KLM is once again ofering fares to Buenos Aires since signing a code sharing agreement with Brazilian carrier TAM in October. Being this a very difficult time of the year to find a seat to Argentina I was able to fly this time semi direct with KLM via Sao Paulo as TAM code shares between this city and Buenos Aires
KLM KL797 Amsterdam-Sao Paulo
December 30 2003
Dep time 11.10 Actual 11.18
Arrival to Guarulhos 20.10 Actual 20.03
Boeing 747-400 Combi PH-BFS
After a very quick check in, passport and security control I took a walk along the terminal at Schiphol before boarding. On the E Pier at gate 3 was the aircraft PH-BFS being loaded.
Boarding was very oderly with each passenger given a coloured card according to their position on the aircraft. Ground staff of KLM at Schiphol as great, very professional but also very friendly. Once onboard I was greeted by a KLM stewardess, but not so motivated like their ground collegues. The Jumbo had still the old configuration and seats so I was not able to experience the new seats. This flight was nearly full, and was a Combi aircraft. Onboard I really like the festive atmosphere as most passengers were Brazilian, shouting, talking loud and laughing. I love myself their language and culture and it was a very nice sudden change from the rigidity of the northern latitudes so felt already like being in South America.
Departure was nearly on time and soon we were positioned on runway 6 for the full thrust and length take off run. On departure the Air Show was showing the previous flight which arrived from Houston maybe a few hours earlier. This is a long flight, around 11.30 hs so I was prepared for my first daylight transatlantic crossing as all my previous ones were always nightime. I had plenty to read to kill time as it was difficult really to sleep.
After take off the crews passed with drinks and peanuts, which was shortly followed by a lunch. This consisted of a choice of fish or chicken. Chicken was OK but the portions were smaller than before, you can really see that they are trying to cut cost in a way. But I was not surprised as it is what most airlines are doing at the moment. The flight was very quiet, not much turbulence and they kept passengers entertained with plenty of movies and series. The routing took us to Lisbon, Tenerife, Sal, Fortaleza and then Sao Paulo. After a few hours they served a second mini-supper which consisted of a choice of rice and chicken with tomato sauce (not very good).
Unlike all the other KLM flights I took before this time the crews were not very friendly. They did all mechanical but you can see they were not very happy to be there. Only one of them and the purser were more friendly but the others just tried to do the job as fast as possible. I guess because they were about to miss being at home on new years, that could be a reason. Anyway they were always correct but some were a bit rude - surprising for me as it was first time for me to see that on KLM. A passenger asked for a coke when they passed with water and juices and one answered ¨this is what we have¨ and then I saw another stewardess yelling to a front passenger who was putting her feet on the wall in front of her.
Before arriving in Sao Paulo they did a short snack service which consisted offering either chips or ice cream. That was new for me so a nice touch, but the not friendly faces of the crews now about more than 10 hours on the flight made everyone wishing to finish the flight soon. Also because is not so possible to sleep.
Arrival in Guarulhos aiport was a few minutes before.
I waited here for the onward flight with TAM aroudn two hours. Passengers continuing to Buenos Aires had to go to a special desk to ask for the boarding passes as this was not possible to obtain in Amsterdam. But it was very fast.
TAM 8007 KLM 4001 Sao Paulo Buenos Aires
Dep. time 22.30 Actual 22.35
Arrival 00.30 Actual 00.04
Airbus A330 PP-MVD
I always heard positive things about TAM but this experience was much better than I expected. This must be one of the best airlines I ever tried. The service on the ground and onboard was perfect.
To board the aircraft we were taken by bus to a remote stand. It was very interesting to appreciate the A330 from the ground as it is so big. After walking a couple meters over a red carpet we took the stairs and on the aircraft entrance we were greeted by two very friendly and smiling purser and stewardess. The same by all the staff onboard. The aircraft looks very spacious.
Before departure there is a drinks and snack service with water and juice and also peanuts. The seats were very confortable and had a PTV, the first time for me but I was a little tired at this stage so not much energy to explore it.
Take off from Sao Paulo at night is just impressive as it was clear.
I was dully impressed by the respect, cordiality and friendliness of the crew at TAM. Just wonderful, it seems the airline hires very appropiate people that really likes their job. All the time they are very polite but they look natural and relaxed at the same time. They offered what you want to drink, always with thank you. It was already late but they served a hot meal of beef with vegetables and potatoes, then a drink service and many times offering bread.
While boarding and on arrival to Ezeiza airport they played very nice Brazilian music like ¨Bye bye Brazil¨ the song of a famous movie from the 1970s or tunes from Ivan Lins.
Arrival on Buenos Aires was ahead schedule and wonderful to circle this giant illuminated city, especially for me as this is my home. I was at this stage very tired but very happy and excited to meet my family and be back in Argentina.
Overall I liked to fly KLM, it is one of my favourites. This flight not very special but everything worked, just as the Dutch people say ¨Betrouwbar¨ or reliable. Just his crew was not really motivated but it can happen and I understand they hated to work just before new years.
TAM was just exceptoinal. I trully recommend to anyone who through that today is no longer interesting to fly to try it. If I would be Brazilian I would be very proud of this airline to represent my country.
Hope you like this trip report, just sorry is not very detailed or ordered. I know but if you have any questions, please ask.