Stepping outside my comfort zone – flying KLM from ZRH-NCL

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  • SwissExPat

    I recently needed to visit Newcastle in the UK (ex ZRH) and looking at my normal BA offering (either using Avios or a normal cash booking) I had minimal choice and quite a high cost. I also thought of flying to London (with BA or Swiss) and getting the train, but the train option was so complicated and costly (GBP80 each way and this being quite restricted tickets).

    Skyscanner suggested using KLM via AMS for nearly half the BA price. I’ve not flown KLM in 25 years deciding to step outside my comfort zone (BA lounges and baggage allowances as Silver BAEC), I logged on to the KLM site and booked a hand luggage only fare.

    The booking process was fine, and I decided to book exit row seats on the ZRH-AMS sector for Euro 14 each sector. I figured the AMS-NCL would be slightly easier to get a seat at check in.

    On checking in online via the app, I was able to pay for an upgrade (on all sectors) but decided to see what the AMS-NCL sector would be like (Euro 70) in C. This would allow lounge access in AMS which I thought would be useful to try. I have Priority Pass so could check out the PP lounge there (and also in NCL).

    All 4 sectors were fine. The connections in AMS were smooth. The KLM crown lounge in AMS was spacious but nothing significantly better than say the BA galleries lounge in T5.

    The AMS-NCL sector in J was nothing special. It was operated by an Embraer “city-hopper” plane which was 2-2 configuration. On boarding via a remote gate in AMS, there was another PAX sitting beside me in the front row. I was able to move a few rows back to have a vacant seat but not having the privacy of no other PAX beside you as part of the J service (as would be the case in a A320 etc) is a possible let down. The meal service on this J sector was a decent enough snack box with a full bar service which was maybe slightly less substantial than BA.

    I was interested to see in the NCL PP lounge the first instance of what appeared to be a contactless tip machine at the bar ares (tip fixed at GBP 3). Not sure how I fell about this “innovation”. This lounge was quite dark and small and was filled at the time with departing Emitares J PAX.

    However, I cannot fault the KLM service on the 3 Y sectors where a sandwich and a bar service was provided at no cost.
    Also, the IT element of the booking and checking in was flawless and less clunky than BA. For example, I was able to select the upgrade/seat at checkin and then pay immediately via ApplePay on my iPhone.

    All told, I was impressed and would certainly book KLM again. BA could take a leaf from the KLM book on inflight catering in Y.

    Sometimes it is worth going outside your comfort zone!

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