Time to fly back home after another week of work related matters in the land of the rising sun…
Flight No.: KL862 Date: 06DEC08
STD: 1205 ATD: 1225
STA: 1610 ATA: 1543
A/C: Boeing 747-406M Reg No.: PH-BFO
Seat: 78A – Business Class
First time to travel on the PH-BFO, the ‘City of Orlando’.
Check-In was done the day before on my hotel room, which offered a free LAN connection. Although I was seated on the Upper Deck already in advance, there was basically no need to check in advance, but you never know. Maybe better seats were available. But of course, I had to stick with the original choice.
On the day of travel, I left my hotel at 6:15am, took a taxi down to Shinagawa station, in the Southeast part of the city. My trainride was on a reserved ticket, the N’EX (Narita Express). Out of my head, the 6:48 departure bound for Narita Airport. The train just takes over 1 hours to complete the early journey. Seats on this train are comfortable, good legroom and overhead luggage compartments… It’s only not at high speed! A food/beverage service is available on these trains, and come down the aisle through all cars. Once at the airport, it will first stop at terminal 2 (JL + oneworld) and then continue for the final stop at terminal 1 (NH + Star Alliance, plus most US airlines and BA.
To enter the terminal building, you will be requested to show your passport of travel ID, and when trains just arrived, it might take a short while. Nevertheless, I am always happy to carry my company ID which I can use at Japanese airports to take the staff entrances. A good way to save some time.
Flight Information Screen. Including one BA cancellation out of 2 daily flights
Check-In for KLM was done at desk E. Friendly staff was awaiting me and directing me to an available counter. Luggage was taken and my boarding pass was issued once again. Also KLM’s conditions of carriage were given separately. The female agent was to explain the directions for the lounge, but I said that I am used at this airport, so there was no need. And I was going to do some spotting on the observation deck first
Check-In Area · Narita Airport Terminal 1
The shopping and spotting at terminal 1 is quite good, good options to buy your final souvenirs to take home, or some Japanese sweets. A Starbucks is also available, as well a McDonalds (in case you had enough noodles and sushi). Morning spotting on the deck will offer the various European traffic (LX 340, BA 744, AZ 772, SU 763, AF 332, KL 744/772) plus some Asians (KE 773 & AB6, TG 744). Also various NW aircraft can be seen at these times. Of course, the deck also provides a good view on the airports main runway 16R/34L. This will usually show a good mix of all traffic, including a lot of cargo haulers, e.g. FX M1F, SU M1F, NW 74F, JL 74Y/76F, KZ 74Y.
After one hour or so, I was done with it and wanted to relax before my flight.
The security checkpoint was a breeze and I was able to pass without waiting. A small bottle of water was taken apart from me, which I carried with me on the train that morning. All screening was done very quickly and by very friendly staff of course.
After screening, you go one level down to exit the country, get your passport stamped, and you’re one step further in going home. Taxfree shopping in Japan is still far below the standards, don’t expect too much variety in shops and goods for sale. The terminal is ok, some parts look very modern, other parts a bit used and old-fashioned. In case you’re still hungry, another McDonalds is available near gate 27. I didn’t go, but went to gate 25 instead, which is next to the entrance of the Northwest Worldperks Clublounge. Another example can be found near gate 17, but I always want to use the big one at no. 25, since it offers much better views on the active runway. And it’s also not packed with the Dutch travellers which will come with me on the plane to Amsterdam.
The entrance of the lounge is nicely decorated with beautiful flowers, and staff welcomed me. They took a copy of my boarding pass, since they wanted me to use the other lounge, which I declined. It was not a problem at all, and just for their administration I guess.
Overall lounge experience was good. Since only a few passengers were in, the lounge was quiet. Good selection of furniture, comfortable seats, working areas, barseats, Apple PC’s with free internet connections. And best views onto the apron.
Selection of food was ok. Some vegetable bites, some fruits, some cold noodles. Of course the usual crisps and nuts, machine beer, wine/liquors etc. At least, good enough to have some kind of breakfast before departure.
My selection for breakfast in the lounge
KLM’s ‘City of Orlando’ waiting for me
Not sure which gate it was, but I think 15. Boarding started 11:35am sharp. Business Class and Elite members were handled first. Overwing passenger boarding bridge was attached, therefore Business Class took the left lane, Economy would use the overwing entrance.
Upper Deck on PH-BFO
My seat (78A) for the flight back home
Once everybody boarded, I noticed that the upperdeck was fully booked. I think the same on the lowerdeck. KLM seems to do well on the Tokyo flights. Captain Westerman gave us a welcome and estimated the flight time at 10 hours and 55 minutes. The route would take us very North over Russia, in an almost straight line to Europe. Our scheduled departure time had come, but some maintenance guys were still walking in and out the cockpit. Probably fueling was not yet ready or so. Meanwhile a glass of champagne was offered, which I gladly accepted.
