After an uneventful couple of days working in Amsterdam, it was time to head home. I was looking forward to this flight for a while as I have never flown on a Fokker 70 so it was another aircraft type on my bucket list crossed off. However, unlike my work trip the flight back turned out to be anything but "simple" as it was both overbooked and delayed because of air traffic restrictions over London. I did get an upgrade though, so "every cloud" and all that!
Check-In & Security
Before checking in, we decided to take a look at Schiphol's famous viewing terrace at the top of the terminal building. Here you can get a great view of the apron and various piers in addition to seeing planes take-off and land (depending on the runway configuration being used on the day). There is also a retired KLM Cityhopper Fokker 100 on the roof, which was winched up a few years back to become a display model. You can have a look around inside, which for an avgeek like me is pretty cool. There were also lots of Delta planes in on that day… Amsterdam is certainly a bit of a hub for them!
After checking in at the Sky Priority counters, we proceeded upstairs to security. The design of the Sky Priority line is great as you are only allowed to enter the check in area with a valid business class ticket or SkyTeam Elite/Elite Plus status. After this you head up the dedicated escalator to security.
On this day for some reason pretty much every single passenger was setting off something whether it be the body scanner or the x-ray machine. My bag had to be searched because of the sheer number of wires in it relating to various bits of electronic equipment I carry around with me! While there was no huge queue, security was a bit of a pain in backside. Then again, you can't put a price on safety.
KLM operates two Crown lounges at Amsterdam Schiphol airport; one in the Schengen part of the terminal and one in the Non-Schengen part. As the UK is not a member of the Schengen area, we used the latter lounge.
I am a SkyTeam Elite Plus member, which gives me access to all the lounges. Although warm, modern and huge, the KLM Crown Lounge is a pretty basic affair. The food is mediocre at best but there is beer, wine and spirits on tap, which helped take the edge off somewhat! I also managed to get a bit of work done thanks to a stable internet connection and plentiful power sockets.
Due to the slim pickings in the lounge, and the fact I was (at that point) travelling on an economy ticket, my colleague and I decided to head to a Dutch restaurant in the terminal to sample some local cuisine. I had bitterballen followed by satay. The Netherlands has a sizeable Indonesian population so satay has become something of a national dish for the Dutch! A bit like curry in the UK.
So this is where things got weird. All UK KLM Cityhopper flights seem to depart from remote stands with a special gate area for these departures. On our boarding cards it only said "Gate D6" - however when we arrived it was a collection of gates split by letters so D6a, D6b, D6c etc. In order to enter this area you have to go through an initial boarding pass and ID check.
When we got to the gate the gate agent made an announcement asking for volunteers to be offloaded from the flight as it was overbooked. At this point I volunteered as long as I could be booked onto a London City bound flight. Although I would miss my go on the Fokker 70, LCY is a much more convenient airport in relation to where I live in London. One other person was involuntarily off-loaded as he was the last to check in.
The procedure was that every one else was boarded (onto the bus) first after which we would be processed. This is in case there are no shows - when that happens the passengers being offloaded are then put back on the flight. In fact this did happen - two people didn't turn up and to my disappointment I was forced back on to the original flight. Fearing now that I would be lumbered in a middle seat after giving up my much prized window seat, I was pleasantly surprised with an upgrade to business class! Very happy about that!
So after being the last one on the bus to the aircraft, we were driven across the tarmac to the vast area next to Pier B where the KLM Cityhopper aircraft sit waiting for their next load of passengers. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of our little Fokker due to the stress of everything. I did get one of the view from my seat though!
When settled in my seat, 2A, the captain came on with some bad news; that we were being delayed on the tarmac for 55 minutes due to air traffic issues over London. In order to "compensate" us for this, we were handed a little box of water during the wait. We were parked in quite a nice area for watching passing planes so I was entertained:
Eventually it was time to leave…
Here is a video from my flight, departing Amsterdam:
Here is a video from my flight, arriving into London Heathrow:
We took off from Runway 24 heading south west past Rotterdam and over the North Sea before making a couple of turns in the holding pattern on approach to Runway 27L at Heathrow. There were some great views the entire way:
My initial thoughts about KLM's European business class were that it wouldn't be that great. Another European airline on a cost cutting drive etc etc! However, for the 45 minute flight over to London I was very pleasantly surprised by what was on offer!
The product has been designed by Marcel Wanders, a renowned Dutch designer. Visually it was very appealing with every last detail thought out carefully. Even the disposable box the meal was served in looked really nice! I particularly liked the cutlery design! Anyway, here are some pictures:
While there was no choice of dishes for the flight, the meal box came with a very nicely done menu. You can see the dinner menu below:
The gazpacho and smoked salmon salad were to die for, as was the desert! I was NOT expecting that for the short flight, not in my wildest dreams. To drink I started off with a small bottle of cava and then even managed to fit in a can of Heineken before landing. Here are some pictures of the food:
Our arrival was pretty standard for LHR. Despite the delay, and having to make a few turns of the holding stack, we landed on Runway 27L with amazing views of the city on our way in. 27L is great for KLM as it is adjacent to Terminal 4 meaning no long taxi after landing! I was lucky enough to be the first person off the aircraft and made it through passport control and baggage reclaim in good time. Even the little Fokker 70 gets an air bridge attached to it at LHR! The built in stairs are simply lowered first, after which a panel is placed over them allowing a flat path out of the aircraft once the bridge is attached. Pretty cool!
Despite the delay, the KLM Business Class experience was pretty good! The lounge is mediocre but the inflight service for such a short flight was wonderful. A special shout out to the crew as well who were brilliant! There was also a trainee on our flight who was doing a sterling job. Also, a big thank you to KLM for the upgrade.
KLM Crown Lounge 5 - Non Schengen
Amsterdam - AMS
London - LHR
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