

Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to your next part:

Matthew (767747)


User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 3, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 17504 times:

Quoting 767747 (Reply 2):
Another excellent report, Airpearl!

Great detail and photos documenting all aspects of your trip. I felt like I was along for the ride with you!

Thanks much Matthew, thanks for dropping by.  
Quoting 767747 (Reply 2):
Very cool! I'm amazed by this too ... A lot of printing has to go on each day!

This is real attention to detail. I am always amazed how KLM do the same for fifth freedom sectors also - like between KUL and CGK, an extension of a flight from AMS, gets its own separate menu with the relevant sector details printed like on the long haul.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 2):
Wow, amazing! Never heard/seen this type of thing ever before on an airplane. Certainly makes your flying experience memorable. Maybe he should do some stand-up comedy!

Haha... it was memorable for sure. I am sure he chooses his audience and it's the Christmas period when people get away with being a bit silly - I can't imagine this happening in a cabin filled with businessmen in suits!

Cheers
airpearl


User currently offlineBurj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 900 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 17402 times:

As always thanks for a great trip report!

"Usher" and his antics are hilarious!

I'm glad you liberated the "EATS" menu from Delta (what Delta calls their buy on board)...

As for SFO...for people who don't have much time but still want see some of it...riding the airtrain/airlink around the various terminals and the other line that goes out to the parking lot/rental car area is pretty nifty...


User currently offlinevietsky From Vietnam, joined Nov 2008, 94 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 17383 times:

Thanks Airpearl for such a nice trip report. Looking forward to the next part  

User currently offlinebps3458 From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 553 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 17375 times:

Hi airpearl,

another great sequence of your rtw trip. Still have fond memories of my last trijet adventures. LH from JFK to DUS in a DC10 (around 1986) and DL from FRA to DFW in a Tristar (summer 1988). Looking forward to your next report.

Cheers from Brisbane,

Peter


User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 7, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 17006 times:

Quoting Burj (Reply 4):
As always thanks for a great trip report!
Quoting vietsky (Reply 5):
Thanks Airpearl for such a nice trip report. Looking forward to the next part
Quoting bps3458 (Reply 6):
another great sequence of your rtw trip. Looking forward to your next report.

Hi Burj, Vietsky and Peter, thanks very much for your comments and glad you're enjoying it so far. You'll be relieved to hear the next sector is the penultimate one - so we're almost home!  
Quoting Burj (Reply 4):
I'm glad you liberated the "EATS" menu from Delta (what Delta calls their buy on board)...

It's quite a nice menu too. I really like that word "liberated" - and use it liberally as you can see. Thank you.



Quoting Burj (Reply 4):
As for SFO...for people who don't have much time but still want see some of it...riding the airtrain/airlink around the various terminals and the other line that goes out to the parking lot/rental car area is pretty nifty...

Yeah, that's what I should have done! And some pretty good views to be had too.

Quoting bps3458 (Reply 6):
LH from JFK to DUS in a DC10 (around 1986) and DL from FRA to DFW in a Tristar (summer 1988).

Those sound like wonderful experiences. I'd give anything to get aboard a Tristar now.

Cheers
airpearl


User currently offlineglobetraveller From Germany, joined Apr 2008, 379 posts, RR: 20
Reply 8, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 17002 times:

Another great trip report Airpearl!

A really enjoyable read and good to see you managed to catch the trijet!

All the best,

Globetraveller


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6403 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 16975 times:

Fantastic report with very nice pics! That's a very long day! Legroom on the KL 738 looks very tight but it's a short flight so not too bad. Glad it worked out with your upgrade offer which is really a good deall. Meals look great ! That's a very northernly routing from AMS to SFO! Nice pics from Waikiki!

Looking forward to the continuation of your RTW adventure!

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly...T5, CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6338 posts, RR: 39
Reply 10, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day ago) and read 16910 times:

Hi Airpearl,

Wonderful continuation of the RTW report! Well written and great photos to accompany. Sounds like you had a great time. The MD-11 is something I want to catch.. But I really doubt my chances in getting it if they retire them within a year or two.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Reply that you're visiting a loved one, going bungee jumping, or even lazing on a beach will get you an instant nod of approval. But saying "just flying around" - wouldn't.

I think my friends have just accepted me for who I am.. lol


Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Leaving a wintry London before dawn, I plan to be in balmy Honolulu just after dinner.

