Helvetic Airways, Business Class – Fokker F100: Zürich to Luxembourg


I’m in my second week of a five-week travel marathon. I was in Luxembourg last week. Today I shall be heading in the same direction again, before continuing farther afield on Tuesday. It’s Easter Monday and the sun has finally decided to make an appearance after a really nasty and long spell of cold and grey over central Europe.

I’ve decided to do a trip report of this leg for two reasons. First, because I haven’t ever posted on Helvetic’s Fokker F100. Given how old these aircraft are, I probably better get this out of the way sooner rather than later, while they’re still in service. Secondly, so far I’ve only ever experienced the Business Class breakfast service on the flight to Luxembourg. So I’m curious about what SWISS will dish out for ‘dinner’.

I catch the train from Basel’s Swiss station at 14h33, which arrives in Zürich main station at 15h26. From there I have a train to the airport at 15h37, which should get me to the airport just before 16h00. Roughly one hours before boarding for the flight begins.


I’ve checked in using the SWISS app as usual. The boarding pass still won’t show up on my locked screen and SWISS still doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to change that. Am I the only one who finds that a bit irritating?

The airport is quite busy. Although mostly it’s shoppers taking advantage of the airport’s convenient opening hours during the public holiday. There’s a bit of a queue for security, but all in all, the whole process is fairly smooth.

In case you’re wondering, there are currently no SWISS lounges in the Schengen area in Zürich. Apparently they’re closed for refurbishing and expansion. I’m not sure what to think of how SWISS is handling the issue though. They’ve set up a small desk in front of where the lounges used to be. From what I overheard one of the evicted lounge dragons telling one passenger, you have two options. You can either try the Aspire or DNATA lounges. Although the understanding is that passengers of other carriers have priority over SWISS’s. Or, if those lounges are full, you can request a voucher for a drink at one of the many bars and restaurants in the terminal.


We’re boarding from gate A55, which means the aircraft is parked on a remote stand, away from the terminal. It also means I will get a chance to take a few pictures of my chariot. The downside is that gate A55 is in a building that was initially put there as an interim solution but which later on they somehow forgot to tear down again. Because of the limited space, before boarding begins all the passengers are herded into a holding pen like sheep. And there they wait until the bus arrives.


Apparently, my aircraft for today’s flight is now 25 years old. But I have to say, time and some serious TLC have obviously been kind to this old bird. Of course, you notice small things, like the overhead panel and the fixtures for the overhead lamp or the air vents, which look dated. But apart from that, the cabin is neat. The seats are dark grey, which contrasts nicely with the read curtain in the front of the cabin. The crew’s uniforms have the same combination of grey and red, and the ensemble really does look quite fetching.


The seating configuration is 2 + 3, with the middle seat on the row of three kept empty. I am on 1F, which is the window seat on the bulkhead row of three. Fortunately for me though, the middle and the aisle seats both remain empty, so I can really spread out. Other than that, the seats are also pretty old school, which essentially means you get some decent padding and a very comfortably flight!

There is no cabin divider between the Economy and Business Class sections. The same goes for the Embraer 190 operated by Helvetic as well as SWISS’s CSeries.

But apart from all that, I think what really impresses me most, is the noise. Or rather the lack thereof. It’s quite amazing. Even when the pilot applies full thrust for us to take off, up front you cannot hear the engine noise at all.

The cabin crew consists of two young ladies and they really are excellent. This is one of the friendliest crews I’ve encountered in a long time. Although, having said that, my experience recently has been that the Helvetic crews tend to be better than the SWISS ones.

Once the doors are closed, the service begins with the distribution of the packed refreshing towels and a small bottle of still water. As the lead flight attendant comes through the cabin distributing the water and towels, she addresses every passenger individually by name and wishes them a pleasant flight. Blimey!


Our taxi out to the active runways is short, given that we’re parked on a stand adjacent to runway 28. The flight time is announced as forty minutes.

No sooner has the crew been released that the meal service begins. I rather like the way the meal is presented in three small ramekins. The first contains some sort of chicken curry salad with melon and almond flakes. The second is a vegetable omelette with cherry tomatoes. And the third one is the dessert. It’s a kind of panna cotta with orange slices and pieces of chocolate sponge cake. And I suspect a bit of Cointreau. It’s rather nice! To drink with that, I have a Coke Zero.


The flight is so short that there isn’t even enough time for the crew to come through the cabin with the obligatory Swiss chocolate before we land. So instead, as passengers disembark the aircraft upon arrival, the captain himself is standing by the door, wishing everyone good bye and holding the basket with the chocolates. It’s only a small but rather charming gesture.

Austrian Airlines, Economy Class – Fokker F 100: Munich to Vienna


Transferring in Munich is easy enough. My flight to Vienna will be leaving at 19h25 and is boarding from gate G 38.


Priority boarding: Available but a bit useless.

The first boarding call is for Business Class passengers and Senators only, which seems a bit superfluous given that a bus will be taking us to the aircraft. So priority basically means that you get to choose the best seats on the bus…


Configuration: 2 + 3
Seat: 15A, window seat on the row of two. The seat looks rather nice and the dark colours give the cabin a very classy appearance. It looks as though Austrian has refurbished its F 100s. The overhead bins for example have a much more modern look and feel compared to KLM’s F 70s. Having said that, the capacity of the overhead bins is limited in comparison to KLM. And as a result, this being a full flight, passengers and crew are having difficulties finding enough space in the cabin to store the copious amounts of luggage people have carted on board.
Pitch: 30 inches.
Width: 17 inches.


There are three female cabin crew on this flight. And to be honest, all three of them exude the warmth and charm of a corpse. The most senior one of the three witches of Eastwick is standing at the door to welcome passengers as they board. At least that is what I think she should have been doing. But in actual fact she is standing there eyeballing the passengers with this serious couldn’t-give-a-fuck expression on her face. She also seems to have lost her ability to speak somewhere along the way. I say ‘hello’ when she looks at me and I all I get in return is another glare and silence. Oh yes, she’s definitely a really class act this one.

The meal consists of a small packed of savoury biscuits and a cup of still water.


Fortunately, our flight time is only 40 minutes and we land in Vienna right on time at 20h20. Unfortunately, it is going to be yet another bus to the terminal. I wait for all the other passengers to disembark before I get up to collect all my stuff and put on my coat. Obviously, by this time the bus is completely packed. There are still passengers standing around on the apron trying to figure out where to sit. And that includes me. Not that the crew or the bus driver could give a shit.

I shall be leaving Vienna again fairly early tomorrow morning, so I will not bother to go into the city. The NH Hotel is located just a short distance from the terminal and is easily accessed via the subway that leads to the airport’s railway station. Just follow the signs marked ‘Hotel’.


Lufthansa, whatever happened to you? I mean, I know it has been a while since my last intra-European flight with the Lufthansa group. Even so, I really am quite amazed at how service standards have deteriorated – even by Economy Class standards. On the Lufthansa flight from Luxembourg to Munich the crew were anonymous and completely exchangeable, there was nothing about them that made you think ‘ah yes, this is what I like about Lufthansa’. And I assume that is probably because it is not even really Lufthansa anymore. The aircraft was branded as Lufthansa Group and an announcement was made that apparently the flight was operated by Germanwings. God who pays the crew’s salary. The overall effect though, is of a totally soulless and undefined carrier that really does not in any way stand out from the competition and probably even looses in some areas, like inflight service, when compared to operators like Easyjet.

And Austrian Airlines are simply bizarre. I just do not understand. Their crews are like the aeronautical equivalent of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. On long-haul flights I find that Austrian Airlines really shines and its crews are something else. But on European short-haul they just suck very much.

A while back I abandoned Lufthansa and Miles & More, mainly because I could achieve Platinum status with Air France and Silver status with British Airways with only half the effort it takes to remain a Senator. Unfortunately, my experience with Lufthansa and Austrian on these two short flights did nothing to make me want to reconsider and return to the fold.

So long Lufthansa, it was nice while it lasted but all good things must come to an end…

KLM, Economy Class – Boeing B 737-700 & Fokker F 70: Zürich to Luxembourg via Amsterdam



This way the world ends.
Not with a bang but a whimper.

– T. S. Eliot

Don’t worry. I’m not feeling suicidal. It’s just that this shall be my last trip for this year and after that I will not have a single PNR open. No future reservations. For the time being at least. Of course, I am aware of the fact that this series of trip reports on my last trip of 2015 should be something spectacular, something flashy and fancy. But it’s not quite like that.

Transport: Train.
Departs from: Winterthur Station.
Arrives: Zürich Flughafen.
Journey time: 13 minutes.
Frequency: Every 20 minutes, the nonstop trains run at 25, 28, 55 and 58 past the hour.

My flight will be leaving at 17h30, with boarding scheduled for 17h00. So I leave the office at 15h40 to catch the direct train 15h55. I like this time of year, when the sun remains low above the horizon all day and casts melancholy shadows.



Surprisingly, when I arrive at Zürich airport, the place if fairly quiet. I have already checked in online, using the KLM App. But before I go through security, I have an errand to run. I want to get some pralines for my business partners in Luxembourg.

Personally, I think Läderach make the best chocolate out there. Forget about Cailler, Lindt or Belgian chocolate. Läderach makes them all look like amateurs. At Zürich airport their shop is in Terminal A, opposite the entrance to the centralised security check facility.



Priority boarding: Available.

By the time I get the chocolate and I am past security, it is already gone 16h30. My flight will start boarding in less than half an hour from gate A 83, which is at the far end of the A concourse. Also, in my old age I find that I am increasingly bored by airlines lounge. It is much more fun to sit in the public area, watching the world go by. So from security I head straight for A 83 and park myself in a good place for some serious people watching.










Boarding for the flights starts five minutes ahead of schedule. The flight is not full and the captain is eager for us to get away as quickly as possible to avoid a bank of fog that is rolling in from the north.

Configuration: 3 + 3 in Economy Class. There are 132 seats in total.
Seat: 6A, window. The first four rows of the cabin are Business Class, although on today’s flight there are only three passengers sitting in the forward cabin.
Pitch: 33 inches.
Width: 17 inches.
Inflight entertainment: There is a console in the armrests to select channels and regulate the volume. However, I am not even sure the aircraft has video screens.



The flight this evening is not full, so the maître de comes on to make an announcement that for weight and balance reasons, all passengers are required to take the seat they were assigned at check-in, despite the many empty seats. Quite frankly I think this is a load of bull. I can imagine that the distribution of passengers may make a difference on a small aircraft like the ATR-42 or the Saab 2000, but I hardly think it matters on an aircraft the size of the B 737-700.

Fortunately, the Platinum fairy has worked her magic again at check-in and the seat beside me stays empty. If you are interested in airplanes like me – you may have guessed – 6A is a good seat. You have an aligned window which provides some good views of the engine and wing.



In any case, we push back on time and then make the short taxi to runway 28. We are number five for departure and the mist is coming in pretty thick by this time.

Type of meal: Dinner snack

As this is an evening flight, KLM has the decency to serve a small cheese sandwich as a snack. What I like in particular, is that it is always a Dutch cheese they use for the sandwich and there is usually a brief explanation about what kind of cheese it is in the box in which the sandwich is served. Today’s cheese is a Beemster.

To drink with that I have a coffee and a glass of still water. Note that KLM will only provide sparkling water in Business Class, but not in Economy.

The meal hits the spot nicely and just a short while after I finish, it is already time for us to start our descent into Amsterdam.




We land on the famous Polderbaan that is runway 18R. It is the runway that is farthest away from the terminal area and the apron. After landing on the Polderbann it is another fifteen minutes of taxiing before eventually we arrive on our parking position at the C gates.



By the time I disembark I have a bit more than one hour before boarding for the flight to Luxembourg begins. I am also hungry. So once more I decide to ignore the lounge and instead head up one floor from the central airside plaza to the food court.

Just in case you are interested, there is a central check-out area for the entire food court, where you pay for your purchase. I could really murder a hamburger right now, so I make my way over to Burger King. The queue is long but at least it moves quickly. There is also a Sbarro’s serving Italian food as well as a restaurant serving Asian and Dutch specialties.



There is not really anything much to say about the flight to Amsterdam, except that it is very short, with a block time of only forty minutes. Boarding is from a remote stand and the flight is not overly full.

As a Platinum member I can select the emergency exit at no additional cost, so I am seated on 11A, which is the window seat on the emergency exit on the row of two seats. The seat next to me stays empty.




Despite the very short flying time, KLM provide a snack on this service, which consists of a small packet of English crisps and pre-packed Turkish still water.


We arrive on time. I only have hand luggage with me on this trip. So as soon as the bus drops us off at the terminal, I head upstairs, through arrivals and then head one floor up to take a taxi to the Doubletree in Domeldange.

Just so you know, in case you are contemplating taking public transport. First of all, the airport bus runs to the centre of town. So if you are staying at the Doubletree, you would first need to grab a bus to Hamilus and then from there catch the bus line 5 to take you to the Doubletree, which will take for ever. Secondly, you can purchase tickets on board most public transport in Luxembourg, except  the airport bus, and there is no machine for you to purchase tickets at the airport either. Which is just all sorts of awkward.

KLM Cityhopper, Business Class – Fokker F 70: Haugesund to Amsterdam

You may, perhaps, be wondering where on earth Haugesund is. It is a small town located more or less halfway between Stavanger and Bergen in Norway. I am in Haugesund with the tall and blond M. to visit a business partner who lives and works just outside town.

Car rental.
Journey time: About two hours.
Haugesund lies due north of Stavanger. The journey by car is very scenic and takes you along the coast. To get from Haugesund to Stavanger you need to take through three road tunnels that go under wanter. The tunnels are between four and six kilometres long, the deepest one we passed through was 228 metres below sea level! Possibly the freakiest thing I have ever seen is that one tunnel even has a roundabout in it where two independent tunnels merge…!


You will also need to take a ferry. The journey takes approximately thirty minutes to complete. I am not sure if there is actually a schedule or if the boats just run on an ad hoc basis. The price for one car and two adults is NOK206. The ferries have excellent facilities, clean toilets, a self-service restaurant offering hot and cold dishes, and plenty of space to sit.






Departure area on the ground floor. Arrivals and departures are on the same level landside. Airside departures are one floor up.
Facilities: Check-in machines, Web Check-in, dedicated Air France / KLM counters.
Counters: One counter for SkyPriority passengers and two counters for all other travellers.



KLM does not provide a lounge in Stavanger. And as far as I know, there is no other lounge in the terminal either. However, two floors up from the check-in area there is a semi self-service restaurant serving typically Norwegian fare and which also offers excellent views of the apron.

So we order ourselves two plates of meatballs in some brown sauce with boiled potatoes and mashed peas, park ourselves in front of the window and settle in to watch the world go by.





Stavanger plays an important role in Norway’s booming oil industry. The airport serves as a hub for the many operators that fly personnel out to the oilrigs in the Atlantic. Bristow’s Helicopters is obviously the most important operator out of Stavanger and it is rather interesting to watch the mix of commercial fixed wing and rotary wing movements at the airport. They even have a dedicated helicopter terminal.



Priority Boarding:
Available for SkyPriority passengers.

We wait to watch our aircraft land safely and taxi to the gate, before eventually we decided it is time to head one floor down for security. The place is fairly quiet, despite the fact that there are quite a few flights leaving, including an Icelandair B 757 parked next to us.



Apparently the flight is severely overbooked, and so I end up being upgraded again. Instead of 8C I shall now be sitting on 5A, which is a window seat on the last row of Business Class. To be honest, they should not really have bothered. I mean, it is not as though I am going to eat again, having just had a full meal on the ground. Still, being in Business Class means I have the seat next to me empty and have a lot more space to spread out and sprawl.

If it is all the same to you, I shall spare you yet another description of the new KLM Cityhopper seat. As I already mentioned above, in Business Class the seat next to you is always kept empty. Which means that on the row of two you can sit on either the aisle or the window seat. On the row of three seats, the middle seat is kept empty to provide some extra space between you and your neighbour.

The service is provided by two smart Dutch young ladies. With most of the passengers being male oilrig workers fresh off a platform stuck out in the Atlantic, the two flight attendants can hardly complain of not getting enough attention. In fact they look slightly uncomfortable.



  • Mixed salad and sun-dried tomatoes with pepper jack dressing.
  • A choice of vegetarian (falafel wrap with curried hummus, cucumber and bell pepper) or non-vegetarian (club sandwich with chicken, served with potato crisps) sandwich wrap.
  • Quark mousse with strawberry topping.




We arrive in Amsterdam on time. I know have 40 minutes to make my connection to Basel. Only two more days at work and then finally, I shall be off on holiday.






Austrian Airlines, Business Class – Fokker 70: Vienna to Basel

I have one hour before my flight to Basel departs. Fortunately there are not that many people at the airport and so I manage to quickly clear immigration and security. Since my last visit to Vienna last summer, they appear to have improved the signage. Or maybe it is just me and I am getting used to the place. Even so, I really cannot help but wonder who on earth designed this facility? It does not even feel like an airport. Instead, the narrow aisles and long corridors give the impression of walking aimlessly in the Ministry of Truth. You turn the corner and expect to find yourself standing by the door to room 101. The worst thing in the world.

Uhm, good question. Just follow the signs for the G gates and then you should find the lounge. There is a common entrance to the lounge. The Business Class area is to the left and the Star Gold section is to the right.
Type of Lounge:
Austrian Airlines Business Class lounge.
Business centre, toilets in the lounge, no showers, a small selection of hot and cold dishes and drinks, newspapers and magazine.
Wifi is available throughout the terminal building. No password required.


What with it being Easter Sunday, the lounge is fairly quiet. There are only a few people here and there. The food options are somewhat limited, not that I am hungry after all the food we were served on the plane.

Priority Boarding:
Boarding is from Gate F 13, which is the same gate at which my flight from Narita arrived. In fact the aircraft is still standing there. In any case, our aircraft for the short hop to Basel is parked at a remote stand, so we are having to take a bus to the aircraft.


When eventually the bus pulls up on a remote stand, I am surprised to find there has been an aircraft change and instead of the scheduled Dash-8-400, the flight will now be operated by the larger Fokker 70. I take my time to get on board the aircraft – I am sitting at the very front anyway – which gives me the chance to take a few pictures of my aircraft and watch the other action on the ramp.


1 + 2
Seat: European style Economy Class seating, with the adjacent seat being kept empty in Business Class.
Pitch: 30’.
Width: 17’.
Facilities: Reading lamp, air vents.

There are two rows of Business Class on today’s flight and there are only two passengers. Seating on the Fokker 70 is 2 + 3, although on Austrian Airlines the adjacent seat is kept empty to provide more space. Thus, on the left hand side, the two-seater, the aisle seat is blocked, while on the right hand side, the middle seat in the row of three is blocked.


Just a word of warning: on Austrian Airlines’ Fokker 70 you should try to avoid sitting on row 1 because while the pitch is the same as in the rest of the aircraft, not being able to stick your legs under the seat in front seriously limits leg space.

There are two cabin crew on the flight. They seem friendly enough, but they are not exactly gushing. But I do not think it is a question of them just doing the job and nothing else, they just both seem very reserved.


Welcome drink on the ground:
Hot towel before the meal: None.
Pre-meal drink:
Tray service.
Type of meal:

  1. Fish in a batter, on potato salad, corn salad and tomato.
  2. Selection from the breadbasket.
  3. Chocolate mousse with cherries.
  4. Milka Easter Bunny.

The contrast in service between Austrian Airlines’ long- and short-haul operations never quite seizes to amaze me. While the meals on the flight from Tokyo to Vienna were opulent, on this short-haul flight to Basel service is kept to the absolute minimum.

One way or another, the meal is quite tasty. Especially the chocolate mousse is delicious and rich.

Our routing takes us past lake Constance and north of Zürich airport to approach Basel airport from the east. You can see the airport below on the right hand side of the aircraft. Approaches are from the south this afternoon, which means we continue for a short distance past the airport heading west, before eventually doing a left turn and heading south, away from the airport. Two more left turns later and we are lined up for the approach pointing north. I like this approach because it means we will be coming in over the city of Basel. Fortunately the weather has cleared and it is a beautiful afternoon.


That was fun. Admittedly, it was rather a short trip but I certainly enjoyed every minute of it. This was now my sixteenth visit to Japan and I still have not had enough yet. What I did notice about myself on this trip is that the idiosyncrasies of the Japanese and their culture no longer have the power to intimidate or confuse me. What I do not know, is whether this is due to the fact that the Japanese are becoming more relaxed in their dealings with foreigners or if perhaps I have simply become accustomed to their ways.

KLM, Business Class – A 330-200: Basel via Amsterdam to Montreal


Normally I make a point of arriving at the airport about two hours before departure – just in case. But I have now been travelling for five weeks – sixteen flights later and to be quite honest, I think I have had enough. Besides, this is Basel airport, so it is quite enough for me to arrive just over one hour before departure.

I am on my way to Montreal for another visit to ICAO. I am flying via Amsterdam, as usual. The only difference being – and it really does give me quite a pang to have to accept it – that the flight is no longer operated by the mighty MD-11 and has been transferred to the Airbus A 330.

Bus line 50.
Departs from: Outside the main entrance to Basel’s Swiss railway station on the station square.
Frequency: Every 10 minutes.
Journey time: 15 minutes.
Fare: CHF5.60

In the French sector.
Facilities: Self-service check-in machines and counters.
Counters: Check-in for all KLM flights is done by Air France at Basel airport.

There is a fast track for security if you are a status card holder or travelling in Business Class. But the boarding pass scanner is only able to read the bar code on the boarding passes printed at the counter. Passbook and online check-in boarding passes will not gain you access to the fast track.

Near gate 44, where the terminal forks for the non-Schengen area – there is no lounge in the non-Schengen sector.
Type of Lounge:
Swissport Skyview lounge.
Toilets, showers, bar, work stations, hot and cold snacks.
Free wifi is available, no password is required but you must provide your details when you log in.

Passengers flying with KLM are entitled to use the lounge, Air France passengers are not because the flights from Basel to Paris are treated as domestic services.

Priority Boarding:
There are two lines for boarding and a dedicated queue for SkyPriority passengers. Inevitably nobody bothers to take the right queue and priority is not enforced either.

Embraer 190.
Configuration: 2 + 2.
Seat: It is the standard European Economy Class seat with one of the seats on every row left empty. There are two rows of Business Class.


I am the only passenger flying Business Class on today’s flight, so I have the entire cabin to myself. The Embraer is a strange plane. On the one hand, I rather like the layout and design of the cabin, which feels a lot more modern than that of the Fokker 70, which KLM also operates on this route. On the other hand though, the seat is not particularly comfortable. I always find that the seat is too low. As a result, my legs usually start to ache after just a short while.

The service in Business Class is done by the lead flight attendant, who seems friendly enough. In total there are two cabin crew on the flight.

Welcome drink on the ground:
Bottle of still water.
Pre-meal drink:
With just me in the cabin, the crew take things at a leisurely pace. There is even time for a drink before the meal. I have a Diet Coke and some of those tasty smoked almonds.
Vegetarian sandwich (cheese) or beef sandwich.
Cardboard box.
Type of meal:
Light lunch.

  • Cheese sandwich.
  • Mixed salad with mozzarella pearls.
  • Speculatius crumble for dessert.

The meal is tasty and perfectly adequate for the duration of the flight.







I enter the terminal building at around 13h20. I now have slightly less than two hours to make my connection to Montreal.


I already have the boarding pass for my flight to Montreal and my suitcase has been checked through as well. My flight will be leaving from the D gates, passed immigration. The immigration counters are located next to the stairs leading up to the KLM Schengen Crown Lounge and the C gates.

At immigration there are machines available for travellers with biometric passports, but from what I understand, these may only be used by holders of a European Union passport.


The non-Schengen Crown Lounge is located above the F gates, if you are walking at a leisurely pace it may take you about ten minutes to reach the D gates.
Type of Lounge:
Dedicated KLM lounge.
Showers, bathrooms, quiet rooms, work stations, hot and cold snacks, bar.
Free wifi, the code changes daily and is displayed in various locations throughout the lounge.

Amsterdam airport is currently undergoing modification and extension. As a result, most of the windows in the lounge have been covered over to mask the constructions site.

Priority Boarding:
The boarding pass shows a boarding time of 14h15, which is exactly one hour before departure. This is due to the fact that passengers will have to undergo a further security screening before entering the holding area of the gate. If you arrive at the indicated boarding time, you usually end up having to queue quite a bit. So it is better to arrive about thirty minutes prior to departure, when most passengers are already in the holding area.

There is a dedicated queue for security for SkyPriority and Business Class passengers. The actual boarding normally starts about thirty minutes before departure with a call for Business Class passengers and then families with children.






2 + 2 + 2.
Seat: KLM currently offers three different Business Class products on its wide-body fleet. There is the new fully horizontal life-flat, which is only installed on the Boeing B 747-400. Although from what I understand this seat is about to be introduced to the B 777 fleet as well.

And then there is the angled lie-flat seat installed on the Boeing B 777-300 and the Airbus A 330-300. If I am not mistaken, this is pretty much the same seat Air France has installed in its wide-bodies right now.

And finally of course, there is the old angled seat on the Boeing B 777-200 and the Airbus A 330-200, which is what I shall be travelling in today. This seat is really passed it. It is comfortable enough to lounge in but it can be a tad difficult to sleep in unless you really are completely exhausted. It is the same seat KLM used to have on the MD-11 until she was decommissioned. But somehow, on the A 330 it just seems very dated. Legroom on the first row is very good, but nowhere near as good as on the MD-11.
Facilities: Reading lamp, power outlet, noise cancelling earphones.







Upon entering the cabin, there is already a blanket and a pillow at every seat. Menus are distributed after departure. Luckily enough for me, the seat next to me is one of the few to remain empty on today’s flight.

As usual with KLM, the cabin crew are quite senior and very professional. In short succession one flight attendant comes to hang up my coat before I am offered a welcome drink and a vanity kit. There are different kits for men and women. For a welcome drink there is a choice of sparkling wine, beer, orange juice and still water.


We push back on time. We shall be departing from runway 18L today and there is a queue of six aircraft ahead of us and another six behind us. As we taxi out, I look across to KLM’s huge MRO facility on the other side of the field. And that is when I suddenly catch a glimpse of her, standing quietly in the shadows. The last time I flew to Montreal it was the might MD-11 that carried me there. Such fond memories… Oh Audrey, Maria, Florence; we could have been happy together…how could you desert me like that?






Welcome drink on the ground:
Fresh orange juice.
Hot towel before the meal: The scented hot towels KLM has on offer in Business Class are truly excellent, much better than those flimsy little things BA offers in First.
Pre-meal drink:
Another fresh orange juice, the drink is served with a bowl of nuts or a selection of Dutch cheese.
Two starters and three mains.
Trolley service.
Type of meal:
Full meal.

  • Shrimps with grapes and mint oil with garlic and almond soup
  • Rice salad with beetroot, goat cheese and pine nuts with a raspberry dressing
  • Braised veal with gnocchi and vegetables
  • A selection of warm breads
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Skewer of fruit














The food on KLM is normally quite good in Business Class, as is the service. And today’s flight is no exception, at least as far as the quality of the food is concerned. But for some reason the service is taking an eternity to complete. In fact it lasts for more than two hours and thirty minutes from the moment I am served a drink and the bowl of nuts to when eventually everything is cleared away. I do not really mind that on a flight of maybe twelve hours. But on a flight of only slightly more than seven hours I really do think it should be possible to deliver a faster service.

Once the meal is over I settle in with my Kindle and spend the rest of the flight reading and gazing out the window. The scenery outside is quite beautiful. We are routing relatively far up north, grazing the southern tip of Greenland.



Type of meal:
Choice: There are two main dishes to choose from.

  • Waldorf salad
  • Vegetarian club sandwich
  • Warm Dutch apple pie
  • Crisps

With slightly less than two hours to go to Montreal the second service begins. Before the meal starts, a second hot towel is offered by the crew. The meal is perfectly adequate for the time of day and the duration of the flight.






The crew clear the trays. The distribution of the famous little Bols houses marks the end of the flight.

We arrive exactly on time. Quite surprisingly, the airport is completely deserted. There is no queue for immigration and the suitcases arrive in next to no time at all.

Departs from: Dedicated taxi stand.
Journey time: About 25 minutes.
Fare: Fixed at CAD40.-

This was another good flight by KLM today. Their service is perhaps not as refined and elegant was what you get on Cathay Pacific or Swiss. But what always impresses me about KLM is that their service is very consistent and I have as yet to experience a bad crew.

This was my first trip to Montreal on KLM that was not operated by an MD-11. For sure, the A 330 is the more modern aircraft. Even so, personally I think the MD-11 was just so much more fun.

KLM City Hopper, Business Class – Embraer E-190: Amsterdam to Basel



June has been rather busy so far. I’ve now been travelling for two weeks and I’ve only just reached the halfway point. The beginning of the month saw me flying to Luxembourg, where I gave a course. From Luxembourg I travelled to Bangkok to visit my best friend. Then from there it was back to Luxembourg for another course, to Brussels for a workshop and now, finally, I am on my way home. Mind, I won’t be home for long. In actual fact come Sunday I’ll be off again.



I’ve just arrived in Amsterdam on the evening flight from Brussels. We disembark the aircraft on stand B20, which gives passengers direct access to the terminal building, without having to use a bus to get there. As it turns out, B20 is also the gate from which my flight to Basel leaves, although I must confess I didn’t check the aircraft’s registration to see if it was also the same plane too.



The transfer in Amsterdam is just a short one, so I don’t even bother visiting the lounge. Instead I’m busy with my colleague S. trying on sunglasses in one of the many shops at Schiphol airport. By the time we finish, my flight is already boarding.


Priority Boarding: yes, there is a separate channel for upper tier members and passengers in Business Class.

By the time I arrive at the gate, boarding is already nearly complete. I’m one of the last passengers to board the plane. There still a bit of a queue at the stairs of the aircraft, which of course gives me the chance to take a few pictures.











Configuration: 2 + 2
Seat: 1A – standard European Economy Class seat, with the pitch gradually reducing from the front row to the back of the cabin, the adjacent seat is left empty
Facilities: none
Audio and Video: none

KLM recently shifted the Basel service from a Fokker F 70 back to an Embraer E-190. I don’t really mind the Fokkers and I think they’re comfy enough, but somehow the Embraer just seems more like a proper aircraft to me.

Apparently there should have been three of us flying in Business Class this evening, but the two others have not showed up and so I have, yet again, the entire Business Class cabin – the first two rows – to myself.









There are two cabin crew on this flight, a young woman working up front and a middle-aged gentleman working the back of the plane. Both are English nationals and friendly, as usual on KLM.

As the doors close the young lady approaches me and asks me if I’d like a newspaper before we depart. But I have my Kindle with me, so I decline.


Pre departure drinks: no
Pre meal drinks: no
in a box
Type of meal:
light dinner
there is a menu for the drinks and food but in fact there is no choice for food

  • pea mouse with little mozzarella pieces and piccalilli
  • greens with Waldorf salad
  • two buns with butter
  • cappuccino mouse
  • Punselies biscuits

The meal hits the spot nicely. I rather like how KLM has adapted it’s food offerings to the time of day of the flight. I also welcome the fact that they now serve the XL sized Punselies, rather than the normal sized ones.








Our flying time is only 55 minutes and shortly after I demolish the last of the Punselies, we’re already descending into Basel. I think the captain may be in a bit of a hurry to get to the hotel to watch the end of the football game, because our descent it very rapid and steep. Or perhaps he just forgot he’s sitting in a passenger jet and not in a fighter.






In any case, it’s nice to be home again, even if it’s only for a short while.

KLM City Hopper, Economy Class – Embraer ERJ-190: Mont de Marsan to Basel via Amsterdam



It’s Friday and I’ve just completed another course with my two colleagues in Mont de Marsan. Just in case you’re wondering, Mont de Marsan is a nice, sleepy little town roughly 80 minutes by car due south of Bordeaux. There is an airbase of the French Air Force in Mont de Marsan, but the facility is not open to civilian traffic, so Bordeaux is the closest airport for me to use.

Let’s start with a few pictures of Mont de Marsan, shall we?




Getting to the airport

Transport: rented car
Departure: Contis-Plage
Journey time: 90 minutes

The flight will not be departing for Amsterdam until 14:00, so we figure we might as well do a slight detour on our way to the airport and try to visit one of the many beautiful beaches along the French Atlantic coast. It’s a magnificent day and there isn’t a single cloud in the sky. We head for a place called Contis – Plage.

The holiday season has yet to begin in Contis, so the place is more or less deserted. The beach is simply amazing and stretches on endlessly. There are a few surfers around, but that’s just about it really.








We spend about an hour in Contis before eventually heading back to Bordeaux. We arrive at the airport just after 12:00.




Location: On the second floor, above Arrivals. Check-in for the KLM flight to Amsterdam takes place in Hall B, presumably because this is the dedicated Air France area of the terminal. The boarding gate however, is located in Hall A.
Facilities: I’ve checked in using the KLM app. My boarding passes are uploaded to passbook directly as soon as I check in using the KLM app.
Counters: Obviously, with this being Air France country, there are plenty of self-service kiosks, baggage drop counters and a SkyPriority counter available in Hall B.





The security check is quickly done, there aren’t many people queuing. Immediately behind security there is a café with some good views of the apron and the active runway. Not that there’s really that much traffic to see here.


I decide to have a cheese sandwich and a canelé – after all I haven’t had lunch yet! A canelé is a sweet from this region. It’s a small cake type thing with cinnamon and some sort of alcohol. And it’s really quite tasty.


Location: The appropriately named ‘Airport Lounge’ is located right behind security, next to the gate area for the A gates. Access to the lounge is via an access code for the door, which can only be obtained at check-in.
Type facility: This is a contract lounge, which is operated by the same company which runs the café outside. There is one toilet in the lounge. And it is likely to be one of the busiest bogs in all of France.
Internet: Apparently there is wifi. However, the corresponding sign looks as though it was printed many moons ago and indeed, when I try to access the internet, none of my devices are actually capable of locating or identifying a network.





The lounge is not very well stocked either. As you enter the lounge, there is a table on the left with the food options, if you want to call them that. Essentially it’s just a basket with some prepacked, processed and very unhealthy food and a lone croissant, which looks as though it’s been waiting there to be devoured since the morning of the day before. On the right hand side there is a coffee machine and a fridge with soft drinks.




Configuration: 2 + 2
Pitch: 31 inches
Width: 17 inches
Facilities: Nil
Audio and video: Nil





I rather like the cabin of the Embraer ERJ-190. Compared to the Fokker F 70 it has much cleaner and simpler lines. The aircraft just looks newer. Even so, there’s one area in which the Embraer simply can’t touch the Fokker 70: the seat on the Embraer is very uncomfortable. The main problem is that the seats seem to be lower above the ground. As a result, your legs are never really comfortable, and neither is your back. By the time we arrive in Amsterdam my coccyx feels all sore.




I’m sitting in the last row of the bus today, on 26F. As far as I’m concerned this seat is as good as any other. The pitch is sufficient and they have even left room behind the seat to allow you to recline the seatback.






There are two female flight attendants on this flight. I’ve already had the pleasure before with the one standing by the entrance to the aircraft. The young lady in the back is friendly as well. What strikes me about her is that she has immaculate make up, with a lipstick that not only complements her features very well but also goes rather nicely with the colours of the uniform and the smidges of orange on the scarf.

The Meal

I’m still struggling to figure out KLM’s catering concept here. Whatever it may be though, I just want to make it clear that I’m certainly not complaining. What I’m trying to figure out, is when they serve you something proper to eat and when they just give you a choice of a sweet or savoury snack in a packet. Also, on the outbound leg we were offered a sandwich and a packet of Punselies biscuits for dessert. On the inbound however, there was just the sandwich but no Punselies.


  • sandwich of Gouda cheese with a mustard mayonnaise
  • coffee
  • still water





The meal is very simple, but it serves its purpose well. I don’t really think there is anything much else to say about it.


For the rest of the flight I spend my time gazing out the window. It really has turned into a beautiful day for flying. Our routing even takes us due west of Paris, and I can even make out Orly and Roissy airports.


We land in a north-easterly direction on the runway adjacent to the Fokker farm. As a result, the taxi from touch down to our stand at gate B36 is very short.







And with that another good flight with KLM comes to an end. I now have a layover of four hours before my onward connection to Basel, which I shall spend working in the lounge.

Where to stay

In Mont de Marsan I stayed at the Renaissance Hotel. It’s a three star facility but it’s probably the best location in the entire town. I enjoyed staying here. The rooms are comfortable and clean and the bed is tremendously comfortable. What’s more, the hotel has a huge garden right next to a large pond.






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




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.


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.




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







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.




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.



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.






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.



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.


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


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.








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.


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.


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





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.

KLM City Hopper, Economy Class – Fokker F 70: Basel to Amsterdam


Christmas is barely over. No more office parties, no more presents to pack and others unpack and the tree is already starting to look worse for wear. After spending the 24th and 25th in the company of dear family and friends it’s now high time for me to head for the airport and get on a plane again. Yes, it’s time for my Christmas vacation!

Initially I wasn’t even planning on writing a report about this flight, but then there were so many new things worth reporting – news about lounge access for KLM passengers in Basel and a new cabin – that I simply couldn’t resist.


Aircraft: Fokker F 70
Airline: KLM City Hopper
Cabin: Economy Class
Seat: 11A, window on the emergency exit
Date: 26. December 2013
Departure: 11:50
Arrival: 13:30
From: Basel-Mulhouse
To: Amsterdam


My first stop this morning, once I finish packing, is the gym, five minutes down the road from where I live, to try and burn off some of yesterday’s Christmas dinner before I go away on holiday. I return home at around 10:00 in the morning, exchange my gym bag for my suitcase and then I leave again and head for the airport. The bus line 50 is surprisingly empty this morning.


I checked in online for my flight the previous evening using the fabulous KLM app, which immediately and very reliably drops my boarding pass in the Passbook app. So upon arrival at the airport I can bypass check-in and head straight for security.

Recently they introduced an automatic barrier at Basel airport for passengers wishing to use the fast track through security. The fast track is marked as the lane for ‘Business Class and Status holders’, the latter of which applies to me today. So I give the fast track a try, only for it to reject my advances and my boarding pass. Now why was I expecting this to happen?


Eventually I do manage to get through security, the queue moves swiftly. Just as I am about to settle down by the gate for my flight, I decide I need to heed the call of nature first. On the way to the gents I pass the Swissport lounge where I notice, much to my surprise, that KLM is now also on the list of airlines that use this facility. Oh happy day!


I enter cautiously, and indeed the receptionist welcomes me to the lounge, scans my boarding pass and wishes me a pleasant stay. Thank you very much!






Boarding for the flight starts on time, and by the time I reach the gate from the lounge most of the passengers have already boarded. The gate agent scans my boarding pass, tags my suitcase for collection at the aircraft on arrival and wishes me a pleasant journey.


Upon entering the aircraft I am pleasantly surprised to find that it has already undergone the refurbishment KLM had announced for the F 70 fleet a while back. And I must say, it’s a vast improvement! To be fair, I have always thought that KLM takes really excellent care of its aircraft, but these new seats have knocked years off the old lady.






The seats are much thinner than the previous ones, and the fabric covers have now been replaced with leather, which immediately gives the seat and cabin a much more modern feel and look. I comment about this to the flight attendant standing on the other side of the aisle and tell her how much nicer the new cabin looks – ‘and about time too’ she replies and smiles. Indeed, about time too!


The doors close on time and the captain comes on the blower to welcome us aboard. He sounds like a cheery, friendly chap. Our flight time today is announced as 65 minutes, taxi to the departing runway will be short, which is a good thing because the aircraft picked up some ice on the inbound leg and will need to be de-iced before we depart for Amsterdam.



Once that’s all taken care we take-off in a north westerly direction, with thick globules of orange de-icing fluid oozing past my window as we go thundering down the runway to accelerate.



The cabin crew on today’s flight are two blonde Dutch females who are so similar to each other in looks that I’m having trouble keeping them apart. They’re also both equally friendly and both seem rather happy to be working this flight, which makes a change from the grumpy lot of crew you sometimes get on these short European flights.


I always call this chapter ‘The Meal’ in al my trip reports, and I see no reasons to deviate from that now. Although in fact, strictly speaking I’m not entirely sure KLM’s provisions in this department technically count as a meal. But please don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining or anything after all the food a drink these last few days.

In any case, it consists of some savoury snack with a strong flavour of artificial onions and a cup of still water. Simply to beef up the trip report, I have taken the liberty of taking a few pictures of the motifs on the plastic cups KLM distribute on their flights. I think they’re rather nice.








Shortly after the rubbish has been removed, we begin our descent into Amsterdam.



Arrival today is on 18C, which means our taxi to the Fokker farm not quite as epic and long as when we’re assigned the Polderbaan for arrivals.



Shortly after the door opens, the cabin luggage is lined up in front of the aircraft for passengers to pick up as we board the bus to bring us to the terminal.



In Amsterdam I shall be staying at the Hotel Conservatorium for one night. It’s a very nice hotel in a historic building that’s conveniently located right next door to the Van Gough museum and in close proximity to the Rijksmuseum a bit further up the road. I leave you with a few pictures from the hotel.