I left early the hotel fearing traffic jam, but the ride to the airport was smooth with no traffic at all. The cab driver left me at the zone 3 of Terminal 1 where KLM has its check-in counters.
KLM counters located on aisle F were not opened yet, but there were already 3 family queuing for check-in, fortunately nobody was in the Business/Skyteam Elite lane, so I was first to check-in at the Business Class counter thanks to my Elite status.
After few minutes, several airport employees arrived and prepared the KLM counters. After a quick team briefing, each staff member took their position behind the counters.
Check-in: (sorry no pics)
A trainee with the instructor took place at the business class counter and called me to come for check-in.
My luggage was tagged quickly, and since I read here on A.net the fee charge on KLM flights for the two seats I asked for a seat located on the two-seats rows of the KLM B747. Unfortunately my request was not satisfied, BUT the trainee with the help of the instructor was able to give me a window seat with the next seat blocked so no one will seat there. The instructor told me the flight was not full so they can block the empty seat for me. While they were printing out my boarding card, I noticed that the instructor was wearing the KLM logo pins and, SHOCKING, the Oneworld logo pins next to it.
I noticed several KLM stickers on the desk next to the trainee. I don’t know what they are used for but I asked if I could get one, and the instructor gave me a KLM logo sticker with a nice genuine smile.
Immigration and Security: (sorry no pics)
There were few people this morning queuing for immigration and security, but while the immigration clearance was quick, the security control was just messy with sleepy head passengers that don’t know how to clear security and grumpy security staff yelling at passengers for each single little mistake. Hmmm... is it the typical tension of the last day of the year? I took my laptop off the hand luggage but kept my shoes on and cleared security control.
The lounge is located next to gate 60, which means at the end of the long main concourse. To access there, one can walk or take the little train shuttle.
KLM has no Crown lounge at HKG and uses the Air France l’Espace Salon. Actually most of Skyteam members are using this lounge (I don’t know if CO has its own lounge there), but I was surprise to see ANA using this facility as well ! that is strange since they can use several other Star Alliance carriers’ lounge at HKG. Two female ground staff were at the desk in the entrance of the lounge but were unusually cold without any smile to welcome people.
View from the Salon
The lounge was almost empty and mostly occupied by ANA passengers. The lounge is the typical Air France Salon old style. Like for JFK, I was surprised AF didn’t upgrade its HKG salon with at least the NEV style (not the brand new style like at NRT). The lounge is located at the mezzanine level (like most of the lounges) and is not closed by 4 walls but opened to the rest of the terminal giving the airy impression. Catering was tasty and abundant with Western and Asian style breakfasts, mini sandwiches, cornflakes and yoghurt. Newspapers and magazines were also abundant with a wide selection of Chinese, Japanese, French, Dutch, Mexican, English newspapers and magazines.
AF old style salon
At the boarding time, one of the ground staff at the entrance came to call every KLM passengers for boarding. I headed to the gate 35 and was surprise they were no queue, most of the passengers have already boarded.
Date: 31 December 2007
Route: Hong-Kong HKG T1 gate 35 – Amsterdam AMS pier F
Scheduled Departure: 11:10
Actual Departure: 11:08
Scheduled Arrival: 16.40
Actual Arrival: 15.55
Airline: KLM Asia
Aircraft Type: B747-406M – 22nd flight on this type (since 2002)
Aircraft Registration: PH-BFD (24001/737) City of Dubai – 1st flight with this bird
Configuration: C42 Y236
Seats/Class: 14A (main deck), Economy
Photo © Florian Kondziela
Photo © René Antmann
I boarded through the first door of the aircraft which is usually used by First and Business Class passengers, KLM does not have First Class product and the WBC is split between the nose section of the airplane and the upper-deck. The female flight attendant didn’t welcome me with the tradition warm Dutch welcome; she was day dreaming and didn’t ask my boarding card.
The cabin section between the first and second door is a very small Economy section since half of the space is occupied by the galleys. It is also here where one can find the only two seats rows on KLM B747 that the airline would charge 50 EUR in a fully book flight. It was not the case today since the load factor was near 60%.
