Review: KLM Business Class 747-400 Amsterdam To Chicago

Filed Under: KLM, Other Airlines

KLM 611
Amsterdam (AMS) – Chicago (ORD)
Thursday, July 17
Depart: 12:40PM
Arrive: 2:10PM
Duration: 8hr30min
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 73K (Business Class)

I boarded through door 2L, and headed straight up the stairs to the upper deck. After flying the 747-8 quite a bit, the stairs on the 747-400 feel quite drab and confined, by comparison.

KLM upper deck class stairs 747-400

While the 747-400 is showing its age and the overheard bins looked old, the seats themselves looked fresh, given that this is their new business class product. There were a total of 20 seats on the upper deck, in a 2-2 configuration.

KLM business class cabin upper deck 747-400

The hard product is actually very similar to the one offered on Air China’s 777-300ERs and on United’s ex-Continental planes. They’re fully flat business class seats at a slight angle from the aisle. At the end of the day it’s not my favorite business class hard product, but it’s still quite solid.

KLM business class cabin upper deck 747-400

KLM business class cabin upper deck 747-400

These are rather comfortable seats — they’re great for lounging, the legroom isn’t terribly restrictive, and in the fully flat position the seats are comfortable for sleeping. One thing KLM did especially well with these seats is that there’s a shield between the two seats, so between that and the seats being slightly staggered, you have more privacy than you’d usually have with a seatmate.

KLM new business class seats

KLM new business class privacy partition

The legroom was decent, though as you’ll see the window seats on the upper deck had better legroom than the aisle seats, given that the foot cubby “opens up” on the side closest to the fuselage.

KLM new business class seats

It’s worth noting that KLM doesn’t have storage lockers along the side of the fuselage like other airlines do on the upper deck, unfortunately.

KLM new business class legroom window seat

The IFE screens are fairly large, and there’s a small storage compartment immediately under the screen.

KLM new business class legroom aisle seat

KLM business class cabin upper deck 747-400

In terms of the seating controls, they were located on the center console and fairly intuitive to use.

KLM business class seat controls

Also near the center console was a fairly standard IFE remote.

KLM business class entertainment controls

There were also noise cancelling headphones at my seat. They weren’t branded aside from having KLM’s logo, and were okay — certainly not Bose quality.

KLM business class headphones

One other cool aspect of the product was that each seat had a storage “shelf” of sorts, located above the seat. I found that to be rather practical. That’s also where the power outlet and headphone jack were located.

KLM business class seat storage and power ports

Also waiting at my seat were a pillow and blanket, which were plush and well padded.

KLM business class pillow and blanket

Anyway, once settled in one of the lovely flight attendants came by my seat to offer me a pre-departure beverage. I selected both a glass of champagne and water, which were served in nice KLM glassware.

KLM business class pre-departure drinks

I was also offered an amenity kit.

KLM business class amenity kit

The amenity kit was well stocked, with a pen, eyeshades, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, chapstick, comb, earplugs, etc.

KLM business class amenity kit content

At around 12:30PM the captain came on the PA to welcome us aboard and inform us of our flight time of 7hr40min, which he anticipated would put us into Chicago on time. Unfortunately there was a lot of traffic in the alley, so he said we would be about 15 minutes late pushing back. When the door closed the seat next to me was still empty, and there were a handful of other empty seats on the upper deck — score!

At around 12:55PM we began our pushback, and shortly thereafter the safety video began to play.

Amsterdam Airport KLM 747-400

Amsterdam Airport KLM A330

KLM safety video

Our taxi to our departure runway, 36L, took a long time.

Taxiing Amsterdam Schipol Airport

Taxiing Amsterdam Schipol Airport

Taxiing Amsterdam Schipol Airport

Taxiing Amsterdam Schipol Airport

KLM 777-300ER Amsterdam Schipol Airport

Taxiing Amsterdam Schipol Airport

The taxi took over 20 minutes, though the views were gorgeous, as I kind of felt like we were taxiing through a field to get to our departure runway.

Taxiing Amsterdam Schipol Airport

At around 1:20PM we made it to our departure runway, where we were immediately cleared for takeoff.

Taking off Runway 36L Amsterdam Schipol Airport

Our takeoff roll was pretty quick, and the views on the climb out were gorgeous.

View after takeoff from Amsterdam

View after takeoff from Amsterdam

The senior purser introduced herself on the climb out, and I thought it was amusing that she announced that “KLM can be reached on Twitter and Facebook where they will respond within the hour.”

View after takeoff from Amsterdam

Cruising altitude

About 20 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off and the senior purser came around the cabin to introduce herself to each passenger. She was incredibly charming, and I always find it to be a nice touch when pursers introduce themselves in business class. She also handed me the menu for the flight, and apologized that it wasn’t completely accurate, so they had an extra sheet describing the changes. I was also handed a duty free magazine.

KLM business class menu and wine list

I started browsing the entertainment system, which was fairly extensive. It’s not as good as Singapore’s KrisWorld system or Cathay Pacific’s StudioCX, but it was still a good selection.

KLM business class entertainment system

KLM business class entertainment system

KLM business class entertainment system

KLM business class airshow

KLM business class airshow

KLM business class airshow

KLM business class airshow

It seemed some people were having issues with the entertainment system, because they spent the next two hours trying to reset it, unsuccessfully. Fortunately I always bring my own entertainment, so it wasn’t a big deal for me.

Before lunch I changed into pajamas to get more comfortable for the flight. The 747-400 lavatories didn’t seem to be renovated recently, though they did have Zenology toiletries in the bathroom.

KLM business class lavatory

KLM business class lavatory amenities

Once I was back at my seat, the lunch service began. The menu read as follows:


And here’s the “change” to the menu:


The wine list read as follows:



I also found the “timeline” they had for the service to be pretty funny:


The meal service began with hot towels.

KLM business class hot towel

That was followed by drinks and the choice between cheese and nuts. I chose nuts, which I accompanied with a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte and a Diet Coke.

KLM business class drinks and nuts

Shortly thereafter the flight attendants rolled around the cart with the starter. It consisted of smoked salmon tartare and Thai papaya salad. While the portion wasn’t huge, it tasted excellent, and I loved the presentation. It’s ironic that on one hand they use trays (which usually doesn’t show much of a focus on presentati0n), but at the same time everything on the tray was gorgeously presented.

They had so many nice little touches. For example, for the Thai papaya salad the nuts were “sprinkled” on at the seat.

KLM business class appetizer and salad

KLM business class appetizer

KLM business class salad

I also loved the salt and pepper shaker, which was originally presented in a box.

KLM business class salt & pepper shaker

For the main course I had braised beef with onion compote. It was served with potatoes, asparagus, carrots, etc. It was really great — one of the best beef dishes I’ve had in business class.

KLM business class main course

KLM business class main course

Lastly the dessert cart was rolled around. I had a raspberry mousse tart, some cheese, and a glass of port. In terms of presentation and taste it was definitely the low point of the meal.

KLM business class dessert

I finished off the meal with a cup of coffee, which was served with a praline.

KLM business class coffee

Service throughout the meal was fantastic. To be honest, I was expecting KLM business class to be rather bland (I figured they injected all their personality into the livery and uniforms), though there were so many nice little touches about the presentation of the meal. Both of the flight attendants working the upper deck were spectacular. They were charming and attentive.

After lunch we had a bit over five hours to go to Chicago, so I decided to take a nap. I reclined my seat into the fully flat position, and found the bed to be comfortable. The window seat was better than the aisle for sleeping, given the extra legroom by the side of the fuselage.

KLM business class bed

KLM business class bed

I napped for a bit over an hour, at which point I woke up and was offered a bottle of water. The flight attendant also informed me they had some snacks in the rear galley.

KLM business class bottled water

I wasn’t hungry, though did take a look at the selection. They had a few types of granola bars, chocolates, and mints.

KLM business class snacks

At that point there were about four hours left to go to Chicago, and I decided to watch a few TV shows on my iPad.

KLM business class airshow

KLM business class airshow

KLM business class airshow

I then got some work done, and before I knew it we were over Canada and 90 minutes out of Chicago. I watched an episode of “2 Broke Girls” on the entertainment system, which is always amusing enough.

KLM business class entertainment system

The pre-arrival snack once again began with hot towels. In terms of food, I had the choice between an Indian vegetable pie and a Turkey club sandwich. I went with the former, and it was quite good. It was served with chips, chicken salad, and Dutch apple pie.

KLM business class snack

KLM business class snack

KLM business class snack

For the Dutch apple pie I was asked if I wanted whipped cream, which was added at my seat. Yum!

KLM business class snack

About 45 minutes before landing the flight attendants came around with the little KLM houses, which are handed out in business class at the end of every longhaul flight.

KLM business class houses

KLM business class houses

Interestingly I seemed to be the only person in the first three rows of business class that wasn’t related to one of the pilots, so I was also the only person in the first few rows of business class that didn’t get a cockpit tour during the last hour of the flight. 😉

KLM business class airshow

KLM business class airshow

As we descended over Lake Michigan the senior purser came around the cabin again to thank everyone for flying KLM and wish us a pleasant day. The two flight attendants working the upper deck also came around to thank everyone for flying with KLM. The crew was great.

KLM business class airshow

At that point I changed out of my pajamas and back into my jeans and t-shirt, and stowed all my carry-ons.

Approach into Chicago

At 2:20PM we touched down and began our taxi to the gate. I’m used to getting quite a few emails and texts after landing from a longhaul flight without Wi-Fi, though I’ve never had as many as after this flight. MH17 left from Amsterdam around the same time as my flight, so that was kind of surreal. I remember spending the whole taxi just mouthing cuss words under my breath in complete disbelief.

Approach into Chicago

Taxiing in Chicago

Taxiing in Chicago

We eventually arrived at Terminal 5, where we parked right next to a Swiss A330.

Taxiing in Chicago

As we deplaned the senior purser apologized for the problems with the entertainment system, and told all business class passengers to pick up vouchers in the arrivals hall for the inconvenience with the entertainment system. While my entertainment selection worked for a vast majority of the flight, I was still given a $100 Delta voucher. Not bad, given that I wouldn’t really have used the entertainment system anyway.

Compensation voucher

KLM Business Class Bottom Line

I was pleasantly surprised by KLM business class. Their new hard product is great, especially with an empty seat next to me. The catering and presentation on the flight was excellent, and the service great. The $100 Delta voucher was just the icing on the cake. 😉

  1. Any idea when the KLM A330’s business class will have these same seats? I’m flying from Vancouver to Amsterdam next Spring and it looks like they still have the old fashion angled seats.

  2. @ Aaron K — I believe it’s supposed to happen in the next couple of years, though I don’t think any A330s have been reconfigured yet. So I definitely wouldn’t expect it.

  3. “One thing KLM did especially well with these seats is that there’s a shield between the two seats”

    Good if you’re traveling alone, but isn’t that a flaw if you are traveling with someone you know?

  4. On top it says seat 73K (First Class) – should it not be Business instead? Probably a LH habit (upper deck ;))

  5. @ wwk5d — True, you can’t have it both ways. But it’s not so private that you couldn’t talk to your seatmate if you wanted to.

  6. Lucky dumb question, but how do you get your TV shows onto your ipad? I have tried the whole handbrake program thing but that didnt work.

  7. Thanks Ben for yet another great trip report. I would say the new KLM business class seats look similar to the ones American has on their A321 in C? Have you tried them? They look the same to me, at least!

  8. @lucky – cpl Qs:

    “I remember spending the whole taxi just mouthing cuss words under my breath in complete disbelief.”

    1) umm who/what were you cussing out? I dont imagine you were in a bad mood due to the delayed take off?

    2) the voucher says “not valid for travel or payment” lol wtf?? what else are you supposed to do with the voucher than if not travel or use as payment towards said travel?

  9. Finally! Thanks so much for a great Trip Report Lucky! Been wanting to read this one since the website was updated and the KLM section was added, with a coming soon!

