Review of KLM flight Amsterdam Johannesburg in Business

Airline KLM
Flight KL591
Class Business
Seat 4F
Aircraft Boeing 777-200ER
Flight time 11:00
Take-off 14 Mar 13, 10:10
Arrival at 14 Mar 13, 22:10
KL   #27 out of 71 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 956 reviews
By GOLD 12972
Published on 25th May 2014

Welcome to the next segment in this itinerary that took me to South Africa for the first time. As I mentioned in the first report of this series, I am a frequent flyer, but had never crossed the Equator before. This trip is, therfore, particularly exciting for me.

Washington Dulles IAD - Amsterdam Schipol AMS, KLM, A330-200, Economy Comfort
Amsterdam Schipol AMS-Johannesburg O. R. Tambo JNB, KLM, B777-200, Business Class[YOU ARE HERE]
Johannesburg O. R. Tambo JNB - Paris Charles de Gaulle CDG, Air France, A380-800, Economy [COMING SOON]
Paris Charles de Gaulle CDG - Washington Dulles IAD, Air France, A380-800, Economy [COMING SOON]

We arrived from DC a bit early, but with still only a little over 2 hours before boarding of our next flight, I wanted to get to the KLM Crown Lounge immediately to take a shower before getting on a 12 hour flight. As much of an AvGeek as I am, knowing that Schipol has an awesome viewing deck, planespotting was not my priority.

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Already tired from the Transatlantic flight, upon arriving at the lounge I had to stand in line for almost 20 minutes just to sign up for the showers! I was not too pleased about that–they definitely need a better system as there were folks in that same line who needed rebooking and other services. Once I finally got to speak to an agent to sign up for the showers, I immediately inquired about availability for cash upgrades on the flight to JNB. Luckily there are seats available and at 240 Euros a person, it's an amazing deal for a 12hr flight! All three of us buy the upgrades without hesitating. Normally, I would have preferred a window seat, but since there were 3 of us travelling, we decided to take the 3 seats together in the middle section. Ah, the sacrifices we make for our friends :-)

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After standing in line and going through the upgrade process, there wasn't much time left for anything much but a shower and a quick sip of champagne. Yes it's only 9AM, but with the time difference it's 3AM for me so it's totally ok LOL

The lounge was super crowded, but it's still very pleasant and you can usually find a spot without too much trouble.

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Slightly disappointed that I didn't have time to go on the viewing terrace, once I saw it was snowing outside I didn't feel so bad

You can barely make it out, but it is snowing in this picture

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Our aircraft: PH-BQK baptised Mount Kilimanjaro…seems appropriate for an African destination
So it turned out the 772ER I could see from the lounge was our plane.

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The B777-200ER fleet is still equiped with the old seats–they're definitely outdated, but it's still way more comfortable than being in Y/Y+

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Excellent seat pitch

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The seats I would have preferred had I been by myself or if there were only two of us. They stayed empy for a very long time during boarding so I was thinking I'd be able to squat that row and spread out, but last minute two DL non-revs were put there.

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Pre-departure drink: Champagne Billecart-Salmon…better than the sparkling offered in the lounge (which was still decent).

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The Viktor & Rolf amenity kit. It looks nice, but there's not much inside.

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Rituals products in the lav to stay fresh on the long flight.

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The menu and wine list are handed out by our very friendly FA's at the end of boarding. KLM generally has friendly crews in my experience.

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Welcome on-board your flight to Johannesburg …personalized touch. Nice.

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Three choices for main entrées

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The wine list

We push back on time and announcements are made in English and Dutch. I imagine that these two languages are sufficient for the South Africans on board as Afrikaans speakers most likely understand Dutch, and English of course. If crews had to make announcements in the 11 official languages of South Africa, it would never end, LOL

Despite the snow, we did not de-ice. Taxi time was short and we were off to JNB!

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Pre-diner drinks are served right after the seat-belt sign came off.

Burning hot towel.

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Warm nuts are served with drinks. More Champagne for me.

