I’m back again with another tripreport. This one covers my flight back home after some business in Japan. I decided to take this flight on KLM, and I’m travelling together with a collegue.
The flight was supposed to be busy, since our seatrequest (a few weeks ahead of the actual travel) was impossible. I ended up in 03J (window), my collegue at 03E (middle of 3). Not the best seats when travelling together, but we couldn’t change it then. Although at the day before we had to fly, I checked the KLM website/online check-in and found 05G and 05J still vacant. I immediately checked both of us in on these seats, of course.
The day of travel came and we had to leave our hotel too early. We booked seats on the JR Narita Express train already early in the morning, enabling us some final shopping in Terminal 1 at Narita Airport, and of course, to visit the lounge.
The train run on time and the ride went very comfortable and on schedule. Once arrived at Narita Airport, we went to the KLM check-in counters and very greeted by friendly staff. They asked our class of travel, and we were personally directed to a dedicated counter, with on the floor a nice carpet for World Business Class. We were served friendly, and 2 baggage staff treated our suitcases with care. They attached the Priority label on it as well. We got seats 05G/J indeed, so it worked out fine in the end.
Flight Departure Information
I think Boeing tries to sell a couple of these planes in Japan ?!
After some shopping in the terminal, and seeing the SQ A380 at the gate for the first time in real, we went through passport control, collected another stamp in our passports and went to the lounge. I wanted to check the KE lounge this time, but we were rejected entry. The KE staff directed us to the NW lounges located at gates 17 (close to ours) or 25. We decided to take the one near gate 25, since it wouldn’t be crowded with so much Dutch travellers (yes, they can be quite irritating some times ). We got access without problems. The lounge was nicely decorated with fresh flowers and brandnew furniture. With Apple PC’s everywhere, offering free broadband internet. Also the foodsection was renewed. This lounge now offered more fresh muffins, cookies and cake, as well some sandwiches (these were rather dry tasting though). This lounge offers great view on the apron and runway 16R/34L as well. This runway is used mostly, so you are assured for an interesting mix of traffic.
Entrance of NWA lounge is nicely decorated with fresh flowers
NWA lounge at NRT
Checking out A.net on the modern Apple PC’s in the lounge, free Internet access
A selection for ‘breakfast’
The KLM Boeing 777-200ER being served …
Not long before boarding would start, we went to our gate. A lot of people were awaiting the boarding of their flight to AMS. It was a big less organised here. A group of tourists was preboarded and had to wait in the passenger bridge. As well a few parents with younger children were served first, but also they had to wait for about 10 minutes in the bridge. It seems that the crew was not ready yet to receive the passengers on this flight. After these issues were solved, Business Class was able to board. So we did. KLM used 2 doors, we boarded at L1 door. We were greeted (but not so friendly) by the crew. We got our Dutch newspaper as well, and went to our seats.
Flight No.: KL862 Date: 31OCT08
STD: 1205 ATD: 1203
STA: 1610 ATA: 1545
A/C: Boeing 777-206(ER) Reg No.: PH-BQD
Seat: 05J – Business Class
First time to to travel on the ‘Darjeeling Railway’ (PH-BQD). My 8th ride on a Boeing 777, 7 times on a series -200ER.
Our main cabin attendant on this flight was a senior Japanese lady, speaking English very well, in an ordinary US accent. But she was very, very friendly and helpful. She served us champagne before departure, and even refilled once. Also, the amenity kit was handed out, as well that flights’ menu. The business class cabin was loaded 100%, as well was Economy on this flight. KLM performes well, it seems! Please notice that row 5 has 1 window less then usual, but still offers a good view outside.
My view forward for the next 11½ hours!
My pre-flight Champagne, Amenity Kit and the flights Menu
Almost on the runway for takeoff. Actually the 2nd aircraft behind us is the daily JAL flight, also to AMS
After takeoff, the crew came around and handed out slippers. I thought this timing is not completely fine to do it, and I would prefer it before takeoff. This was followed by the personal introduction of the purser on the flight. He asked about my intentions to travel and he also took my mealchoice, which was accepted without problems. It seemed that I chose the correct meal, and wouldn’t have to deal with my second choice.
White wine and nuts after take-off
Overview on World Business Class cabin on KLM’s B777-200ER
A view outside, hazy conditions in upper levels. Note our contrail visible below!
Some more drinks were served and the crew brought white linen for the table. First meal service started.
The meal was presented in a nice way. I had the feeling to dine in a restaurant to be honest. The Japanese crewmember who served me, was very polite and friendly, so this made the feeling to become very positive. Wine was served again, and again.
