Welcome to my first ever trip report.
I have read many a trip report on this site but have never actually taken the time to write on myself, therefore, please bear with me....I have the basics down, but it won´t be a as elaborate as some others.
Also, all pics were taken with my blackberry, not some fancy camera....still the pics came out quite well, I think.
Just 6 days before Thanksgiving, my best friend, fellow A.netter, Swissair4ever, called me to say he was staying home for Thanksgiving and that he would like me to fly over to chow down on turkey all day together and chill out.
I happened to be signing a new work contract with start date 1st of Dec, that afternoon, so I had 10 days left.
This would work out perfectly.....if I could just find some mileage seats.....
I sat down behind the computer and within 5 minutes the itinerary had been made.
Surprisingly, KLM had Promo Award availability in business class...literally 72 hours before planned departure....how great is that! I had already been dreading having to cross the pond in Y on a day flight!! I was lucking out!
AA also had award availability at such short notice.
AGP-BCN on Vueling the night before.
BCN-AMS-DFW on KLM in J next morning
DFW-MAD-AGP on AA/IB in Y
This report only covers the KLM segments...the rest is not very interesting as I am sure you would all agree.
Day of departure:
As mentioned, I flew into BCN the evening before and booked a cheap hotel in El Prat de Llobregat. At only 5 min from the airport it served the purpose of getting a few hours shut-eye before having to get up at 4.00am for the 6.00am departure. As the hotel shuttle didn´t start until 4.45am, I had to book a taxi at 4.20am. The 5 min ride cost 20 euros….almost half of the hotel rate…….ah well.
I arrived at the airport Terminal 1 and went straight to KLM/Air France check-in area. I think I remember that it is actually a Skyteam (all members) check-in area. I didn’t really look at it that well….first of all because of the time of day…..secondly because the huge economy line caught my eye as soon as I got close. It seemed like most of the passengers in the economy line were Indian….I actually saw a number of final destination DEL and BOM tags being attached to bags.
There was nobody in the business class line, so I walked straight up to the counter.
The check-in agent was nice and friendly enough, considering it was 4.30am.
Just like I would with IB, BA, AA, and others, I did miss the “special attention” or just “recognition” for flying business class, like one would notice or feel at check-in when flying Qatar, Emirates or Singapore. It’s a matter of slapping a tag on a bag, printing a boarding pass and sending the passenger off. It is all quite mechanical in my opinion.
I was told where the lounge was and proceded to security. Nobody in line, so within minutes I was at the entrance of the lounge. KLM uses the “Pau Casal” lounge operated by AENA. Unfortunately it doesn´t open till 5.00 am, so there was a group of us waiting outside for approx. 15 min. until the doors were opened. The lounge is quite nice and looks spacious enough…especially for the 7 of us that were there….I can imagine that this lounge might feel overly busy during the peak hours though. Coffee, juices, yoghurts, some fruits and breakfast pastries available at this time of day.
I had a quick coffee and juice and started to read a magazine. However, at 5.15 boarding was announced already, so I made my way to the gate.
KLM was using gate A12 this morning, which is a bit of a walk from the central shopping area where the lounge is located. At the gate, I found quite a line of passengers and no indication of separate boarding lines for economy and business/elite, so I just walked straight up to the desk and the agent took my boarding pass……..and off I went into the jetway. I looked back and there were a few frowns and strange looks, mainly from the Ecuador bound immigrants.
Nov. 22, 2010
BCN – AMS
Class: business (Europe Select)
Scheduled departure: 06.00 – actual: 06.19
Scheduled arrival: 08.25 – actual: 08.11
Flight time:1hr 52 min
Aircraft: 737-800 (winglets)
Load: J – 7/6, Y – 100%
I specifically chose 1F for the extra legroom
I write that business was 7/6 which is officially not possible….KLM supposedly blocks the middle seat on each row in business class. There were only 2 rows totaling 6 “official seats” in business class. That is row 1 DEF, row 2 ABCDEF.
There were 2 nonrevs on my flight, and guess what…..they were placed next to me in 1 D and 1E……
No welcome drinks were offered….I guess its not really necessary at this time of day either.
We took off with a slight delay, but nothing to worry about. 2hr 25min block time is ridiculous anyway. This must be KLM´s way to compensate for an eventual delay if they have to land or take off from the Polderbaan (which is a good 15 min taxi from the terminals).
15 min after take off a drink order was taken. I ordered a cup of tea as KLM does quite decent tea and even offers a variety on longhaul flights. Nice enough presentation for a intra Europe flight.
Shortly after the FA came by to ask if I wished to have breakfast. Of course. A very tasty omelette/scrambled eggs dish with hashbrowns and some marinated bell peppers were served shortly after. Some fruit and an obsolete slice of turkey and white cheese. Fresh orange juice (or as close to fresh as possible) served with it and another tea. Perfect little breakfast.
The rest of the flight passed by without a hitch. When flying north in Europe at dawn, a right hand of the plane seat is the best, as the sunrise provides some nice colors.
We landed ahead of schedule and a short taxi put us at our gate.
I walked off the plane and headed for the F gates while trying to find some Badedas shower gel (the big green bottle) for my friend, which is actually not for sale airside. It can be bought landside at Schiphol Plaza. As I didn’t have enough time to exit and go back through security, I headed for the Crown Lounge 52.
The terminals at Schiphol were packed during the morning rush. A real frenzy of passengers trying to head to their gates.
I made it to the Crown Lounge which was even more packed…..how many business class passengers and elite FF are there…???!?!??! Had a quick coffee and picked up a newspaper and left the lounge as it wasn’t very relaxing. Also, KL669 appeared to be boarding already.
As I approached the gate, the holding area was empty already. After passing the security screening, I figured I would walk straight on the plane…no such thing….the jetway was packed with passengers. Still took a good 10 min to make it onboard.
Nov. 22, 2010
AMS – DFW
Class: Business (World Business Class)
Scheduled departure: 10.05 – actual: 10.32
Scheduled arrival: 13.25 – actual: 13.47
Flight time:10hr 15 min
Registration: PH-AOL (Piccadilly Circus – London)
Load: J - 18/28, Y – 85%
Captain: Mr. Stek (apparently his last flight I learned later while chatting to the crew)
The seat next to me stayed open, which was nice, even though there is huge legroom on the bulkhead seat.
The FA came by with a tray of OJ, water and cranberry juice. Considering that I had planned to enjoy myself, I asked for a glass of champagne which was delivered promptly (even though with a bit of a frown from the FA that she had to go back to the galley to get it).
Amenity kits were distributed. They are not very luxurious to say the least. KLM could improve those significantly.
Doors were closed on time and the captain announced we would be departing from the Polderbaan, 36L, so we would be taxiing for about 15 min. It really is a bit of a drag, but it beats the likes of JFK at rush hour, when your plane might be the 30th in line for departure…which may take an hour easily.
Arriving at the Polderbaan.
The engines spooled up and for such a long flight, the take off roll was fairly short.
After about 25 minutes the FA came by to take the drink order. I opted for a nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which was served promptly with some nuts. Unfortunately and in comparison with most airlines in J, KLM serves the nuts cold. Warm nuts are so much better…..I guess this sounds a bit odd
I decided to make a quick trip to the lavatory and see if the Rituals lotions etc were still offered, which they were. I think it is quite a nice touch, even though the lavatory is of standard size and appears dated and well utilized…., ie the same as in economy. KLM could make them slightly bigger in my opinion. It is almost impossible to brush your teeth without dripping toothpaste or water all over yourself when bending over.
The FA came by for a second round of drink, which I happily accepted. She then came by with a round of hot towels off a tray. The quality of the towels is quite flimsy….
From the corner of my eye I saw the FA start taking meal orders on the left side of the plane. That made 1J the last seat to put in their request. I had planned to order the fillet of cod, however as the FA approached my seat, she said “Mr. T7ER, can I take your meal choice, and I hope it is not cod, as we do not have any left”…..basically leaving me to choose between chicken or venison. As I am not a big game lover, I opted for the chicken. This was also the only time during the 10h.15m flight that I was addressed to by name.
Table cloth was placed on my tray table. Silverware, salt and pepper come on the tray with the appetizer.
The appetizer…the Salmon Bonbon was absolutely amazing. I could have had 3 more. It’s an ice cream scoop of smoked salmon tartar and salmon mouse, covered with a slice of smoked salmon. Highly recommended!!
Obviously I partook in another few glasses of Sauvignon to go with it.
