After a whole year on the road traveling on a global software rollout project, it was time to head home to Seattle, and it was welcome after 12 months and no crash pad on our own. From hotel to my in-laws guest room to my parents guestroom to another hotel, going back to the US to relax for some time and live a normal life again was more than welcome from both of us. Traveling this way can be fun, exciting, exotic, exhausting all at the same time, and you do grow tired of it, especially the way we had done it for a year. All in all it was an experience of a lifetime, while making money at the same time, and we are glad we did it.
After the software project I was working on was put on hold for 1 year, we spent some time in Norway to recoupe before we decided to head back to the states. After traveling extensively we had plenty of miles to burn off so I was looking for a C class return paid for with NWA miles, and after patiently and persistently searching return tickets in C Class to SEA with no luck, we decided to fly on KLM's service to Vancouver and take the train from there. I found 2 Perksaver award tickets to YVR on KL 3 days prior to departure, not bad for any destination in the middle of june
We checked in online the day before on KLM and verified our pre reserved seats for both flights and printed our boarding passes. Finished packing our bags making sure they were all under 70lbs/32kg which is the limit for WBC on KL/NW.
The day of departure we woke up early to say goodbye to my dad before he left for work. Took the family dog for a walk and tried to keep the suitcases out of her sight. She absolutely hates to see suitcases and start to get nervous in the presence of luggage.
Had a friend pick us up around 9 am for the short 15 minute ride from my parents house to the airport. Having checked in online I expected everything to be smooth sailing at the airport until we got to the counter, where the agent informed us the weight limit for USA and Canada was 50lbs period and that we would have to repack our luggage. Great,, I didn't even print the luggage rules as didnt expect this kind of trouble travelling business class, but no,, incompetent ground staff (Wideroe) in Norway was stubborn and persistant. Where is the customer service? I did not budge and told them that the weight limit for C class is 70 lbs and if they didn't believe me they could call KLM in Amsterdam to verify, so they finally just decided to accept our luggage. However they did not priority tag our luggage, another to KL groundstaff in Stavanger. This is the kind of service that made us quit flying SAS and give our business to KLM/NWA.
KLM's Groundstaff in Stavanger is fully owned by the SAS group, and I really wish they would get their groundstaff of their own, after all they have 3 flights a day to and from Stavanger so I don't see any reason why not?
I'm a native norwegian having lived there for 27 of my 29 years, and after 2 years in the states I have gotten used to the customer service over here and will no longer put up with the crap they give me back there.
Ok enough SAS bashing, just had to air my frustration with them, and hopefully someone from KL will read this and audit their staff up there!... Please please do.
Date: June 19th 2006
Flight time: 1:20
Route: SVG - AMS
Seat: 4 E&F KLM Europe Select
Aircraft & Reg: Boeing 737-306 PH-BDO
Photo © Jan-Peter Seier
Photo © Marco M. - Lisbon Spotters
Our boarding card stubs
I left our printed boarding cards back at my parents so we had to have ours reprinted at the airport, no problem.
Security a breeze except that Norwegian airports har just implemented seperate laptop screening, I don't mind this, I just wasn't prepared for it so it took a little extra time and hassle holding up some people behind me. I'm actually lookning at buying a new stroller with a zipper on the side so I can easily slide my lappy in and out.
Went to the new duty free at Stavanger just after security, bought some Haribo gummibears and happy cola for the flights. No lounge at Stavanger airport so we went straight to our gate after the duty free.
Boarding for Europe Select started on time at 11.50 and we found our seats 4E and 4F, found our seats to be quite cramped. Except for the food I wouldn’t call this a business class product. Domestic first class on NWA is far better than this, even economy plus on United’s 733’s is less cramped than KLM’s Europe Select.
We pushed back on time with a flying time of 1 hour and 20 minutes to Amsterdam, taxied to rwy 18 and took off. 10 minutes later seatbelt sign came off and the meal service started.
The meal service is the most impressive on such a short flight, it was a quality meal on this flight, can’t compare that to a 1 hour 20 minute flight on domestic first in the US (pretzels and wine).
The meal: Prawns with cherry tomatoes, Potatoe Salad, Lettuce leafs, parsley and dill.
Had a Codorniu Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) to go with my lunch, which is quite ok. It’s medium dry a bit sweet, a bit yeasty but still quite alright for a sparkling wine, pairing excellent with a light seafood dish like this.
For dessert we had a Chocolaty cake with a center of vanilla cream (rich but a decent portion) and a cup of very good Columbian coffee. My wife had a baileys, and I finished off the rest off her Cava (After all I am her personal drink finisher,, whatever she doesn’t like or can’t finish)
Decent and landing in Amsterdam exactly on time taxied to B gates which was a nice change from having to hassle with getting on and off those buses when flying Cityhopper. Went straight to passport control and then on to the Crown Lounge nearest our gate, closest to the E gates.
We only had about an hour or so to spend in the lounge before boarding started on our flight to Vancouver, and that I think is just enough time, as it doesn’t take that long to sample the snacks (rice crackers and popcorn) and the food, including some more Cava and a Heineken.
