The airline with the best average rating is KLM with 7.4/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 20 minutes.More information
While I did finish my working duty with my company in Leipzig Halle Airport the previous day late in the afternoon, there was no chance for me to return home on time via train, so I made a simple request to my company office to book me a flight back home the following day via Berlin as that would drastically reduce my travel time by about three hours for a few euros more in total and would give me a chance to do a rapid test, which is mandatory to enter the Netherlands as a flight crew, which was not available at Leipzig at that moment.
A few minutes later I did receive my booking and found out that I'll be flying on KLM's newest E-195-E2, which is also a first one to be reported on flight report.
While it is only mandatory for the Netherlands to show a rapid antigen test as a flight crew which is done within 24 hours from departure, I decided to book myself a slot for a rapid PCR test with Medicare which can give you a valid PCR result within 40 minutes and is located in the departure hall of Terminal 1-2. It's not cheap, but it does solve me a lot of issues I've had as a commercial pilot myself entering the Netherlands on several occassions and the company would cover my costs anyhow.
While staying in Schönefeld (close to the old Schönefeld airport), I ordered a taxi about two hours prior to departure which dropped me off in front of terminal 1-2 for approximately 18 euros for a ride that would not take more than ten minutes in total.
After many miscalculations, fights and wrong estimations, the airport finally opened it's doors to the public in November 2020 and is partially named after a former German chancellor Willy Brandt.
I entered the departure hall via one of the doors from the drop off section and ended up in a large open space with several blocks of check-in kiosks and while it does look pretty nice and modern, I would not be surprised this terminal to be very crowded in better times due to the lack of larger open spaces… There were already certain hotspots where it became easily too crowded in Covid-19 times….
KLM uses the check-in island no. 9, which was in the aft of terminal 1 in a somewhat separate building attached to the main departure hall and another flaw is easily noticed here as these huge pillars are blocking a large portion of your view when you are que to check-in. You may wonder what kind of lousy job has been done by either architecture or decoration… Can't say that I'm impressed as of yet.
Dropping off my luggage which took another 5-10 minutes to clear as one of the guys in front of me was denied boarding for not having a valid identification with him (had only his driving license), my own check-in progress was done within a minute and went straight for security, which again was not really properly signed. Eventually found it in the aft corner and it took about 15 minutes to clear with appropiate distances due to Covid-19. One of the only airports I've been yet where social distancing was properly managed by security staff.
After a short walk through an empty hallway you end up in a duty free shop, which you need to cross to enter the terminal itself…. A phenomona that is becoming more popular over time and I personally am not a huge fan of it either.
Once you are airside, you will end up in a large open space with a variety of restaurants and duty free shops, unfortunately most of the restaurants were shut due to the ongoing pandemic and those restaurants that were open did only provide a take-away option by providing a minimal selection of drinks, coffee/tea and sandwiches.
And of course it is not a German airport if they didn't showcase a German sports car like almost all airports do in Germany. An interesting choice of colour for this BMW M4 though.
Berlin does not publish your gate till about 90 minutes prior to your departure, so I sat myself down at gate B03 with this Airbus A320 of Eurowing sitting idle and being serviced by a mechanic for a potential afternoon departure. In the back of the photo you could also see a large portion of EasyJet's fleet that is based in Berlin being stored pending for better times. Berlin does however give you pretty sights over the tarmac and good opportunities to spot aircraft.
About fourty minutes to departure, I decided to move myself to gate A02, which was the gate for our departure to Amsterdam and it didn't take long for our aircraft to arrive. Gate A02 however is not the best one to have as it doesn't contain any seating area and if you wanted to find a seat for yourself, you had to move to the seating area of Gate A03, which was already crowded due to a departure of Hop! to Paris around the same time.
Our flight would be performed by PH-NXC, which is KLM Cityhopper's newest E195-E2 with an age of only 0.1 years old and was delivered to them on the 25th of March 2021. It is currently equipped by two Pratt & Whitney PW1900G engines and is configured with 132 seats with an European business class. No Wi-fi as of yet, though KLM is making plans of adding it to their regional fleet.
The Airbus A330 blocked gate A02 for a while as it was not fully ready for pushback when our aircraft arrived and did delay our flight by a few minutes, but it was soon ready for it's flight to Istanbul. Given that it was parked at our gate, it makes me believe that the current set up allows Berlin to use any gate for either Schengen or International departures with the upper floor being for international non-schengen departures. I'm not 100% sure, but it is highly likely. A clever set-up if it was so that you do not need to worry about the use of these gates.
OE-ICT was taxiing out for a departure to Hurghada. A better destination indeed and hopefully soon their will be more flights like these to sunnier destinations.