  10. @ Adam — No, I was cussing in disbelief that a second Malaysia 777 went down only months after the first one. Wasn’t cussing at anyone, was just in complete disbelief.

    As far as the voucher goes, I’ve already redeemed it for a flight on Delta. 🙂

  11. The new WBC is now being rolled out in the 777’s, first the 772, 773 next. The A330’s will be the last in the long-haul fleet to be updated. However, they will update both C and Y from the 777 onwards.

    The ‘shield’ really isn’t that great if you’re traveling together, I have experience in the matter. Every time I wanted to talk to my GF I had to lean forward. Not that bad to do once or twice, but if you want to have a conversation…

    I find WBC on the lower deck on the 744’s very nice. I saw in your Crown Lounge review there weren’t any singles left, but they are nice, especially 1A. Check out: (from your Dutch Boarding Area friends ;))

  12. Did you see if there was a wall in front of the exit row seats? I suppose there must be to have the footrest and tv.

    The upstairs window exit row seat was my favorite on old KLM 747’s as there was loads of space in front and you had free access to move about without disturbing seatmate in aisle seat. Can people on window seats get out without bothering aisle seat mate?


  13. @ brian — Yep, there was a wall/console, so it was the same as any other row (and it also makes it less awkward for the flight attendant sitting in the jumpseat).

    Generally you will have to “jump over” the person in the aisle to get out of a window seat, so it’s not ideal.

  14. Great trip report, very detailed as always!

    One thing that would have annoyed me (as a vegetarian) is they replaced the pasta meal option with a chicken dish. This could have been troublesome. I always am torn between requesting a vegetarian meal ahead of time or choosing something off menu when flying business/first. Most of the time the pre-ordered meals are just re-packaged economy meals and always below par. I wonder what KLM would have done in this case.

  15. Ah, the dreaded ‘Polderbaan sight seeing tour’. It might be fun if you have it once, but when you got that horrible taxi (almost) every single time you take off or land, it’s a whole different story ;). But nevertheless, I still love my home airport.

  16. Great report! I love KLM Business to AMS and all points east. ALWAYS warm friendly service and food is worthy of an award. Download the KLM Houses app for your iPhone if you want to track what you have already…Bols liquor inside so not a gift for a kid unless you drink it first..

  17. I’ve seen some descriptions of the new KLM business class seat indicating the “privacy canopy” is removable, but can’t confirm it. So…is it?

  18. I flew Lufthansa first class seat 1A 747-8 from LAX to Frankfurt roundtrip a few weeks ago, the next time I go to Europe I’m considering KLM business or Air France La Premiere. I don’t want to be disappointed. Any advice? I also plan on taking Cathay Pacific first class to Hong Kong in a few months.

  19. @ Phil — Air France first class is also a great product, perhaps somewhat comparable to Lufthansa, especially if you factor in the ground experience. I’m sure you’ll have a great flight.

  20. I noticed that when the seat is in a fully flat position, if you’re in the window seat, you wouldn’t have space to cross over to go to the toilet or somewhere. Is your seatmate’s fully reclined seat be in the way?

  21. If this was your first time on a 747 in business – would you recommend the upper deck? I have read that rows 1-4 on KLM’s 747 are pretty great, but this upcoming flight will be my first 747 in biz and am leaning towards upstairs.

    Thank you!

  22. I just booked this for Momma and I coming home Dec 26th from AMS.

    Super excited to fly the 747-400. Would you recommend FOR or AGAINST the upper deck?


  23. I also flu in business class a couple of weeks ago, I quite liked it, no jet lag if you sleep well on one of those sits. Do they have first class? Would be better? And why do you think they give away the miniature houses with jenever? Is that a dutch tradition?

  24. @Haydee in the 1950’s KLM was not allowed to give there business class customers a present. So they gave there customers a house like this. It was not a present anymore but a way of bottling the jenever.. There was no law telling you how to bottle your drinks.

  25. I like BA business class. I doubt if I will like KLM business class. Unfortunately the only option left so I will experience it soon.

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