As expected, the seat 14B was blocked and nobody sat there. I was quite surprised by the legroom, expecting 31” but I had the impression to have 33”.
The doors were quickly closed and the captain welcomed all passengers and gave some information on the flight.
When pushed back at 11.08am, the main purser made the welcome announcement and launched the security video. All announcements were made in Dutch, English and Chinese.
Before taking-off, there were a PAL B747, a B737 from CZ to take-off and a CX B747 to land on the same runway. We took-off at 11.35am.
KL B747 shadow
Unlike AF flights, KLM does not distribute Amenity kits and menus on Economy Class. Ear phones were on the seat pocket but I didn’t use them since there was no PTV but a small 17” LCD screen hanging on the ceiling and that I can hardly see from my seat.
Few minutes after the take-off, F/A started to serve appetizer. I asked for a coke that was served with roasted almond, much better than the traditional crackers/pretzels.
Next was the meal with a choice between a western style beef and a Chinese style pork. I took the later. KLM has recently changed their catering with a new concept which quite good with well presented tray and tasty food…
My Chinese style pork was accompanied with crispy noodles and two different entrees (Chinese style salad, and cold Singapore noodles salad). The hot meal was tasty but I didn’t touch the two entrees since I was not inspired by their smells fearing to be sick for the rest of the trip.
All along the flight and before the last meal to be served, F/A came around 4 times with drinks (water, coke, orange and apple juices) and two times distributing small candy bars, while in the middle of the flight we had a the possibility to either have a hot Asian noodle soup or an Haggendaz ice cream pot. Despite the lack of PTV, KLM outstanding service made this long flight quite pleasant.
The itinerary of the flight was crossing some amazing landscape from desert to mountains that I believe to be somewhere between north of China, Mongolia and Russia. It was at that moment I wished to have a PTV to see our flight path and above which country we were flying.
Suddenly, a long straight road in the middle of nowhere…
Door to the cargo area on the main deck of this B747 Combi
An hour and half before arriving, the last light meal was served. It was the same meal for everyone with a hot tomato soup, a pasta salad with ham and piece of pound cake. The packaging was kind of weirdo with an eggs package style from the grocery store. Well, I have to admit despite the weird looking of the packaging, it is quite efficient with a spot for everything and it avoids the mess when the meal finished.
Right after the end of the snack service, the captain made the traditional announcement wishing we had a good trip onboard and that we have started the descent to Schipol airport.
Main purser made the landing preparation announcement and informed us the arrival gate would be gate F7, and wishing to all passengers a happy new year 2008. On the same time the monitor was showing gates for connecting flights.
We landed in AMS at 3.55pm, 45 minutes earlier from the scheduled time.
Weather was not great for the last day of the year in Amsterdam with heavy clouds and rains. I don’t know what was the landing runway but the taxi to the gate was so long… Finally the terminals and blue birds were in view and we indeed stopped at gate F7.
Disembarking was done via only one jetbridge, but since the plane was not full, I was out of PH-BFD quickly with a warm goodbye from the crew.
Well well well, despite old equipments and lack of IFE aboard their B747, KLM manage to make this long trip quite pleasant thanks to their outstanding cabin crew service. I also was positively surprised by their new catering in Y which is an upgrade from what was before. I didn’t experience any downsides on this trip and based on my previous trips with them, although not being the top notch airline, KLM long haul product and service is reliably consistent and efficient.
Lounge: 6/10 - old AF style lounge, but airy feeling with a wide selection of food and magazines;
Boarding: 8/10 - no crowd;
Seat: 7/10 - no PTV, but row 14 on the B747 displays a nice seat pitch;
IFE: 3/10 - no PTV, only an overhead old screen (not LCD) that can not be seen from every seat;
Aircraft: 6/10 - heavily used B747, delivered in 1989;
Crew Service: 9/10 - outstanding, the KLM asset;
Meal and beverage: 7/10 - daring packaging and tasty meal, the new KLM catering is a good change;
Disembarkation: 7/10 – warm goodbye and AMS is a great airport;
OVERALL SCORING: 6.9/10
COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOMED