Impressions Of KLM 787 Business Class

Filed Under: Air France/KLM, Travel

After a great week in Sri Lanka, we returned to the US by flying SriLankan’s A321neo business class from Colombo to Abu Dhabi, KLM’s A330 business class from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam, and KLM’s 787 business class from Amsterdam to New York (this was a discounted one-way business class ticket).

In this post I wanted to share my initial impressions of that last flight, on KLM’s 787-9 from Amsterdam to New York.

KLM 787 business class cabin & seats

KLM has their best business class product on the 787-9, as it’s the only plane in their fleet to feature direct aisle access from every business class seat. Specifically, they have 30 reverse herringbone seats in the forward cabin, in a 1-2-1 configuration.

I’m a big fan of KLM’s seat finishes. The airline sure sticks to their blue theme in a non-obnoxious way, and I like that. The seat has an enclosed storage compartment to the side of it, and the footwell is also quite large.

I found the seat comfortable in the reclined position, though I did find that it was just a bit on the narrow side, as is often the case with this configuration on the 787, since the cabin isn’t quite as wide as the 777.

Each seat also has an individual air nozzle, which is nice.

KLM business class food

On this flight lunch was served after takeoff. Service began with drinks, along with mixed nuts and/or cheese. I had KLM’s signature cocktail, The Flying Dutchman.

Next up was the choice of an appetizer or soup, along with a salad. I chose the sweet potato curry soup, which was very good.

There were three choices for the main course (salmon, chicken thigh, and braised veal), two of which weren’t appealing to me. I ordered the salmon but they didn’t have enough. While they didn’t tell me I had to change orders, the friendly flight attendants came around asking for “volunteers” to switch, so I agreed.

I switched to the chicken thigh option, which I didn’t like at all, but that’s a function of personal preference.

Lastly there was the choice of a fruit plate, cheese plate, or a citrus mousse for dessert. I chose the citrus mousse, along with a coffee.

Just under two hours before landing a pre-arrival snack was served, with the choice of a steak sandwich or a pizza margherita.

There was a chocolate lava cake for dessert.

Overall I’d say the food was unremarkable. I enjoyed the soup and dessert, while the mains were disappointing.

KLM business class amenities

KLM has alright pillows and blankets.

There were noise canceling headphones, which were pretty good quality.

Then there was the same selection of amenity kits as on the previous flight, except one of the kits was blue rather than red.

This is totally minor, though something I found odd. Ford chose the top kit while I wanted one of the other kits. The flight attendant told me that kit was for females, and she’d bring it to me if she had enough.

On the previous flight there were both kits, and the flight attendant said we could take either one. So they had enough, and eventually on this flight I was given one of the other kits.

I compared the contents of the two kits, and literally the only difference was that one had red socks and the other had orange socks. So I’m sure it wasn’t the flight attendant’s intention, but it seems a bit ridiculous to suggest that a kit can only be for a certain gender based on the style of the kit.

Of course the best amenity on KLM are the cute little Dutch houses offered before landing.

KLM business class entertainment & wifi

KLM has an excellent and highly responsive entertainment system on the 787, with a big selection of movies and TV shows, and no ads.

KLM 787s also have wifi, which sure is nice. They charge based on data usage as follows:

  • 5EUR for 20MB
  • 10EUR for 50MB
  • 30EUR for 200MB

I only wanted to use wifi towards the end of the flight, so purchased the 50MB plan for 10EUR. After four minutes I had apparently used all of my data. What the heck?

I’ll admit I’m not a tech guy, but I don’t understand how this happens with some frequency when I fly and there are plans that charge based on data usage. I made sure nothing was updating in the background, so how can that happen?

So yeah, some wifi is better than none, but I wish they’d switched to fixed pricing like many other airlines have.

KLM business class service

The flight attendants working business class were absolutely lovely. Actually, perhaps they were too lovely. They tried to develop a relationship with every passenger and be personable, though that also came at the expense of service speed.

For example, the first meal service was only done 3hr10min after takeoff. On one hand I suppose that’s not bad in terms of passing time on a daytime transatlantic flight, though at the same time a lot of passengers were connecting from Africa, the Middle East, India, etc., so presumably wanted to sleep.

And it took this long in spite of not being a terribly elaborate meal service. It’s not like Turkish Airlines where they were plating at each seat, or anything. But rather it was because they took their time talking to each passenger as they served every course.

By the time the first meal service done we were already passing Greenland.

It was just over two hours between when the lunch service ended and when the pre-landing service started. Like I said, the flight attendants were really, really lovely, though.

KLM 787 business class bottom line

KLM offers a pretty solid business class product, though I do think there’s some room for improvement.

On the plus side, KLM has comfortable reverse herringbone seats, air nozzles at each seat, extremely friendly cabin crew, a good entertainment system, and an X-factor in terms of their design, amenities, and general quirkiness.

However, there is also some room for improvement. They could improve their bedding, charge for wifi based on time rather than data usage, speed up their service, and perhaps improve their food a bit.

Still, overall I really like KLM.

If you’ve flown KLM 787 business class, what was your experience like?

Comments
  1. I’m generally a Lucky fan and agree on you most, but I can’t feel I like KLM from your report.
    I’ll choose better products and buy one or two Dutch houses on ebay.

  2. I’ll admit I’m not a tech guy, but I don’t understand how this happens with some frequency when I fly and there are plans that charge based on data usage. I made sure nothing was updating in the background, so how can that happen?

    Assuming this is not an entirely rhetorical question, the answer is that most web browsing consumes these days uses a considerable amount of bandwidth. If you hit SHIFT-ESC in Google Chrome you can see how much memory each tab is consuming on your computer. The one I’m on now (this very story at One Mile at a Time) is consuming 150 megabytes.

    Now, that’s not the same as the bandwidth I used to open the page since much of the content on the page was cached on my computer from previous visits to OMAT. But it wouldn’t surprise me if each page at OMAT (not singling the site out, just a handy reference) requires 5 or 10 megs of bandwidth on first load. Plus, I seem to have gotten an ad which engages in the Satan-induced practice of auto-playing video, another major thief of bandwidth.

    In fact, digging deeper into Chrome’s Developer Tools, I can see that just reloading the OMAT home page — where almost everything should be cached on my computer already — requires 3mb of bandwidth of which 2.5 are some MP4 video file, the existence of which I was not aware of until I looked for it.

    So, 50mb of data would be consumed by hitting Refresh on your own web site 17 times, or by visiting a small number of websites that you haven’t visited before, or that have added new photos since your last visit.

  3. Both UA and KLM will fly the 787-9 between SFO & AMS…..who would you pick if mileage program was not a factor?

    FYI most klm FA’s aren’t that friendly.

  4. @Lucky, why don’t you request a special meal if you have dietary preferences? Is it because you don’t really fit into one of the categories? I totally understand this because my wife is pescatarian (vegetarian but will eat fish). Additionally, her stomach can’t handle Indian-style curries and so forth. So sometimes she won’t select a special meal and hope for the best in terms of the normal selection. Anyway, I was thinking it could be a topic for airline food improvement.

  5. Wouldn’t you, in the interests of privacy, prefer to be seated against the window, and away from the aisle? Also, it would allow you to glance outside when the blinds are up. These seats place you by the aisle and allow anyone behind you to see what’s on your laptop (or TV screen).

  6. KLM started offering a new service concept called Anytime for you. Part of the service is dine on demand similar to JAL. All main meals will be plated in the galley. I can personally say its a real upgrade compared to the old service. At the moment its available on flights to JNB BKK NRT KIX. With the introduction on PVG and CPT routes in a few months.

  7. Compared to Qatar Airways Q-Suites, every other business class seat looks so ordinary. I know Qatar Airways is not an option for travel to and from Europe and north America but just saying.

  8. It’s very difficult these days for me to get any value out of the “food and beverage” portion of Lucky’s reviews. His self-imposed dietary limitations are exhausting. If it were chicken BREAST pieces he would have gobbled them up… But chicken thigh? Nope. The rest of the world figured out years ago that thighs have a lot more flavor, and remain juicy and tender even when overcooked. I’m certain that’s why they were chosen for that menu. Having looked at 100+ reviews all featuring salmon, I can do without another one. I don’t think he eats pork, lamb, veal, duck, or even much beef these days. So it’s always salmon or vegetarian or pasta. He also rarely has cocktails, red wine or any sort of after dinner drink. Even when he orders from a lounge menu, it’s always the worst, simplest or most unappealing dish(es) offered. And then…guess what? Complains when they’re no good.

    The rest of the review(s) are detailed, thorough and a great resource. But don’t listen to him about food.

  9. @ Dennis

    Maybe there should be a special menu option for “picky eaters”.

    I actually looked at the BA special menu options a while back and was staggered by the sheer number of them. I suspect if you can’t find something there, you’re probably in a very, very tiny fraction of the population (maybe the point at which you have to stop expecting the rest of the world to cater for you?).

    I dunno if this is a parallel: I have a disability but I expect zero assistance, and on the odd occasions when I do get it I’m really pleasantly surprised. Self-sufficiency is usually the best answer.

  10. I find that the soup on KLM is, on every flight, hands down the best part of the fine but not fantastic meal.

    No idea why, and I’m not normally much of a soup guy.

  11. I was on this exact flight with you and Ford and agree, the meal service was fairly slow. However, those flight attendants did try their best to make fun connections with everyone. I slept through the second meal service since the first one ended so late. Better wine options would have been nice, but the Flying Dutchman was fun regardless.

    Happy flights ahead!

  12. @ Donald agree 100%. Ben’s reviews are generally a great read ( and the reason why I mostly visit this site), but the food side is definitely monotonous with salmon or some other fish dish usually selected, which then for the most part don’t live up to expectations.

  13. I’m both gluten and dairy intolerant… gluten intolerant meals are full of dairy, and non dairy or vegan meals are full of pasta/gluten. Depending on the length of flight I will either order one of the two or stick to the main menu and hope for the best!
    Cathay offers fruit meals, which on a short flight are just perfect!

  14. I have to laugh about finicky and picky eaters with limitation of their diet who insist on eating out and on planes. I suppose it could be even more ridiculous to listen to their reviews of the school menus when they were growing up… STAY AT HOME. You are impossible to please and will gripe about anything that does not fit such a narrow view of what you think is right. Enjoy food and eat anything, try it, you might like it.

    PS – All of these people who fuss over food might live a year longer, big deal, having suffered and had no culinary please their entires lives.

  15. @Tom~ I think KLM’s dine-on-demand concept may be a load of rubbish! If you told them you wanted meal service ASAP after take-off, so you could sleep or whatever, you would be told hot dishes were not possible as the ovens for re-heating were not ready less than 2 hrs into flight or some such.
    The whole meal service looks uninspiring in the extreme which is a pity, as contrary to popular belief, some Dutch food is very good; maybe it doesn’t work in the air.

  16. First: Lucky mainly only wants fish on western menus. He eats some non fish options with regularity if it’s not western.

    Second: self imposed dietary restrictions seem to be the norm the last 2 decades. It’s what happens when a society has so much affluence. Lucky is simply a man of his generation

    Third: If Lucky only (or mainly) eats fish, then he should review the fish.

    If he reviews something else, he’ll hate it. Which is not helpful for us.
    If he reviews the fish every time then we can judge between airlines.

    Presumably, an airline who consistently cooks fish better than other airlines, will also cook other entrees better as well…

    I hate seafood with a passion.
    But I find the fish reviews helpful anyway, for reasons above

  17. I don’t understand why pre ordering meals hasn’t taken off faster

    It allows the airlines to only load the needed meal, which reduces waste and cost
    It leads to everyone getting their first choice, increasing customer experience

    Win win, why not do it?

  18. I’ve been on a 787 in BC for a round-trip in June AMS-BOG.

    A couple of things worth mentioning:
    – there are now flat-fee options, including free messaging such as on Delta
    – on the flight back the wifi was nowhere to be found (Delta’s has never failed me)
    – the food was *really* good both ways, on the way to I ate fish, on the way back a beef stew. And trust me, I do have some taste and it really was good. Might have been a lucky shot though!
    – I really do think food service improved: they served my olive oil from a bottle, they didn’t give me a small plastic thingy
    – service was impeccable
    – if you have a Chinese business man who likes to hit the screen behind you like a madman it might wake you up; unfortunately it’s constructed that way apparently. This is the reason why I hate that they have games on these systems.
    – IFE screen resolution is 720p-ish while the screen clearly allows for 1080p
    – IFE movie selection has improved, they used to have less titles, this was fine now
    – they have different amenity kits every time it seems, I don’t really care for them and I’m amazed at how much time is spent complaining about them in reviews in general.

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