This summer, I headed to Europe on our annual Eurotrip to visit my in-laws, catch up with friends in Brussels, and explore a new European destination. This trip was also special because I was invited by Visit Holland to explore The Netherlands beyond Amsterdam (more about those adventures coming soon). Ask any random Dutch person 10 Dutch things they are proud of, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will more than likely be on the list (at least in my random survey of my Dutch family and friends). This trip I had the experience of flying KLM at all levels: International Business Class, Economy, and intercontinental. Here’s my review:
Flying KLM Business Class: I was fortunate enough to fly KLM business class from Washington-Dulles to Amsterdam Schiphol. It all starts with the lounge before departure: KLM and Air France share a lounge at Dulles. I am used to the cramped space at the United Lounge at the same airport and must say this lounge was a breath of fresh air… literally. The space was bright and neat with a wide selection of warm and cold snacks, a full premium bar (that at 6 1/2 months pregnant I couldn’t enjoy… boo), and most importantly it was not as crowded as the other domestic airline lounges at Dulles.
On board: The seating area is comfortable and the staff pays individual attention to each passenger in the business class cabin. The food selection has its ups and downs: the starter of the pumpkin soup and cheese for dessert were delicious but I wasn’t a big fan of the salmon main course. I enjoyed a nice breakfast service of quiche, fresh fruit, and pastries right before we landed, which was perfect. During this flight I did not have any alcoholic beverages but noticed that it was abundantly offered. One of the bonuses of flying KLM business class are the unique amenities: a beautiful clutch by Dutch designer Jan Taminiau and their iconic Delft blue ceramic traditional houses filled with Dutch jenever. The best detail came at the end of the trip when the staff noticed I was pregnant and gifted me a cute KLM bib wishing me the best for my pregnancy.
Flying KLM Economy: So we’re not always lucky to get upgrades… on my way back home from Europe I flew KLM Economy from Amsterdam Schiphol to Washington-Dulles. Given that at that point I was over 7 months pregnant, I decided to purchase an upgrade to their “economy comfort”. I am grateful I upgraded the night before for $67 as they were offering it in-flight for 110 Euros (around $123). The service again was great, the food was good for economy, and the economy comfort was as comfortable as any other airline premium economy section. The one thing I wish both transcontinental flights offered was Wi-Fi. I get a lot of work done when I am up in the air. I inquired about Wi-Fi in future KLM flights and was told that is a feature they are looking to include possibly next year. Again, what makes flying KLM special is the service. The crew on both these flights was friendly, kind, and patient.
Flying KLM Intra European: During our European sejour, we flew KLM from Amsterdam to Palermo, Sicily. This flight was a two segment flight: Amsterdam -Rome via KLM and Rome – Palermo, operated by Alitalia but part of the overall KLM ticket. I also purchased an economy comfort seat on the Amsterdam – Rome flight for $14 which was great as the flight was full, unfortunately, I didn’t have the option to do the same on Alitalia on the KLM website. The check-in process could have been more streamlined: I had to check in luggage, so the flight agents at Amsterdam made me go to a different counter to pay for my luggage (15 EUR) and then return to another counter to drop off my bag. However, I learned that purchasing your ticket via the KLM website gives you a discount when checking in a bag.
Thankfully, check-in was the only snafu. I think flying KLM and Alitalia back to back really enhances why KLM is so much better: the aircraft are aesthetically better taken care of, KLM offers a complimentary sandwich and drinks to all of its passengers on short haul flights, a treat in regular fare airlines these days, and the overall service is much better. A two leg trip with two completely different airlines makes a point of comparison quite easy!
What Makes Flying KLM Special: One of the things that makes flying KLM so unique is how well the brand etches Dutch culture into every part of the flight experience. From the Delft blue miniature ceramic houses given to Business Class passengers, to the story behind the locally sourced Dutch cheese written on the sandwich wrapper in Economy, there’s a touch of Dutch pride everywhere you turn. You don’t see that much these days when it comes to airlines. No wonder KLM is the oldest airline still in operation…
The Verdict: I had a great flight experience in all of their service levels during my multiple trips. I am hoping that my next transcontinental flight will offer Wi-Fi and the connectivity with KLM partners on their website runs a bit more smoothly for future travels. My biggest takeaway from these flight experiences was the great service I received at all levels of the trip: check-in, lounge, and on board. Definitely Dutch hospitality at its best!