KLM, Business Class – B737-800: Amsterdam to Lisbon

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INTRODUCTION

It’s Sunday morning. Exactly 72 hours after I arrived in Amsterdam from Montreal on the mighty MD-11 I find myself, again, taxiing off the runway towards the apron. It’s even the same runway we used three days ago! It’s just gone 07h50. This time round though, I am travelling on something a little less substantial, shall we say. I’m on a Fokker F 70 of KLM Cityhopper and I’ve just arrived from Basel.

In the meantime my mood has improved significantly: I arrived at Basel airport at about 05h45, presumably with ample time for my 06h45 departure to Amsterdam. Or so I thought. But the queue for security is a complete mess. With now eight Airbuses stationed in Basel, Easyjet runs quite an operation at the airport. And by the look of the queue, their flights will be going out full this morning. Eventually I stand in the queue for no less than 40 minutes. By the time I reach my departure gate I am the last passenger to get on board.

Perhaps you’re wondering why on earth I didn’t use the priority lane for security. Well, it’s complicated. The priority lane uses an automatic scanner. But unfortunately the scanner doesn’t read the bar code you get from KLM when you do online check-in. So I would have had to go an Air France counter on the French side of the airport to obtain a paper boarding pass first. Of course I did contemplate the idea – that is, until I reached the French sector and found a queue for check-in not much shorter than the queue for security.

BOARDING

Well, eventually I made it. Obviously. So let’s put an end to the rant and move on. It’s now 12h14 and I decide to leave the comfort of the Crown Lounge and head for the gate.

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While I wait for the queue to clear I take a few pictures of my chariot for this flight.

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THE CABIN

My aircraft for today is a Boeing B 737-800. There are three rows of Business Class, with a total of twelve seats. It’s the standard European row of three, with the middle seat left empty in the Business Class configuration. Although up front the seat pitch is greater than in the back. Apart from that I’m sitting on 1A, which always helps. Ten seats are occupied today.

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There are power sockets in every seat row, but they’re a bit hard to find seeing as they are located in the leg of the seat.

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DEPARTURE

There is a bit of a delay for pushback. Apparently traffic is quite heavy in the north of France. Eventually we are moved onto the taxiway, then at 13h05 we are released and make our way to the active runway, just a short distance away.

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SERVICE

The crew on this flight are excellent. KLM crews are normally very friendly anyway, but this lot is very professional and very polished. I am addressed by my family name throughout the flight and even after the service is over, the crew make sure to regularly ask passengers if there’s anything they can do to make them comfortable.

Service begins on the ground with the distribution of the newspapers.

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THE MEAL

The flight time to Lisbon is announced by the captain as two hours and thirty-five minutes, which makes for a very pleasant and unhurried service (take note Austrian Airlines!).

We start with a drinks round. I have a Ginger Ale which is served with two packets of salty almonds.

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This is followed by a hot towel ahead of the meal.

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The meal consists of

  • a starter of smoked salmon, with a fish terrine, served with green asparagus, boiled egg and a Hollondaise sauce
  • a mixed salad of greens and potato, served with a vinaigrette
  • for the main course there is a choice between chicken in a green curry and coconut sauce, vegetable tagine or a seafood dish. I decide on the chicken
  • a plate with two different types of cheese, with a slice of candied ginger and a walnut.

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The size and quality of the meal is really quite excellent and very flavourful. By the time I finish, we’re just leaving the French coastline behind us and heading out across the bay of Biscay towards Spain, where we should make landfall close to Asturias.

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To completed the meal I have a cup of coffee, which is served with one of those excellent Punselie’s biscuits. I’m rather full.

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ARRIVAL
We continue in a more or less straight line and eventually coming in right above a rather densely populated area of the city.

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I’m staying on Avenida Liberdade. There is the direct Aerobus Line 1 which takes about 20 minutes to complete the journey. The fare is EUR3.50. There is also a metro station on Avenida Liberdade, which also runs to the airport. Perhaps I shall give that a try on the way back.

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