Boeing 767-300 (PH-BZF) (Golden Gate Bridge)
Scheduled Departure Time: 1:15
Scheduled Arrival Time: 6:15
Actual Departure Time: 1:17
Actual Arrival Time: 6:05
Photo © Dean Allchin
Check In: We arrived at the airport around 11pm and headed over to check in. Much to my surprise the KLM counters we empty and the Lufthansa counters were much busier. I helped my parents with their bags to the Lufthansa counter and I headed over to the KLM counters. I stood behind a couple at the WBC counter when one of the guys from a free Economy counters called me over. Check in was a bit confusing for him.
"Orlando or Miami?"
"First Miami, then I change planes and fly to Orlando."
"But I can not check you in to Orlando."
"Yes I know."
"You clear customs in Miami, no?"
He printed both my boarding passes on Kuwait Airways paper and handed me a lounge invitation. Off I we went to the LH counters where my parents were still being checked in. I waited for them and we headed off to immigration which was fast and we were on our way to the Kuwait Airways lounge near gate 25. One problem there was a wall where the lounge door was suppose to be. Turns out they were renovating it. Oh well guess we will have to go to the Kuwait Airways business class lounge near gate 2. The unique thing about this lounge is that it is a tent.
Soon after a waiter came by and took our drink orders. A coke was promptly laid in front of me and we sat there till about 12:30 when I headed over to gate 25 which was a long walk away. My dad came along with. Once we got there both of us said bye, see you in Miami and I headed through the door.
Boarding: A KU agent checked my visa for the US; I then proceeded to the x-ray and then stood in line. Got on the plane in 5 minutes where flight attendants wearing a plastic tiara with "Happy New Year 2003" in bright red letters with silver borders. She pointed me towards my seat. I headed down, my jacket was collected and I took my seat. Almost immediately a menu, amenity kit, sock kit, and headphones were handed to me. After all the passengers had boarded the flight attendants came round with the tray of water, orange juice, and champagne. Eventually the door closed and I counted a total of 10 passengers in the WBC cabin. A cabin that seats 32, this meant a cabin crew ratio of close to 1:3. We eventually pushed back 5 minutes early at 1:10. The normal safety video was screened with the lady in a heavy British accent. I noticed something very unusual in the video this time. They clearly show KLM's Royal Class seat. I know they removed their Royal Class (First Class) back in 1994 or so if I am correct. I plugged in my headphones and was surprised to notice that channel 9, KLM's Hitline was the same as December. I thought they changed it every month? Oh well no big deal, I liked the music anyway! We taxied for about 5 minutes before we started our rolling take off which was very silent due to the light load.
The Flight: The drink service started and I ordered a coke followed by the table linens being placed on our trays. The menu for tonight was the following:
Shortly after take we will be serving a light cold snack of smoked chicken garnished with cheese and fresh fruit accompanied by hot rolls.
The tray was laid in front of me. Well if it is not the same thing I got in August on the same flight. It was good but a bit of variety might have helped. Nevertheless it was a nice light snack. It better not be the same snack next time KLM! After the meal I put the seat all the way back and my leg rest all the way up. The 767's seats are not as nice as the other wide bodies in KLM's fleet. The legroom is less as is the recline. It was comfortable enough though. During all of this I was watching "Sweet Home Alabama." Nothing that impressive, but this is not a movie critique website so I would divulge my opinions of the movie. A bottle of water was placed on my armrest and I dozed of with my headphones on. I woke up over the border of Germany & Poland as hot towels were being passed out. I switched over to the comedy channel and watched Friends, Just Shoot Me, and Dharma and Greg before it was shut off for landing. The menu for breakfast was the following:
For Breakfast service we are pleased to offer you a fresh fruit salad, a variety of cheeses and pastrami beef, assorted hot rolls and your choice of cereals with fresh milk or a hot breakfast dish.
