The airline with the best average rating is KLM Cityhopper with 7.0/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 15 minutes.More information
What was supposed to be a free week for me turned into a working week when I received a call from office that my colleague called in sick and if I was willing to position back to Birmingham to pick up our aircraft. Given that I had nothing planned and to do a favour for the company, I decided to accept their call and was booked on the latest flight to Birmingham.
After the call from Office, I received my itinerary about 15 minutes later, checked in for my flight to Birmingham and filled a Public Health Passenger Locator, which is mandatory to be done if travelling to the UK. Considering that the Netherlands is still an amber country for the UK, you needed to book a 2nd day test if fully vaccinated. Given that I am vaccination, I am still exempt from any testing and quarantine due to my line of work for the reasons you can find below.
About 5.30 pm I decided to move to the airport by public transport as my car was still parked in Germany due to my departure from there a few weeks earlier. No hassle as it has good connections despite travelling in a rush time and arrived at Schiphol around 6.30 pm. Check-in was not too busy given that I do have sky priority. The lady behind the counter checked my papers shortly, gave me an approval and instructed me to visit Gate D8 for a secondary papercheck and to get a stamp before heading to my actual gate. If this stamp was not present, you will be denied boarding.
I did however forget to take any pictures of the procedures prior to that. While security for Schengen seemed quite busy, the security line for international non schengen countries were deserted as you can see in the photo below. It did not take more than five minutes to clear, but unfortunately the border police was understaffed for the amount of people in line (about 20), so that took another 20 minutes or so to clear given that they still interrogated some people about their purpose of travelling to the Netherlands prior to departure, which is weird as they are leaving the country anyway, who cares?
The health check is done by KLM at Gate D8. It took about 10 minutes to clear and I was greeted by a friendly lady behind the counter who checked my papers again and gave me a clear to go. The lady instructed me to go to one of the gents near the exit to give a stamp on the sticker she gave me to verify it was fulfilled with a check of my passport. The gentleman however never verified my passport and didn't look like he enjoyed his job.
According to Dutch law at the time of departure, you could have drinks/food in any pub or restaurant as long as there is a possibility to be seated. (This is changed as of today by providing an indication that you are vaccinated or had a negative PCR test if seated inside (Something similar to what France applies to their restaurants). I just had a beer with my colleague who was travelling with me for about 10 minutes prior to boarding. The entire process of checking the papers took a bit longer than I anticipated., so we decided to sit in one of the closest pubs open to our gate, which unfortunately turned out to be a Heineken bar… Not the best choice :)
I expected our flight to be parked at the Embraer bay of KLM as it is common for the E175 jets of KLM, however today's flight would depart from Gate D26, which was an actual gate with a jetway connected to the bird that was bringing us over to Birmingham. This gate is however also one of the furthest away in the D-Pier and requires a walk of approx. 5 minutes I may say if you start from the beginning of D.
During my walk to our gate, there was not much of variety of aircraft to be spotted. It mostly consisted of KLM Cityhopper E190 jets and KLM's 737-800s who were all departing to the UK somehow tonight.
At the time of boarding according to our boarding card, the seating area was yet quiet, however it became very very crowded about 10 minutes later as the flight was fully booked once again for our flight to Birmingham. Most of them were British citizens heading home with a few non-UK citizens like me heading to the UK for work purpose.
Today's flight would be performed by PH-EXT. PH-EXT is a 3,7 year old Embraer 175 that has solely flown for KLM Cityhopper in it's short lifespan which can carry up to 88 passengers in KLM's configuration. While I am generally a fan of flying the Embraer jets, I find the smaller ones like the 170 and 175s the most comfortable ones to be on.
Boarding was called about 15 minutes prior to departure and we would be on time for our departure if it wasn't for a single person who decided not to show up for our departure, which delayed our flight by approximately 20 minutes as they had to offload his or her baggage. The captain apologized for the inconvenience it caused and promised us that he would do his utmost best to minimize the delay as much as possible.
While I was originally seated in Seat 20F, I decided to swap places with the guy from seat 21D so he could sit together with his girlfriend and I didn't mind to have an aisle seat for a short flight across the pond. Officially it is not allowed to swap seats on board given the pandemic without prior permission, but the flight attendant did not care much about it and the couple appreciated it too. No risk, no fun right?
The literature was exactly the same as my previous flight. An up-to-date magazine, safety card and a sick bag.
Departure was about 20 minutes late and I took an opportunity to take a photo of the cabin shortly after passing 10.000ft when the seatbelt lights turned off.
Given that I was stupid enough not to pay a visit to the toilet in the terminal, I also quickly went up to pay a visit to the small loo of the E175.
I was quite surprised to see the loo being so clean given that it was the last flight of the day and expected it be dirty. The toilet itself is very small and provides only the basic needs to clean yourself of all these gems.
Before heading back to my seat, I took a small shot of the cabin again from the aft galley, while one of the flight attendants was already busy handing out our complimentary snack. This procedure was shortly changed when the flight attendant in J was free and they combined it together with the complimentary drinks.
Ordered another Heineken for the day and the snacks were the same as my previous flight a few days earlier on the return leg.. The only difference was that these crisps were pizza seasoned instead of olives. I prefer the olives one however.
The captain checked in again to inform us that we were descending towards Birmingham and that we would land 20 minutes past our arrival time. He apologized once again for the delay and for not being able to shorten it due to the fact that they were 5th in line for the arrival into Birmingham with most other traffic being cargo traffic at this time of the day. It also gave the crew an indication to start cleaning the cabin.
Shortly after the long landing, we were parked at the exact same gate we departed from last friday. However the only difference was that the jetway wasn't connected to the plane today like the previous one was. Probably cause the Jetway supports the E190 and not the E175? I was not too shabby about it as I could take an excellent photo of our plane before leaving to the terminal.
Our arrival was intertwined with an arrival of a longhaul flight from the middle east. Did not check the airline, but it definitely made an absolutely chaos of the border control without any proper guideline and people cramped into one place. Pretty much everyone was pointed to one of the self-scan kiosks, even those who do not even qualify for it… Somehow all non-uk were rejected by the system and were directed to a manned counter where he asked us about our purpose of visit before letting us pass…..
It took about 30 minutes to clear and by this time, the luggage was already on our belt and we were off to our hotel for a night in Birmingham.
Despite being a short hop across the lake, the service given by KLM was ok. The complimentary meal service is appreciated and the E175 jet is just a great aircraft for those kind of flights. No excitement, yet no complain either.