This trip was taken for a holiday and was a fully paid ticket - no rewards or airmiles or favours from Special Services this time! By the way, its quite long, so go get a drink. You may need it by the end...
28 December 2004
Seat 2A Europe Select
Departed home in Oxfordshire to drive the short journey of about an hour to BHX
. Arrived at the airport about an hour before departure and was met at the terminal by Chauffeur Parking Services who took my car away. Great service. None of this parking the car and getting a bus rubbish.
Myself and my travelling companion took our 2 trolley loads of luggage into the terminal and walked down to the KLM check in area, which was totally deserted of passengers and had 2 check in agents at desks, one for economy and one for Europe Select. We just walked up to the economy one, and handed over our eticket printouts and passports. Check in was quick and we walked through the security to airside at BHX
. Did a bit of shopping for a few things I wanted, then walked down to the KLM lounge. There were 2 others in the lounge, which was comfortably furnished and had a nice selection of drinks and snacks. But no ice. Argh. Annoying. So had a glass of white wine and opened the blinds so I could check out the planes... not much to see except a great big EK772 which was preparing for departure. About 10 mins later, the EK772 pushed back and made the short taxi to the end of the runway before departing.
Soon it was time to board, so we walked down to the gate, where there was a queue of about 15 people waiting to board. So we sat down and waited until everyone was on, before joining the aircraft. Row 1 was empty on both sides, and 3 KLM crew occupied 2DEF, I guess heading back to AMS
. There were 5 rows of Europe Select, distinguished by lovely fetching orange headrest covers, that said Europe Select on them. The seats are the same though, and there is no dividing curtain. The pax in Euro Select (all 5 of us) were offered newspapers and soon we were pushing back and taxiing to the runway. Take off was fast and very quiet in the F100, being up front. I have flown a BMI
F100 back from NCE
and sat next to the engine, and could bearly hear myself think. After takeoff the crew prepared a drinks trolley which headed off down the back, and then a 3rd crew member stayed up front to look after the needs of the Euro Select passengers. I had a Vodka and Coke, but was disappointed to see that out of the choices of sandwiches there were no cheese. boo hoo. I heard these were ALWAYS offered on KL
flights, so was a tad disappointed. ;o) Before long, we were descending into AMS
and we landed very smoothly and made the short taxi to the gate.
28 December 2004
Seat 2A World Business Class
We'd already been checked right through to MNL
, so there wasn't a huge amount to do at AMS
, and we had about 2 hours to kill. We wondered through the duty free shops and picked up some bottles of spirits for our holiday and briefly checked out the other shops, before walking up to the KLM lounge at the end of the International Pier F. We entered the lounge and moved over to the chairs on the left side - the lounge was pretty quiet, with just a few people waiting for evening departures. We got drinks and a snack, and I connected my laptop to the wireless network to check email and surf the web. All I could see outside the window was a Kenya Airways 767 and a JAL 744, loading up.
Just as we were leaving the gate I spotted a mouse run across the floor in the lounge - I told the hostess who said that they had a plague of mice in there and were trying to eradicate them - look out for them next time you're in the lounge at Schiphol!
So we walk down to the gate, which is in a fairly chaotic state. Zillions of people everywhere all VERY eager to get on board.
Just as we arrived the gate agent called all World Business Class passengers forward to board, so we walked forward. About half the room then decided to board as well. The agents had a difficult time explaining to some people that as their boarding card said ECONOMY, they weren't boarding now. An elite member got his scanties in a right twist as the poor girl tried to explain that they would be called next, and could he wait a few moments as WBC boarded.
So we wondered down the gang plank and onto the plane. My first impressions of the 777 WBC were actually quite good. Having read other users comments on this and other forums about how totally awful it is, I was expecting something from a 1960's Russian airliner interior, but it was actually not too bad, as a first impression. I made my way to 2A and sat down. I then dumped my bag in the overhead bin, and settled down. A nice FA
came round with a menu, amenity kit (which has gone down hill) and some noise cancelling headphones.
came and offered us a drinkie, so I chose a class of champagne, and checked out the features of the new seat. I will give my verdict on that later on.
I noted 4 FA
's working the Biz class cabin, so I thought they might have redressed the balance and doubled the staff, but no - they soon buggered off down the back to leave two to work the cabin.
Pushback was fairly prompt and then we had to endure the LONG taxi to the runway that is out somewhere near the Belgian border. It seemed to take an age for the crew to do anything. I like a newspaper before takeoff to read, but sadly the crew could only get the right aisle done before they had to take seats for takeoff, despite the age it took to taxi to the active. The left side of business had to wait til after takeoff for papers.
