After my short flight from Groningen, I walked upstairs to departures 2 and the KLM elite check in area. I had checked in online the day before, but for USA flights you can only print the BP at the airport. This was accomplished at a SSCI machine, where i confirmed my seat and details. This flight was operated by the dinosaur 767, which I actually like (to be explained), as long as I have a bulkhead. 2G I asked for, 2G I got. I then dropped my bags at the fast bag drop, where the check in agent happily tagged them all the way to TPA, and even gave me a Delta BP, despite the tickets being on separate PNRs. Good service. Again on the Schiphol speed record, in, out, and through passport again in less than 10 minutes! I headed up to the lounge for a quick coffee and a gander at the papers, then stopped at the duty free for some cigars and booze. Boarding had already started when I got to the gate, but I had to wait for ages as one xray was inop and all pax were filtered into 1 machine. Finally made it through and settled into 2G. Usual preflight OJ, amenity kit, menu. J class only had about 8 people out of 30, and Y was about 60%. I had figured the day before thanksgiving would be a nightmare, but it was not to be.
Now, I have to explain myself. I said before I like the WBC seat on the 767, despite it only having a 55 inch pitch, and a 135 degree recline, and shitty IFE, and no snake light. This is all true. However, I hate the new seat. Hard, slippery, cannot sleep in it. The old one on the 747 and -11 is good for day, but the footrest keeps me awake at night. The 767 on the other hand, is a cradle style seat a la BA mid '90s, and I sleep like a baby in it.
The purser came around before push-back and took meal orders and introduced himself. I asked him if he could save me an entree and serve it to me at pre landing meal time, to which he happily agreed. I wanted to sleep, and to be crude, KLM food is a massive fart generator. Nothing like trying to sleep while you are in discomfort.
We departed 24 at AMS, and as soon at the seatbelt sign was off, I grabbed the extra pillow and blanket from the vacant seat next to me, earplugs in, eyemask on, seat reclined, and then dropped off for 8 hours.
I came to with the purser setting my table with a nice beef fillet, a cup of coffee, water, and some warm bread. He told me it was 90 minutes to landing, and said he was amazed that I had slept for 8 hours in "this old seat". I told him i hated the new one, to which he seemed shocked. Oh well.
The food was surprisingly good, abnormal for KL catering which seems to go through good and bad cycles. Last month it was on a bad one...things seem to be looking up! And no odious fetter....
About 30 minutes before landing, the purser made one last tour though the cabin, addressing each passenger by name and making sure they had enjoyed the experience. Most pax were Africans from either Kenya or Nigeria, incidentally, if their duty free bags were to be believed. The flight attendant followed with the tray of Delft blue houses, to which she encouraged each of us to take 3 or 4. Never had this happen before! (NB, apart from the purser the 2 ladies taking care of J class were very professional, always addressing each pax by name)
We landed about 30 minutes ahead of scheme in ATL, and made a short taxi to E30. Passport was painless, and my 2 bags were in the first 10 off. Lucky day with luggage! I cleared customs, and rechecked my bags to TPA, then headed for security and my flight to TPA...coming in the next installment...