June 25th 2001 YYZ-AMS on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
This was my first time flying by KLM, and everything was great except their ground service, which was handled by Northwest. I was traveling alone with my brother, he was 12 and I was 15 years old at the time. The Northwest woman informed us that it was “KLM policy that no passenger under 18 may travel alone and must be treated as an un-accompanied minor”. I later concluded this to be wrong as KLM them selves informed me the min age for traveling alone was 12, as it is with most other airlines. Any way, after the long check-in we boarded as UMs almost right before the door was closed, the agents were in quite a hurry to get us to the plane. The plane was a 747-300 as is usual on the YYZ-AMS flight. The actual flight was great, food was very good, the crew was friendly and happy. They were always smiling and very even friendlier to us as we were UMs. The IFE was good, they showed “Chocolat”. I had meat loaf for dinner. It was served with mashed potatoes and string beans, very tasty. I slept for most of the flight. We were served breakfast the next morning which was a muffin, delicious “Danone” yogurt and orange juice. The flight was great, one of the most pleasant long haul flights I have ever had, the crew was great, and I think that’s the main reason. Arrival in Amsterdam was on time and we were taken to the “Junior Jet Lounge” which is a game/entertainment room for UM passengers. The very friendly ground crew carried out the transfer formalities for our JAT flight to Belgrade. After about an a hour and a half a pleasant, young woman from “Globe Ground Handling” came to take us to the JAT gate. She walked us to the gate, which was a fair distance away; it was the second-last gate in the row. The whole process was quite dull, as we were simply herded along. The concept of UM is great for younger kids, but for me it took the fun out of traveling.
June 26th 2001 AMS-BEG on JAT Yugoslav Airlines
We arrived at the gate where the friendly JAT customer service agents took over. As soon they realized we were UM they took us to seats behind the counter, closest to the gate, as we were the first ones boarding. This was great as I could see the airport through the window, where as the windows where the main waiting area are shaded. The JAT flight was late but after about 45 minutes a completely white Boeing 737-300 taxied to the gate. The only markings it had were a miniature Yugoslav flag and registration YU-AN? (I don’t remember). We waited for the passengers to deplane and after about 30-40 minutes we boarded and were “welcomed” by a fat and fairly ugly flight attendant who must have been somewhere between her late 40s and mid 50s. Her face, which was adorned with way too much whore-like make up changed expression to a brief smile as she said “Hello, welcome aboard” but immediately went back to the sad, pudgy expression she initially had. All the passengers were welcomed aboard in this fashion. We then walked through business class, which offers wider leather seats which are in a 2x2 configuration, as we made our to economy. The whole cabin looked like an 80s style cabin. It had blue seats with a mild pattern and repulsive brown tray tables and brown stickers labeling seat numbers. It seemed dingy and had that trademark JAT stuffy smell. This was economy, business looked better, although not much. After we pushed back they started the safety demonstration, the FAs did it live, as the monitors were not working, I guess. It was done in Serbian and in fairly decent English. As my brother and I (and some guy with whom my brother chatted with throughout the flight) were sitting in the first row right after business class the FA demonstrated the oxygen mask deployment right above our heads. She then looked down and smiled at us, revealing not-so-perfect teeth. I by the way had the window seat and my brother sat next to me. It was a 3x3 configuration. The FAs were the pudgy one, the one that did the demonstration, and one that manned business class, they were all female. The flight was uneventful, we were served drinks and almost immediately after a disgusting meal, and peanuts which came with the meal. I was given a tray by the pudgy FA on which there was a small dish covered with foil on which it was written, in pen, “Sauté”. My first reaction was, “Oh good, a hot meal!” and then I lifted the foil. It was boiled noodle and I’m guessing boiled beef with a few mushrooms here and there. All I can say is that it was the most disgusting meal I have ever had on an airplane. The noodles were disgustingly soft and bloated as they were over-boiled and the meat tasted powdery. There was also a salad but that wasn’t too good either. The only acceptable thing on the tray were the peanuts and a small piece of cake which was, surprisingly, very good. There was no IFE, as the monitors were not working. The landing was fun , we flew to the right of the airport and I could see the whole airport through the window to my left. We then passed the airport, flew over Sava river, turned to line up and flew back over the Sava again and touched down gently. We then taxied to our gate, the airport seemed deserted and almost all the gates were free. As soon as the door of the plane was opened, an airport employee put down a mat soaked in disinfectant in front of us to wipe our feet on. Then came the hand washing. This was because of foot and mouth disease. Passport control was a breeze and as a bonus a JAT agent escorted us the whole way. Once we got to baggage claim, our cousin, who was waiting for us, was let into the hall to help us with it. We then went through customs (with her), which also was no problem. And that is the end of the YYZ-AMS-BEG trip. Stay tuned for Part II (BEG-AMS-YYZ), I have to finish typing it and then I’ll post it.
Just a note about JAT crews, the FAs have great uniforms, but only if they are worn properly, and they weren’t exactly. Despite all the negative things I mentioned I have to say that as far as safety is concerned they are very professional, no different that a Western carrier. Also, their pilots are among the best in the world, and they are quite experienced. I can post a picture of an FA (and the uniform) if you like.
That’s all until next time!