Pre departure champagne
The amenities for this flight
The Boeing 747 was pushed out with 20 minutes delay. According the captain due to traffic congestion, which is absolutely nonsense. This delay was caused by either ground handling or maintenance/fueling. It took about 20 minutes until we took off from runway 34L, in Northern directions. The departure took us roughly over Niigata area, over the Sea of Japan towards Fareastern Siberia.
Taxiing out at Narita Airport
… and airborne !
Not too long after we were airborne, another champagne was offered. I requested a white wine (Pinot Blanc) instead, and it came including the famous bowl of nuts. Meanwhile I looked over yesterdays Dutch newspaper. Nothing new since I left the country one week before. Still the ongoing mess with Economics and politics. The usual stuff… The wine was refilled twice.
After about 90 minutes, the first mealservice was offered. Since I opted for an Asian vegetarian meal this time, I can’t give full details on the meals, and I couldn’t use the menu card. So I just present if with the pictures:
Starter: beans, tomatoes, various peppers, Mushrooms (creamy), garlic bread
Main : Green salad with dressing. White steamed rice with Egg/vegetables in sause. Garlic bread
Dessert: cheese plate, coffee & chocolate
After all the eating was finished, I reclined my seat a bit and tried the IFE. But the system was a mess. First it didn’t work at all, so I ordered a reset. Then it worked for a while, but stopped again. The purser was send to my seat to apologize, and he told that many other passengers were currently complaining about the non-functioning IFE. I wished him luck with this case. After about 30 minutes, problems seemed to be history and I was able to see a complete movie.
After this movie I took the notebook and started writing this report actually, but when I was about halfway, IFE systems were reset and power was switched of for a while. Stupid as I was, I didn’t put the battery in my notebook, so it was shut down suddenly. All of my text was gone by then…
So, I was not too amused by this action of the crew, without informing me aforehand.
The rest of the flight was calm. Some light turbulence after about 6 hours, but not so inconvenient. Although the windowblade came down during the turbulence. I thought that this was strange. So I checked it and found that it was fixed in up-position with an old piece of KLM carton. When I touched it a little, the shade came down again. I concluded that flying on the aging B744 gets more and more uncomfortable with some carriers. My previous flight on JL was much, much better.
Window shade repaired with paper?!
Nice ceiling to look at when you’re fully reclined …
Always a beautiful sight!
about Half Time …
And once more a look outsight …
While back in European airspace, the cabin was prepared for the second mealservice, prior to arrival in Amsterdam. Meanwhile I listened to some lounging music on the IFE system.
The second meal: rice and vegetable sauce, some cold salad, pineapple & garlic bread
After the last meal, the cabin was slowly prepared for arrival. Jackets were returned and I got another Delftblue house. An original one, including the liquor. Landing was performed ahead of schedule, arrival runway 06. While taxiing to gate F3, I noticed the daily JAL flight (also from NRT) already on the gate. That means that JAL performed better this day, operating the 2 engine B777-200 and arriving earlier then the faster Boeing 747-400.
JAL flight JL411 already arrived and is the winner today
Block-In was at 15:43 hours local Amsterdam time. After a friendly goodbye from the crew, and a short walk to immigration, I had to complete the journey with a long waiting for my luggage at belt no. 17. It seems that KLM still needs over about 40 minutes to get the first baggage delivered on the belt at their homebase. And that is a very bad performance, to be honest!
Waiting for the baggage to arrive …
Overall, I am satisfied with the KLM product, but I was a bit disappointed with the comfort on the B747-400. It shows quite some signs of usage and I have the feeling that the cabin is not kept in a proper condition. The KLM seat is still not my first choice. It’s rather uncomfortable, although it still does the work well. My neighbour had trouble with the seatback during the flight, and needed assistance with his seat. The IFE system was not operating properly on this aircraft. Maybe it is caused by the fact that these systems are not originally meant for the 747s?
The crew was still very professional and friendly, food was tasting and looking good. Tokyo’s groundhandling is very good and super friendly. Amsterdam ground service is not so good on arrival, mostly because the baggage takes too long to get delivered on the belts. Also connecting a passenger bridge onto the aircraft takes usually too long at Amsterdam. You sometimes even hear the crew complaining about this.
Anyway, I was back home. Thank you for reading and I hope the pictures do most of the job in this report. Comments or questions are welcome and appreciated of course.