Welcome to my Flight Report, yet another of the route Amsterdam - Washington by KLM. There are probably already a ton of reports on KLM and this route, but I found some of the experience worthy of a new report. Besides, I haven't written anything in a long time and since this is pretty much the only route I fly nowadays, I figured: might as well do a FR on the KL651! I won't write anything on my visit to the KLM Crown Lounge since, well, we all know what it looks like, how the food is, etc. Besides, they're remodeling the lounge so it won't be worth your while for several weeks to read anything on the Crown Lounge.
This trip was part of a short visit I made to the DC-area and the Yorktown/Norfolk-area in Virginia. Basically, my routing was: AMS-IAD KL651 (June 18th) IAD-Alexandria (VA) by car (June 18th) Alexandria-Yorktown (VA) by car (June 20th) Yorktown (VA)-Norfolk Intl Airport ORF by car (June 23rd) ORF-ATL-AMS DL2206 KL622 (June 23rd, red-eye)
I didn't take enough pictures for the return route since it was uneventful and not that interesting, although the Delta Sky Lounge in Terminal F on Atlanta has turned out quite nice with the rooftop / sun terrace.
So, once I got my boarding pass and passport ready, I was ready to leave. I also got some flyer from KLM which I never read on lounge access. Apparently, introducing somebody into the lounge before 11am is discouraged/not allowed anymore when it's busy because of the remodeling. I wonder if you get a voucher or anything if they deny you access?
Once arriving at the gate, I couldn't find our plane but it soon showed up, as it was being towed from another location. We flew PH-BVQ Machu Picchu registered to KLM Asia, a Boeing 777-200 which had been remodeled with the new World Business Class. Actually, the entire fleet has the new WBC now except for the A332/A333. Ofcourse I was very glad I didn't fly the Airbus with the old NEV3/Slippery Slope seats, as you can imagine.
Inside the plane
I opted for seat 6A this time, of course a window seat but also a seat in the small mini-cabin behind the "main" business class. I wanted to try out if it really is this bad? Well, certainly during boarding you feel less private because of all the Y-traffic. This also means more trouble for the Flight Attendants (FA) to carry trays with drinks to all the passengers while Y is still boarding. Kudo's on how they manage to do that job!
The seat is well-known. Spacious, comfortable, but lacks individual aisle access. More on that later.
Just an overview picture of the mini-cabin during boarding.
The IFE system is also well-known but has some disadvantages I hadn't noticed before. More on that later as well.
I kicked it off with a glass of champagne, which is always nice. As always, I'm especially fond of the KLM silverware.
The new Jan Taminiau bag feels… cheap to be honest.
The contents has gone down as well. Gone is the lip balsem, the pen (oh so useful when flying to the US although the blue customs form is no longer required for immigration) and the socks are even cheaper than they used to be. Actually, they're not socks at all, just a circular cloth with now noticeable front or backside. Well, I only use them once anyway, but still.
Another 772 pulled up beside us.
The seat controls also reveal that cleaning on this a/c wasn't very thorough.
The little cubby in front of me (or Ottoman as I've seen it called) is far enough from me to sit relaxed. I did notice that my neighbor (seat 6C) had a larger space for his feet, I think that's because the seats are slightly angled.
A7-BAT, a 773-ER Qatar Airways, pulled up between our 777s.
Easyjet is taxiing by.
Here are the power connections of the seat. I like the fact that it has both USB and a separate 110V/220V socket.
The gate moved back, almost time to go!
The flight-tracking system had no clue where we were yet :-)
Push-back on 13:29 local (and yes, I know, I hadn't met my calorie target for the day). All in all we left quite on time (13:20 was scheduled).
The flight safety instruction being played "while standing in this original Delft-blue pottery". I like the fact that KLM uses it's dutch heritage as a sales-item but sometimes I think they've gone too far. I'll get back to that later.
Beautiful day to fly!
The Dutch coast showing up, you can see Noordwijk and Katwijk.
Hello down below!
So it became time to focus my attention to the inside of the plane again. We were given some warm nuts and an oshibori. I remember in the past you had the option of either cheese or nuts. Perhaps the cheese was "sold out" because we were the last row on the WBC? Anyway I always go for the nuts because the Dutch cheese they serve isn't the best. For excellent cheese you probably need to fly Iberia, Air France or Alitalia :-)
The Dutch signature Bols cocktail goes quite well with the nuts.
Time to watch some TV. The Big Bang theory always does it for me; I also watched 2 broke Girl$ which is a show I think I only watch onboard aircraft. The reason for this is because I'm a big fan of the nevernotflying youtube channel See the website here or visit the youtube channel here. The creator of NNF always watches 2 Broke Girl$, so that where the inspiration comes from.
The English coastline
The wallpaper is quite nice on this plane
Here you can see the socks in action. I still wear them - wouldn't want to enter a toilet otherwise without shoes!
Some more British coastline. Did I mention it was a beautiful day to fly?
