The airline with the best average rating is KLM with 7.4/10.
The average flight time is 7 hours and 56 minutes.More information
My family just about never celebrates Thanksgiving, so this year I decide to take a trip out of the country and visit a friend in Copenhagen. I ended up adding a few days in Stockholm as well an overnight layover in Lisbon on the way back.
I booked ORD-AMS-CPH using one of the Flying Blue's promos - for 39,500 miles + taxes and fees. This was a great deal given that paid prices are often rather ridiculous for one-ways. From Chicago, Air France was flying an A330 with a 2-2-2 layout at the time so I opted for KLM instead.
I believe this is the first commercial KLM 787-9 review in English on Flight Report? Flight Report itself did get to do the short media trip back when KLM first introduced the 787, but I think this is the first review of a commercial review.
I arrived at O'Hare quite early to get some work done. I've never flown out of the International Terminal before (though I have flown into it many, many times). Security at T5 turned out to be quiet fast at midday even though there was no TSA-Pre line. TSA-Pre passengers are given a pass that lets them keep their shoes on. There was no one in line. After that it was a short walk to the gates and the lounges nearby.
Upon arrival, I went to the Air France/KLM Lounge. It is a very small lounge in a long, narrow setup between gates M7 and M8. You can see from the entrance that it seems like just about every airline is served by this lounge. You see representatives from all three alliances. Priority Pass also has access (though I think hours are limited).
There were not many seats given how many airlines use this lounge. There are two partitioned-off sections on each end. I ended up putting myself in one of the counter-top seats to the left of the entrance.
Great view of the American Airline gates:
My flight, KL612, was scheduled to board from Gate M8, which was at-first occupied by a Volaris A320.
The food selection was very minimal, some cold sandwiches, snacks, and the remains of picked over soup and bread.
The beverage selection was not too bad, though also very limited. I ended up trying out just about every green tea they had.
Later, they added more snacks and restocked the warm food. I had a chocolate croissant which was fairly decent.
An Aer Lingus A330-300
A CargoLux 747-8F
Copa's BioMuseo 737-800
Qatar Cargo 777
ANA's BB-8! It parked at M7, right next to the lounge, adjacent to an American Airlines 787-8.
A Lufthansa 747-8, ahhhh why am I not flying you to Europe?
There is one other Priority Pass lounge at O'Hare - the Swissport Lounge right across the hall. This is not to be confused with the Swiss Business Lounge before Gate M8. It serves a much smaller host of airlines than the Air France/KLM Lounge.
The lounge is essentially a large square-ish room with a small wing. The wing had some work desks you can use.
The food and beverages selection were even more limited than the Air France/KLM Lounge.
The Swissport lounge was much quieter than the Air France/KLM Lounge because at first no one was there (though it filled up later). I managed to get quite a bit of work done in this lounge. In fairness, the lack of windows also meant no plane spotting to distract me.
I was really looking forward to this flight. This was a flight of several firsts for me:
-first time on a KLM flight
-first time on a premium-cabin flight other than on Star Alliance
-first time on a 787
Here is the bird, PH-BHE, named "Dahlia," a three-year old Boeing 787-9.
Boarding began early, so I did not realize boarding had long started when I made my way to the gate at around 3:50pm (boarding was scheduled to be at 4:00pm). Zone 5 had already lined up and it seems like most of the other zones had boarded already. After a quick passport check, I was on my way down the jetbridge.
Everyone boarded through door 2L.
KLM has a gorgeous, very blue cabin on its 787s. 30 seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout.
I chose seat 7K, the second-to-last seat in the starboard side. The seatmap showed the cabin as 19/30. Waiting for me at the seat was a pillow and rather thin duvet. The pillow was okay. This would be all the bedding you receive for the flight, though I managed to snag another pillow from the empty seat next to me.
The seat is one of the variants of the popular reverse herringbone seat. It has a comfortably large footwell, as well as a small storage alongside the seat. The storage is perfect for putting things like passport, glasses, or headphones. The outlet and USB port can be found at the end of the surface alongside the window. The tray table is a relatively small one, folding out from the side. There is an armrest next to the aisle that can be lowered to give more bed space. This must be lowered during takeoff/landing. On top, I was pleasantly surprised to find individual air nozzles.
Once on board, I was immediately welcomed by the flight attendant working the starboard side. She quickly took my coat, presented me with a glass of champagne, the menus, and an amenity kit.
The amenity kit is by Dutch designer Jan Taminiau. It looks nice and is a fairly standard kit with the usual basic items.
