KLM Cityhopper, Economy Class – Embraer 175: Amsterdam to Basel

INTRODUCTION

I spend a very relaxing day in Amsterdam. I go to De Bakerswinkel for breakfast in the centre of Amsterdam and then indulge in a spot of retail therapy to revive the spirits. It’s still very windy here in Amsterdam, which has the positive side effect that aircraft are flying right over central Amsterdam at very low altitude on their approach into Schiphol.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

Seeing as I only arrived in Amsterdam very late the day before, my hotel in Amsterdam is the CitizenM at Schiphol airport. I think it probably takes more time to walk from the entrance of the terminal to the KLM check-in counters than it does to walk from the hotel to the terminal building. In any case, it’s not far.

CHECK-IN

KLM has a separate check-in area for SkyPriority passengers, which is located to the right as you come off the escalators, coming up from the Schiphol plaza. I’ve already checked in on the app, so it’s really just a question of checking in the suitcase I’ve been carting around since I left for Shannon and then Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.

There is a separate lane for SkyPriority passengers for security.

LOUNGE & AIRSIDE

The airport is very quiet this evening and there’s a nice hushed atmosphere in the lounge. With so few passengers around, it’s easy to find a quiet space in the huge lounge. Since my last visit, there have been a few changes to the lounge. First of all, the KLM branded cutlery and plates have been replaced by something neutral and not branded. It’s a shame really, because there was always something very decidedly Dutch about the old tableware. The food selection is also different, although in this case I think it’s actually an improvement over what they had before, because there’s now more choice.

BOARDING

The screens inside the lounge are showing a delay for my flight of 35 minutes, so 21h10 instead of 20h35. My flight will be boarding from gate B24, which is roughly a 10-minute schlep from the Crowne Lounge.

Eventually, boarding start at 20h55 and it’s all a bit messy. Luckily though, the Embraer 175 is a very small plane, so that despite the mess we’re all happily or not so happily settled in our seats by 21h05. The captain then steps out of the cockpit and puts on his jacket before he makes a public address. When that happens with KLM, you know it’s bad news. So the captain informs us that the delay was caused by the gusting winds here in Amsterdam, which has meant increased separation and thus less capacity per hour per runway. But he assures us that we’ll be on our way shortly.

At 21h25 the first officer comes on the PA and informs us that there’s a problem with the manifest, which doesn’t add up. Apparently, there are passengers in seats they shouldn’t be occupying and that needs to be cleared up first. Eventually, at 21h38 we push back from our stand and the engines start up. We’re now running slightly more than an hour behind schedule.

CABIN

Good heavens, these seats are tight. Either I’ve grown some more (highly unlikely) since I last flew KLM or they’ve decreased the seat pitch. My knees are pushing into the seatback of the seat in front of me. What’s more, I’m sitting in front of a young man with seriously long legs who in turn is pushing his knees into the back of my seat. As such, it’s a bit unfortunate to be kept waiting on the ground for thirty minutes before the flight begins. Finally though, I find a position in which I can minimise the amount of damage to my kneecaps and coccyx.

CREW

The crew looks slightly harassed and a bit tired. Even so, I think they do an excellent job in dealing with the disgruntled passengers, all of which are clearly just tired and weary from their travels at this stage.

The crew announce the flight time as 55 minutes.

THE MEAL

The meal service on this flight consists of a wrap filled with cheese, egg and lettuce that is served in a small box with a little tub of still water. In addition to that, the crew pass through the cabin with a drinks trolley, offering hot and cold beverages. By this stage, I’m too tired to eat, let alone to remember to take a photo. But in my twilight state of semi-consciousness, I remember to dump the wrap in my backpack to take a picture of it once I get home.

ARRIVAL

Eventually we land at 22h40, 55 minutes behind schedule. The airport is already very busy, what with the Basel based easyJet fleet returning home for the evening. This does not bode well for immigration, me thinks. Much to my surprise though, we’re marshalled to a stand in the French domestic sector of the apron, which means that once inside the terminal, we will in fact not have to go through immigration at all, just like the good old days.

Ten minutes later my suitcase arrives. I exit on the Swiss side of terminal and make my way to the bus stop. The bus is crowded, but I still manage to snag a seat.

I now have a whole day at home before I head off again on Monday…

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