Boarding did start about 10 minutes to our departure and was done in a speedy manner…. Within 15 minutes everything was on board and it took no more than five minutes longer for our pushback. Despite KLM Cityhopper being able to carry the same amount of passengers as the E190 due to some disagreement with their pilot union about the payment, the cabin was pretty full. I think the load may have been somewhere between 80 to 85%. A promising load.
I was located at 16F with an older Embraer of Hop! parked next to us and you can clearly see one of the major adjustments between old and new as the wing of the newer E2 is a larger and more streamlined without winglets.
The seats are of a new variant too which I am not a fan of. A iron board without a proper headrest and it would be uncomfortable for longer flights of two or more hours… though what I loved about the E2 is that the windows are very very large. (The photo was taking after disembarkation and not of my row as seat 16F is perfectly aligned to the window, but the cabin itself was very neat upon boarding).
I'm about 1.83m tall (or 6" for Americans) and legroom was of no issue. It is definitely better compared to their older normal E190s, but is most likely due to the seat design of these seats.
And these newer seats also come with an usb plug to charge your devices.
The table size is reduced quite a lot compared to the older cabin and it is now equipped with a cupholder, which is pretty sturdy for the cups being used by KLM Cityhopper. Logical of course! and the literature you could find at the bottom of your seat near your legs.
A shot of the very modern and clean cabin.
And every seat is outfitted with an individual airplug, a button to call your flight attendant and a small, but bright reading light if you wished to read at night.
Boarding the aircraft did not take more than 10 minutes to complete and five minutes later we were pushing back after the captain welcomed us on board for our flight to Amsterdam.
About 14 minutes past our original departure time we were rolling on runway 25R for our departure to Amsterdam with a bit of bumpy weather due to several build ups in the vicinity.
Also I must admit that I do love the look of those wings and it gives me an impression that we're flying in a larger jet than we're actually in.
The literature in the seat pocket is KLM's magazine Holland Herald, a sickbag with one of their delft blue houses on it and a safety card. KLM is one of the few airlines that do publish their magazines in Covid-19 times. Unfortunately the aircraft is not equipped with any wi-fi as of yet.
About twenty minutes into flight, the very friendly and pro-active cabin crew came out to serve us. Most drinks were available minus the alcohol ones as KLM does not serve them on regional flights in the morning and early afternoon. I ordered a glass of water and it came with some vegan crisps and an antibacterial tower.
KLM announced a year ago that they would only serve vegetarian dishes on regional routes for durability and environmental reasons and recently announced that they will cut plastic cutlery too by replacing them with wooden cutlery and to serve meals with a longer expiry date, so that they will be able to throw less food away and could cut down on aircraft needing to be serviced for catering.
While I am okay with this in general, I find it quite odd about the fact that they served us crisps on a flight that departed at 12.15….. Can't say that I'm much of a fan of eating them so early, so I didn't really touch it.
While the table itself is quite a lot smaller than the previous ones, they are equiped with a phoneholder, so you easily can watch a video on your smartphone.
An impression of the cupholder, which again was pretty sturdy as the cup didn't move an inch during turbulence.
Loving the view too.
About 10 minutes prior to landing, the captain checked in with us again to inform us that we were in approach to Amsterdam and that we would be 10 minutes ahead of arrival time. Thanked us for flying and while I was expecting an approach to runway 27 itself, the pilots made a circle to land to runway 06…. which is not a common approach, but it would drastically reduce our taxi time though.
Landing was done professionally and it took us no more than five minutes from landing to start our disembarkation. Cabin crew announced that they would call us per row and to not move when our row was not called, but the moment the aircraft came to a complete stop, the entire cabin stood up and the flight attendants did not proceed with the procedure they just explained a few minutes earlier.
While those procedures may work to increase social distancing, it would not work in practical use as the majority simply do not listen to their calls.
A last view of our aircraft that brought us over.
Parked at gate C06, it was a short walk to our baggage claim and it took a total of 15 minutes for my luggage to arrive which is very uncommon for Amsterdam as it sometimes could take up to an hour for them to appear. No border check nor PCR verification check was performed by any border agent other than the check-in lady in Berlin.
Given that Amsterdam was pretty fast with luggage today, I could catch an earlier train resulting in me being home about 30 minutes earlier than I expected to be. Sweet!
Thanks for your time!
Though I'm not a massive fan of KLM's newest seat for the E195-E2, the aircraft itself was a great experience with large windows and a quiet cabin. The service given by the flight attendants was great, though I did not understand the catering by serving us crisps as somewhat of a lunch. A sandwich, muffin or a cookie would have been a more suitable option.