Time again for another 777 trip
Airline: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL)
Route: New York JFK - Amsterdam AMS Date: 14Feb04
Dep. Time: 18:37 Flight Time: 6:15h Aircraft: PH-BQC "Chichen-Itza"
Seat: 35J Departure Gate: A6 (Terminal 4)
Photo © Frans Zwart - Dutch Ops
Flew in from IAD on UAX CRJ and arrived early at around 1000. I then took the new AirTrain around a few times and was able to do some spotting from there. I then got off at Terminal 1 where you have the best spotting location at JFK if you don't have a car. Traffic was pretty slow but I relaxed and then took some more rides on the AirTrain and again went back to Terminal 1.
I checked in early at about 1400 in the self service checkin machine and got this really thin boarding pass. Don't like really thin boarding passes so asked a guy at the counter and he said they use the same paper there. Went thru security and tried spotting at the end of the eastern pier of Terminal 4 and was immediatly told by a security agent that it was not allowed, I argued a little bit and then left. I got back around 1700 and saw the very nice looking airplane and that it was PH-BQC that was going to take me to AMS tonight. This was about hour and a half before departure and there were now a lot of people at the gate which provided good cover for spotting I also noticed that most of the people at the gate had boarding passes of the regular cardboard type that I prefer.... so the guy at the checkin counter lied to me...
Photo © Eduard Brantjes
First preboarding was announced about 40 mins before departure and most people rushed to the doo to the gate. After several attempts by the gate agent, people finally stepped back and boarding was more orderly. I boarded early as I was in a seat towards the back. All announcements were only made in English and done by Northwest Airlines (NW) staff. Although I bought my ticket thru KL in Europe, the boarding pass still says Northwest Airlines although at least with the KL flightnumber and not the NW codeshare flightnumber. Anyway, boarding was smooth and I got settled in with both my roll on bag, my backpack and my jacket in the overhead bin. Later, my two seatmates came; a young Chinese-American couple.
Photo © Royal S King
When most people were on board, an announcement was made that they needed five voulenteers to go on the later flight that evening and were offering USD 400.00 in travel vouchers and they must have succeeded because soon thereafter we pushed back. No announcement why there we were 7 minutes late and this was rush hour at JFK. The EgyptAir 777 pushed at about the same time as us and I could see many other airplanes taxing towards the departure point for 13L. All of a sudden we made a quick turn back toward the terminal and the captain said we need to off load the bags for the people who had voulenteered to go on the next flight. We found a parking spot and all the people with connections started to get worried and to complain. People were not happy at all with KLM but the ironic thing is that this was really NW's fault since they did all the handling for KL; both passengers and bags were handled by NW. They were not my favorite airline before and certainly not now. Similiar situation happened on UA but the bags were off loaded at the gate before push and the delay was much less......
An 50 minutes later, pushed back again. My seatmates were now almost certain to miss their hour connection to MAD in AMS. Less traffic then and right after a Swiss A330 we took off, probably about an hour late. It's amazing how fast the 777 accelarates and how fast it climbs! Big difference to the SK A340-300 that I tried last month. KL didn't have the camera outside like SQ or RG but they did have the Airshow moving map which is a feature I like a lot.
The seat was comfortable even towards the end of the flight and legroom was good but adequate for me (5'11" or 180cm). KL has the MAS 3000i system which is AVOD (Audio and Video On Demand) and the same system as on the AZ and RG 777s that I have already flown on it's a very nice system: 16 new movies to choose from and another 30 classics!! I started to watch The Matrix which was a classic film and soon after a drink service was started. Most of the flight attendents were young and very nice. As with most other European airlines they give you a glass and not the whole can. Dinner followed shortly thereafter and I chose chicken with rice which didn't look to appetizing but it was actually very good! There were also videogames one could play and all instructions and information were on the screen. Most people went to sleep shortly after dinner or after they finished their first film. I stayed up and watched The Matrix Reloaded and by the time it was finished, it was time for breakfeast! The crew did come around once and offered juice and water to people who were awake in the middle of the night but I would have apprciated a second round. Breakfeast was served two hours before arrival which I found very strange although I didn't mind. They also turned on the cabin lights at that time. If I had been asleep, I don't think I would have been too thrilled about this very early breakfeast.....United Airlines starts breakfeast about 45 mins before arrival to give people as much time as possible for sleep.
Photo © Frans Zwart - Dutch Ops
It was very cloudy even until the lvery last few minutes of the flight and although we had made up some lost time, we landed 45 minutes late. Since we landed on the new Polderbaan runway, any hope to make short connections were now gone; taxitime from landing to the terminal is about 20 minutes which is the longest I have ever experienced anywhere. It's a very scenic "tour" with canals right next to the taxiway and since I wasn't in a hurry I didn't mind but most of the other passengers..........
I was the last one off as I took some picture of the cabin and wanted to to that when there not too many people there.
Photo © Koen Duijnmayer
All in all, a nice experience to fly KL's new 777 and I'm sure the experience would have been much better if not for the poor handling of NW's staff at JFK. Also an less full flight is also much more comfortable and makes a huge difference.
I have now flown on 28 carriers' 777s.
Hope to fly on Vietnam Airlines' 777 this friday 20Feb04. Trip report will follow!