We live in Iceland and several of our family members live near Melbourne, Australia, so we decided to spend Christmas there. The two airports - Keflavík and Melbourne - are not exactly close to each other, the distance being 10,539 miles (about 17,000 kms). If there was a direct flight it would overfly Svalbard, Eastern Siberia, North-East China and Eastern Indonesia and it would take about 21 hours. But there's of course no direct flight. So how should we get there?
We knew we didn't want to fly economy and we didn't have the budget for most business class flights, so we had to look for an exceptionally good deal in business class. Connecting flights from Iceland to Africa, Asia or Australia are never good value. London, Copenhagen, Frankfurt or Germany are usually among the more expensive departure airports. Amsterdam or Paris can have better deals but none was available at that time.
We checked premium economy as well, and although Singapore Airlines' great premium economy was bookable at a reasonable price from Stockholm to Melbourne via Moscow and Singapore, we still hoped for a good price in business.
We considered for a long time, and we even held a booking for some time, to fly from Cairo. A CAI-MCT-KUL-MEL in business class was offered by Oman Air and Malaysia Airlines at a price similar to many economy class flights from Europe to Australia. But direct flights from Europe to Cairo are overpriced even in economy and connecting flights can have unfavorable schedules.
So what was the solution? Oslo is usually, maybe surprisingly for some of you, the cheapest airport for long-haul business class flights from Europe. And there came a promotional offer: Oslo to Perth with Qatar Airways and Auckland to Oslo with China Southern. Yes, we wanted to fly to Melbourne but why not to visit Western Australia for a few days? And yes, the return leg was from New Zealand but we could finally visit NZ as well - and the flight was even slightly cheaper than a return from Australia.
Our scheduled connecting time between our China Southern flight from Guangzhou to our KLM flight to Oslo was 50 minutes only including deplaning, security, passport control, getting to the other gate and boarding. I consider Amsterdam one of the best airports in Europe so I was optimistic about making it. Even if our flight from Guangzhou landed 45 minutes earlier we got eventually to the gate for the Oslo flight 15 minutes before boarding started. While the priority lane for security was not open we got through quickly. Passport control was also quick. The walking distance between the two gates was about 20 minutes so we skipped the lounge. The 50 minute connecting time seems however to be almost impossible if one is travelling in economy class and the inbound flight arrives on time.
We departed from Gate C10
Our aircraft today was KLM's B737-700, registration number PH-BGU, built in 2011.
KLM's intra-European business class has the usual configuration with 3+3 economy seats with the middle seat blocked. There were only two rows of business class on this flight and legroom was very good.
No welcome drink was offered.
A flight time of one hour and 35 minutes was announced for a scheduled flight time of one hour and 50 minutes.
Push-back was at 06.42 for a scheduled departure time of 06.45. We taxied with the speed of a Ferrari for 15 minutes. Take-off was at 06.57.
Breakfast was offered a short time later. The cold breakfast didn't look much first but was actually better than some long-haul business class breakfast. The dutch cheese, the yoghurt or the croissant were all good.
Some details I like about KLM's business class breakfast service: salt and pepper
Coffee stirrer with a twist
A cup of tea KLM style
Service by the purser was friendly, professional and efficient, especially given the very early hours.
The rest of this short flight was uneventful.
We landed at 8.30 and we were at the gate at 8.35 for a scheduled arrival at 8.35.
Amsterdam - AMS
Oslo - OSL
This was a perfectly fine short-haul intra-European business-class service from KLM.
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