This flight report is the third installment of the trips I made last year in November and December 2015
Here is the schedule: 1. Nov 26, 2015 KA857 PVG-HKG in J class http://flight-report.com/en/report-12989.html 2. Nov 26, 2015 KA360 HKG-DPS in J class http://flight-report.com/en/report-13036.html 3. Nov 29, 2015 KL836 DPS-SIN in Y class [You are here] 4. Dec 07, 2015 AF254 SIN-CGK in J class 5. Dec 24, 2015 GA204 CGK-JOG in Y class 6. Dec 27, 2015 GA245 SRG-CGK in Y class 7. Dec 30, 2015 CX752 CGK-HKG in J class 8. Dec 30, 2015 CX360 HKG-PVG in J class
Background After a short but wonderful weekend holiday in Bali, it's time to go back to reality and earn another dollar to be put in my piggy bank. This flight report will see me taking KLM's 5th freedom right between SIN and DPS. This flight is very attractive to me because the price is a lot cheaper compared to GA and SQ. Compared to LCCs like Jetstar, Air Asia, etc it is also more reasonable because I have 2 suitcases so if you add all the extra costs associated, the price is equal between taking KLM and taking LCCs. I'd rather fly with KLM and get my qualifying flight toward Silver tier however abysmal Silver benefits are.
I booked DPS-SIN-CGK via KLM website to experience 5th freedom rights that KLM and AF have between Singapore and Indonesia. It's nice to see how AF/KL group makes KUL and SIN a mini hub (or is it scissor hub?) Their business class ticket is also quite affordable but alas budget is tight so I book economy class. The only drawback of this flight is it leaves Denpasar in the evening so it arrives in Singapore around midnight. I do not take too many pictures as I feel quite tired after a whole day of last minute activities in Bali.
The Flight Route: DPS-SIN Date: November 29, 2015 Flight: KL836 Equipment: B777-300ER Sian Ka'an National Park Registration: PH-BVC Load: C35/ Y390 Seat: 19K Scheduled Time Departure: 9.30PM Actual Time Departure: 9.35PM Estimated Time Arrival: 12.00AM Actual Time Arrival: 12.02AM
Tonight's chariot is PH-BVC, Nationaal Park Sian Ka'an. She is delivered new to KLM on May 28, 2009. When I booked the flight, the seat map showed the refurbished seat configuration with the new business class and new economy class. However, when I checked-in online, it shows the old configuration again suggesting last minute swap. Good thing I cancelled my intention to buy J class ticket.
I was also debating whether to pay a bit more for Economy Comfort but I decided against the idea as I think it's ridiculous what KLM and Air France are doing with this penny-pincher-i-will-try-to-sell-everything-even-if-it-is-ridiculous-offering-for-your-money kind of attitude. 19K it is then!
Anyway, I arrive at DPS around 7PM. I go inside the terminal area and I see a huge line around KLM check-in desk, must be a full flight with all the tourists going back to Europe or to Singapore to resume work the next day. The check-in agent is incredibly kind and polite making sure he addresses me with "Mr. Bombieflyer" whenever he starts a sentence. "Mr. Bombieflyer, thank you for flying KLM" or "Mr. Bombieflyer, I confirm that your seat is 19K and your luggage is checked only to Singapore". He is nice!
With check-in completed and still more than 2 hours to go, I go landside again and have a quick dinner at a nearby bistro. I also change my outfit and footwear before going back airside.
Time to go airside and perform security check and immigration. Can you guys spot what's wrong with this picture?
The terminal building is full to the brim with many late departures to Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Tokyo, Seoul, etc. The good thing is the terminal is now well-equipped to cater with this huge influx of passengers. Before te airport was renovated, it was a big nightmare for everyone.
Alas, no lounge access for me tonight and I spent my last rupiah during dinner so I just go straight to the gate area and take some pictures of my trusty chariot.
The gate area is definitely not big enough to sit all 425 passengers. This is evident when boarding is announced. Even though the staff announces boarding sequence with priority passengers being asked to board first, in reality they find it very difficult to control the mob of passengers very eager to board. This mob then blocks the foyer so passengers going to other gates nearby are blocked from passing by. Classic!
I board via second door. Two Dutch flight attendants are standing by the door and greet everyone cheerfully. I always find KLM's flight attendants to be cheerful, even when they are grumpy, they are professional at the very least. One is a cabin attendant 2/senior cabin attendant (two white stripes) and the other one (who is older) is the purser with 4 stripes around her cuff. I greet them 'goede avond' to their surprise. The Dutch almost always find it fascinating that a non-Dutch would bother to learn their language as according to them, it is not the easiest and prettiest language to learn.
I immediately find my seat on the starboard side. No one is there yet so I immediately put my backpack and my carry-on in the overhead compartment and settle down. I am very familiar with this configuration as I flew with KLM a couple of times between the Netherlands and Indonesia during my university year.
Leg room is adequate for my 5'10" (around 177 cm). With no PTV box underneath the seat, I can sort of stretch my legs under the seat in front of me. The padding is a bit on the firm side and recline is really not much. I still wonder how those tall Dutch passengers could fit and feel comfortable? Still boggles me! The cabin does feel cramped for long-haul flight to Amsterdam but for this slightly more than 2 hours flight to Singapore, it's okay. I can definitely feel the difference between CX's 9-abreast and KL's 10 abreast 77W configuration.