Most interesting, seeing you took 3 flights to get there as well!

It sounds like Economy Comfort could have been in the 2nd J cabin, meaning that your flight wouldn't have been too bad if you upgraded to there either!

Seats don't look too bad.. The service looks really good, including the prank!

So that makes 2 planes I want to fly on - the 753 and the MD-11.. Both one after the other. Can I be more jealous right now!?

Going to be interesting to see how you get home from HNL.. Can't wait for that one!

Thanks for sharing!


Cheers,
Nicholas

[Edited 2011-03-15 02:28:12]


It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineCrimsonNL From Netherlands, joined Dec 2007, 1801 posts, RR: 42
Reply 11, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day ago) and read 16909 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
CHAT OPERATOR

Hi Airpearl, thanks for sharing! Very well written and with great pictures! I'm glad to see you liked my homebase and that KLM treated you well. Great job scoring the M11 and 753!

Regards,

Martijn



Fly DC-Jets!
User currently offlinestipica From Croatia, joined Feb 2011, 422 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 16678 times:

Hello Airpearl !

I joined recently but since the beginning of 1998 I read almost daily airliners.net and i must say
your work is the best ... I do not care what others will think but I simply disappear in your trip report ...As a massage for my spirit that yearns to travel after everyday stress... thank you for every moment you have invested in this creation and for whole opus.

and that day came : " Mr. Airpearl would you be so kind and signed your books for me ? "

"How The Other Half Lives"
"Flying On Borrowed Time"
"The Jewel Amiss In Crown"
"Software Surprises"
"Battle Of The Kebayas"

   and respect ...Stipica  



Open your eyes and think
User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Reply 13, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 16510 times:

Hi Airpearl,

as for your previous TR you saved me from another unwanted duty, so thank you again! It has been an interesting read and, even if I'm not really a fan of trijets (I'm sorry but I believe that MD11s are quite, err, ugly) I wished I was on your KL flight!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Going walkabout - that wonderful Aboriginal rite of passage - doesn't have a place in today's world. After all, heaven forbid that you fail to update your Facebook status because there's no internet access.

That's the curse of the smartphone era, I guess. How irritating it is to talk or work with someone, only to realize that his or her mind has drifted away because the beloved Iphone has just vibrated another Facebook update?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The Captain meanwhile comes on the blower to explain our journey: we're set for a northerly routing via wilderness - Shetland islands, north of Iceland, across central Greenland, Yellowknife and Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories, then south over British Columbia, Washington and Oregon states, and into northern California.

Given a route like that, I wouldn't have traded my Y class window seat for any C class aisle armchair, not in a million years! Especially if it's a daytime trip. You see, I've been fascinated by sights of Siberia when coming to Japan and I'm so much eager to see Greenland and Canada that I'm seriously considering of flying Iceland express to NYC next year!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The CFM56s are a lot louder during climb than I've heard them before, and we're quickly into cloud in a mildly bumpy but uneventful hop across the North Sea.

I've always found that CFM-powered 737s are louder than similar Airbuses powered by the same kind of engine, no matter where you are to listen them (passenger or passer-by under their path). I guess it's a matter of aerodynamics, does anybody know the reason? How come that two airplanes, with similar engines, do such different noises? Boeings roar, while Airbuses sound like a very powerful vacuum cleaner.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
There's no shortage of shops, food outlets or diversions (like a casino or museum) available to transfer passengers the moment they get off the plane at Schiphol - no dark, windowless passageway to a cheerless security check-point here

As airports should be, ICAO should have made another annex to the Chicago Convention pointing that out.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
It's while we're having the appetiser that Usher comes round on his second bread roll run, not so long after his first. Most passengers waive the bread basket away without really looking, but Usher is insistent: "are you sure?" he asks, refusing to go away. The contents of his bread basket send the ladies sitting across the aisle into shrieks of panic, to the obvious delight of our mischievous Senior Purser whose schoolboy prank has obviously worked. I can't believe this is happening in Business Class - it's so Fawlty Towers! Usher obliges when I ask to take a picture but "as long as you're not planning to sue us," he says.

