KLM’s Royal Quality First Class

When going to Europe you have numerous options as far as air carriers go, but some European carriers just go over the top and can blow you away. For example, if you need to go to Amsterdam, the Netherlands from New York like I did you have a few ways of getting there. 1: fly nonstop on Delta or Low-Cost Carrier Norwegian, 2: Connect on over a dozen carriers either in a North American or European city. 3: Fly nonstop on The Royal Dutch airline itself KLM. 


I went with option 3, and I was sure glad I did. I had booked a roundtrip ticket from New York's-JFK airport to Amsterdam via Delta's website. Since KLM and Delta are strong codeshare partners, I was able to book the 6:35 pm nonstop departure on KLM. My roundtrip cost was $473 in the economy cabin. A real steal considering I was flying on a Full Fare carrier, not a Low-Cost one. Our aircraft was a 14-year-old Boeing 777-200ER with a registration of PH-BQC. In the Economy and Economy Comfort cabin, they feature a 3-3-3 configuration. In the Business Class cabin, KLM features a 2-2-2 configuration with fully lie-flat seats. I had arrived exceptionally early to the airport at approximately 1:30 pm. Since I had nearly 5 hours to wait, I went to the Delta Sky Club located in Terminal 4 at JFK. I was granted access to because I have SkyTeam Elite Plus Status gained by being a Gold Medallion with Delta. The club had a friendly atmosphere and had a small selection of hot and cold foods (pasta, salad bar, etc.) I had gone up to the check-in counter in the club a second time to ask about possible upgrades. To my surprise, the lady at the desk told me that there were two seats left in the Business Class cabin and that KLM usually offers very low prices at the gate. So, at approximately 5:30 I made my way down to gate B26 where my flight was departing from and inquired with the gate agent about the possible upgrade. She told me that there were 2 seats left and the cost was $975 USD. I now had a hard decision to make. Do I spend the money or not? Considering I had never flown KLM and they have a representation for excellent service I told the agent I would do it. I then asked if there was any way I could get the seat at a lower cost, at first she said unfortunately not, then she said "wait, do you have a Flying Blue Frequent Flyer number? My response was no because I did not have one. She then said if I made a frequent flyer number she could give me the seat for $699 USD. It was a no-brainer. I immediately went online and created the number, gave it to the agent, handed over my credit card, and boom, all of a sudden, I had a boarding pass that said seat 6K in the Business cabin. This was, in fact, my first time flying International Business Class and let me tell you, I was sort of freaking out inside with excitement. 


Once on board, I was greeted with a lovely KLM flight attendant, and she showed me to my seat. The 777-200 that I was on was one of the few that has received a cabin refresh with newer seats and nicer amenities, such as universal power outlets. There are six rows of Business Class 1-5 in the forward section and row 6 right behind the L2 boarding door and directly in front of the Economy Cabin. I found this row to be the most private since there is a wall on both sides of the seat (in front and behind.) After settling in the flight attendant came over offering champagne, orange juice, and sparkling water. Plus, Jantaminiau amenity kits were handed out. 


After takeoff, once we reached our cruising altitude of 34,000 feet the meal service began. You were given a choice of appetizer, either a pumpkin soup or a tuna tataki. That was followed by a choice of entrée, which was either a braised short rib with red wine glaze accompanied by polenta fries and grilled asparagus, marinated chicken breast in Indian butter sauce with pulao rice and grilled zucchini, or pasta shells with cheese, smoky marinara sauce, sautéed broccoli, and grated pecorino. All entrees came your choice of drink. The signature drink is the Flying Dutchman Cocktail, made with using Damrak gin, Bols blackberry liqueur, fresh lemon juice, and sugar syrup. For dessert, you were offered a choice of fresh fruit, chocolate mousse, or a selection of cheese and nuts. I chose the pumpkin soup, braised short ribs, and chocolate mousse. The braised ribs were very tender, and the soup was delicious. All in all, it was probably the best meal I have ever had on a flight. 


Following dinner service, I put my seat into the lie flat mode and fell asleep very comfortably for around 3 and a half hours. Once I woke up, we were passing over the Western Coast of The U.K. The wonderful flight attendant came over and asked what I would be having for breakfast. Even though I was still full from my dinner 4 or so hours before I decided to go with the saying "when in Rome" The choice for breakfast was either an egg strata with turkey ham, Apple pie strata served warm, or yogurt with granola. I chose the apple pie strata which came with fresh fruit, choice of warm bread and your choice of drink. Again, the meal was delightful. 


At this point, the captain had come over the PA to announce our initial descent into Amsterdam. Once that announcement was made, the flight attendant came back around with a tray full of the rare "tiny houses" each time you fly in KLM business class internationally you get offered a unique Delft Dutch made porcelain had represented an actual house within Amsterdam. Every year KLM produces a new one, and each are marked on the back. 2018 marked the 99th year and the day of our flight marked the first day #99 was available to the public. Since it was the first day, I felt the need to choose #99. That was the most memorable part of the entire flight for me, and by having that tiny house, I will never forget the amazing experience I had on board. 


As I watched the sunrise above the horizon, I knew this flight would sadly be coming to an end. To top it off, we made a spectacularly smooth landing on the famous "Polderbaan" runway at Schiphol airport. As we taxied to the gate, I reflected on this 100% worth it upgrade and looked forward to my week discovering the great Dutch city of Amsterdam, which was already off to the best start. 


-Brandon Aronoff


WorldTravelReport- Thoughts That Fly…

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