Take off was its usual fast self in the 777, and we were soon climbing briskly. The crew were released from their seats and immediately dealt with the left side of the plane who had missed out on the bits and bobs that are normally done during the taxi.
Drinks trolleys came out and we received a pot of nuts with our drink - I ordered 2 as I know it can be a bit slow from your first drink to dinner, and they sometimes only do one service, which was the case on this flight. Dinner was wheeled round shortly after that - though it was a month ago, so I apologise as I can't remember what the choices were. I chose a steak though. Overall the food was ok, but as I've said before, I don't expect miacles. This is a plane. Not a michellin starred restaurant in London. The steak was a bit tough though - even for me. Thank goodness they give us metal knives! yay.
The IFE had been switched on - how sweeeeet is that? 50 odd movies, tv channels, music - the lot. Big 10" telly in WBC which is nice. My travelling companions crashed immediately and had to be reset by the purser. I watched a couple of films, some tv shows and created my own playlist of music to listen to whilst I drifted off to sleep. Some have whinged that the remote is on the inside of the chair, but tonnes of airlines have them there, so its not a problem. Overall I liked the system, and it only crashed on me once, when I paused a movie and it wouldn't start again.
The seat. I like it. A lot of people have moaned and complained about it here, and on other sites, and whilst I understand a lot of the gripes, you have to put it into some sort of context.
Firstly 2-3-2 in biz isn't that much of a problem. One FA
told me that the middle seat is blocked off until they are booked at the last minute, or they need to upgrade for operational reasons which is what happened on my flight. Its not as good as 2-2-2 but then most 777 operators use 2-3-2. I know some don't but hey.... it is quite a bit of extra revenue if fare paying pax are in them.
Comfort wise it is quite nice - I was expecting an iron rod to dig in to my back, which I'd read about here, but there was no iron rod. Just a nice comfy cushion. The recline was fine, and I didn't suffer from the slippage down the seat that some had referred to. I agree with comments about the leg rest not being long enough. It is too short and I'm only 5'11. I slept with the foot rest bit of it up.
The massage function - what is that? I heard it whirring underneath me, but it didn't do a vast amount for me or my back. Funny though.
Also I'm not madly keen on those silly canopy things that come over your head - a little bit pointless.
I also think the light grey plastic will suffer quickly - my plane already looked a bit rough and it can't be that old - it shows every scuff mark. But I'll cope with that.
After dinner the purser came round and had chats with each seat group - she introduced herself and asked how we were enjoying our flight, about our forthcoming trip to the Philippines and such like. Also if we had any suggestions about KLM service - I thought it was a nice personal touch, and it doesn't cost anything.
I got a good nights sleep and woke up somewhere over China according to my map, with about 3 hours to go. I freshened up and the crew were preparing breakfast. We were asked to fill out a breakfast card when we boarded. I ticked every box as I couldn't decide.
Breakfast was perfectly edible, and I enjoyed that... and then I watched some tv before we started our descent into MNL
. The FA
's brought round a tray of sweet little china houses that are bottles of booze. I also got a sheet with them all on so I can start collecting them. Not sure about that, but it is a nice touch!
Before long we were making a few turns and then onto finals into Manila International. The landing was smooth as a baby's bottom, and we seemed to go from cruise to terminal in only about 40 minutes - it was very quick. Our baggage had been labelled priority at BHX
, and I wasn't convinced they'd come out any quicker than anyone elses, but they came plodding round the conveyor belt straight away which was nice - good to see KLM getting to grips with their luggage system at AMS
!! Soon we were out of the airport and met by our driver taking us to the Peninsula Hotel.
14 January 2005
Seat 1A World Business Class
Arrived at Manila International straight off an internal flight from El Nido in Palawan, so we had tonnes of time to get a cab round to the International terminal and check in. We arrived about 3 hours before departure and there was already a huge queue at the KLM checkin area. I could see 4 desks open. Fortunately there were also 2 desks for WBC passengers. A man was at the entrance to the WBC area, checking tickets so that no sneaks could try and bypass the queue who shouldn't be there! He let us through and there was no one at the WBC desk. A very nice guy checked us in - he asked us loads of questions about our holiday, how we liked the Philippines and was very friendly. He gave us an invitation to an airline lounge that KLM was using at MNL
. We paid our departure tax, and then walked round the shops for half an hour, before walking up to the lounge that KLM uses. It was quite pleasant, and plenty of room. We had some nice sandwiches and some drinks, and relaxed and read some books and magazines before deciding to walk down to the gate.