I guess that if this had happened on Alitalia we'd have had the FA sacked, the whole airline under scrutiny, a hundred day-time tv programs about it and the Government would have been asked to refer to the Parliament. I love the Dutch humour!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
"Please pay attention to the safety aspects of this McDonell Douglas 757 aircraft," comes the serious spiel over the p.a. What? This is totally unbelievable. What's amazing is that no one else even noticed the mistake!

Well, you know, for many people an airplane is an airplane. I tried hundreds of time to make my loved ones understand the difference between a widebody and a narrow body, or why boarding a 747, upper deck, is cool and so forth. After years of efforts I think I have completely failed!

I hope you had a nice day on the beach...

Keep 'em coming!

Fabrizio


User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 14, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 15986 times:

Quoting globetraveller (Reply 8):
Another great trip report Airpearl!

A really enjoyable read and good to see you managed to catch the trijet!

All the best,

Hey there and thanks Globetraveller. Good to hear from you, but haven't seen a trip report from you for long time. Is one forthcoming? Hope all is well with you.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 9):
Fantastic report with very nice pics!

Thanks very much The777Man!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 9):
That's a very northernly routing from AMS to SFO!

I thought it unusual too, but don't fly transatlantic enough to know if this is normal this time of year, possibly due to headwinds at lower latitudes. That's certainly the case on transpacific routes.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 10):
Wonderful continuation of the RTW report! Well written and great photos to accompany. Sounds like you had a great time. The MD-11 is something I want to catch.. But I really doubt my chances in getting it if they retire them within a year or two.

Hi Nicholas, thanks so much for your compliments! I had a fantastic time and catching the MD11 was a dream come true. I hope for your sake that they stay around for a little longer but it'll probably become trickier to plan an itinerary with time. Already KLM is planning to replace some previously dedicated M11 routes like UIO with the triple sevens.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 10):
It sounds like Economy Comfort could have been in the 2nd J cabin, meaning that your flight wouldn't have been too bad if you upgraded to there either!

Yeah that crossed my mind during the flight but having forked out more, I'm really not keen to confirm it!  
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 10):
The service looks really good, including the prank!

It was excellent - you don't often hear people rave about KL, but it's a really solid offering.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 10):
Can I be more jealous right now!?

You don't have to be for they can be easily rectified - but you'll always have that CV580 jump seat experience and I'm very jealous of it! Haha.

Quoting CrimsonNL (Reply 11):
Hi Airpearl, thanks for sharing! Very well written and with great pictures! I'm glad to see you liked my homebase and that KLM treated you well. Great job scoring the M11 and 753!

Hi Martijn, thanks for your kind words. Honestly, I really liked AMS. I wouldn't have minded spending a longer time there including land-side. I will make sure that happens next time   And KLM was just great.

Quoting stipica (Reply 12):
thank you for every moment you have invested in this creation and for whole opus.

Wow Stipica, those accolades! I am blushing. Thank you for all the nice words and I'm glad to be able to help you de-stress and provide entertainment as well. I do enjoy writing very much and sharing my trips - so it's really nice to see it's enjoyed by others as well. Thanks again.

Quoting JL418 (Reply 13):
as for your previous TR you saved me from another unwanted duty, so thank you again!

Always at your service Fabrizio!  
Quoting JL418 (Reply 13):
even if I'm not really a fan of trijets (I'm sorry but I believe that MD11s are quite, err, ugly)

No, never! Hahaha. (I think you're mistaken of course, but will respect your view.) Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

Quoting JL418 (Reply 13):
Given a route like that, I wouldn't have traded my Y class window seat for any C class aisle armchair, not in a million years! Especially if it's a daytime trip. You see, I've been fascinated by sights of Siberia when coming to Japan and I'm so much eager to see Greenland and Canada that I'm seriously considering of flying Iceland express to NYC next year!

That would be a more interesting route than direct. There were serious conflicts going on in my mind during the flight - I'm not sure if that showed in the writing - about whether I made the right decision to upgrade, especially for losing that window seat. I was 'consoled' by the sight of thick cloud during parts of our crossing - but I'm certain I missed some great views.

Quoting JL418 (Reply 13):
As airports should be, ICAO should have made another annex to the Chicago Convention pointing that out.

Absolutely!

Quoting JL418 (Reply 13):
I guess that if this had happened on Alitalia we'd have had the FA sacked, the whole airline under scrutiny, a hundred day-time tv programs about it and the Government would have been asked to refer to the Parliament. I love the Dutch humour!

