Next flights: KL 737 AMS-ZRH AF E190 ZRH-CDG AF A343 CDG-BOG ——————————
So as soon as I got of my plane from Bogotá, I walk rather fastly to the middle of Tocumen's terminal building. No need to guess the gate, there was a huge queue forming. There passports and visas were checked by KL employees. Passengers were checked according to passports, hence EU/EEA/CH citizens were let through to a second queue in which they were given their boarding passes for the PTY-AMS flight and any further flights if necessary. Those who were not within such category, as yours sincerely, would have to wait and be asked the rigor questions: where are you headed?, why?, do you have any invitation/document? and so on…then your passport and visa would be scanned in a very spy-movie looking device and then you would be given way to the queue for the having your other BPs print. I noticed that my flight would be boarded by a lot of fellow Colombians hailing from all around the country ( gracefully brought to Panamá by CM's extensive network: 9 cities in Colombia!), some of which where having some language issues (even when communicating in Spanish with KL's staff!). I don't get why this is done, you are certainly not checked as thoroughly as this on LH's or AV's flights!
Eventually you were free to roam PTY, but the latter process took most of my time so I quickly searched for a cover for my iPad but prices were outrageously expensive (Beware! PTY's dutty free is a lie! maybe it is cheap for perfumes and booze, but not at all for electronics)
If you gave up with any chances of shopping, you could go then to the third(!!) queue, security check..this time it was rather simple, only your hand luggage.
The process took so much time that I didn't even have time to take a seat (not many to take anyway) and boarding was announced.
I was really excited to board the plane as it was 13 years since my last triple seven flight (No 777s at the hometown since BA dropped BOG). Today's Atlantic hop would be on PH-BQD aka Darjeeling Railway. Looking gorgeous in that sky blue livery!
The mighty GE90s
The Hub of the Americas in action showing all types in CM's fleet.
Inside I was greeted by the crew and sent my way to the far back of the plane, I chose my seat according to seatguru's recommendation and sure worked! As you can see the row is diagonally from the front one, so I, seated at the window enjoyed good legroom, not so true for the person who would seat at the aisle.
I found KL's seats confortable, and the PTV, albeit showing its age, capable of doing its job.
The plane that brought me getting ready for another hop back to Colombia
The plane took its time to get filled, passengers hailing from all around Europe and America….very curious. There was an Ecuadorean athletic team that took most of the space. My seatmates were a couple from Cali going to the UK.
All set…good to go!
We took of from PTY's RWY 3R and immediately banked northward… our initial routing would take us through most of the length of Colombia's Caribbean Coast and eventually turning northward at Curacao or Aruba.
KL doesn't distribute printed menus, but at least I could see my choices in the PTV, not as fancy as AF but at least a bold move.
About 1 hour from take off service begun I chose the creole chicken. Pretty tasty.
After dinner, the crew picked our rubbish and then made some duty free offerings…eventually lights were out.
The crew continuously passed offering refreshments and some pretty dry and very sweet waffles…they did the job anyway.
And then I dozed off…
I woke up with the sunlight piercing through the cabin, but we were still trying to reach Great Britain….I didn't know ice formed even in summer!
Breakfast was served, a nice eggs, sausage, tomato and potato mix. All flushed with Apple Juice (really rare in Colombia, so I try to have as much as I can when I travel)
As this happened we were over British airspace, accordingly I was watching one of my favorite shows: Top Gear (not the pathetic American wannabe!) Some views of London and LCY were possible through the typical overcast.
Soon the Island was crossed and off we were to cross the Channel and descent begun into AMS.
Then into Dutch lands (excitement level:10000)
We landed in the infamous Polderbaan, which meant a long taxi into the F pier.
Found this funny
Something we certainly don't see at all this side of the world
Last shot of my seat…good confort in spite of the age.
Deboarding was rather quick, and off I was into AMS.
Bye bye Darjeeling Railway, King Elder awaits me…
Cabin crew 8.0
Tocumen - PTY
Amsterdam - AMS
Overall, my first KL experience was a really positive one. I really hope KLM comes to Colombia, they seem to enjoy a healthy Colombian feed anyway at PTY, why not do it in BOG?
KLM: Catering was good, actually the best I've had to Europe. The crew were really nice, albeit severely limited in their Spanish skills, I had to keep translating for my seatmates who did not speak English, and I bet there were more situations like that along the whole cabin. The seat is confortable (still) and the PTV does its job, right size, acceptable content.
The downturn: the ridiculous queueing before boarding, it was rather extreme IMO. Also the 777, a great plane and all is not as confortable as the A330/A340, I'd take 2-4-2 to 3-3-3 anytime! The noise is bearable but clearly the A340 wins in this respect.
PTY: It is the victim of CM's success, way to crowded. Duty free stores sell more or less all the same at the same outrageous prices. Connection time was so tight I couldn't by a snack or a drink.