That flimsy divider divides Economy Comfort with regular economy class. You get more leg room and greater recline! A tip for you, don't sit behind the first row of regular economy class seat, the row right behind the last row of Economy comfort as this row has 31-32 inches of leg room (so standard pitch) but the seats in front of this row have deeper recline. I like the configuration onboard B747-400 better because you have a mini cabin for Economy Comfort passengers so no one is marginalized.
Cabin Attendant 2 Magriet comes by and distribute earphones that can be taken home. Though the packaging is nice, the quality is beyond poor it hurts my hearing just after 5 minutes of usage.
While not as chirpy and smiley as Magriet, Cabin Attendant 2 Henk greets us and then gives us warmed and scented towelette. It's a nice touch!
Captain Kees makes a welcome announcement and he has the thickest Dunglish (Dutch English) accent ever. It's sort of in the cute way because he's very fluent and it feels that he's comfortable in communicating in English, it's just his accent is quite thick. He also makes a remark "We will be departing shortly after 2 more bags are loaded. Approximately, we will be pushed back shortly at around five over half ten". Now, in Dutch, what he says makes perfect sense and is grammatically correct but in English, it is not really the literal translation of 9.35PM. So 9.30 is half way to 10, in Dutch we say 'half tien' (hence Captain Kees says half ten) and if you are a few minutes over or before this half way mark, you say xxx over half xxx or you say xxx voor half xxx. Sometimes, catching up on these small things make me miss the Netherlands very much!
While waiting for boarding to complete, let's take a look at the famous Holland Herald. I find Holland Herald to always be excellent in quality ;-)
One thing I like about the seat is the PTV control attached on the seat in front of you instead of in the arm rest. It's easier to grab! PTV resolution and responsiveness is not industry leading quality but still a lot better compared to B744's first generation AVOD PTV.
Next to us is Singapore Airlines A330-300. We will race each other!
I do not take a lot of pictures because it is very dark outside and the cabin crew do not dim the lights so it's almost impossible to get a good pictures without reflections. Can someone please teach me some nifty tips and tricks on how to take a good picture during the night?
We taxi to runway 09 and take off towards the east and then we make a 180 degrees left bank turn. During taxi, I notice that double parking method is applied in the domestic terminal apron whereby one narrow body parks in front of the terminal and another parks right behind it. Fascinating!
Anyway, after the seat belt is switched off, flight attendants spring into action. They start with bar service. I ask for "Ik wil graag witte wijn" in which Magriet replies "Ja zeker meneer! Alstublief!". She gives me a mini bottle and a plastic cup. I like airlines that give the whole can or the whole mini bottle to passengers ;)
Henk follows Magriet behind with his meal cart. I feel quite tired at this point so I forget to take a picture of the meal offering. I remember there are two choices. The one that I choose is Indonesian style chicken with rice and vegetables. The taste is so-so, it's edible. Dessert is sublime though! It's typical Dutch dessert called 'vla'. Vla is traditionally made from fresh milk, egg, and sugar. The texture and consistency is sort of in between yoghurt and full cream milk. Like custard! The portion is also enough as I guess most passengers already eat something in the terminal and they just want to catch a nap. What I believe to be KLM's turf is their branding. It is everywhere and they use it to the fullest, even for tiny details like meal tray. Great job KLM!
Not long after all passengers are fed, our trays are cleared promptly. Tea, coffee, and liquor are offered. Then Captain Kees makes an announcement again saying that descent has commenced and we will be slightly zig-zaging our way to runway as the airport is quite busy that night. During descent, the flight attendants are multitasking between preparing cabin for landing and offering duty free ^__^
True to his words, we kiss the terra firma again at 12.02AM and we make a rather long taxi to Terminal 2 from runway 02L. We exit runway 02L via taxiway W5 and then proceed via NC3. We enter Terminal 2 D gates apron via taxiway A2.
After we park at the gate, I make a mad dash to the immigration counter. The terminal is buzzing with red eye departures to Europe, North Asia, Indian sub-continent, etc. Immigration is always fast and efficient. My luggage arrives pretty fast too! I queue for taxi and in a matter of 10 minutes, I am on my way to my friend's apartment in Novena area where I will be staying for 1 week.
So that's the end of my 5th freedom flight with KLM. I hope you enjoy it and sorry for the lack of pictures! I will make it up in the next installment, AF254 SIN-CGK!
Denpasar - DPS
Singapore - SIN
I know before that flying with KLM is not like partaking in a luxurious cruise. Its fare is relatively affordable, its airplanes are very well-maintained, F&B is okay, seats are okay, and PTV, while not most advanced, is also okay. It safely flies you from point A to point B which chirpy and professional flight attendants.
KLM's service and offering really mimics its egalitarian culture. It is basic but it is nice and comforting. It's not fancy yet it serves the purpose.
If I can provide feedback, I think boarding process could have been handled better by KLM's contracted ground agents. I believe it is also time to really speed up the cabin refurbishment for economy class. Seat cushion is not as good as it used to be, clearly worn. PTV is also quite lagging and resolution is grainy at best. I think on B777-200ER the process is done? Can some KLM fanatics fill me in here?
I would not hesitate to fly KLM again when the price is right because I believe they deliver the brand promises.
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