The gate was quite chaotic with LOTS of people loitering to board. They had roped off an area, and to get into the area you had to show your boarding pass which was then handed along a conveyor belt of people who all did different things to it and ticked boxes and stuff - 5 in total.
How many Filipinos does it take to check a boarding pass? (you don't have to answer...)
They first called all families with children and World Biz Class pax to board. They had 2 gang planks - one for Biz class to board through the front door, and a second for economy pax to board in the 2nd door. We were quickly seated as our seats were the first row and settled in for our long flight home. My blanket was open and stuffed in (ie uesd) so the FA
swapped it for a sealed one for me. Amenity kits and headphones were dished out, and champagne or juice offered, which I accepted. Menus were also given out and we were asked to make our breakfast choices. The FA
told me the flight was full, though on pushback I counted 4 spare WBC seats - I guess they didn't need to upgrade that evening.
Boarding was suprisingly quick and pretty soon we were pushed back and headed for the active. Again, takeoff was fast and the plane roared into the sky very quickly - I love those 777 takeoffs. Soon the crew were round with trolleys to take our drinks order. Again, I had 2 as it can take some time to get served with just one crew member working each aisle. My seatmate opted out of dinner and took his pill and went off to sleep.
I had dinner, and watched a couple of movies. Cannot remember for the life of me what I had, sorry. So it can't have been that memorable. But it wasn't BAD either. Fairly so so. Sadly the movies were exactly the same as on the way out. I know its 50 odd films and VOD, but can you change them at least once a month KLM? I'd watched everything I wanted to on the outbound flight!! Dinner was quite nice, and had some wine, and then kicked back my seat to full recline to sleep. I was out like a light, and woke up somewhere over the Russian border with Poland as we approached Western Europe. The lights came on, and the breakfast service was started. Like the outbound, it was nothing to write home about, but quite edible. The coffee was much more required!! The crew then came round with the tray full of little houses with booze in them. I'd forgotten my sheet with which houses I'd got on the way out, but I didn't duplicate, so I now have 4!
Soon we began our descent into AMS
. It had been a long flight - over 14 hours, and I was ready to get off. But I'd had 9 hours sleep so I was pleased with that. We sank into a low cloud base and I knew we were close to the ground, but all of a sudden there was a big bump and I looked out of the window and there was the runway... not that you could see much else as the fog at AMS
was pretty dense. Again we landed on the runway that is a LONG way away from the terminal so we had a long plod back through the fog to the gate. We parked up and we were asked to deplane first, before economy class pax.
15 January 2005
Seat 1A - Europe Select
We wondered over to the same lounge that we'd been in nearly 3 weeks earlier, and relaxed and had a cup of coffee as it was 6am and we had an hour to kill before our departure to BHX
. I was alarmed at the number of people drinking alcohol - beer and wine - at 6am. WTF?!
We decided to wonder down to the gate, and just as we arrived at the gate, right on the boarding time on our boarding passes, our names were called saying that we had to get to the gate immediately or our luggage would be offloaded. ok ok. Give us a chance. So we went through the gate, getting huffy looks off the stroppy KLM agent, and had to get on a bus that drove us all round the houses to get to our titchy little fokker, sitting on the tarmac. We walked up the steps and boarded the plane, and took our seats in 1A and C. Outside a de-icer was busy working on our wings and tail, to prepare us for departure.
Our flight departed slightly behind schedule - we made a short taxi to a near runway and our little fokker made a swift take off into the early morning (still dark) sky. Soon after takeoff, the crew came round and gave us in Europe Select a pack which contained a sandwich (still no cheese) and a cake. We were also offered a drink so I had a coffee. The load was light on this flight (40-50 pax) and there were only 4 of us in Euro Select.
It was a short flight of about 50 mins, and soon we were on finals for BHX
. We made quite a firm landing in to BHX
and for a little fokker, it took up the whole runway to land. We taxied to the gate and we were first off the plane. Our bags had managed to get through AMS
again (its a miracle KLM! Well done!) without being put onto a flight to SFO
and we were in our car driving home within 20 minutes of landing.
All in all, I enjoyed my KLM experience.
I like the WBC 777 seat. I like the service in general, and the food/drink isn't too bad, for the money. It was 2/3rds the price of CX
to go via Hong Kong, so for the money, it is a good value product. Economy was only £700 cheaper so for the big seat and legroom plus all the ground perks, I think it is well worth it. I'd sling a couple more crew in WBC as service is slow - if it was a 6 hr across the atlantic I'd get a bit miffed if it took 2 hrs to do the meal service but on a 14 hr to the far east its not so bad.
Anyway, thanks for reading and if anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask.