KLM B737-900 Economy (short haul)Back to Forum
Anonymous26 Apr 2013
The route: London to Amsterdam. The choices: BA, KLM, easyJet & Citijet.
I chose KLM as the schedule was ideal, leaving (or that was the intention) mid morning, in time to have a meeting in Amsterdam that afternoon. I also had not been on KLM in a while so fancied checking them out and it was cheaper than BA by a reasonable margin.
Booking procedure: klm.com was very easy indeed and I liked the option of choosing the seat number at this stage (although this amounted to nothing).
Check in/Bag drop: I had checked in online the day before and I arrived at LHR about 2.5 hours before the scheduled departure time for the bag drop. The signage was not that clear and I ended up in the check in line as opposed to a bag drop line.
There were two ladies in front of me in the queue. They had cases for the hold, and cases for hand baggage, and when they were “summoned” to the desk, the check-in agent shouted at them to put them in the hand baggage size checker. Even before they had tried to fit it in, the check in woman shouted and barked at them saying the piece was too large. It was not, it was just that the wheel got stuck. They tried to reason but the rep was not into “reasonable” mode and just demanded that they re-pack and get new bags. The women became tearful but I do not know what happened after that.
It was my turn next and you can guess which check in agent I had. On saying “good morning”, I was greeted back with “You are overweight”. I was, although only 1KG and had to put some items in my hand luggage, but after this miserable hag and her appalling way of dealing with people, I refused to deal with her again and then went to a pleasant agent who was dignified and efficient.
Some might say “she was only doing her job”, but frankly I do not think she was, and not the sort of person who appreciated passengers are paying her salary. A terrible representative of KLM and indeed her profession.
The terminal: I went through security, which was quite straight forward. They had a special x ray for feet/shoes, which was great as it meant I did not need to remove my shoes. I went to have a breakfast, mindful that snow was on its way, which may cause delays. I kept checking the screen but first knew there was a delay by email, which I thought was efficient. The delay was for one hour (the plane was late leaving AMS to allow for the delays that would be at LHR, which gave me time to walk around Terminal 4, and reflect it was not what it used to be, and I would not want to spend much time there.
Boarding: I went to the gate at the appropriate time, where queues had formed. We waiting in line for ages, and then when going though, my Boarding Card was declined, being re-issued with another one. At first I thought “bingo, upgrade”, but it was not to be and in fact I was very peeved that what I was pleased about, my seat selection on making the reservation, had been taken away from me. I had wanted a window for this short hop, and had been given an aisle. We then waited ages again in the air bridge in order to board the very full 737-900.
I thought the Business Class area did not seem that desirable as let’s say AF or BA, not that there is a huge difference with Y on any of these. I went to find my aisle seat back in Y near the exits, but still not happy with my choice being taken away from me. But this did not last long, as we soon knew that take off was not going to be imminent, due to the snow (this was back in January), and we waited, waited and waited. Having an aisle seat meant I could move around the cabin and stretch.
I have to say the crew were really superb. Engaging, positive and superb ambassadors for their employer and for the Netherlands. They came around with drinks and water, but of course we never really knew how long we would be waiting for, but I thought these crew show how they can be constantly enthusiastic even when the job can be mundane.
I must also say the seat was very comfortable. I was in it for over 4 hours altogether and remained comfortable. I am sure Easyjet would not have been the same and maybe the BA leather seat after 3 hours starts to hurt. I read the Holland Herald inflight magazine, which was a good and lively read.
Suddenly, after 3 hours of waiting, the captain announced “we’re off”, having just been given a take-off slot, and we started taxiing within 5 seconds, and all standing had to sit! We took off within 2 minutes, flying into the blizzard. Very quiet on board and most were relieved to get to cruising altitude. The crew came round again with drinks and choice of sweet or savory snacks, again very positive indeed. More food would have been nice however. That early morning big English Breakfast was a wise investment!
Landing: After the 45 minute flight, we then had a 15 minute “drive”, not taxi, to a gate. We had landed at the runway furthest from the Terminal. This was not appreciated and I think they (Amsterdam ATC) could have done better, after all, the rest of Europe had not been affected by the snow as bad as UK, at least not at that stage.
Baggage: Came through very quickly.
Verdict: Good website and online check in, shocking airport check in/bag drop staff, poor boarding, excellent cabin crew and decent seating.26 Apr 2013
Interesting flight check. Thanks for posting.
You must have landed on Schiphol’s Polderbaan which is the airport’s longest runway.
Problem is … it’s miles from the Schiphol terminal and taxi times are lengthy. In fact it’s so far away that they had to build a separate control tower for Polderbaan as it’s not visible from the main tower.26 Apr 2013
But at least they have built extra runways. I believe AMS has 6 runways now ans handles less flights and passengers than LHR.
Interesting to read that even in economy a short haul flight on a relatively small plane can be that enjoyable. Sad that your check in experience was at such a low level.27 Apr 2013
Hi Edski777, one thing this flight was not was fun! We were stranded on the plane for 3 hours before moving, due to the snow, wondering when we would take off and indeed, if we would, and I was wondering if my scheduled meeting was going to take place.
I wanted to highlight how good the crew were and how positive they can be when things can be very mundane.
However, re AMS and their allocation of runways, this is the second time I have been on a hugely delayed flight from London, due to snow, which had not affected Europe, yet they allocated this particular runway a good 15/20 minute drive from the terminal!29 Apr 2013
I agree that delays can be troublesome, but contrary to sometimes other members of this forum I tend not to hold the airline or their crew responsible for delays due to the weather.
Most of the time it is ATC or the airport facilities that are to blame.
It was nice to read that my experience with KLM is on par with yours.29 Apr 2013
Cheers Edski I agree – I was not blaming the weather or delays on the crew! I was blaming the AMS ATC for not considering the best runway, when they have so much choice! Unlike at LHR!
Anyway would be happy to choose KLM again – my other trip report was for the return journey on an Embraer 190, which was a decent and straight forward all round journey and the aircraft very appealing.29 Apr 2013
What I understand from reports about AMS is that AMS ATC has to spread out the incoming and outgoing flights over runways to minimize the noise pollution for people living around the airport.
The runway you are reffering to is the Polderbaan and is the furthest away from the terminal. Apparently the use of that runway causes the least noise to populated areas.
I believe that at least for the last 15 flights into AMS we have landed mostly at that same runway. With that annoying ride to the terminal to follow.
Not so nice for us travellers, but pretty decent for the people living there.29 Apr 2013