This long awaited trip to -yet again- the United States west coast, will take you in three parts:
* AMS-SFO KL605 on a Boeing 787-9 (found here) * LAS-LAX DL1898 on a Boeing 737-800 (found here) * LAX-AMS KL602 on a Boeing 747-400 Full Passenger (this report)
A warning beforehand that all pictures were taken using my iPhone and some, if not most, are vertical. My apologies if this bothers you. Also, this trip was made with two persons and I tend to switch a lot between 'I' and 'we' - do note that we were with the two of us throughout the whole of the trip, but most are from my point of view.
After arriving from LAS, the first thing we did was walk to TBIT - I knew T5 all too well and I did not want to spend too long in there. Last time I visited I already took a walk to TBIT to see where to walk to, so I knew the route for now.
NZ 777-300ER spotted from the T4-TBIT connector
..as well as JL widebodies, one 787 and one 777-300ER
Checking out the checkin hall and security filter of TBIT, seen from the connector
We were now in TBIT
This is where I had three things planned which -had- to be done, which were: * Get a perfume which someone asked me to take home - apparently it was cheaper in the States? * Spot planes - TBIT is A380 heaven and there are some rare ones for me that I almost never see * EAT - last time I had near zero to eat and completely lost it on board my homewards flight - this flight would be almost twice as long. I found it important that I eat to prevent the worst.
The first thing we did was the perfume - you will never find me in a Victoria's Secret, but alas, there I was. The WiFi in this area of TBIT was just as bad as it was in September so I ended up texting with the Netherlands, keeping messages to a minimum. This cost me a 1,50 eur total and I purchased the requested perfume. That's one thing out of three done.
Next: eating and spotting. After searching for 10 minutes we found our gate number which was the last gate in the northern pier of TBIT. I had already looked up our registration on KLM's nifty flight guide so it was no surprise that we'd be flying PH-BFH, named "City of Hongkong" - a 747-400 delivered as a combi in April 1990. Later it apparently has been modified to a full passenger aircraft.
When walking through the concourse, I saw this hilarious shirt in one of the shops
I 'parked' my girlfriend on a spot with working wifi and a power supply and went into the south pier but was disappointed by how empty it was. I returned in 10 minutes and we had a decent lunch around halfway through TBIT, before going to the gate lounge at the end of the pier. I was hoping we'd arrive on time to catch the landing of PH-BFH, but she was just leaving the runway as we approached. Bummer.
The only interesting thing to see was this Saudi aircraft, which was in the same part of the concourse as our flight.
PH-BFH leaving the runway after arrival
PH-BFH at gate 134
When we arrived, the monitors already announced a 30 minute delay. This would only become more. When preboarding began, lines were formed and we stuck around 20 meters from the podium. When business and priority had already boarded and the first group of passengers (rows in the back of the aircraft) were already well underway. we learned that there were four lines each with consecutive row numbers. This was not quite clear as we were not facing the crowd when seated. We luckily weren't the only ones who were in the wrong line, but we still felt a bit embarrased. We also learned that the scanners were broken - passengers had to be boarded manually. Around 15 minutes later, it was free for all boarding and I boarded without a problem.
My girlfriend however, had her BP flash red and was taken aside. I had already passed the podium where I had seen the crew (who had already boarded but were sent back outside), and was told strictly by a police officer that I needed to board the aircraft - I was specifically not allowed to wait for my GF. I am not a person that argues with police and I did not want to get in trouble, so I boarded ahead. I was greeted by the friendly looking Dutch crew (easily recognisable by their accent, all too well known), directed into the first aisle where I took my seat: 23A. Our seat mate was already in 23C: a Japanese man travelling to Amsterdam as well.
After a minute of 5 to 10, my girlfriend appeared in the plane but apparently showed the wrong pass to the purser and was sent through the galley and into the other aisle. She had 23F on the other flight, and F is indeed in the second aisle on a 747. BUT: not in row 23, as it is where the staircase and some lavatories are. She found her actual seat not much later and settled in. We were among the last to board, as the purser gestured to a latecomer 2 minutes later that he needed to walk faster, and when he was on board the door was closed very quickly and we were pushed back. Senior purser announced herself and our flight time: 9 hours and 30 minutes. 9 hours?! That's almost 2 hours less than we expected. It would also mean 2 hours less on what at that moment (and at moment of writing still) looked like my last KL 747 flight.
