Over the Good Friday long weekend holidays, I went on a rest and relax trip to nearby Bali, flying on one of the rare but long-surviving 5th freedom short-haul flights from Singapore, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines's SIN-DPS route. Some of the benefits of such 5th freedom routes is that you would be able to fly on a full-service airline at prices comparable to the local budget airlines. For the long weekend, KLM's prices were actually even cheaper than the likes of AirAsia, Tiger and Jetstar, while offering all the frills. Its Business Class fare was also lower than SQ Economy on the same dates!
Fast forward to departure day, boarding passes were DIY printed at the self-check-in machines and bags were dropped off at Terminal One.
Through immigration for some plane spotting. Our aircraft had just arrived from Amsterdam and taxiing in.
One of the rarer visitor into Changi, Air Mauritius A330.
Boarding would be from D34. With the expectedly full flight on this 408-seater B777-300ER, there was a long queue at the gate security. However it moved fast.
KLM's second newest B773ER aircraft would be flying us on the continuation flight to Bali. Expectedly, the flight was very full and it seemed that 75% of passengers were transiting from Amsterdam.
13 April 2017 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KL 835 Singapore (SIN) - Denpasar Bali (DPS) B777-300ER PH-BVR Economy Class Flight Time: 2H06M
Boarding was called and was conducted very orderly with at least 3 gate agents ensuring that boarding procedures were followed. Was welcomed at the aircraft door by very pleasant crew.
World Business Class it was not to be on this flight.
Into the massive economy cabin, which took up the majority of the aircraft. Seats were stylishly designed.
Took my seat at the rear cabin. KLM has retroffited all their 777s and have the newer 777s delivered with this new 3-4-3 seating, which is now getting too common.
Seatback with separate magazine compartment and seat pocket to save on legroom. IFE is purely touchscreen with no remote. Seat is of a slimline design and offers less cushioning than the older generation seats. This is not my first flight on KLM and I felt that the older seats seemed more comfortable, though also in 3-4-3 configuration. Legroom however, is very good and felt much more than the stated 31" pitch. Guess the seats were designed with the tall Netherlanders in mind. USB port at the screen and power points under the seat were avilable. IFE could be accessed immediately, but earphones were only distributed after takeoff. No pillows or blankets were offered on this short flight, though not sure if they are available if requested.
View out the window with luggage being loaded.
Boarding in progress.
Inflight magazine and duty free.
Doors were closed on time and were we lucky to have an empty seat in between! One of the very few empty seats on this flight. It definitely make the flight more comfortable to be able to spread out.
Safety video was played.
The entire safety video can be viewed here.
Some of the latest movies in the IFE selection.
Taxi to the runway. A storm was brewing overhead and apparently winds were very strong and gusty.
As we neared the original departure runway Rwy20C, the aircraft held for a while, then proceeded past the runway entrance and taxied further ahead. Captain came on and advised that due to weather conditions, ATC has decided to swap the runway directions and now we were to depart towards the north from Rwy02C instead. Apparently the gusty winds has created some arrivals havoc as at least 3 aircraft had aborted landing during final approach due to wind conditions. Hence, it was a long taxi to the other end of the runway, which was made even longer with the ATC clearing all arrivals on the current runway direction before allowing departures on the new runway direction. There is also a long queue of aircraft ahead awaiting departure.
After almost 45min of taxiing and holding (yes, I am not kidding), we were finally next in line for departure.
Departing from Rwy02C, an hour behind schedule. Not the fault of KLM though.
Video of the takeoff and flying into the bad and bumpy weather.
Exploring the 3D flight map.
Breaking through the bad weather.
Service started with the distribution of disposable but thick scented hot towels.
Followed by clip-on ear phones.
Above the weather.
Dinner was then served, first with the distribution of special meals, followed by the normal meal carts. The KLM crew were very efficient in serving the almost full load of passengers, yet remaining friendly and professional.
There was no choice for meals, with the meal tray handed out followed by offering of drinks from the meal cart. The full selection of juices, soft drinks and wines were available. I had a red wine, and was handed a mini bottle. On the tray was a starter, main course and dessert. Cost-cutting struck, as KLM has removed the warm roll and butter from the meal tray.
Cutlery, while plastic, still has attention to details. Spot the tulip and bicycle design on them.
Starter was an Asian-style coleslaw salad and dessert was a coconut cake. Salad was refreshing with the tangy sauce.
Yellow rice with spicy indonesian styled chicken. It needed a bit of salt for seasoning, but was still not bad, though portion on the small side.
Dessert cake was simple but tasty!
Red wine was of South African origin and was good for economy standards.
Details on the plastic cup.
Post dinner liquors (Amarula and something else) and coffee/tea were then offered during tray collection, along with additional drinks if requested. I had a tea with milk (fresh milk was used), and was surprised that these cheapo looking polystyrene cups were used. Don't think KLM would ever use such cheap looking stuff. Guess is the SIN caterers running out of the KLM designed cups, as the normal KLM ones were used on the return. Also, I realised that KLM always made their teas rather weak, similar to my previous experiences. Is it a Dutch thing?
Visit to the lavatory, which is rather basic.
I continued with my movie for the rest of the flight. Duty free service was conducted and soon we started our descend into Bali, which surprisingy was so smooth that I had no idea we were descending until the pilot made the arrival announcement and I noticed on the bulkhead flight map screens that we were halfway through descent. Neither did my ears popped!
Cabin secured and crew were seated just a few minutes before touchdown on Rwy09. We caught up some time enroute and landed only half hour late even though with the hour-delayed departure from Singapore.
Parked at the gate.
Disembarking, with crew along the aisles and pilots out of the cockpit bidding goodbyes.
Immigration was fast but it was a very long wait for the bags. Apparently the SIN-checked bags were the last to be delivered. Lesson learnt, do not check in bags if travelling to Bali from Singapore on KLM.
For this trip, I was staying at a rather new boutique hotel, Vasanti Kuta, which is rather near the airport. Booked a Junior Suite at very good rates, and the room was well-designed and good-sized, with comfortable beds, good amenities and a gigantic bathtub.
Popped over to a small eatery beside the hotel for supper, where we had lumpia, grilled snapper and nasi goreng.
It was a sunny weekend in Bali, and the hotel rooftop pool was much used for some sun-tanning.
Lunch at Made Warung, where we had gado gado, grilled tuna and nasi campur.
Dinner at a popular, but seriously overpriced by Indonesia standards, eatery offering pressure fried chicken with salted egg sauce (chicken is fried so crispy till the bones can be eaten).
Soyo ayam breakfast at a local eatery.
Singapore - SIN
Denpasar - DPS
Overall a rather comfortable and pleasant flight on KLM on this short haul. It is always great to be able to experience a European airline without the need to travel far, especially with these 5th freedom flights being so few nowadays. In fact, KLM may be the only European airline still offering 5th freedom flights within South-east Asia (SIN-DPS and KUL-CGK), with the rest of the European airlines preferring code-shares rather than operting their own aircraft on continuing short sectors. Hopefully these KLM flights survives the cut-throat competition and remains in the future.
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