Date: 19 July 2012
Cabin: Business Class
It’s 16h10. My speech before ICAO is over and I am sitting in a taxi on my way to the airport. The trip to the airport costs 40 Canadian dollars, it’s a flat rate.
The driver drops me off at the international terminal, right outside the entrance to the section where Air France/KLM have their counters. I reprint my boarding pass and head through security. Strangely enough, there does not seem to be any sort of immigration, just a guy standing in the middle of the aisle who wants to see my passport and then that’s it. I have left the country.
The Air France KLM Lounge
The Air France lounge is rather nice. In fact I’d say it’s much better than any of the lounges of Air France I’ve ever seen in Paris. Luckily enough the place is not very busy, the earlier one of the Air France flights has just been called. For me this means that I will not have to wait for my turn for a shower.
The showers are nice. As I enter, I am given a kit of l’Occitane cosmetics and a set of nice, fluffy towels.
I change from my suit back into my travel gear and feel refreshed and clean.
Boarding for the 19h15 departure begins very early at 18h20. I’m kind of bored in the lounge so I figure I might as well go for a walk about and then get on the plane.
I’m the first passenger in the forward Business Class cabin, which gives me the chance to take a few pictures. As on the previous flight, the general impression of the cabin is a good one. The plane is old, but well maintained. Today I’m sitting in the forward Business Class cabin.
Our departure from Montreal is everything I had hoped for: its powerful and noisy. The engines spool up and I can feel the vibration of their rumble somewhere in my rib cage. And the views are nice too!
Again the crew on this flight is very friendly and very professional. As soon as they spot me, two of them come up to me and offer to take my jacket. I am informed that the flying time will only be a short five hours and 48 minutes today and that the flight will be full in all classes.
Next another flight attendant brings me the vanity kit – the same as on the previous leg – and asks if I would like a drink. Orange juice it is.
Once the seatbelt sign goes off, the inflight service begins with the distribution of hot towels and then the menus. Outside the sun has started to set. It’s going to be a short night.
This is followed by the first drinks service and the taking of orders for dinner. I have a Ginger Ale with the warm nuts.
The First Course
Jamaican-style chicken with aubergine and cherry tomatoes.
The Main Course
For the main course there are three options: Braised beef with mashed potatoes, carrots and onions; pasta with artichokes and a Marinara sauce or Atlantic salmon with rice. I go with the beef and it is very tasty!
Camembert and Cantal Cheese with seasonal fruit. But I am tired and already full, so I give this one a miss and try to get some sleep. I think in our cabin nobody had the cheese.
Surprisingly, the seat turns out to be a lot more comfortable than expected. Even so, I think I would not want to have to endure a flight of 12 hours or so in one of these seats.
The Second Service
I manage to get some decent sleep. When I awaken again, we are only 80 minutes out of Amsterdam. One of the flight attendants notices I’m awake and asks if I’d like breakfast. Of course I do!
Breakfast consists of cold cuts and cheese, a bowl of fruit and a choice of either a Frittata or a pastries selection consisting of a cinnamon roll, croissant and a bun with butter and strawberry jam. With that I have a coffee and an orange juice.
The scenery outside is spectacular and dramatic with low clouds and the early morning sun penetrating through the different levels of cloud to produce some spectacular effects.
We land on runway 18R, that’s the far away one. They’re also doing approaches on the parallel runway 18C, which for us means an even longer taxi than usual as we have to taxi to the end of 18C and go around the threshold so as not to interfere with the landing aircraft.
And thus my possibly last MD-11 flight comes to an end and I really feel reluctant to get off the plane.
The MD-11 was not a lucky aircraft and she was certainly no commercial success. But I also think she is better than her reputation. As for the MD-11 operation at KLM, I think it is quite apparent that without further heavy investment to upgrade the cabin of the aircraft, the airline will no longer have a competitive product here. Quite understandably though, at this stage of the game it seems unlikely that the new KLM long-haul Business Class cabin will ever grace the inside of an MD-11. I think KLM offers a really sound product in terms of the professionalism of the crew and the quality and quantity of the food. The only draw back right now is their hardware, the seat.