The report of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines on the SIN-DPS sector for a weekend beach getaway! I was checking for flights to Bali about a month before the trip and KLM came out cheapest at S$313 return all-in (could have got it cheaper at S$303 if not for a day's worth of contemplation), which is cheaper than the budget airlines AirAsia/Jetstar on the same dates (QZ and VF/JQ selling at around S$400 return) and Qatar, also at S$400+. For S$560 return, you could even fly in World Business Class on KLM, which for the price, would not even get you an economy ticket on SQ to Bali! SQ is selling tickets in economy for S$700+ which is ridiculously high for a 2hrs sector in a prehistoric era plane! Not to mention the SQ flights I checked out departs within 15min of the KLM flights. Wonder who in the right frame of mind would pay such crazy prices on SQ. It was not my first time flying on KLM (check out my previous report on the BKK-TPE sector) and this time, it would be interesting to see how they fare on an even shorter regional flight compared to the legacy asian carriers.
Booking on the KLM website was easy enough and I also signed up for their FFP for the fun on it. Interesting fact, you can redeem a one-way economy tkt SIN-TPE on Skyteam member China Airlines for just 10,000 flying blue miles! Well, guess I would not be flying KLM too much to reach the 10,000miles mark. Seats could be selected online but KLM do charge extra for seats in Economy Comfort (more legroom and recline), seats at emex rows and bulkheads and seats in pairs.
Online check-in was allowed up to 30hrs before departure, and the check-in procedure was easily accomplished. Now I only need to collect my boarding pass at the airport. Also, KLM has a Singapore-based facebook page which had a promotion where you add your reservation code and would expect a surprise upon checking in. Free upgrade to Business? Haha… I added mine and wondered what would the surprise be.
On the day of departure, we proceeded to Terminal One for dropping of luggage and getting the boarding passes. KLM check-in row was at Row 2, and was not very busy. There were very cool electronic signages at the check-in counters!
Boarding passes. Lets see what the surprise was? A nice Bali notebook with a thank you letter was handed to me by the friendly check-in agent. No upgrade to Business…. However, another check-in agent at the side, probably the supervisor, then decided to upgrade us to Economy Comfort for free! Still an economy seat, but considered an upgrade I guess, hehe…
After checking-in and wished a pleasant flight and holiday by the check-in staff (they were real friendly!), we proceeded through immigration. Got the duty free cosmetics as required by my mum and then did some plane-spotting. Not many interesting movements though.
China Airlines A340 and one of the many Jetstar A320s.
Biman Bangladesh B738. This livery looked so similar to CX!
Proceeded to Gate C26, where the plane had arrived from Amsterdam. As the gate is at the end of the pier at T1, it offered a fantastic view of the runway as taxiway!
Jetstar A332 on the remote. There were 2 of these Jetstar birds at the remote stands.
Thai B772 arriving from Bangkok.
Xiamen Airlines B738 taxiing to the gate.
Finnair A340 arriving from Santa Claus Land aka Helsinki.
Asiana Cargo B744F
SQ A333 touching down.
Qantas Longreach B744 from Frankfurt.
Turkish Airlines A333 taxi to gate.
Here comes the Lion (B737-900ER)
27 April 2012 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KL 835 Singapore(SIN) - Denpasar Bali(DPS) B777-300ER PH-BVF Economy Comfort
The whole boarding gate was packed! Seemed to be a very full flight. KLM's B773ER has a total capacity of 425 pax, which is a very dense configuration indeed! Boarding was announced to be delayed for 10min due to aircraft preparation and ground staff announced a couple of times the boarding procedure. Families with kids/needy/elderly, premium pax, followed by economy according to rows from the rear of the aircraft to the front. Surprisingly, boarding was very orderly when it began. In order to expediate boarding, other than the World Business Class pax boarding through Door 1, economy pax with seats F-K could also board via Door 1, passing through the Business Class cabin on the way to the seat.
KLM's newest B777-300ER PH-BVF Yakushima would be flying me to Bali today!
Was welcomed aboard by friendly crew at the door. Newspapers were also available at the door (not sure if they were only meant for Business Class or for all pax). Passed through the World Business Class cabin on the way to my seat. Lots of kids in Business today! Jealous….
Magazine rack in Business Class.
Reached my seat at the second row of Economy Comfort. It is just a normal economy seat, but with more seat pitch at 34 and more recline. First impression, aisle and seat width is really narrow (3-4-3 configuration in economy) but bearable if one is not horizontally challenged. But the legroom more than made up for it. For me, I would prefer having more seat pitch than wide seats. Still a rather comfortable seat if your seatmate is not too wide haha. PTVs, headphone jack and remote control are on the seatback.
The mighty GE engines. QF B744 parked beside.
Barely minutes after I have settled down, doors were closed and armed. Welcome announcement was made in Dutch and English and we began our pushback with the safety demo playing on the PTVs. Flight time was announced to be 2hrs15min.
Listen to the start-up of the GE engines!
Preparing to taxi.
When we started the taxi, I noticed a Qatar B77W also departing to Bali as well as a SQ B772 to Bali too! There were 3 B777s departing within 10 minutes to Bali! Both the flights were taking off from Rwy20C which was normally the runway used for takeoffs. However we did not turn towards Rwy20C but proceeded ahead to Rwy20R! A very rare occurance as this is predominantly the landing runway and there were other planes queuing at Rwy20C too. Hmm, special departure clearance for KLM? During this time, QR (1658hrs) and SQ (1702hrs) took off for Bali.
