Sorry guys, but I don’t have any pictures to share from the stag weekend I just came back from. You know the rules: no cameras and what happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam.
My group of friends had decided to take the groom to be to Amsterdam back in December just before Christmas.
Some of them would come from Paris, others from Nottingham and myself from London.
I paid £105 return for this trip.
Anything I say is intended to be funny and only reflects my opinion!
Friday, February 17th, 2006
KLM flight KL1022
A/C: B 737-406
I arrived at Heathrow at 15h30 to meet a friend of mine who would finally come with me. We checked in at Terminal 4 at a completely empty check-in counter.
It turned out that my friend was booked into Europe Select by his company. The agent said that if we wanted to sit together he would have to downgrade my friend, which we thought my friend agreed to. It turned out later that the agent had actually not understood a word my friend was saying (maybe the bad French accent in English?) and we ended up being separated at boarding, as the flight was totally full.
As usual at this time of the day and week at T4, there were a lot of people trying to get through security. It took ages and I will continue to say: how come people seem so surprised about having to take off their jacket, laptop, phones, etc? There are signs everywhere and you have a frequent flyer tag on your bag, sir? Oh god.
When we boarded I had a quick moment of panic as I saw several children (aged about 10) in tracksuits shouting (they were Dutch) and laughing.
I did say to myself: these guys are all mine, as usual.
And they were.
I had an aisle seat and was now surrounded by what turned out to be the junior team of Feyenoord football club. Man, these kids were lo-ud! God bless my Bose noise-cancelling headphones, but still…
Now the most annoying part of this trip were the seats. I am a tall man – 1m98 or 6ft6 (for 100kilos, so no jokes on overweight) – and it was very difficult and quite painful for me to sit in these seats.
According to what I had recently read and to what even wikipedia says, the Dutch are the tallest people on earth. And they are, if you have ever been in Holland. So how come their national carrier chose a seat layout that nearly makes Easyjet look good. Utterly unbelievable.
The crew was funny though, as the head purser commented during the safety demonstrations: “In case of cabin pressure loss, oxygen masks will fall down automatically, stop screaming, take one and put it over your head” Simply hilarious.
We took off on 26L after what seemed an endless run down the runway.
Sorry to say so, but god do I hate 737s. Small, low on the ground, uncomfortable, and loud. And every time I take the seat layouts are for midgets or from the 80s: Ryanair, Air France, Easyjet, Lufthansa and KLM (personal experience).
The crew served a quick snack, which consisted of something that I think, was supposed to be a cheese sandwich. Not edible – I think - but very much in the “Air France”-style of horrid on-board food.
Thank god the flight was short and not delayed and we didn’t land on the some random runway out in The Hague, so I was quick to get off.
Overall it wasn’t a great experience.
Sunday, February 19th, 2006
KLM flight KL1027
Depart: 19h (actual: 20h30 CET)
Arrive: 19h15 (actual 21h15 GMT)
A/C: B 737-?
I think I had a good weekend…everything is blurry…must drink water….
We got to Schipol around 16h30 because my friends had to get back to Paris.
Two of us stayed behind for our evening flights – me back to London and my mate back to EMA on BMIBaby.
We went to check-in and this is where it all started to go wrong.
As usual, the KLM staff urged me politely but firmly to use their annoying little blue messengers of bad news to check in.
I had an electronic ticket, which had been booked using my credit card. I had entered my Flying Blue number and even my passport information.
And…as usual, the darn thing doesn’t find my reservation using my passport, nor my Flying Blue card and, oh surprise, not even with my credit card.
I then had to explain to the staff why I wanted to use their normal check-in counter (god forbid) and started lining up behind a couple of people.
Of course, it was time for shift changes and I ended up with a trainee and 3 people to go. When it came down to one guy in front of me, I heard the trainee tell the poor man that only sees an “EDI-AMS, but no AMS-EDI for tonight, sir”. Given that we had waited about 20mn to even get this close to the counter, me and the poor Scot were preparing to pound on the KLM trainee and anyone else wearing light blue.
But I calmly stepped aside and waited for another 10mn at another counter, where I obviously checked in easily. Of course, there were no exit rows left, so I took an aisle.
We then had a couple of drinks and some food in the Plaza. The panorama terrace was closed – which was a real disappointment!
Close to our boarding time we proceeded to departures, where I saw that my flight was delayed one hour.