The inside of the aircraft and some more exterior shots
The remote for the IFE has it's own screen that can run a separate program from the IFE. I fancy the moving map while watching a movie. This works quite well as you can see and the remote is quite responsive.
Soon everybody blanked their windows in order to watch a movie and enjoy lunch and/or dinner.
The armrest on the left side of the seat can be lowered which is especially useful when you go to sleep
Time for dinner! I'll include the full wine list and menu at the end of the FR. I opted for the Thai-style beef salad as an appertiser and the Filet of cod as a main course.
The patterns on the tablecloth are also very nicely done
The Thai beef salad was excellent, really good, some great tastes.
OK so this is where KLM has gone "too far" with the Dutch-stuff in my humble opinion. Plastic wooden shoes pepper and salt shaker. I mean, really? The entire thing felt cheap and it reaffirms a stereotype almost nowhere to be found in my country anymore. I liked the old pepper and salt shaker better. What do you think?
I finished my plate, again to show the beautiful silverware. The meal was, as I said, excellent!
I paired the meal with the recommended Corralillo Sauvignon Blanc 2016 from Matetic, Chile. It had a "kiss from Therese", I believe she is the Sommelier from the Librije restaurant, one of the two dutch three-star Michelin restaurants. I must admit: the wine was really, really good and worked quite well with the meal.
Again, would love to hear your opinion on this.
Here's the cod, again a fantastic meal. It was made with a madras curry, macadamia cream, rice, cauliflower, asparagus and raisins. That's not a combination I would have thought of but it worked excellent. KLM food is improving I believe.
Button-hole in the napkin, very handy when flying. Tacky otherwise :-)
So yeah, here's a belated picture of the nice IFE/remote combination somewhere over the Atlantic. I'm also quite impressed with the level of detail on the system. Remember, the IFE has no internet connection so all the maps are stored on a server somewhere in the plane. Apparently they downloaded large sections of the OpenStreetMap set (OSM), which works as you can see really nice. OSM is a free community map system with a very high fidelity.
Some more shots of the mini cabin. It does feel quite private to be honest and the close proximity to economy never bothered me. Then again, I used my Bose QuietComfort 15 noise-cx headphones all the time because they are so much better than the ones KLM hands out.
Desert time! Some cheese, crackers and fruit. The cheese was average
Tea to go with the desert. Dilmah tea is really good.
This shot was taken of the large business class cabin with the 20 other seats. Quite spacious and light, I really like it. Our small mini cabin does feel more private though.
Zenology products in the clean restroom
So I promised to come back to the IFE-screen. Hope I can explain it. This shot was taken when all window blinds were closed and I took it of a rather dark image on screen. Don't look at the image itself - it's not the reason I took the shot. Look at the sides of the screen: you can see the backlight emitting from the bottom, top, left and right of the screen. This effect is more visible than it should be especially when it's dark and tends to over-brighten the screen a bit. You can turn down the blacklight a bit, but I was actually surprised by this effect. Modern screens have their backlights from behind, not the sides.
As we approached the US coastline, it was time for lunch. I asked for the hamburgers but again, they were gone. So when loading the plane with food, I can imagine you don't want to take 24 main courses in every variety and 24 lunches, but still, what do you think? Should the airline have packed more of each? Anyway, the sandwich was not bad although I resented a bit it was taken out of the plastic wrapper by the FA in front of me.
Descent into Washington
The Potomac river, we're getting close!
Touch-down, on time and I can already see the dread buses which take you from your gate to the arrival area.
Goodbye, Machu Picchu! We had a great time! We parked at gate A15 which is standard for KLM at IAD.
Menu and wine selection
Bonus : Click here displayhide
Bonus: Some shots from Alexandria
I went to Alexandria many times before so I skipped the usual places like King Street. If you ever go to the DC area, haven't been there before and are looking for a great place: Go find a hotel near King St. King is great, there are a lot of good bars etc and most hotels offer free shuttle service. Also, at the beginning of King St is a metro station allowing for quick access to all the great places DC has to offer.
This time however I went to a friends house in Alexandria who showed me the neighborhood a bit by night. These pictures are from the US Patent Office which manages all the US patents and has some great artwork in front of the building, especially by night. I forgot the name of the geomatric shape in front but apparently it has a patent as well!
View of the Potomac from my friends house
Oxon Hill Harbour
Klm Crown Lounge 5 - Non Schengen Terminal
Amsterdam - AMS
Washington - IAD
Overall, once again a great flight with KLM but some minor remarks. The amenity bag seems to be getting less and less "useful" while the menu keeps getting better. I like quality of the food but with the amenity bag as it is, you might as well skip it alltogether. As always, I can recommend KLM on this route especially now that they have the new WBC seats! Big question of course: Would I recommend the mini-private section of the WBC row 6? Yes, I would. It is quite private and that helps if you want to sleep. Especially the private feeling makes this a great place to stay. Then again, so does the main section. But apart from the traffic during boarding, there really aren't any other disadvantages. Did you fly the mini-WBC section? Would love to hear your opinion!
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