Flight Review: KLM Economy Class (B737-800 & A330)

This is not the B737-800 that flew me to Amsterdam, but one like it spotted at Amsterdam Schiphol while we were both awaiting to be given a gate

This is not the B737-800 that flew me to Amsterdam, but one like it spotted at Amsterdam Schiphol while we were both awaiting to be given a gate

This KLM flight report is actually a two for one, since the itinerary Barcelona-Amsterdam.Sint Maarten involved both a short-haul and a long -haul leg, done respectively on a Boeing 737-800 and an Airbus A33

The KLM experience also included the use of KLM lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol airport.

Flight #: KL729

From: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)

To: Princess Juliana Apt- Sint Maarten (SXM)

Flight time: 9h

Aircraft: Airbus A330-200

Flight #: KL1662

From: Barcelona- El Prat (BCN)

To: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)

Flight time: 2h

Aircraft: Boeing 737-800

An early start of the day, KL1662 departs at 6.20am, one of the earliest flights of the day at Barcelona airport

An early start of the day, KL1662 departs at 6.20am, one of the earliest flights of the day at Barcelona airport

Ready to go

Ready to go

BCN-AMS

The first leg of the trip was on a Boeing 737-800, KLM's workhorse for European routes. For a change, it was nice to fly Boeing again (a large share of my intra-European flights are usually on A320-family aircraft).

The flight is relatively short, but, unlike other flag carriers KLM has not compeltely given up on free food and drink onboard. 

The Dutch-cheese sandwich was quite tasty and there was also a choice of drinks.

I particulary liked the food container (a trend that is already noticeable across the continent), not only because it is super practical and helps keep the aircraft clean, but the nice Delft tile-style design is also something to be noted.

KLM breakfast.JPG
KLM inflight meal.JPG

KLM also adds some story-telling and food sourcing info on its sandwich containers. In this case, I could learn the story of the Beemster cheese and what makes it unique.

KLM Beemster cheese.JPG
klm carl siegert.JPG

The in-flight magazine, Holland Herald (a classic of the industry), is also quite good. Whereas I usually skim it through in a couple of minutes, on this one I found several stories that I actually stopped to read through to the end.

holland herald klm.JPG

I also liked that the maps are proper "real" maps of the sort that allow you to track the terrain and its orographical features from the window, as opposed to those that offer just a stylized representation of the continent.

But the route representation is so confusing, so cramped that it becomes useless (surely there are other ways to visualize the density of SkyTeam's route network!)

KLM route map.JPG
Look at the map of the World: who flies where???

Look at the map of the World: who flies where???

The seats have an ok pitch, just ok, not great but a notch above that of the typical low cost carrier. 

The velvety material they are made of, though, left me unimpressed, gives it a bit of a tired, cheaper look (particularly if you compare with other SkyTeam carriers I have flown recently) that does not justice to the rest of the experience, which is quite good.

KLM seats.JPG
klm economy class seats.JPG
Seat pitch: I give it a "pass" grade

Seat pitch: I give it a "pass" grade

Transfer at Amsterdam Schiphol: Lounge 52

And we landed at Schiphol airport...been here many times and never seen the airport so busy, I guess it is to be expected on an early summer weekend. Quite a long queue at the passport control to move from Schengen area of the airport to the non-Schengen, the queue seems to move reasonably fast, though, particularly the one of EU citizens, that is actually much shorter too.

Amsterdam Schiphol, one of my favourite airports in the World, here's why

Amsterdam Schiphol, one of my favourite airports in the World, here's why

Luckily for me, KLM had arranged for me to visit Lounge 52 (its business lounge for long-haul flights, the lounge for Schengen area flights is, in turn, called Lounge 25).

The lounge was actually packed, managed to find a seat, although not a window one, with views of the runway.

KLM Lounge 52.JPG

The lounge is structured with several floor semi-levels and has generous views of the piers and air-side so that (if you manage to find a seat) you can spend time looking at the always interesting Schiphol traffic.

It had fast internet also, despite the large number of people using it at the same time, so kudos to KLM for this!

Some KLM-branded Dutch butter cookies - tasty!

Some KLM-branded Dutch butter cookies - tasty!

Light food available, but rather sufficient. Dutch cheese, of course, but also pastries, cold meats and fruit.

KLM lounge pastries.JPG
Plenty of wine and other drinks too...

Plenty of wine and other drinks too...

Amsterdam Schiphol-Sint Maarten Princess Juliana Airport (SXM)

The long-haul leg of the trip was done on an Airbus A330-200. It provides a less magnificent scene than the venerable Boeing 747 when it lands in Sint Maarten by the famous Maho Beach, but it is better in terms of passenger comfort in my opinion... 

KLM Airbus A330.JPG

...particularly if you are next to the window, but the middle section is also quite ok, one of the good things of the 2-4-2 configuration!

KLM A330 seats.JPG
KLM  A330 middle seat.JPG
A general view of the A330-200 economy class cabin

A general view of the A330-200 economy class cabin

klm inflight entertainment.JPG
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There is no internet onboard, but each seat comes with its own embedded IFE screen and a rather comprehensive content selection, plus all the other typical features, flight tracking, etc.

Seat pitch is ok

Seat pitch is ok

This was a flight running throughout the day (European time) so we were served food several times, starting with this humble but tasty bag of almonds and continuing with the main meal (lunch), ice-cream and another, lighter, hot meal. Plus the crew served drinks and coffee on at least two additional occasions.

"Welcome on-board¨snack and drink, the appetizer

"Welcome on-board¨snack and drink, the appetizer

The main meal: chicken with rice and vegetables, plus a salad and dessert, water and wine.

The main meal: chicken with rice and vegetables, plus a salad and dessert, water and wine.

Mid-afternoon ice-cream - frozen solid, had to leave it melt for a few minutes

Mid-afternoon ice-cream - frozen solid, had to leave it melt for a few minutes

A lighter meal, dinner of sorts. Note the Delft-inspired meal box, similar to the one in short-haul

A lighter meal, dinner of sorts. Note the Delft-inspired meal box, similar to the one in short-haul

klm onboard dinner.JPG
No one goes thirsty!

No one goes thirsty!

A duty-free voucher. Nice design!

A duty-free voucher. Nice design!

At Princess Juliana airport, Sint Maarten (SXM) - the Caribbean Aviation Conference awaits!

At Princess Juliana airport, Sint Maarten (SXM) - the Caribbean Aviation Conference awaits!

Our take:

Overall pretty good, particularly when it comes to the attentiveness of the crews, in-flight food and IFE content and also the lounge facilities at Schiphol. Could do with some nicer leather seats, though, particularly on the short haul!