Today's hot breakfast dish
Pancakes filled with herbed scrambled eggs served with baked beans in tomato sauce, grilled beef sausages and sautéed mushrooms,
I opted for the hot breakfast and the flight attendant smiled as she laid the linen down and handed the tray to me with a "enjoy your meal, Anosh." The scrambled eggs were not runny like many other airlines have them, and the pancake was a soft Dutch pancake. The croissant I had with it was hot and seemed fresh. The fruits were nice and consisted of 2 types of melon, pineapple and orange slices. The tray was cleared and the pilot came on and informed us that we would reach AMS at 5:50 but due to noise abatement laws we could not land till 6:00. Decent started immediately and a flight attendant came around with the tray full of empty Delft Blue Houses. Come on, at least serve full houses to AMS. Does anybody know why they are empty both ways? What is wrong with serving full houses to Amsterdam? I managed to pick the latest one that KLM created for their 83rd anniversary. I quickly took my bag out of the overhead and put the house in and placed the bag in front of the seat next to me.
Arrival & Transit: We landed at 6:05 into a dark and rainy Schiphol. We taxied past all the KLM 747's that had come in from Asia and we parked at E7 next to the Northwest DC-10 from Detroit. Was off quickly and started my stroll to the lounge. I was supposed to meet B747-437B near the escalator of Casino Holland but I did not see him. So I decided to head to the lounge first. I got to the virtually deserted lounge at 6:15 and asked the lady at the desk to reprint my boarding pass on KLM paper. As she did that I asked her if she could tell me if the flight from Delhi was on time? She quickly said something to the agent in Dutch next to her. The agent then said something back and she gave me the following answer. "The flight is indefinitely delayed. We have no idea when it will come in. Infant the flight to Delhi is not going to depart till 11pm tonight." I thought the fog was bad this time of year in Delhi. Oh well guess I won’t be meeting B747-437B today. Went in and sat down at one of the tables near the window and got myself a cup of cappuccino. Here are some pictures for you of what the bar looks like in the KLM lounge looks like.
I saw the following planes at AMS
KLM's new colors
Photo © Daniel Alaerts
Photo © Michael Nikel
EL AL 767-200 from Tel Aviv
Photo © Albert Groen
Garuda 747-400 from Jakarta & Singapore
Photo © R.Meijer
USAirways from Philadelphia 767-200
United 777-200 from Washington DC
United 767-300 from Chicago
Singapore Airlines 777-200 from Singapore to Chicago
I decided to head down to do some shopping, bought the latest Airliner World with the Korean 747 on the cover. Then strolled over to the perfume shop and bought a bottle. Got back to the lounge at 8:15 and sat down at one of the tables. I had barely sat down when I felt a hand on my shoulder. When I turned around I found one of my high school friends from Frankfurt standing there. He was heading back to the States on the KL flight to IAH. We sat there talking till about 9:50 and when we headed to our gates. Mine was at Gate E9 his was E17 so we were pretty much close.
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 (PH-KCK) (Ingrid Bergman)
Scheduled Departure Time: 10:35
Scheduled Arrival Time: 14:45
Actual Departure Time: 10:45
Actual Arrival Time: 14:45
Photo © Jonathan Derden
Boarding: We both reached my gate and said our good byes and I headed in. The agent checked my passport and boarding pass and I proceeded to put my bag and coat in the x-ray. As that was done I was chosen to be searched by the security. The guy was really pushing it. It felt more like he was groping me than anything else. He concentrated heavily on my crotch area which made me very uncomfortable. As I was collecting my bag and walked down to take a seat I saw that he seemed to be going out of his way to search every 20ish male boarding the aircraft. I think that defeats the whole purpose of security when the guy uses his job to satisfy his own fantasies. Soon the call came at 10:05 for WBC passengers and I headed over to the jet way. I was greeted by a smiling flight attendant.
As I got to my seat I saw a man putting his jacket on my seat along with his newspaper. The following conversation happened.
"Excuse me the window seat is mine."
"No, no! This is my seat. I fly KLM a lot and I know what my seat is! See my card!" (He showed me a generic BLUE Flying Dutchman card). Me being GOLD Elite I have no idea what he was trying to prove?
"Can I see your boarding pass?"
He showed it to me and guess what. Mr. Frequent Flyer here was assigned 1J
"Sir I fly a lot as well. If you look at the overhead bin this is seat 1A. Yours is across the aisle over there."
He mumbled something under his breathe and collected his stuff and walked over to his seat. Just as he did that a FA came over to me and asked if everything was alright. I said everything was fine. The usual drink tray followed a minute later and the usual Amenity kit, socks, menu and KLM's NEW headphones.
