Once you become dedicated to a certain flight network, you find that you tend to travel the world on a lot of the same airlines. But every now and then, you’re thrown a surprise in your journey that means you don’t get the points you were hoping for, but you do get the chance to fly a new airline. Earlier this year, a Delta ticket had me on a Korean Air flight for part of my trip – and last month, Etihad put me on a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight for the final leg of my journey from Australia to Amsterdam – from Abu Dhabi. They’re the official airline for the Netherlands, and have long been a well respected carrier – so did they live up to their reputation? I flew with them for the very first time to find out…
Airline: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Flight Route: AUH – AMS (Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam)
Flight Number: KL452
Aircraft Type: A330-200
Seat: 17A – Window in a 2-4-2 set up
Flight Time: 7 hours
On Time? Yes
While In Transit in Abu Dhabi
If you’ve got more than a few hours, definitely consider jumping in a taxi and exploring Abu Dhabi. But anything less than that, you’re best off calling the airport your home until you need to board your flight. I’m always looking for a shower between legs, and the airport hotel is a good place to get a shower, if you don’t have lounge access. It’ll cost you about AU$25 for 30 minutes in a private room. Very much worth it. There’s plenty of food and shopping options elsewhere, and it’s not a bad airport to roam and stretch your legs while you wait to board. If you’re in transit you don’t need to pick up your bags.
They boarded efficiently and smoothly in zones, and started that process a little less than an hour before takeoff. Like many flights out of Abu Dhabi International Airport, you had to take a bus to get out to the plane, so it’s a bit of a longer loading process than at some airports.
In Flight Entertainment
The in flight entertainment units have an easy favouriting system, with a heart display on every item, making sure you can get everything you want to watch in one place. I’m a big fan of this inclusion in an in flight unit, so extra points from me on that one. They’re good sized units with USB chargers and headphone jacks built in, and a small swivel. There’s a highly interactive flight map too, and all of it feels modern and up to date with the latest in flight technologies. There was wi-fi listed as being available, but it wasn’t working on this flight. No headphones or amenities kits were provided at your seat, but I didn’t try and ask for either either, so there’s every possibility they were available on request.
A pillow and blanket were at your seat. The plane was clean and comfortable, with well cushioned seats that have decent leg room, with movable leather headrests featuring movable side flaps. All in all, as good as an economy seat as you’ll find. The temperature was comfortable for the whole flight – which is a rarity for me on the A330-200s, so was very impressed in that respect – and the blanket was comfortable too. I slept only briefly, but I slept well.
Food, Drink and Service
A refreshing towel and small bottle of water was distributed after take off, and then a snack service – with a warm chicken panini and a drink. The main meal, breakfast, came about 90 minutes before landing – though lights were turned back on about two hours before landing, which I found to be a bit of a pain.
The two options were eggs or pancake – the scrambled eggs were served with potatoes, spinach and mushroom, a bread roll, yogurt and fruit. And of course water, tea or coffee and juice. They did an additional drink service when they picked up the plates. It was all of high quality for in flight food, and definitely kept me going until I got some pastries in Amsterdam.
I’m always frustrated by just how little time you get to sleep on a red eye that’s under 8 hours. I guess I’m pretty spoilt being a good flyer who can normally sleep (subject to his neighbour’s behaviour). Lights only being turned off for 3 or 4 hours of the flight definitely has a lot to do with it. But they don’t wake people up during their service, like some airlines do, and I really appreciate that level of service.
Honestly, I had one of the most comfortable sleeps I’ve ever had in Economy, and really enjoyed everything about the service – my only gripe being they didn’t provide amenities kits, and they turned the lights on a bit early. Thankfully I had an eye mask with me (as everyone should when they fly – kits are becoming less and less frequent these days). The food was good, the service was excellent and it easily sits amongst the economy airline experiences I’ve enjoyed the most. The 2-4-2 setup is wonderful too on the A330s. Definitely consider them for your next journey in this part of the world!
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
To book your next flight with KLM, head to KLM.com.
The author flew at his own expense.