Taxi to Rwy20R.
During taxi. Rare to taxi along this route.
Finally we took off at 1704hrs to Bali! Almost 30min behind schedule. See the rare takeoff from Rwy20R. Excuse our conversation in the video.
Climbing out of Singapore.
Nice view of southern Singapore…
Over Batam, Indonesia.
Then a right turn heading towards Bali. Don't the GE engine looked gorgeous?
Soon seatbelt signs were switched off and a service video was played. Lets explore the seat further. Cabin view of economy and economy comfort. There are pseudo dividers between the 2 cabins. Fully packed flight with no empty seats at all!
Inflight magazine and safety card in the seat pocket.
First, the crew came down the aisle distributing earphones , the clip-over ear type.
Followed by lavender scented hot towels! It was the disposable type but was still a rather big and thick towel.
I fired up the PTV with a chinese movie. There were plenty of choices in the AVOD system and it was fairly easy to navigate. However till far, QF's IFE still wins with the ease of use and movies/tv choices.
Yes, I am in economy class….
Cruising at 37000ft.
About half hour after takeoff, meal service started. Special meals were distributed first by the crew followed by the standard meals on carts. There were no choices offered. I read that KLM used to offer a choice of meals on this sector but I guess it was scrapped.
The tray presentation was very nice! On the tray were a starter, crispy hot roll with butter, main course and a dessert. Comparable to what major asian carriers would serve, and I dare say probably even better than what SQ would serve in economy on this sector.
Main: Curry chicken with yellow rice and sambal brinjal. Tasted much better than it looked! Might be a tad spicy for the western palette but perfect for me!
Dessert: Apple crumble. Nice sweet ending but would have preferred something more sinful!
Cold drinks were served together with the meals. Wines, beer, juices, soft drinks, carbonated water (perrier) and mineral water were available on the meal cart top. KLM does not serve tap water during meal service! Who can resist a Dutch beer on a Dutch airline? I also had an orange juice to go, all served with a wide smile and Enjoy your meal from the wonderful KLM crew!
Now, lets talk about the KLM crew. They may not be as young, slim and well-groomed as the crew on asian carriers but their service was just as good or even better than some of the sweet young girls. I could only judge the crew based on the ones serving my aisle but if all KLM crew were similar, then they would be fantastic! A motherly crew member was serving my aisle and she was such a warm and friendly figure, with genuine smiles throughout the whole flight. Even though this short flight was really tough for the crew with a meal service and full load, they remained professional throughout and never appeared to be in a rush. All the crew really worked hard for the entire 2 hrs of flight to complete the service, all the way till 5min before landing!
During meal collection, coffee/tea and post-dinner liquors were served. Yes, KLM actually proactively offered liquors with coffee/tea. Also, fresh milk was even offered from milk cartons with coffee/tea even though sugar/creamer sachets were given out. On SQ, coffee/tea would be served together with the meal tray and liquors would only be available upon request. I had a hot tea.
The sun is setting…
Dusk has fallen.
Made a routine visit to the lavatory. No amenities except for the necessary.
A crew collecting meal trays and serving coffee/tea/liquors.
Another cabin view after meal service. A crew attending to a passenger. Notice how narrow the aisle is.
We only had slightly more than half hour of flight left after the meal service. Duty-free sales was also conducted. Gosh, I am getting impressed with the quality of cabin service offered on this short flight!
The pilot came on with some arrival announcements shortly before descent.
We soon started our descent into Bali but seatbelt signs only came on halfway through the descent, which is about 10+min prior to landing. Made SQ's you have to be belted up 30min before landing rule seemed so ridiculous! The crew made a quick sweep through the cabin to collect any leftover trash and ensure all are belted up. AVOD was also switched off and PTVs only showed the flight map. Not that I am complaining though.
Pilot only announced for crew to take their landing positions barely minutes to landing when the gears came down.
Landing into Denpasar Bali Rwy27.
We had a short taxi to the gate after landing. I was trying to spot the SQ and QR flights which departed before us but they were nowhere to be seen. Then I saw the SQ flight landing behind us, followed by QR! All 3 airlines operated B777s, and so I am not very sure what magic did our KLM pilot did for us to have priority landing?!
Docked at the gate and disembarkation was very swift as we were towards the front of economy. A look at my economy comfort seat.
Passing through World Business Class cabin. Noticed that amenity kits were distributed in Business on this short flight!
Goodbye Yakushima, with future Skyteam partner in the background.
Luckily our KLM flight had landed first as the arrival immigration became a sea of chaos after passengers from SQ and QR flights (which I believe were also choc-a-block) came down. Easily a thousand passengers arriving within 10 minutes!!
Singapore - SIN
Denpasar - DPS
Impression of KLM after this short flight? Pleasantly surprised! Flying KLM on the SIN-DPS route was really value-for-money. Seats may be a bit cramped but definitely not as bad as the budget carriers. Service was great and very much comparable to the major asian carriers. I guess the many praises lauded by reviewers flying KLM on the SIN-DPS route is truely justified. And with KLM having daily flights on the SIN-DPS route, it has given us travellers based in Singapore another great option to fly to Bali!
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