After about 45 mintues in the lounge our flight came up as Boarding on the screens, so we started heading back downstairs and over to E gates. I checked the screens again to confirm that we were still departing from E gates, and found out that our flight had been moved to F gates, and had to walk all the way to the end of the concourse to find our flight.
Went through security and waited close to the gate for boarding to start, after we found out that boarding had not really started yet, just the security screening to let people in to the seating area.
Date: June 19th 2006
Flight time: 9:55
Route: AMS - YVR
Seat: 6 H&J World Business Class
Aircraft & Reg: McDonnel Douglas MD-11 PH-KCE “Audrey Hepburn“
Photo © Youri Thonon - Contrails Aviation Photography
Photo © Eric Fortin - AirTeamImages
Preboarding started for people travelling with small children and passengers needing wheel chair assistance, then we boarded for WBC, found our seats at 6 H and J at the bulkhead. Still the old style WBC seat on the MD-11 yet quite comfy and a good recline.
Wing view from my seat 6J
Were instantly offered a predeparture drink and we both opted for champagne.
Menus amenity kits and headset were all distributed before take off and we took some time looking through our options for dinner. I remember two of the options, a Tenderloin stew with small potatoes, shallots and beets or Panfried Cod with mixed vegetables.
Predeparture drink Piper Heidsick, Champagne
We pushed and departed the gate on time, taxied for about 15 minutes and departed with a very powerful MD11 take off.
Lovely MD-11 wingview climbing out from Amsterdam
Crossing the dutch coast line
Kicked back and relaxed, reclined my seat slightly and extended the footrest.
Ahhhhh This is life. Nice Seat, lovely plane, beautiful wife right on my side, a glass of , can it get better than this?
After about 20 minutes the FA's started the service in WBC, with drinks of your choice and nuts. (I wish they could warm these nuts, just slightly cause they are a little plain and boring.) I opted for another Piper Heidsick champagne, my wife tried out a white wine (can't remember what it was) and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Champagne: Piper Heidsick and Mixed Nuts
As we were nibbling to our nuts and sipping Champagne, we were now flying out over the north sea at our first crusing altitude of 29000 ft heading northwest towards Scotland, flying close to Aberdeen.
The FA's came around to each passenger in WBC asking which dinner option we wanted, and we both wanted the Tenderloin beef, with root vegetables.
First they came with our Hours d'Oeuvre consisting of a Smoked Salmon Caprese with Sundried tomato, lightly grilled zuchini, crumbled feta and boiled spinache. Mixed greens with lightly toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese with Olive Oil Vinaigrette, Served with a hot roll and butter this starter was as yummy as it looks, and they kept my Champagne topped off the whole time.
Hours d'Oeuvre consisting of a Smoked Salmon Caprese
Flight continued crossing over northern Scotland heading towards Iceland.
In the meantime, we were served our Tenderloin and earth veggies dinner, paired it with a Bordaux red as earthy as the veggies good combination, very tender and juicy meat.
Tenderloin Beef Dinner
For dessert the choices were cake or strawberries and cream, went for the strawberries and Columbian coffee again. Finished off my second glass of red wine together with dessert. Strawberries and red wine goes quite good together believe it or not. Try strawberries and a good Balsamic vinegar together,, a killer combo! Finished off the meal, reclined my seat and followed our flight for a while on the PTV. No AVOD yet on the MD-11, and only 6 movie options, so I watched some Simpsons before I dozed off for a few hours.
Woke up over northern Canada for a mid flight snack service, when the flight had already taken us over Iceland, crossed the southern - mid part of Greenland, and were now just over Baffin Island, Enjoyed some Ben & Jerrys Chocolate Chip cookie dough from a small container. Zapped through the channels, and didn’t really find anything worth watching other than the kids channel. Apart from Airshow I usually end up with Sponge Bob and Simpsons when there is nothing else to watch.
Some more time went by and the second meal service started.
The choices for a second meal was Pizza or Chicken and Shrimp Egg Noodle Stir Fry. I can never say no to shrimp or seafood of any kind so I went for the last option, which turned out to be quite fiery, still really good. Side dishes consisted of Lightly Grilled Zuchini slices, cream cheese filled mini bell pepper, bean salad, asparagus, mixed citrus with blueberries, a bite size raspberry mousse. Selected a Coke, so that I could freshen up a little before landing.
After the second meal service they distributed the blue Delft houses,
After another hour or so we started or descent into Vancouver, BC.
Starting Descent into Vancouver
Descending into YVR
YVR from the air
Descent and landing was smooth, deboarded and had to walk quite a bit before immigration.
Immigration and customs was smoothe, and we were soon on our way to Vancouver Train Station to catch our not so fast ride from Vancouver BC to Everett, WA. This took forever, as I am used to drive this distance in less than 2 hours. We were on that train for for over 3 and a half hours, and I promised myself to never again choose this option when flying out of YVR.
Anyways, this was the outbound trip, and I will write another report for my return trip of this C class ticket which will be this January on KLM A330-200, which I am really looking forward to.
Before that we will go to Norway for Christmas in KLM and NW economy which I am not looking so much forward to,, but I’m sure it will be ok.
Hope you enjoyed reading.