A388 From Netherlands Antilles, joined May 2001, 10518 posts, RR: 15 Posted (10 years 5 months 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 14752 times:
This is my first trip report, hope you enjoy reading it.
In may I went on vacation to the Dutch Caribbean, flying with KLM. It happened quite fast. In april my supervisor at work told me that tickets were very cheap to Curaçao, about 480 euros for a return ticket, which indeed is very cheap for the AMS-CUR-AMS flight. Before I knew it, a ticket was booked for me. I later checked in via KLM’s website which was very easy and convenient. The steps to confirm my booking on their website were easy to follow. A day before my actual departure I received an reminder of my flight to Curaçao. So that part went smooth.
When the day had come, my friends brought me and we were waiting at the internet check-in counters which was very hectic. There was no clear line and people were standing and walking everywhere. You couldn’t see where you had to wait in line for check-in. This was a slight disappointment. It would be nice if the KLM personnel would organize this better. Once I was at the check-in counter, it all went well and fast, fortunately. When I went through customs I walked to the gate which was quite a distance because I didn’t sleep much the day before. I’m always too excited the night before I’m flying. In Curaçao I was expecting a reminder via e-mail about my return flight, but didn’t get any. As this was my first time booking through internet I became worried a bit. The check-in in Curaçao was okay, I checked in early just to avoid the hazzle later. Eventually it all went without problems.
FROM BOARDING TO TAKE-OFF
When it was time to board the aircraft we were again waiting in a long line, but I expected this so it didn’t bother me much. I’ve travelled this route quite often being a native of Curaçao myself. What made this trip new was the fact that I was going to fly on the 747-400 for the first time, so I still was very excited. When I saw our aircraft parked at the gate I was even happier to see that I was going on KLM’s 747-400 wearing the airline’s new livery, it was registered PH-BFL “City of Lima”. When I boarded I was sitting at seat 24K which to me was a perfect spot for photography. I turnt on the ventilation which was working well, on my previous flights they weren’t working accordingly but this time I got lucky. There was a man who was trying sit with his whole family together which at a certain point started to irritate me because the flight was full which made it difficult to switch seats. The stewardess asked me if I wanted to change seats while I was anxiously making photographs already. So no, there was no way they could get me to change seats
After a while it was pushback time. The closer we got to take-off the more excited I got. I was still making photos like crazy. I bought an extra memory card and an extra battery for my camera especially for this flight. I wanted to avoid any risk of not being able to make photos because of a full memory card or empty battery, so I was ready
At pushback a Royal Air Maroc 757-200 taxied by as well as a Transavia 737-800. The pilots announced we would be using the Polderbaan runway for take-off which would mean a long taxi time but surprisingly it wasn’t as long as I expected. When I went to Turkey with Inter Airlines (737-800) it took us 30 minutes to taxi to that runway, but this time it only took us 20 minutes or so. The weather was reasonably okay with the sun coming out every once in a while. The part I liked the most was the part where we taxied over the highway. It’s funny to see the view from the aircraft compared to aircraft spotting near that same road or driving under that taxyway. So I took photographs of that as well. After take-off we turnt left in an awesome sharp left turn through the clouds. The engines and wings were flexing quite a lot which was very nice to see. Another photo opportunity right there…
After 30 minutes we crossed the English coast which was nice to see. We also flew over London Heathrow Airport I took photos of that but somehow my camera couldn’t focus so all those photos were blurry. In some cases my camera couldn’t take photographs because it was to dark and the camera lens couldn’t focus. After the U.K. we started the longer journey over the pond (Atlantic Ocean). The next six hours were all about clouds, sunny skies and beautiful photographing opportunities. Seeing the containerships as tiny as toy boats with the nice trace the boats left behind in the sea was sometimes nice to see as well. I was hoping to spot a few other aircraft in-flight during the Atlantic cross-over but I couldn’t see any. Probably the route we flew wasn’t a bussy one compared to flying to the U.S. Only when we flew over the U.K. I saw a British Airways 737-400 on approach and a C-130 Hercules military aircraft probably from the U.K. Royal Air Force.
The in-flight service was a good experience for economy class. I thaught the service moderate looking at my past experiences on this route. In the past the service wasn’t that spectacular because KLM had the monopoly on this route, but it has improved since than. The competition on the route, even though it’s small, it apparently did have influence on the service of KLM as the service now is much better in my opinion. As usual we started out with peanuts and a drink. After that meals itself were given. The food was okay on the way to Curaçao. We could chose between chicken and beef. I took the beef. The meal was served with rice, salmon, bread/butter and a raspberry pudding cake with pistache nuts sprinkled on it. The second meal was a hot turkey sandwich served with a nice and fresh salad, orange juice, freshly cut pineapples and a banana flavoured cake which was a bit too sweet in my opinion. On the return flight the food wasn’t as good. We took off at night so the first meal was a hot meal. We could chose between pasta and teriyaki chicken. I chose the teriyaki chicken, which wasn’t the best chicken I’ve eaten during a flight. The chicken was too sweet, while the rice wasn’t all that much either. The meal was served with some sort of tuna salad which I’ve never eaten before, not very tasteful. The dessert was a very sweet cake with a banana flavoured icing. This was also too sweet. The bread on the other hand was okay. After this meal we got water. Here you could clearly see the Air France influence in my opnion, because it was a french brand. The nice thing was that there was an A380 painted on it which is one of my favorite aircraft now After this we were served our second meal after 5 hours. Because it was in the early morning hours we were served breakfast. This consisted of a hot ham/cheese and bacon sandwich, a strawerry cheesecake cookie with cinnamon and raisins, a fruit salad and orange juice. The hot sandwich was good, the fruit cocktail was okay but the cooky was to sweet.