Safety video played as we were pushed back between 30 and 45 minutes behind schedule.
What followed was the taxi past the northern half of LAX to 24L - we took off behind schedule and made a long left turn. Takeoff video: here
View outside before meal service
Meal service started with a drinks and nuts run - we were provided smoky almonds as usual on KLM and I love them
Meal choice was between a pasta alfredo and chicken - I usually take pasta but I could not stand the thought of pasta at that time. I chose the chicken.
Meal as served
I do not exactly know what it was, but the chicken was juicy but lacked seasoning. The sauce wasn't that great as well but it made the whole a bit better. I did not finish the rice. Dessert was a rocky road brownie-like thing, it was moist and tasty. Overall a 5,5 out of 10.
I washed it down with some tea.
After the meal, the cabin lights dimmed for people to sleep. This is when my order arrived: I had ordered a scale model online after having the last one refunded (which was to be delivered on this flight, but no luck) - a large brown paper bag was handed to me which i had to put in the overhead bin and made a lot of noise. Embarrassing as it was, I shoved the bag in the overhead bin after I checked the contents. It was what I ordered after all!
Now I made it out of my seat, I thought I'd visit the lavatory as well and walk around a bit. I walked all the way to the back, visited the lavatory, stretched my legs, and walked back through the other aisle, before sitting down again.
Cabin view from the lavatories in the rear
This reminds me of that Led Zeppelin song…
I was back on time as we hit some turbulence and the seatbelt sign was switched on
I wanted to sleep but wasn't able to - I wanted to play a game but the IFE did not like my idea
Back to trying to sleep it was. I managed to catch some sleep after all and before I knew it the sun was rising again.
This is when the meal was served - a breakfast. From what I have experienced before I had expected this to be a box with yoghurt and some cereal or so, but it was a warm meal after all. I like warm breakfast, but have never, ever had a nice warm breakfast on a plane, except for a three hour Qantas flight from Sydney to Auckland in 2009. Alas, I do not remember the choices anymore, but I chose the omelette, because that was the superior option.
Meal as served
Main after unwrapping
I ate the yoghurt and fruit first before even thinking about the main - I tasted the omelette and that was actually pretty good - very tasty. I finished it before starting on the sausage which was OK. I tasted a piece of potato which was soft, far from tasty and basically tasted like nothing. My stomach contracted twice and I had trouble keeping the breakfast inside. I quickly stopped eating and watched the view outside.
About an hour after the meal the captain announced our routing into Schiphol - descent was only minutes away and we would be landing on the infamous Polderbaan (18R).
Captain came on again and said ATC wanted us on the Zwanenburgbaan after all (which is 18C) - we changed our route and were soon aligned with the Zwanenburgbaan
When we arrived at arrival gate G6 the usual 'please let business class passengers disembark first' palooza began - the purser announced that the front door would be used for those but just the rear one was used - this provided us with a laugh and annoyed business class passengers. After waiting for 15 minutes or so, we took our stuff from the bin and left the aircraft. I checked the app if there was a special aircraft (because we -are- still airside now), but I was out of luck and we had someone waiting for us, so we went landside and got our luggage.
Leaving the sterile area
I was amazed by how quiet it was in here
Passport control was empty - at least the machines were, so I used them. This time I managed to get the passport in the first try and removed my glassed instead of leaving them on and I was through in less than a minute. That meant from disembarking to the passport control in less than five minutes. Still doesn't beat my F70 frenzy in which I managed to get out of the aircraft at 18:48, bus at 18:49, terminal at 18:55, bagage hall 18:57, check in for the train at 18:59 and managing to catch the 19:03 train home, but it was still fast as hell for an intercontinental flight.
We had to wait for the luggage and that concluded our wonderful trip.
Los Angeles - LAX
Amsterdam - AMS
KLM was as I know it - no doubt. Their catering out of the US is however, not even near the same as out of Amsterdam, and that is understandable but also a shame. The entertainment crashed and was locked to airshow but I wasn't actively using it anyway.
LAX was clean and had a lot of shops and food options in my eyes - I love TBIT.
AMS was lightning fast - I was out and in the car in 30 minutes from arriving in the terminal.
Thank you for reading my series!
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