KLM World Business Class Flight 643 Amsterdam-New York – Review
A 1970s television commercial for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines promoted tourism in the Netherlands during the 700th anniversary of the City of Amsterdam and urged visitors to “have an Amsterdam good time.” Here I was at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, about to take my first-ever long-haul flight on KLM, a trip to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
KLM operates AMS-JFK as part of its joint venture with Delta Air Lines, a relationship that dates back to KLM’s joint venture with Northwest Airlines, which merged with Delta in 2009. According to Delta, the joint venture today covers 26% of the airline industry’s transatlantic capacity and the geographic range of the agreement – which also includes Alitalia – covers routes lining Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Europe as well as Amsterdam-India and North America-Tahiti.
I chose this flight so I could experience KLM’s 747-400M or Combi aircraft. KLM is one of the very few operators of the Combi, which outwardly resembles a normal Boeing 747-400. Inside, the rear third of the aircraft is used for freight, with horses counting among the frequent passengers in that cabin.
Arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, I began to understand why so many people love this airport. It’s practical, well laid out, I checked in at the easy-to-find SkyPriority area (which, unlike my experience in Geneva with SkyPriority, was both a pleasure and a breeze to get through). Schiphol has a priority lane at the security checkpoint for SkyPriority passengers as well and there was no line to delay progress.
The KLM Crown Lounge is located in the center of Schiphol, making it easy to get to any gate in a matter of minutes. It’s spacious presenting a wide array of foods including cold cuts and cheeses that put some continental breakfast buffets to shame. Darkened quiet rooms are perfect for relaxing for passengers with a longer layover. Internet is fast and free. The experience was only marred by a German woman who was using FaceTime on her iPad to chat with her boyfriend. She was so loud and obnoxious that she emptied the entire section, totally oblivious to how rude she was acting.
KLM has an unusual way of boarding the 747. It invites business-class passengers (typically 42, along with 233 premium economy and economy passengers on the Combi; on the regular 747-400, the coach cabin might have as many as 377 passengers in addition to 42 in business) to wait in a segregated area of the boarding gate, marked by a yellow-bordered partition.