Main Course, Fish (Western)
One more view outside, overflying Russia’s Fareast
After the mealservice, the the blinds were mostly closed and the cabin was brought into the dark-mode. Most of the cabin crew left and took most probably their rest. I watched a Dutch movie on the IFE system and listened some music afterwards. The flight took us very Northerly through Russian airspace and seemed everlasting!
A few hours later the smell of noodles attracted some attention and a midflight snack was served. I had a sushi roll (tuna) and vanilla icecream. Especially the sushi was very nice and in my opinion an original kind of snack for onboard an aircraft. I liked it!
As the flight continued, I had some more rest and from time to time I watched the scene outside, which was sometimes breathtaking...
Flight Information - airway B483 (the most North one through Russian airspace)
Beautiful views outside …
Once we approached Europe, the sky cleared up completely and more beautiful view on the icy places below were seen. Fresh snow everywhere around while flying down South to Amsterdam, over Norway... I watched this scene from the forward galley and came into a talk with the Japanese flight attendent. She was working with KLM over 35 years as cabin crew member, always been based in Tokyo and served only on this route. She was fully into her job. She really understands the passengers needs and speaks fluently English if she wants. I think she did a great job on this flight.
More snow around Scandinavia
Yet, the second mealservice was to be served. It was a kind of pasta with cream sauce. The looks of the pasta were not very good in my opinion, taste was also a bit bland and I didn’t like it very much. Therefore I decided not to eat it all and most of it was returned.
Second mealservice (Western)
This was finished with some coffee and some chocolate. It would be the last food we got on this flight, while we were in our initial descend for AMS. The weather changed also... it got cloudy again, basically overcast! Yes, I was going back to Holland, so I would also get the Dutch weather.
Once getting closer to AMS, also the famous Delftblue Houses for Business Class were given. I got another example for my collection, which is lined up in the windowsill at my kitchen. By the way, the houses given on the Japan-Amsterdam routes are filled with liquor. Passengers travelling further onto European flights were given a sealed bag, to protect the houses from getting confiscated at one of the security checks at the airports.
A crewmember also returned the jackets from the wardrobe.
Overflying Dutch polder landscape, close to AMS
The approach flew the Boeing 777 over the Dutch city of Almere and East along the airport, turning sharply right for a runway 06 landing. The aircraft landed back at her homebase about 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time, while taxiing took us only a couple of more minutes. Parking spot used was F05. After the engines came to rest, we were greeted friendly upon disembarking. The crew wished me a good continuation of my trip back home.
Baggage took about 35 minutes time after we blocked-in. Too long!! I am for again not amused by this procedure of KLM, which really needs a rapid change. And then the baggage came, priority class labeled bags together with economy class on the belt. So, this part of KLM’s product needs an improvement.
Passing customs was also nothing special, since no custom check employees were on duty that afternoon?! At least, I didn’t see one, and therefore it would’ve been easy to bring some electronics into the country.
My other conclusions about KLM’s product are mostly very positive again. The crew is in general friendly and the Japanese one I was served by, was a veteran in her job. She did very well!
Meals looked good, gave a real dining impression to me, and tasted well. Except the snack/pasta meal served before landing. But that might just not be my personal taste.
Drinks served prior to takeoff is a real must when travelling in Business. And the refill was nice.
Then to the aircraft. Boeing 777’s might be a bit noisy, the climate on board is rather good and I have the feeling that the airconditioning system on board creates a better environment for the passenger then what we see on the B747-400’s. I do not like the KLM seats in WBC. These are still the reclining type, without a shell. Books, magazines, waterbottles,... several of these items fell out of the various seats during the flight when the seats in front fullly reclined. The seats also seem not to be maintained very well and gave a very used impression. The seat next to me was broken on some parts. The IFE (on demand) is very good though!
(note: KLM’s B777-300ER use the Air France type Business Class seat, but I got information that these seats have recently been replaced by the type used on the rest of the longhaul fleet. This was due to too many complaints about the Air France type seats. But, I cannot confirm this information)
So, I think the KLM experience is overall still a very good one, but might not be everyone’s taste. On most points I like the inflight experience on this carrier, but mainly when it comes to the seat, cabin design and cleanliness, The routes other operator, JAL, might fit better at these points. I think it’s just a matter of taste.
I hope you liked the reading of this report. I will come online again soon with 2 more reports covering Japan-travels which I did lately. Plus, the next JAL flightreport will give an insight on their Japanese cuisine dinner.
Thanks for reading. Comments are always welcome, and I would appreciate them!