I didn't realize things were taken so seriously on AZ. I'm sure this is a clear no-no on many Asian carriers as well. Can you imagine a Singapore girl doing this?

Quoting JL418 (Reply 13):
After years of efforts I think I have completely failed!

You must persevere, it can work... it's all to do with incentives. Last time I traveled with my sister, we wagered on what the registration of the plane would be, believe it or not. We couldn't see the registration clearly from the gate, but she was so keen to beat me that when aboard, she asked a stewardess what it was. Imagine a non-airline nut doing that! Hahaha.

Cheers
airpearl


User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Reply 15, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 15883 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 14):
No, never! Hahaha. (I think you're mistaken of course, but will respect your view.) Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

I have to say that the sight of an Omni Air DC10 I had the chance to have some time ago was a quite interesting one: the thing is I don't like the nose of those airplanes, but I'd be more than glad to give them a go!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 14):
That would be a more interesting route than direct. There were serious conflicts going on in my mind during the flight - I'm not sure if that showed in the writing - about whether I made the right decision to upgrade, especially for losing that window seat. I was 'consoled' by the sight of thick cloud during parts of our crossing - but I'm certain I missed some great views.

Yeah, your internal struggle was quite visible, reading between the lines. However, at the end of the day - seeing how packed Economy was - I think you did a good trade.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 14):
I didn't realize things were taken so seriously on AZ. I'm sure this is a clear no-no on many Asian carriers as well. Can you imagine a Singapore girl doing this?

Well it's not AZ that keeps things so seriously, it's the Italians. Every now and then you read some letters, in the space devoted to them on newspapers, about bad adventures at the airport suffered by someone who, obviously, flies since he or she was 10 and it was all Caravelles out there. Needless to say, most of the time it ends up that the airline, and their staff, was more than right. Given the general environment, the chance of a stewart showing a rodent puppet in Magnifica class and walking away with his job are, I think, quite thin.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 14):
You must persevere, it can work... it's all to do with incentives. Last time I traveled with my sister, we wagered on what the registration of the plane would be, believe it or not. We couldn't see the registration clearly from the gate, but she was so keen to beat me that when aboard, she asked a stewardess what it was. Imagine a non-airline nut doing that! Hahaha.

That's a cool idea, never tried that! But I guess I'd make my loved ones understand what a registration is, I'm already imaging someone asking the stewardess "Sorry, can you tell me the number plate of this aircraft, please?"


User currently offlinehenkybaby From Netherlands, joined May 2008, 593 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 15872 times:

Great TR. Almost makes me miss my former regular airline. I had your seat once and the airconditioning drove me crazy. Constant wind in my face. They told me that was a 'feature' of the MD11...

Have fun in Hawaii and enjoy your trip!



Wherever you go, there you are!
User currently offlinerobso2 From Switzerland, joined Jun 2010, 217 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 15857 times:

Fantastic, thoroughly enjoyable and highly readable account of your long leg! Thank you!


733/4/5/6/7/8/9, 319/20/21, 752, 744, 772, 332/3, 343/6, E70/90, AT43, AR85/1, D38, D10, M82
User currently offlineMH017 From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 1669 posts, RR: 31
Reply 18, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 15350 times:

Hi Mr. Lee,

Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful trip on KL/DL !!!
Love the pictures too...   it all looks sooooo familiar !
Good to know you've enjoyed your flights on KL and that you were able to get the upgrade to KLM's World Business Class afterall...
That purser is really hilarious by putting the rat in the bread-box; luckily, most passengers enjoyed his 'jokes'...
Great Delftblue house you got there; it's still missing my collection  

Looking forward to your next installment !

Gr.,

Pieter...



don't throw away tomorrow !
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 19, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 15124 times:

Quoting henkybaby (Reply 16):
Great TR. Almost makes me miss my former regular airline. I had your seat once and the airconditioning drove me crazy. Constant wind in my face. They told me that was a 'feature' of the MD11...

Thanks Henkybaby - and that explains why it was freezing during the flight. What a strange 'feature'!

Quoting robso2 (Reply 17):
Fantastic, thoroughly enjoyable and highly readable account of your long leg! Thank you!

Glad you've enjoyed it Robso2. Thanks for the comment.