They were three pronged and had an on/off switch for the noise reduction. Eventually everyone boarded and the door was closed at 10:35. We pushed back at 10:45 with the normal safety video showing. We stood near gate F8 for close to 30 minutes. We eventually started taxing and were number one for take off.
The Flight: After a very powerful take off despite the fact that the plane was nearly 100% full, we made a quick turn towards the west. A few minutes later the PTV's were turned on and the flight attendants came around to take everyone’s lunch order. Hot towels were passed around as I started watching "Simone." The menu was as follows.
Filled with mascarpone and truffle on a bed of celeriac, fennel, and mushroom garnished with parmesan cheese and parsley and basil oil
Catch of the Day
Pike perch with seafood risotto
Sautéed pike perch with beurre blac and green herbs served with a seafood and celery risotto and roasted garlic spinach
Served with game sauce, cheese spatzle, Brussels sprouts, wild mushrooms with stewed pears
Kassler with creamy mustard sauce
Smoked kassler in creamy mustard sauce served with apple and cranberry compotes, sauerkraut and red skin mash potato
We invite you to select your choice of tart, cheese or fresh fruit from our desert trolley
Drinks came by with mixed nuts in a bowl. Table linens were followed by the tray. Just out of pure luck, someone else took pictures of the exact meal on airlinemeals.net. Here they are. Oh yeah, I ordered the steak.
Well what do you know? It’s the same appetizer I had on my way to Kuwait from Amsterdam in December. The beef was good but the cheese was a bit too salty for my taste.
The steak was alright. Not as good as usual. The spatzle was fantastic; too bad there was not enough of it.
The flight attendant tried to make me have two slices, but I had to insist on only one. I have to say she was very persuasive. The tart was nice, soft and rich.
Chocolates were handed out after and I reclined my seat all the way. I drifted in a snooze very fast. When I woke up I found a bottle of water on my armrest which was perfect for the dry throat of mine. Eventually gave up on sleeping about two hours later and turned the PTV on which was just about to start its third cycle. I decided on "Swimfan." For those of you who would like a picture of the PTV, here it is.
During the movie the nice FA came round with a tray of cheese sandwiches and small tubs of Hagen Dazs Belgian Chocolate. I picked the ice cream but she kept insisting that I also take a cheese sandwich, which I did. Both were very good. Eventually that movie finished and I filled my immigration card out. Once that was done the 4th cycle was starting and I decided to watch the comedy channel. The shows were Will & Grace, That 80's Show, Frasier, and Everybody Loves Raymond. Hot towels were passed around a few minutes later and table linens were put down. The snack before landing was as follows.
Prior to Arrival
We are pleased to offer you a menu with your choice of hot snack
Guinea-fowl hors d'oeuvre
Slices of guinea-fowl served with a sauerkraut and apple salad, apple and oragne compote wit dried cranberries
Filled with spicy vegetables and chicken
Filled with almond paste and served with almond sauce
This is what my meal looked like.
The Indonesian pastry was flaky and full of flavor, just what I like. The guinea fowl was horrible! It was vile and I saw I was not the only one who did not like it. The guy next to me asked for a second pastry since he could not eat the fowl either. Once again the FA tried to push me to have a second pastry. But I did give in to having a bowl of fruit. Eventually the trays were cleared and the Delft Blue houses were on their way out, this time full of gin. Decent started soon after we passed Daytona Beach. Yeah, now I know my vacation is over!
