The 2nd sector will be on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from Bangkok to Taipei. KLM operates the AMS-BKK-TPE sector daily and as a fifth freedom carrier, it offers great fares on the BKK-TPE sector. My one-way BKK-TPE fare was only 6,170baht, which is almost half the price of TG, BR and CI. A return fare was even cheaper at 9,000baht in economy and less than 13,000baht in Business, which is cheaper than the other airlines' economy class fares!
Due to the flooding mentioned earlier, I changed our KLM flights to depart on the day we reached BKK. Surprisingly, no change fees were required even though I had booked the lowest tier fare.
Our transit stop was initially scheduled to be 2hr45min but due to the delay in arrival on the Tiger flight, the transit stop was shortened to slightly more than 2hrs. Our scheduled departure time was 1340hrs. Check in was done for the KLM flight swiftly as there were hardly any passengers at the counters. According to the check-in agent, the flight was relatively empty, which I heard is the norm on the BKK-TPE sector.
30 October 2011 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KL 877 Bangkok (BKK) - Taipei (TPE) B747-400 PH-BFH 'City of Hong Kong' Economy Class
Boarding pass for the flight.
After grabbing a quick lunch, we went through immigration and proceeded to the gate for boarding. Also did some plane spotting. However BKK is not too photo-friendly as many of the glass windows were filthy. Some of the more decent photos I took:
Republic of Singapore Air Force C130 sending humanitarian aid to BKK. 2 of these planes arrived!
PH-BFH which will ferry us to TPE. It has been a long time since I last flew a B747! The plane is still in its KLM Asia livery.
However just before the scheduled departure time, a dreaded announcement was made. The flight would be delayed due to a technical problem with the aircraft. We were told that we would be updated on the situation in 30min. Business class passengers were invited to proceed back to the lounge. 30min later, the ground staff made another announcement that all of us would be given a 250baht meal voucher for any food outlets in the airport and we would to return to the gate at 1500hrs for further updates. In fairness, KLM ground staff has handled the situation pretty well and I used the voucher to relax at coffee joint with coffee and ice-cream. At 1500hrs, we proceeded back to the gate where the ground staff updated us again that the flight would be departing at 1600hrs.
Rescheduled departure timing.
Drinks and cake were offered at the boarding gate. Finally we boarded the B747-400 just before 1600hrs. Was welcomed at the door by the crew and directed to the seat. My seat was at 62K, just before the 2-seaters at the rear.
At the gate
Seat pitch is pretty tight at 31 but at least my legs can extend under the seat in front. PTVs at every seat as this plane was refurbished recently.
Another view of the seat pitch. If you notice, all seats had the airsick bags placed in a position with the KLM logo facing outwards.
Items in the seat pocket. Holland Herald inflight magazine, safety card and airsick bag.
Shortly before boarding is completed, the crew came down the aisles with a stack of cups and a bottle of mineral water, offering pre-takeoff water to us lowly economy passengers. Nice gesture by the crew, but not sure if this is the norm on KLM.
The plastic cups used by KLM have a lovely design on them.
A CX B773 pushing back.
The IFE system contains a comprehensive list of the food and beverages offered onboard even though no menus were given out. As you can see, KLM only serves branded drinking water onboard. No airplane tap water was served throughout the flight!
After all passengers had boarded, we still had a bit of wait due to ATC controls. According to the pilot, our delay was due to a faulty wheel brake which required replacement. He also apologized for the delay. Flight time was estimated to be 3hrs. I must say it would be even very tiring for the crew as they would be operating BKK-TPE-BKK sectors and with the delay, it would be almost a 12hrs shift for them!
Finally we pushed back with the safety video playing. To be frank, the safety video is rather boring.
Starting our taxi to Rwy01R.
We had quite a long taxi to the runway as we were number 5 for takeoff abd only 1 runway was in use at that time for both takeoffs and landings. By the time we reached the end of the runway, it was already nearing 1700hrs.
Take off from Rwy01R. You can see the floodings towards the north of the airport shortly after takeoff.
More flooded fields.
Partially submerged houses.
Flight info shortly after takeoff.
Post-takeoff announcement by the crew.
Headphones were distributed shortly after seatbelt signs were switched off. They were the clip-on-ear type and were for yours to keep. The 2-pinned prone sets can be adjusted to 1-pinned! IFE control was at the side of the armrest, similar to SQ's older fleet.
After distributing headsets, crew came down the aisle with hot towels! I thought hot towel service only existed on Asian/Middle Eastern carriers! The towels may not be the thick cotton type used by SQ but they were still relatively thick disposable very hot towels. And the towels were lavender scented too!
Unfortunately, shortly after takeoff, the interactive portion of the IFE crashed and we were all unable to access the AVOD system. Only channel that could be seen on the PTVs were the flight info/map. Video channels hanged and audio channels were not working too. The crew tried to reset the system but to no avail.
Cabin view. PTVs were either stuck on the Interactive mode welcome page or video mode. Quite an empty cabin too. The whole plane seemed around 50% full at most.
Cruising at a high 41,000ft.
About an hour after takeoff, the friendly KLM crew started the meal service. On this flight, the crew were all with smiles while conducting their service. The left aisle was served first by 2 crew (one to hand out meal trays while the other to serve drinks) followed be the right aisle. Another crew would be heating/preparing the meals in the galley and assisting in the service later on. Only 3 crew were serving each section of the cabin.
There were 2 choices of meals: Chicken with noodles or a vegetarian stir-fry with rice. I chose the chicken. The meal tray was very colourful! On the tray was a salad, main, fruits, warm roll, butter and plastic cutlery. Interestingly, the warm roll, which was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, was already sliced into half for easy spread of butter. The plastic cutlery were also the best quality of disposable cutlery I have ever come across.
Appetizer: Thai salad
Main Course: Chicken with noodles and vegetables. It was delicious! BKK catering certainly did not disappoint.
Fresh fruits. With papaya, melon, pineapple and grapes.
For drinks, the whole bar selection is available. I had a chilean white wine and an apple juice, all served with a pleasant smile. The wines were served in bottles.
After the meal service, crew came out with a cart offering coffee/tea and after-meal liquors. I had a Delicious hot tea and Amarula Cream (a South African version of Baileys).
After the meal service, there was nothing much else to do as the IFE system was down. I visited the lavatory, but nothing interesting with in there with the bare minimum amenities. At least I had the flight map/info to past the time.
Cabin view towards the rear.
I had also ordered a KLM B744 model for 9.90euros to be delivered during the flight. It was promptly delivered by the crew after the meal service.
Soon we were nearing Taipei and started our descent. Crew also came round with a round of juice/water just before our descend.
Our arrival was slightly delayed as were were put in a holding pattern due to heavy traffic (again!). We circled twice before commencing our final approach.
Landing in Taipei Taoyuan Rwy05R. Taoyuan is the main International airport of Taipei 3hrs late.
Parked at Terminal 2 beside a JAL B737-800
Bangkok - BKK
Taipei - TPE
Overall, other than the unfortunate technical delay and the IFE system crash, it was quite a nice flight on KLM. Crew were friendly and delivered the service with smiles, meals were good, drinks were plenty. However their service recovery (both for the delay and the IFE crash) could be better. Even though KLM may not be there yet with the 5-star asian/ME carriers, they are still a rather decent airline to fly on.
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