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Flying over Paris. The moving map isn't the latest generation, but it does the trick–I like knowing where I am.

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Aside from the old appearance of the airshow, the rest of the IFE programming is essentially the same as on the A330 we were just on.

There's a pretty large library of music

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Dinner is served over my birthplace, Rodez, France..

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The salmon was quite good, with a generous portion.

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The main dish comes as we fly over the Baleares.

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I chose the lamb. The presentation of the dish is definitely not very pretty, but I enjoyed the dish.

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Cheese course over Algeria.

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I had no more room for dessert so I just had an Amarula digestif.

After the meal, I get up to stretch a bit and look out the window. I head for door 1R and discover the Sahara below us.

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The seat in sleep position. The angle is very pronounced and it's difficult to keep from sliding down. I figured out a way by putting my feet on the plastic/seat pocket area of the seat in front to stay in place.

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Water bottle are distributed after the meal.

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I was so tired that I was able to get a good 4 hours of solid sleep despite a few episodes of sliding down the seat.
When I wake up, we are over central Africa–good, I didn't want to miss crossing the Equator for the first time! I'm a nerd like that.

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The mid-flight snack was a choice of either sushi or a Kroket. I chose the Kroket, which is like a Dutch empenada or hot pocket. It was pretty good, but not very business class-y

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My first Equator crossing!

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After crossing the equator, I take another little nap. I asked our FA to wake me for the next meal and asked for another water bottle.

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After a good nap, the FA wakes me gently for the meal, just as I'd asked.

The choices for this meal are Vegetarian lasagne or a chicken dish. I chose the lasagna. I'm normally not a fan of vegetarian dishes, but this was rather tasty. I paired it with a very decent Rioja.

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At the beginning of our descent, FAs hand out the famous Blue Delft houses. This is one of the coolest things about KLM business class–a great souvenir.

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Almost there!

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We got to the gate about 5 minutes early.

Our plane at JNB

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We were among the first people out of the plane and breezed through immigrations. After a little stop at the arrival duty-free, our bags were already out. Good to see the priority tags work at JNB–that isn't the case everywhere. We then head to Europcar to pick up our rental car–shouldn't it be called Africar in Africa? :-)

I'll leave you with some tourism images of the hotel and Pretoria, where we stayed. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa and is about 40km north of Johannesburg.

Holiday Inn Pretoria

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The room.

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The Central Business District during a quick storm.

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Downtown by night seen from the room.

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The pool seen from the room.

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The pool with a view of the CBD/downtown

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The Union Buildings, seat of the government, seen from the hotel.

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Our hotel and the Voortrekker monument from the Union Buildings.

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The Union Buildings

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There is a really pretty park around the Union Buildings.

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A very African scene in the streets of Pretoria.

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I thought this was funny…saw this in the restrooms of the Voortrekker Monument. Is this sign really necessary? LOL

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The Voortrekker monument is a monument dedicated to the Boer settlers.

Bonteboks on the grounds of the Vootrekker Monument

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Freedom Park. A monument/park in Pretoria which honors all those who lost their lives fighting Apartheid. Its main attraction, The Wall of Names contains over 80,000 names of victims of that terrible regime.

Freedom Park also offers gorgeous views of Pretoria.

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Cabin crew9.0

KLM Crown Lounge 5 - Non Schengen


Amsterdam - AMS


Johannesburg - JNB



On-time flight despite the snow.

We all know these seats should have been changed out years ago, but after an overnight Transatlantic flight, they were very appealing. I managed to get some good rest despite sliding down the seat a few times.

Crew was great. Very friendly, professional, and attentive. KLM crews are often very friendly.

Catering was decent, but lacked class and presentation was downright bad. The mid-flight snack was something you'd expect in economy. The essential thing is that everything was good.

IFE, decent.

Information on the route Amsterdam (AMS) Johannesburg (JNB)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 6 reviews of 1 airlines on the route Amsterdam (AMS) → Johannesburg (JNB).