...trying to stay calm…
My friend had to leave me to trek to terminal H. Maybe he took a flight, a bullet train or was beamed over there to the middle of the Schipol badlands…I don’t know I am still waiting to hear from him.
I walked around for a bit and then decided to trek to D43 myself.
The usual slow-moving line through security was waiting for me…”Ma’am, that fur coat and the fanny pack need to go through X-ray too”. (Deep breaths).
Just behind security was another line for boarding passes and passport checks.
I finally walked into the waiting area before boarding, exhausted and already slightly annoyed.
That’s when I saw the two pilots arrive and board the plane. By this time it was 19h00, our initial departure time…bad omen.
We boarded at 19h30 and I found a different seat design, which, surprise surprise, was even worse than on the way out. And the exit rows were taken by 15year old, 1m65 teenage girls!!! What the…..?
My legs would never fit in these seats. There is no way this is the same seat pitch as BA or other European carriers. No way.
Well we sat there for about 30minutes before the captain came on and said that they had been late coming from Lisbon due to weather conditions.
OK, fair enough, but why are we still standing here?
Well, that’s when the captain announced that the doors were closed and the pier gone, but they just realised that one of the ground staff members is still on board.
You are joking?
So back came the pier and off he/she was.
We then pushed back at about 20h15 and taxied to Brussels or somewhere to take off.
I was in serious pain at this point and got up to take a walk around the cabin to get the blood flowing.
Not only the pitch, but also the height of the seats never ceases to amaze me. There are no adjustable headrests so essentially anyone above 6ft (which in the Netherlands any 12 year old boy or girl is!) can snap their neck in turbulence if they ever intend to sleep. Fools…
The cabin crew served yet another white pack, which was supposed to contain some alien form of food – I declined with a disagreeing grunt.
I forget – thank you to Mr and Mrs Bose again. A couple of rows behind me was the teenage female England hockey team having a great laugh about their game against the Dutch I guess.
The flight was short and the Captain warned us during descent that we would be waiting a bit over London.
Well the little bit was actually more like 30mn and at this point my legs were numb. I had to wake them up by hitting them with my ipod.
Final descent was bumpy and loud; hey it is a 737 after all.
And once we landed on 9L we taxied over to T4 and hoped it was all over. But KLM or BAA had another trick up their sleeves and made us wait for 20mn at the end of 9R – without any explanation.
This is when I saw something that never happened to me before on any of my very frequent European flights – half of the plane just couldn’t be bothered anymore and just turned on Blackberry’s, mobile phones, etc...engines running!
I promise, if this ever happened on BA, the Cpt and F/O themselves would come running to arrest the guilty madman. (I mean: 6minute-long safety video on BA anyone?!!)
After we had finally parked and engines turned off, a sigh of relief went through the plane. I grabbed what was left of my legs and crawled to the exit, not even giving the purser or Captain a glimpse.
They managed to turn a 1h flight into a nearly 2h30 nightmare – well done.
Overall, I am a grumpy man but I have never seen something this uncomfortable. Except for Ryanair, but I expect to be spat on when flying with them or it wouldn’t be any fun. (Remind me to tell you the story about how I broke one of their aisle seat armrests by just trying to sit down properly without blocking the aisle with my feet)
It was the 4th time in the last 3 months that the blue check-in terminals didn’t want to accept me even though I had e-tickets.
It was once again an eye-opener on what a bad and out-of-date ride the 737 is in these modern times. I’m talking seat configuration, overhead space, roll (? I mean just smoothness on take off and landing – which I know will vary depending TOW but it still seems to be always rougher on 737 than on any other aircraft), etc.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Boeing a lot, but the 737 is not my thing.
The seat pitch thing obviously baffled me. I would fly business if I can afford to, but I can’t. And I don’t understand why seat pitch is getting less not only in an airline that handles the tallest people on earth, but also in a world where everybody is getting taller anyway.
All of this was a confirmation of what I thought about KLM’s short-haul service anyway: unbelievably attractive F/A’s, but old planes, uncomfortable seating, stupid check-in procedures, bad food.
They are trying to hard to become as bad as AF but I guess that is the price to pay to be a member of Skyteam.
Hope you had a laugh reading or maybe you have had some similar experiences.
Watch out for my upcoming trip to MEL via LAX and back via HKG!