The movies were okay, on the way to Curaçao we had the movies Phantom of the Opera which I didn’t like at all. The second movie was National Treasure with Nicholas Cage which was a funny movie to watch. On the way to Amsterdam we could watch a movie about a horse and some friends like a fly which was funny but it wasn’t exactly my type of movie. The Spongebob movie would have been much better of course the second movie was Ocean’s Twelve and you know what, I thaught it would be a great movie because I liked the first one, but this second follow-up story (Ocean’s Twelve) was really bad and it was a long movie too. After the second half of the movie I stopped watching it and switched the radio on, which was okay. But after hearing the same songs for hours that too became boring but I had no other choice. The problem is that I just can’t sleep when I fly.
As mentioned above I flew in the 747-400 for the first time. To my surprise I got the same aircraft when I flew from Curaçao to Amsterdam. (PH-BFL). The aircraft flew very nice and it was no bumpy ride at all. The aircraft handled the turbulence quite well when we entered clouds after take-off and during approach. The only irritating thing was that the button to call the stewardesses on the side of my seat wasn’t working, so I had to call the stewardesses myself if I wanted something which was irritating at times, because they don’t always see you. On the return flight my headset wasn’t working so I had to ask for another one, but that was okay, nothing to brag about. On the flight to Curaçao I asked if I could take photos of the cockpit but they didn’t allow me and told me to come back after arrival but after a 9 hour flight I didn’t have any energy to do that, so I didn’t take photos of the cockpit anymore (bummer). The approach into Curaçao was great, with nice views of the nice Caribbean Sea combined with the reflection of the setting sun. I chose the seat on the right side (24K) so I could make photos of the approach at Curaçao. I got to see and photograph the American military base for the first time and also took photos of the new terminal under construction, so I was happy of course
My photos (click on the "large" button to see a larger image):
All in all, the flights were nice, I enjoyed every moment. It was my first time I got the 747-400 flying experience and it was great. The 747-400 really is a wonderful aircraft with nice climbing abilities, an overall nice flight. I will be travelling KLM again next month for my migration back to Curaçao. I’m looking forward to it once more. Hopefully I will get the chance to fly their 777-200ER and/or the A330-200 (if KLM decides to use these aircraft types during low season). I wish KLM and its crew all the best!!!
GlobeTrekker From Netherlands, joined Dec 2003, 851 posts, RR: 14
Reply 1, posted (10 years 5 months 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 14682 times:
Great trip report Roger!
The catering on your CUR-AMS flight may have been less spectacular, because that is the one problem we had with flights ex-CUR.... the catering. Now that we have an agreement with Goddard Catering Services at Hato, it should be improving as the months go by.
Right now we are in a transitional period, where menus are being developed by KLM catering in Holland for the flights KL736 and KL785. I mean we have come along way from where we were.
There was a time that we bought hamburgers from McDonalds (and paid cash) to cater the plane with. KL785 would get catered in SXM, but KL735/736 would get catered in AMS for the outbound and inbound flight.
As far as Hato goes, our biggest headache are the airport facilities.... they're quite antiquated! The KLM agents of Antillean Flight Services work with what they have and I give them a thumbs up for their efforts. But the completeion of the new airport should take care of that.
Did you see the model airport in the departure hall?
Another issue is consistancy..... at AUA and BON you work with a set group of KLM agents (provided by the ground handlers GenAir and Bonaire Avaition). In CUR they have a high turn-over of agents, which in turn is detrimental to the service levels we try to achieve.
A simple example is the look of the employees.... if you noticed they wear some kind of 50/50 KLM uniform. The scarfs and ties are from KLM, but some agents where dark blue skirts and/or unmatching blouses. This is because we pai a lot of money to give agents a full KLM uniform, but because they leave the company so often it was becoming too expensive to go on like that! Dat was eigenlijk niet de bedoeling, because the reasoning behind all of this is to maximize brand recognition, and make the employees feel as they are part of the company. Which is also why they also are entitled to non-rev on KLM.
CUR which is a sole 744 station receive all the full-pax 747-400's and sometimes a combi, when there is a MX or something. But what I like CUR for is the beautiful pics you can get on the platform. Aruba has lost that charm since we use jetways.
Here is one of my pics: Curaçao Hato
Great report though and nice pictures!
Greetz from Curaçao! (I'll be working here for the next 9 days).
The World Is A Book And Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only A Page
A388 From Netherlands Antilles, joined May 2001, 10518 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (10 years 5 months 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 14637 times:
Thanks for the comments amigo. I will coming back to CUR by the end of next month and am still looking for work in the aviation sector preferably. I'm a bachelor in (aviation) logistics and have been working for Polar Air Cargo for nine months now as an customer service & operations agent. I will try my luck on the island once I'm there again.
As usual, thanks a lot for the additional information you always give to us. Always nice to read them