The airline with the best average rating is KLM with 7.4/10.

The average flight time is 10 hours and 47 minutes.

  More information


If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 109313 by
    rsman 399 Comments

    Thanks for this FR. I took the same plane at the end of March 2014 AMS to DXB. The IFE is too older

  • Comment 109323 by
    directorphilip2 82 Comments

    nice :)

  • Comment 109330 by
    East African 1543 Comments

    Nice FR, with an interesting bonus.
    This seat looks OK for a daytime journey

  • Comment 109362 by
    Esteban GOLD 16807 Comments

    Thanks Kévin for sharing, KLM has a really good catering, the seats are dated though but are being replaced by the better new one slowly.

    • Comment 294844 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5885 Comments

      Yes, like you say slowly...the roll-out of the new seats seems to be taking forever...that must be the AF influence. AF is always slow to introduce new seats (with the exception of the Premium Voyageyr rool-out, which was very fast.)

  • Comment 109444 by
    Avionero 77 Comments

    Thanks for this great FR with awesome pictures in the tourism bonus.
    The date printed on the menu is a very nice detail that I haven't seen before. The meal looked homemade, which in my opinion, is very good.
    LOL about your champagne time zones comment... Pity that you didn't ask for another cup while crossing the equator... ;)

    • Comment 294855 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5885 Comments

      Thanks for the comment! The meal was nothing fancy, but it was definitely good. The truth is, it's always a good time for Champagne, no matter how early or late :-)
      Yes, I should've asked for a glass when crossing the equator...I totally didn't even think of that.

  • Comment 109510 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    What an amazing trip report with fantastic bonus pics.

    You had a bargain for the upgrade. Who in his right mind wouldn't take that offer? Are elites the only ones able to upgrade or is it available to everyone on a first come first serve? I have an upcoming AMS-SFO trip and would love to find a way to upgrade.

    I am not a fan of KL's J seats but as you said it is much better than Y/Y+. Their catering looks a bit lacking for J with small portions and KL must be the only carrier that prints a date on their menus which is odd. If you have a cancellation that day I guess those menus cannot be used for a future flight. Kind of awkward to receive one without the correct date. Inventory of menus must be extremely precise I guess.

    • Comment 294999 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5885 Comments

      Thanks for the nice compliment! Anyone can upgrade, but KL doesn't really advertise them so you have to know. Sometimes you can upgrade during OLCI (try to chose a seat in J and it gives you a price), but upgrading in the lounge is definitely a convenient option as well. When you check in 24 hrs prior for your flight try seeing if you can chose a seat in J and then you can upgrade online. If it's not on offer during OLCI, you can always check at the airport.

    • Comment 295141 by
      jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

      Thanks for the tip. Good to know.

  • Comment 109514 by
    Chibcha SILVER 479 Comments

    It's nice to see the personalised Menu and not a generic one. The servings looked...homely, btw what's the kroket filled with?

    KLM's IFE software looks a bit dated, it annoys me a bit that they list movies n-times because of the different language options, it's not easy to navigate.

    How caring of you to seat along with your friends...I wouldn't have (willingly) left a window seat (I even made a contract with my GF that she'll never take the window seat...ever).

    Pretoria looks awesome, I find it a really interesting city...maybe more than Joburg(?)

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 295000 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5885 Comments

      Thanks for the comment! I like the personalized menu. I think it's a nice touch. The kroket was filled with beef. Yeah, the IFE was kind of outdated. Normally, I like to always have a window, and I did regret missing a lot of scenery while flying over Africa, but I was so tired I slept most of the time anyway, so I would have missed the scenery either way.Pretoria is nice, unfortunately a lot of the city is not safe to visit, and even in the historical district downtown with all the government buildings it does not feel very safe at times, but it is definitely safer and prettier than Jo'burg. South Africa has a reputation for being dangerous, and it can be, but I don't think that it should keep people from visiting, you just have to be smart and careful. I personally can't wait to go back to South Africa. Next time I'll check out Cape Town.

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