Chicken would not be my choice for a business class flight…..leave that to the masses in Y…..however, I have to say that this dish was quite tasty.
The sauce was delicious and also the Alkmaar style barley was a nice alternative to risotto.
For the main course, I switched to the Spanish red wine from Yecla, which was great, and again, I had a few rounds of that as well.
For dessert I opted for the cheese plate, which was nice, but in comparison with other airlines´ offerings of cheese, a bit poor. Which was different was that KLM offers 2 types of port. The regular red and a lighter rose version. Nice touch. Of course, I had a few glasses of red port as well.
The inflight entertainment on KLM WBC is quite good. Plenty of good new movie releases as well as classics. Nice series and documentaries. The 538 and Slam fm radio station channels are brilliant if you want to enjoy some great music after a fairly large number of glasses of wine….makes you feel like you are in a club somewhere on a Saturday night.
I then chilled out and watched a movie (Wall Street 2) and took a nap for about 2 hours. After that I watched some documentaries and downed about a liter of water, in order to rinse the liver before the next drinks session. Somewhere midflight the FA came by with the midflight snacks, Skybreak, which consisted of a choice of Australian Ice Cream, a little container with dutch cheese cubes and something else (don’t remember). I opted for the ice cream which was a nice refreshment, yet not up to par with Haagen Daz or Ben & Jerry´s offered on other airlines. Also, it could have been served in a nice big glass – sundae style – rather than in its actual individual portion container.
About 2 hours before landing it was time for the second meal. Both options were Indonesian style (Holland´s second kitchen). The meal was quite extensive and tasty. Kroepoek and cucumber salad are nice additions. The rice was way too much, so I only had a couple of picks at it to taste. A few glasses of the Spanish red wine were a nice accompaniment to the meal. After finishing it off with a cup of tea we were crossing the Arkansas/Texas border and starting to decent.
Coming in from the north, it was pretty much straight in approach over lake Lewisville and Lake Grapevine.
The Gaylord Texan Hotel: great club in there...The Glass Cactus....visit it if you happen to be in the area!
At about 500ft, the engines suddenly spooled up again as the captain had opted for a go-around. The FA came on the PA after about a minute to say that the captain had “rejected the landing” (seems like a weird way of saying it?). Within seconds we were back at 3000ft, passed the airport and turned to the west where we basically floated for about 10 min before lining up for the western most runway (don’t know the number, the one which approach is over Southlake Town Center). After roughly 15 min extra flight time we landed without a hitch.
I still would like to know why the captain performed a go-around, but I assume there was another plane on the runway still.
A short taxi across 18R and 18L took us straight to Terminal D where we disembarked promptly.
I had a very comfortable flight. Good in-flight entertainment. Friendly crew. Good catering and beverage options.
When flying KLM WBC on A330, I am not sure if 1J is the best seat when it comes to food options, as it seems that 1J is served last always. On the other hand, I do not particularly like the layout of the J cabins. 3 rows in the front with 3A/C blocked for crew rest, and 2 rows in the mini cabin. So in light of galleys, toilets or Y cabin bulkheads (which might have bassinets with screaming babies), that seem to neighbor pretty much every row, other than row 2, I do feel that row 1 is the best. I would compromise being the last to have his order taken over screaming babies, galley noise or toilet smells.
The DFW International airport (Terminal D) is THE BEST IN THE USA for international arrivals. Immigrations is a breeze, customs done quickly and luggage is out before you arrive at the belt. I literally made it off the plane, through immigrations, customs, picked up my bag and stood outside in under 15 min. The likes of JFK, ORD, ATL or MIA have got nothing on DFW.....just wish they would attract even more international flights. I have gone and will continue to go out of my way to fly straight from Europe into DFW when possible.....I will even pay more, just to avoid the hassles of other international gateways in the USA. Highly recommended...give it a try!
I had an absolutely great week in Dallas (much needed r&r) and departed 6 days later on AA36 to MAD. I checked in early and made a visit to Founders Plaza to watch Speedbird 193´s first 747-400 service from LHR land (has been T7 for as long as I can remember).
I hope you enjoyed my first trip report. I apologize for the lack of pics of the cabin or aircraft, but I figured you have all seen those many times before already. Also, I have not quite figured out how to add more pics to the database so I can use them in the TR (had a few more of the menu etc).
Any feedback and hints welcomed!