Flight Review: KLM 747-400 New York to Amsterdam in World Business Class
JFK – AMS | KLM | 747-400 | World Business Class Review | Seat 71J
When I decided to do Europe with friends for New Year’s Eve, I immediately knew that wherever we ended up going I needed to fly on a 747. Surprisingly, I have never been on a Queen of the Skies and my window to do so was quickly closing as airlines around the world begin to retire this beauty for more fuel friendly aircraft.
I used a Delta Global Upgrade certificate from my Delta Diamond Medallion status that affords complimentary business class upgrades on Delta, KLM, Air France & Virgin Atlantic. The round-trip ticket was only $910 – not bad for a business class ticket!
KLM is a SkyTeam partner of Delta and shares their facilities at JFK. The Delta SkyPriority check-in area at JFK is semi-private, but not the exclusive check-in experience found at the Delta One check-in at LAX. There are water bottles and light snacks to enjoy before you go through security which was a nice touch.
Delta’s Terminal 4 SkyClub at JFK is always a welcome experience with friendly staff, ample seating & great food and drink selections. This was the first time I tried out the shower suites and it’s a refreshing way to kick-off a long flight. Upon arrival, check with the shower attendant to see if there is a wait. When I arrived, there was just a short 15 minute wait so I used that time to grab a snack. Delta offers MALIN+GOETZ amenities – another nice touch.
There is no greater experience than walking up a flight of steps to the upper deck of a 747. The Upper Deck of KLM’s 747 is a 2-2 configuration with 20 World Business Class seats. I had chosen seat 71J so that I could have privacy in the front corner & aisle access without many passengers around. KLM operates two versions of the 747 – the standard and the combi version. I was on the combi version which means that the back half of the plane is cargo. Regardless of the configuration, the business class section upstairs & downstairs is identical.
Seat & Amenities
Upon arriving to my seat, a champagne service was offered as I got settled. Waiting in the seat was a pillow, blanket & “noise cancelling” headphones. The pillow was underwhelming – it was scratchy and small. The blanket was a standard blanket and was fine, but was nothing like the Westin duvet you receive in Delta One. Shortly before takeoff, the flight attendants came around with a Viktor & Rolf amenity kit. The amenity kit itself was nice quality but with very standard amenities inside – a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, pen, eye mask, socks & earplugs.
Crew: From the onset, I could tell that the flight crew was friendly, but not overly welcoming & accommodating. Before takeoff, I went to the bathroom directly in front of my seat and it was missing hand towels. Each of the amenities in the lavatory were also empty. Some of the amenities that were supposed to be there included a rose water face mist which sounds relaxing but I’ll just have to pretend since all of the bottles were empty. I notified the Purser that the lavatory was missing hand towels and she seemed concerned – I never went back to the bathroom the rest of the flight so I’m not sure if these were replaced.
Dining: After takeoff, the menus were distributed to those that were still awake. Since this is an overnight flight, most of the the upper deck was asleep. I immediately opted for The Flying Dutchman Cocktail which was delicious and refreshing. The beverage service was served with a nut appetizer.
For dinner, I selected the spinach ravioli which was fresh & delicious! The odd part of the dining service was that some of the portions were served in nice china while other portions were served in plastic dishes – not the most premium experience but the quality of the food made up for it. The menu mentioned that a quick service was available if you’d like to eat quickly and sleep. I did not opt for the quick service but wish that I had since the meal service was very slow. Another critique of the flight crew is that they were not attentive to the drinks & bread service. The flight attendant forgot to bring the bread until I was nearly done and I asked for crackers to eat with the cheese but they never arrived. In addition, I watched 3 flight attendants pass by with my empty tray with napkin on top and not one offered to take my tray. Once they finally did, they didn’t take the empty cocktail glass and when I woke up for breakfast the glass was still there – thankfully it didn’t get knocked over while sleeping.
Breakfast was served 90 minutes prior to landing, which seemed a little early for a one course meal service. Thankfully, the breakfast quiche was just as delicious as the dinner. One slight miss here was that the flight attendant did not pick up the hot towel until the service was over.
In-flight Entertainment: While the seats have been updated, you can quickly sense that the in-flight system had not. The screens are a nice size, but the resolution is poor and the screens are reflective which is never a great idea for an in-flight screen. The movie selection was limited and the system itself was slow. Another frustrating aspect of the entertainment system was that even if you had turned the screen off, every time an announcement was made by the flight crew the screen would turn back on making it difficult if you were trying to sleep.
KLM Touches: Shortly before landing the KLM Delft Blue signature houses filled with their signature gin were distributed. These are such a longstanding tradition on KLM World Business Class flights and it was a fun addition to a mostly standard flight. There are nearly 100 unique variations of the houses and the goal is to collect them all!
Overall, I would describe this flight as “rough around the edges”. The food quality was superb, but all of the remaining services were lackluster. The crew was not overly attentive and did not meet my expectations. KLM has room for improvement with their World Business Class product.