Quoting MH017 (Reply 18):
Good to know you've enjoyed your flights on KL and that you were able to get the upgrade to KLM's World Business Class afterall...

Hey Pieter, thanks again for your kind words. KLM was a really nice experience - and the upgrade was kinda unexpected. According to a thread in another thread, it does seem the offer to upgrade on the cheap isn't made to all passengers but only some, and in a random basis. Has that been your experience?

Quoting JL418 (Reply 15):
the thing is I don't like the nose of those airplanes, but I'd be more than glad to give them a go!

You mean it's not dolphin-like endearing? Haha. You must seriously not be keen on the looks of the A380 then...  
Quoting JL418 (Reply 15):
"Sorry, can you tell me the number plate of this aircraft, please?"

LOL


User currently offlineaflyingkiwi From New Zealand, joined Nov 2010, 513 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 15034 times:

Hi Airpearl,

Excellent report about your 24 hour trip on KL/DL. It definately is a shame that these majestic trijets are now running out of life.

KLM seemed to offer a very nice product and I also like some of the finer touches they offer (parting gifts, precise menu's etc.). Sounds like you had a slightly eccentric & prank-happy crew ..... not exactly sure it'll be allowed on some other airlines but it did make your flight that extra bit more memorable.

DL seemed to cap off your 24 hours if flying quite nicely and I'm sure catching the 753 was an added bonus.

Looking forward to the next installment.

Regards,
aflyingkiwi


User currently offlineojas From India, joined Mar 2008, 2920 posts, RR: 24
Reply 21, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 14942 times:

Airpearl Airpearl Airpearl ......(sigh) I've given in. Please tell me where all do these MD-11s fly. This is the only tri-jet I have not flown and you just HAD to write an excellent TR to convince me to book a ticket on it as well.


Never mind, I'm really liking your sequence of TRs, brilliant pictures and that rat and cockroach was surely repulsive. KLM MD-11 refurbished in flight product is good enough to spend 7-8 hours on them.

Thanks for sharing.



A lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep
User currently offlineirelayer From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 1073 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 14824 times:

Cool trip report! I love the idea that there are people out there who enjoy flying to other places just as much as visiting them. I love the idea that there are people out there who notice random details like "gate D10". I can also see people looking sideways at you when you said you were going to do this. Well good for you, they missed out.

The journey is the destination...

-IR


User currently offlineMH017 From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 1669 posts, RR: 31
Reply 23, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 14807 times:

@ Ojas,

Here's the KLM MD11 list of flights for Summer11 period:

AMS-IKA-AMS
AMS-MIA-AMS
AMS-YUL-AMS
AMS-YYC-AMS 12jun-27aug only
AMS-YVR-AMS
AMS-PBM-AMS
AMS-BON-GYE-UIO-BON-AMS
AMS-PTY-AMS
AMS-SXM-BON-AMS 01apr-26aug only
AMS-DEL-AMS

So, only Indian flight is to/from DEL and most flights into Canada with the M11  



don't throw away tomorrow !
User currently offlineojas From India, joined Mar 2008, 2920 posts, RR: 24
Reply 24, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 14798 times:

Quoting MH017 (Reply 23):
So, only Indian flight is to/from DEL and most flights into Canada with the M11

Thank you so much, guess I need to fly to DEL - AMS!!!!

[Edited 2011-03-16 01:39:53]


A lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep
25 Post contains images Coal : Hi Airpearl, fantastic report! I had been eagerly waiting part 3! That looks rather nice, considering it's free and on a 1-hour flight. I think that's
26 Post contains images MH017 : they're filled with Dutch genever
27 Post contains images airpearl : Hi Aflyingkiwi, thanks for stopping by and your kind words. As for the M11s - there's still time to catch 'em...! It's the sort of crew you'd want wh
28 Post contains images airpearl : Hey IR, thanks for the compliments - they are, aren't they? I must admit that I sometimes do regret not stopping for longer and savoring more of the
29 Post contains images NZ107 : LOL, just that this particular flight somehow happened to be over the entire day rather than the entire night Yeah, thanks. I was looking ahead for S
30 Post contains images airpearl : Damn... you just had to go spoil an otherwise well-reasoned answer, didn't you?! This is so coool! You're definitely going then - wow!!! Yeah, the on
31 flightsimboy : There have been quite a few RTW trips here, following PH's currently. I need to do a search for the other two, which I might have read but can't reca
32 Post contains images akhmad : Hi Airpearl, I knew it! I knew you were flying J with KLM. But still one thing I did not expect was the MD11! I have never been on board of this beaut
33 Post contains images SR 103 : Another masterpiece airpearl, really! Your writing style compliment the fantastic pictures so well. Even more exciting was the fact that you were writ
34 MH017 : Since Suryo didn't, I might aswell: 18R-36L Polderbaan 18C-36C Zwanenburgbaan 18L-36R Aalsmeerbaan 09-27 Buitenveldertbaan or sometimes also called "
35 akhmad : Pieter, thanks for posting the information. I somehow overlooked the request of flightsimboy.[Edited 2011-03-16 13:55:08]
36 Post contains images NZ107 : I wish I could say that right now.. It's always fun searching for flights you could take sometime in the future.. But at the moment, I'm still waitin
37 flightsimboy : Thanks Pieter, Suryo no worries! How I envy you both live in KLM heaven!!
38 LFutia : What an awesome awesome trip report. KLM is a great airline to fly on! If I had a choice to fly KL or some other airline, I'd choose KLM. I haven't be
39 vivekman2006 : What a brilliant TR, Airpearl! Makes me want to book a ticket on the KLM MD-11 right now!! Let's hope I can get a ride on one of these soon enough whe
40 Post contains images airpearl : Hey guys, thanks for your comments. It does seem KLM has a good number of fans out there! Indeed, there have been. Amazing isn't it? I think each trip
41 akhmad : Never mind, Airpearl. Like you have said, there is always a next time. If not, I will make up something. Well, the lady is kind of prominently presen
42 AlwaysOnAPlane : airpearl, so good to catch up with this the latest update. I really look forward to reading them when i see your name next to the title. So, part 3. T
43 delimit : And another wonderful trip report. Thanks for all the effort. They're really fantastic reads! Well, perhaps not no reason, but I did mine simply so I
44 Post contains images abrelosojos : WOW! What an incredible trip report ... but I am sure you know it by now given all the accolades you have received! I would have done the same to fly
45 RJtraveller : Hi Airpearl !! What a nice trip report, interesting flight with the MD11 trijet with KL, looking forward to try flying those old birds, with nice busi
46 Post contains images airpearl : Hi Lee, really glad you're enjoying this. I guess it's all downhill from here Agree with you there. Personally for me, the DC10 beats the 11, but the
47 Post contains images BOACCunard : Great TR as always. I guess I am lucky, having grown up in the US in the 1990s, to have been able to fly the 727, DC-10 and L-1011 each multiple times
48 ba319-131 : Hi Airpearl, Great report, it's taken me a while to find the time to get around to reading it, decided to take a day off to catch up! - It sure does a
49 Post contains images ronerone : Another brilliant TR from you Airpearl! Thanks for this excellent write-up on your RTW continuation. You are so lucky to catch a lovely trijet, and th
50 Post contains images Econojetter : Airpearl... thanks for bringing us another fantastic read! Oh, so this was the number one reason for this RTW? I'd thought the main reason was what yo
51 Post contains images airpearl : Thanks BOACCunard, Mark and Roni for your nice words. It's very much appreciated. The DC10's huge windows left a lasting impression on me too. Nothing
52 Post contains images airpearl : Hey Econojetter, thanks for dropping by... Hey, all in good time, all in good time my friend... you know there needs to be a natural build up to these
53 Post contains images ronerone : Haha .. I wouldn't say a masterpiece, but a very short TR is upcoming. Yes, i do have a couple i am quite excited about i cannot wait for the next on
54 Post contains images PlaneHunter : Hi Airpearl, I'm back from my UAE vacation and can leave some comments! I already read your latest masterpiece last week, but didn't have any time for
55 Post contains images airpearl : Hey PH, thanks so much for your comments and kind words. Nice of you to stop by. That sounds exciting! And we can expect a report soon? Makes a differ
56 Post contains images MD11Bob : Hello airpearl, amazing trip report here, very good that you managed to get your upgrade in the end. Looking forward for the next part of your RTW (ev
57 Post contains images N178UA : Hi AirPearl Tremendous Trip Report! Enjoy reading it from the top to the end! Great photography as well! Especially love the opening picture....what a
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