To: Paris, France (CDG
) via Amsterdam (AMS
From: Panama City, Panama (PTY
KLM # 758
Scheduled departure: 7:35pm
This was my first time taking KLM in several years and I was excited to see if it had progressed since the last time I took it 4 years ago. I was even more excited because I was taking the flight directly from PTY
which was started in March of this year.
Today’s flight was at 7:35pm and earlier in the day I tracked the AMS
flight online and was able to verify that the aircraft would be arriving to PTY
on time, thus ensuring an on time departure from PTY
I reached the airport at about 5pm and the airport terminal was not very crowded, it usually starts getting very crowded after 6pm due to all the Copa flights.
View of the terminal
KLM check-in area
I waited in line for about 2 minutes and the check-in agent summoned me. She was very professional and checked me in all the way till CDG
. Overall the check-in process was very smooth and uneventful.
I then went to pass through security and immigration.
After immigration I saw that I had a couple of minutes before the KLM flight arrived and I decided to hang around the gate and take some pictures of its arrival. When I got to the gate I saw that it was pretty empty so I was just roaming around waiting for the arrival of my soon to be ride to AMS
Suddenly, I heard a loud roar and about 3 seconds later a big blue and beautiful MD
-11 showed up!
Within seconds the ground handling crew started getting ready for the arrival of the aircraft and guided her in.
I was pretty happy that I was able to capture her arrival, but now I had to kill some time as the scheduled departure wasn’t for another 2 hours.
I decided to go to Continental’s President Club. This is the only SkyTeam lounge in PTY
so I didn’t have any other options.
It was about 5:40pm by the time I got to the lounge and it was pretty empty, but would get 100% packed later on, thanks to all the Copa flights.
I decided to take a seat then get some snacks from the limited food options.
To be honest, Continental is a great airline, however it’s President Club’s are kind of bare bones. For US standards I would say that they are the best, but compared to Asian and European airlines, the decorations and food offerings are anemic. As you can see from the pictures, the only things to “eat” were cheese, crackers, and chips. However, I must give credit to Continental for offering complimentary wireless internet and alcohol (hint hint to American Airlines).
At about 7pm I decided to go to the gate as I was getting kind of bored in the President’s club. Once I got there it was pretty crowded and people were getting anxious to start the boarding.
At about 7:05 the first boarding call was made for World Business Class and passengers with small children. Unfortunately people understood this as “we are boarding now and this is a first come first serve basis so hurry up”.
I was greeted by a friendly flight attendant and then proceeded to my seat. Unlike some airlines, I was not personally escorted to my seat. I didn’t really care about it, but it is just an observation.
After storing my stuff in the overhead bins, I decided to take some pics of the cabin before it got crowded.
My seat: 6J
. I used seatguru.com to choose this seat. I liked it because I had nobody in front of me to recline their seat, and also no one behind me to. This made it kind of private and I highly recommend this seat to anybody.
My seat in the background.
Here you can see the seat recline. It was not as comfortable as Air France L'Espace Affaires or Continental BusinessFirst, but still beats economy so I have no complaints. I was truly hoping that my flight would have the new WBC, but the old version was still pretty good.
Flight attendants then came and hung my jacket, offered me some champagne and handed out the dinner and breakfast menu. A few minutes later the person next to me discovered that their footrest did not work and was forced to change seats.
Boarding was finally completed and we taxied to the active runway some 20 minutes late. On a side note, the captain came out and personally introduced himself to every WBC passenger and wished them a good flight. I have never seen this before and was very impressed.
At about 8pm we were airborne and started the 10 hour flight into AMS
Soon after take-off the food and beverage service started. For me it began with a glass of red wine and hot nuts.
Sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the ride!
Appetizer was a shrimp cocktail. It was very small and the shrimp was not fresh. This is not KLM’s fault, I blame the catering company in PTY
. For main course I opted for the chicken. This was kind of “plasticky” and didn’t look very good, although the taste was regular. Again, I blame the catering company in PTY
I still finished the Chicken as I was pretty hungry and I did not think that Pizza Hut delivers to MD
-11s at 35,000 feet.
At this point in time I was pretty tired and dozed off to sleep.
After about 5 hours of sleep I woke up and it was already early daylight. I decided to walk around the plane to stretch my legs.
We were about 2 hours out of AMS
and the crew began the breakfast service. The breakfast was better than the dinner!
After breakfast we began the descent into AMS
and the crew began preparing the cabin for our arrival.
After arrival, we taxied for about 5 minutes to the gate. Unfortunately the window was very wet therefore I could not get any decent shots of other aircraft. But in general almost all the aircraft were blue KLMs. Unlike CDG
, there isn’t much airline diversity and most of the traffic is KLM and NW
Here is a shot of the aircraft that brought me into AMS
After disembarking I decided to go to the KLM lounge number 25 as this was closest to the gate for my connecting flight to CDG
. It was a VERY long walk and by the time I got to the lounge I was starting to sweat. However, Schipol airport is beautiful and there are lots of nice duty free shops.
I finally made it to the KLM lounge and I was eager to get some coffee, shower, and relax before my next flight. I had about 2 hours layover and I thought that this was a good amount of time to enjoy the lounge.
Free internet access.
I really liked this lounge and felt that it had a really cool design and had all of the essentials needed in a lounge: Food, showers, internet, lots of space to relax and sleep. In general it is a huge step-up from USA airline lounges, however not as good as Asian airline lounges.
With about 45 minutes till departure for my next flight to CDG
I decided to go over to the gate.
A321 to CDG
Once I got to the gate, the boarding had already begun and I just went straight onto the aircraft. I was assigned 8A, but when I went to my seat I saw that I had ½ a window and was unhappy. I didn’t complain to anyone but as soon as they closed the aircraft door, I moved 1 row back to which was an emergency row. It was much better because I had a ton of leg room and felt more like business class than cramped up row 8.
Champagne was served and we started a prompt pushback and taxi for take-off.
At this point in time by camera battery died so I could not take anymore pictures. It didn’t really matter because I was pretty tired and with jet lag so I went to sleep for the short hop to Paris.
In general KLM is not a bad product, and it was a good flight. However I don’t feel that KLM has kept up with the competition for their premium product. To be fair, I was not on the new WBC, but when factoring in the service, food, lounge, etc, it is still not as good as Emirates, SQ
, Virgin, Continental etc.
To be honest, once Continental jumps ship from SkyTeam I don’t think I will be flying KLM long haul anymore. However I do recommend KLM to those who have not tried it, but if you can fly on a cheaper fare on a better airline I would advise you to fly that other airline.
I hope you guys enjoyed my trip report and I invite you guys to leave any questions and/or comments.
Tomorrow I will post the return portion of my trip.