KLM is very good about sticking to their Delft houses theme, even the air sickness bag is decorated as such.
Before takeoff, they switched the cabin lighting to this for a few minutes, before switching it back. I'm not sure why.
The captain announced an early departure from Chicago and an expected flight time of 7:15. We pushed back at 4:23PM CT, 17 minutes ahead of schedule. We would take off 12 minutes later at 4:35PM.
Of course, no KLM flight review is complete without mentioning the cute safety video:
The IFE was quite crisp and responsive. The touchscreen was easy to use and the IFE library had plenty of movies and TV, as well as a controllable flight map.
The KLM headphones were decent, but certainly not Bose level.
The 787 has beautiful, large windows with the electric dimming shades. Here is a contrast between my dimmed window and the window behind me. Unfortunately, we took off right as the sun was more or less down in Chicago and landed in darkness at Amsterdam - no great views at any point.
A flight attendant came by shortly after takeoff to present me with my pre-ordered duty free. I couldn't resist a memento of my first 787 flight.
Service began 17 minutes after takeoff with a hot towel, shortly followed by a drink order. I went with the 100th Anniversary Cocktail. It was okay, but really too sweet for my taste.
Here is the menu:
The purser took our meal orders on a tablet, but it took almost an hour after takeoff before the appetizers were served on a tray. I opted for the lobster dish, which was quite good.
KLM's attention to detail continued with the dining service with the adorable little cog salt and pepper shakers as well as the silverware.
The mains were served approximately one hour twenty minutes after takeoff. As usual, I avoided ordering beef on an airplane and went with the chicken option. It was . . . okay. The menu said it was chicken thigh, but it definitely tasted like white meat.
Dessert was served 25 minutes after the main. I opted for the sweet bites, which was also okay at best. I ordered chamomile tea to go with it. In addition, a miniature Delft-house chocolate was offered along with a bottle of Spa water for sleeping.
I finished my dessert rather quickly, which was a lucky thing because the plane hit some rough turbulence about 10 minutes later. The purser stopped by to hastily collect everything as the captain ordered everyone to their seats. After the turbulence had subsided, I checked out the bathroom before bed. The Delft houses theme continued there in a rather normal-sized bathroom. KLM uses the same Rituals amenities that can be found in the amenity kit. Hand/body lotion, hair gel, and body mist were provided.
At first, I had a hard time falling asleep (this was about 2 hours into the flight), so I asked for some more chamomile tea. It was served with a small biscuit.
After that, I slept fairly well for a trans-Atlantic redeye, getting about 3.5 hours of sleep before waking to the sounds of breakfast being served. This was roughly 64 minutes before landing. The same flight attendant working the starboard side asked if I wanted breakfast and quickly brought a tray out. Throughout the flight, she (I never caught her name) provided excellent service and was always quick to respond with a beaming smile. In addition, I was always addressed by name.
As for the breakfast, it was fairly bland.
With about 44 minutes left in the flight, the purser came around with the cart of Delft houses. I told her this would be my first one and she happily straightened up the houses for a better picture.
I ended up selecting No. 20 to begin my collection.
About 10 minutes after selecting my house, the first officer announced there was going to be a delay due to limited visibility (~400 meters). He assured the passengers this presented no problems for landing, but the delay would push us back to our originally scheduled arrival time. True to his words, we touched down at 7:11AM CET and arrived at our gate at 7:26AM.
Lounge: The Air France/KLM Lounge is very crowded, but the options in T5 are scarce. I would recommend it over the Swissport Lounge in terms of food and seating (unless you are trying to work with minimal distractions). I wouldn't come early for the lounge, but it is an okay place to grab a quick bite before your flight.
Cabin & Seat: Reverse herringbone seats are great and KLM's variant is every bit as good. The sizable storage and large footwell made it stand out among other variants. The bedding was very lacking however, and an area needing improvement.
Service: All the flight attendants I interacted with were very warm and enthusiastic. Requests were handled promptly and everyone always had a smile on.
Meal & Catering: This was one of the weaker parts of the flight. The courses outside of the dinner appetizer were rather bland. The drinks were okay, but not great. Dinner service finished a bit more than two hours after takeoff. On an transatlantic redeye, I wish the service could have taken less time to emphasize sleep.
Bottom Line: KLM offers a comfortable transatlantic flight that can often be gotten at a very good price with the Flying Blue Promos. While a bit lacking in the soft product, KLM has an excellent hard product and I wouldn't hesitate to book them again.