Arrival & Transit: We touched down at exactly 2:45 with an AA 777-200 from DFW on our heals. We had a quick taxi to the Satellite E where there was an Aeromar 767-300, Cayman Airways 737-200, BWIA 737-800, and the Lufthansa 747-400 that my parents were on. We parked next to them and I was off the plane at 2:55. Long walk to the immigration facilities next to Satellite D. All the LH passengers were standing in line. My dad waved to me from the front of one of the lines. I waved back and headed off to look for a shorter line. It took close to 30 minutes to clear customs which was relatively painless this time, thank god! Got down to baggage claim only to find that the KLM bags were not even out yet. Eventually my bag came out around 3:55 and off I went to the big customs line that had now formed due to all the AA Latin American arrivals. Got out at 4:10 and got up and headed to Concourse G. Found my dad and uncle waiting for me. Walked over to the Continental counter, and had them check me in for the flight at 5:55 as I had just missed my 4:15 flight. The guy was unsmiling and did his work grudgingly, stark contrast to the agent that handled me in August when the same thing happened. My boarding pass was printed with 1F and my bag needed to be searched due to the new security rules. That was done in five minutes and we went over and sat down, me and my mom, dad, uncle, aunt, and cousin. Talked for the rest of the time till about 5:00 and headed for security as my parents had an AirTran flight to Tampa at 5:35. I showed my Florida driver license and I was whisked through security in 1 minute, yet my parents who showed their passports went through a search in a line that took nearly 15 minutes. When they finished their flight was about to board. We said our good byes and I headed of to my gate, G5. I approached the podium and asked for a seat change as I remembered that row 1 did not have a window. I was quickly issued a new boarding pass with 5A.
Beech 1900D (N18535) (Grand Bahamas Livery)
Scheduled Departure Time: 17:55
Scheduled Arrival Time: 19:10
Actual Departure Time: 18:30
Actual Arrival Time: 19:25
Photo © Joe Pries
Boarding: 5:55 came and went. No word, nothing. Slowly at 6:20 boarding was called and we went down the stairs and waited for about 5 minutes till our female captain opened the door from outside in a chirpy and happy voice said "You guys ready to go to Orlando?" She led us to the plane which turned out to be none other than that ugly Grand Bahamas plane that I flew back in August on the same flight. At least thing time we were 30 minutes late instead of 3 hours! As we walked up to the plane, the person behind me said to his buddy, "what the fu*k is this ugly thing?" I dropped my bag near the wing and headed to the door.
Photo © Daniele Saracco
Took my seat at 5A and could distinctively hear the guy in front of me whimpering on his cell phone. "Oh god, this is so scary, the plane is so small! I don't know if we are gonna make it to Orlando. I'm not sure this thing can fly. I mean our pilot is a woman. Take care of the dog will you if something happens to me." I had to put my jacket in front of my face to keep from laughing out loud! We eventually taxied out where an Aerolineas Argentinas 747-200 taxied right in front of us. Oh boy was that an awesome sight, that thing looked massive! Next to us was an Air France A340, it looked so good at night, I could even see the PTV's through the windows.
The Flight: We lifted off after a relatively short and powerful take off. It was night time so I could not see anything outside the window. Just closed my eyes and waited for the decent to start which began around 7:05.
Arrival: We landed at 7:25 and made a quick turn to Continentals terminal. Got off the plane and my bag was waiting for me near the wing and off I went to catch the train to the main terminal. Phatfarmlines was there to greet me with a "That took you a long time." Apparently the board had listed the flight as on time. Way to go Continental, a second time in a row to mis-inform people waiting as this happened before with someone earlier this year. As there is only one baggage carousel for Continental in MCO, our bags were mixed with the IAH flight that just came in. We waited close to five minutes, which was no problem for me after such a long trip; a few more minutes did not hurt. It came out and off we went for our one and a half hour drive to Daytona!
Continental: I hate to say it, but I have seen a decline in CO's service recently. Nothing major, but the special touches that made them different than the others is gone, like smiling agents and employees that seem to be enjoying their job. In the past 3 months I have encountered very dismal employees both on the ground and in the air. They are now, no different than any other US airline. It is surprising, the better NW gets, the worse CO gets. What is going on?
KLM: What can I say? The cabin crew surpassed my expectation in every way! They were pleasant, everything was done with a smile and they seem to genuinely care about their passengers. I was a little disappointed with the food and the evident cost cutting but nothing too major to complain about. I do like the new headphones as they really do make the sound quality a whole lot better. I would like to say thank you to the crew of my MIA flight as they were the best KLM crew I have encountered to date. Keep up the good work KLM; you certainly have my future business. You definitely are The Reliable Airline!
Ok I know its long, Sorry! I hope you enjoyed it either way. Just to let you know the pictures are from http://www.travelquality.com/fl/pictures/klm.htm
Any comments, questions?