Date : 28/08/2004
JFK Terminal 4 (gate A4) - AMS Terminal F (gate F4)
Departure time : 11.05 PM
Arrival time : 12.10 AM (+1 day)
Flight : B747-406M
Reg. Nb : PH-BFF (KLM Asia)
Name of the plane : City of Freetown
I came quite early at JFK T4 (4 hours before) as I had a bad previous experience in that terminal 2 months ago on a flight to AMS as well...
Of course, at JFK T4, KLM is using same check-in desks and staffs as NW.
Already a full waiting line for the check-in on flight KL0644. Hopefully even if I was traveling in Y class, I used my AF Frequence Plus Rouge card to bypass the queue and to do the check-in right away. NW Staffs are not very friendly in their attitude, no smile at all, quite rude sometime, which may reflect NW staff but not KLM staff which is reputed to be friendly, anyway it was also quite far from the very friendly attitude of AF checkin desk waitress in JFK Terminal 1.
What bugs me in JFK T4 is once u did the checkin, you had to bring luggages to the control desk and it became a nightmare as there is another queue for that... JFK T4 is also poor in terms of Lounges. Indeed, KLM, NW, EK, have not their own lounge and did a "contract" to use Aer Lingus Lounge... Therefore no real KLM lounge, and no possibility for me to get relaxed at the Aer Lingus Lounge because I have the Frequence Plus Rouge card and not the Flying Dutchman Gold card which should be the same as AF and KLM have merged... In this situation, no benefit from this merger.
Anyway, I went to the concourse to wait for the boarding time, staring at some widebodies there. There were a B747 Megatop of SQ, and a brand new EK A340-500. KLM airplane was not yet arrived from its inbound leg at 1 hour of the departure time and was wondering if we could depart on time...
When I saw the Blue Bird arrived at the A4 gate, I was pleased to see that it was a KLM Asia aircraft still in the old KLM livery. Looked at its registration umber (PH-BFF) I was pleasantly surprised to recognize the same plane I spotted in BKK 6 months ago.
The boarding process was very awful. No organization at all for boarding which was proceeded by the same NW rude staff. It was very long to get in board as only one person was doing the boarding process while 3 of them were preoccupied by overbooking problems and waiting list.
I was assigned to seat 10A as I chose it on my initial booking. Row 10 is almost in the nose of the B747 and the second row of the Economy class. But with the mess of the boarding, a French girl was separated from her mother who had the seat next to mine (10B). Therefore I swapped with her my place and took place on seat 14A. Some NW boarding staff went on the plane in order to look for some passengers if they were already on board or not for their overbooking problem... That had slightly delay the departure time.
We took-off at 11.30 PM but it was nice to see Manhattan illuminated. The outbound leg on transatlantic routes (from US to Europe) is shorter than the inbound one, then dinner was served few time after the switch of the seat-belt sign off. It was a kind of "light" meal : a chicken sandwich !! Nothing else ! I guess it is the kind of meal only served on the late flight. KLM B747s have no PTV in Y class, I used headphones given by the waitress to listen to their music selection. Around me, passengers were having different nationalities; but I noticed that there were quite a lot of French people on board that were continuing their trip to CDG, surely due to the KLM-AF merger. I believe this is a good sign for this new company and especially for the KLM brand that achieves to bring French people to AMS for their international routes.
2h30 before arriving, the breakfast was served (a "continental" breakfast but without any water, nor orange juice). At 30 mn before landing, waitress were picking back headphones... In some other airlines (AF for exple), ear phones are given and it is possible to use them on personal electronic devices...
Anyway, thanks to north Atlantic route winds, we arrived almost on time at Amsterdam Schipol Airport. The B747 landed so smoothly, incredible when you know the size of the aircraft ! Once arrived at our gate (F4), the jetway had some problem and we had to wait for 20 mn more in the plane.
On the whole, despite ground services at JFK, in flight light services, I had a great pleasure to flight in KLM B747 Combi version as their seat configuration allows you to travel in Y class and to be seated in the front of the plane where in other carriers you would find J class.