At the Airport: After a very good breakfast in downtown Amsterdam, I headed back to Schiphol at around 9. Even though I still had almost 4 hours until departure, I wanted to visit the observation deck and get a good lunch before my flight. First order of business, though, was making a stop at Planes Plaza to buy a model of my 787-9, which was just 15 euros. After that, I headed up to the observation deck, which is an absolute must for anyone traveling through Schiphol. My only pet peeve is that the only terminals you can really see are C, D, and E, and on this day almost 90% of the traffic there was DL/KL. Nonetheless, it’s the place to go for any Avgeek. Make sure you have Flightradar24 ready though, to see where these flights are going!
After that I still had some time before departure, but I made the mistake of going through passport control and security too early, which was a mistake because the food options landside are much better than those in the non-Schengen airside area. Oh well. Despite the fact that I was flying to the US, I didn’t notice any extra security measures (shoes were allowed to stay on and I didn’t need to take out my computer). I actually wound up getting patted down after coming out of the body scanner, but only around my feet and ankles for some reason. One thing that was different, however, was the automated passport control kiosks. For certain passports, including the US, you can use those on departure, and it really sped up the process for me, as it didn’t tell me to see an actual officer, and I was airside with plenty of time until departure. So I decided to take a little walk to do more spotting, and then got some (extremely overpriced, for what it was) lunch at an Asian place just outside the E gates.
I then headed to gate E8 for boarding, and charged up my phone for the flight (Schiphol has lots of charging locations). Just like on my GOT-AMS flight, boarding wasn’t done in zones; it was just business class, and then everyone else could jockey for a spot in line, but this was pretty orderly as far as boarding processes went. I got on and took seat 14A, and right away I knew I had made the right move by upgrading to Y+. Also, as boarding continued, it was pretty clear that the middle seat would be open. However, right before the door closed, the FA came and asked me if I would move to 14J, so that this couple could be together. The tradeoff would be that I would get 14J, a middle seat, with the aisle seat open, so as much as I wanted that window seat, I felt like I couldn’t refuse that offer, so I moved to 14J (but occupied the aisle seat for most of the flight). For some reason, pushback was late, but around 1:30 we began our long taxi along the Polderbaan before taking off nearly half an hour late.
B744 bound for ORD
Another look at XM
TC-LOE, A333 IST-bound
Very orderly lineup
Lineup in the jetbridge
CZ A330 to CAN
Legroom shot (at my original seat)
From my window; TK B738, bound for SAW
Very soon after takeoff, the crew sprung into action, distributing water bottles and refreshing towels (albeit these were more like wipes that you can get at the store; not actual towels, like KL used to give out in economy). Unlike my IAD-AMS flight where we had our New Year’s celebration on board, this time the meal service got started a lot sooner. Today’s options were beef and pasta, just like before, and this time I chose the pasta, which was in a sundried tomato-type sauce. It was definitely one of the better meals I’ve had on a plane in terms of quality, but the quantity was very lacking. As you’ll see, it was no bigger than my passport. With it came a carrot cake muffin and a salad, which looked bigger than the entrée. I watched an episode of Undercover Boss and then Cars early in the flight, and with the middle seat open, I was able to have the moving map up the for the entire flight while exploring the IFE. I actually had some Netflix downloaded onto my phone, so I watched that to keep occupied later on in the flight.
Meal tray as I got it
Entrée compared in size to my passport
This thing is probably not the best way to serve salad dressing on an airplane; it got on my pants!
Cheese and cracker
Cars was on the IFE; I noticed some holdovers from my IAD-AMS flight the previous month, but also some different movies and TV shows (for comparison, on my last trip with SK, I departed in July and returned in August, but the IFE stayed the same)
Mood lighting in the toilets
Snacks and drinks set up in the galley
Chose some crackers and chocolate
With about 1.5 hours to go until landing, the crew did their second service, and it was a very small vegetarian pizza, just a bit larger than a hockey puck. Again, it tasted good, but it could’ve been larger and there could’ve been something on the side also, like a cookie. Our approach was pretty interesting. Instead of continuing more over upstate NY/PA, we went over the Hudson Valley and eastern PA before cutting south after Lancaster and doing a U-turn just south of the airport. Despite the late takeoff from AMS, we landed almost half an hour early, and after a quick taxi, it was time to say goodbye to the Dreamliner.
Another advantage of being in premium economy; you're one of the first people off the plane
Walk to the moon buggy
Post-flight: The moon buggy left pretty much as soon as it was filled up and arrived at the international arrivals building just in the nick of time, because as soon as I got close to the front of the line, a huge crowd of people arrived. The immigration officer (who remember, was basically working for free because of the shutdown) that I spoke with asked the basic questions, but did it with an air of scrutiny (he even asked if I had any cannabis with me, since I had my layover in a country where pot is legal). Nonetheless he waved me through, and although it took a while for my bag to come out, it eventually did, and I was out the door and in my mom’s car to go home, where I crashed for a good 12 hours that night.
Amsterdam - AMS
Washington - IAD
I knew that I wouldn't be getting much more in premium economy, but KL needs to improve it if they want to keep up with their competition. I looked into AF/LH/BA's product, and the hard product looks a lot better than KL's was (there was no amenity kit, we got the same meals as regular economy, and we still had the 3-3-3 configuration, so it wasn't as spacious as it could've been). Nonetheless, the extra legroom was a huge plus, the seat change worked to my advantage, the crew was very friendly in how they handled that, and the IFE was very good as always. Next time I get the chance to fly premium economy, however, I'm going to look more carefully as to what I'm getting with that upgrade.
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