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    Hey. This is my first trip report ever. Hope you'll like it. By the way, sorry for the mistakes.


    Winter holidays arrived and I decided to visit a relative in The Netherlands. I have chosen KLM just to have a new experience. I've never flew them nor TAM, the company they fly codeshare with from EZE to GRU.

    At Buenos Aires' Ezeiza Airport (EZE)

    I arrived at about 4 p.m. to the airport. I went directly to TAM's counters. Once there, check-in wasn't very quick, but the girl there was very cool and sweet so I just relaxed. Apparently she was new on her job and didn't knew if she could check me up to Schiphol or just to Guarulhos. Finally she did after asking another guy there.

    There I realized our flight today was operated by Varig. Well, that wasn't that bad. Varig and TAM are merging, so they are operating all flights EZE-GRU and GRU-EZE chodeshared. I flew Varig last January when flying to JFK, but that time was Economy (MD-11 and 777). So, another new experience today.

    The counter's girl gave me the VIP Lounge invitation and I went there. TAM's lounge is American Express Card's "Club Centurión", situated on the first floor after the smoking-permitted zone. It isn't great, but you have free drinks and a computer with free 512k Internet service. I went out for a while to say bye bye to some friends that were going to Paris' Charles de Gaulle (Roissy, CDG) with Air France (777) and then back to the lounge.

    At 5 o'clock boarding started.

    Airline: TAM Brazilian Airlines
    Flight number: JJ 8001
    (Note: operated by Varig Brasil as RG 8001)
    To: Aeroporto de Guarulhos in Guarulhos, São Paulo, Brazil (GRU)
    Airplane: McDonell Douglas MD-11
    Registration: Unknown
    Seat: 10J
    Take off: July 11st 2003, 6:01 p.m. (Local time)
    Landing: July 11st 2003, 8:22 p.m. (Local time)

    After boarding we took off. It is nice to fly over Buenos Aires on a sunny winter day. As it was 6 p.m., it was dusk and the city looked really nice.

    About 20 minutes later, an asian FA asked me whether I'd like meat or pasta. I said meat. You should remember that Brazil (specially São Paulo area) has the largest outside-Japan Japanese community. She was really nice though she didn't speak Spanish nor Portuñol, a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese we all speak in South America. So, for the first time ever, I spoke English aboard of a Brazilian-flag plane. Drink: Guaraná, a Brazilian sort of cola drink, let's say.

    Food was just excellent. The churrasco (Brazilian meat) was perfect and so were the potatos and the salad. Dessert was composed by different sorts of cheese, which were fine. That finished, I decided to sleep. Varig seats are old (except for the new 777), but still comfortable. Comfortable for a 2-hour flight, but not for the one to Tokyo indeed. No PTVs and it doesn't become an almost-bed, like other ones.

    At about 8:00 p.m. we started our descent over a cold São Paulo. Landing was the best one I ever had. Just perfect.

    At São Paulo's Guarulhos Airport (GRU)

    After disembarking I went to Varig/Lufthansa/Japan Airlines/South African/KLM lounge. Of course it was very crowded, like always, but I could find a free computer with Internet access. The nice thing about Guarulhos is that I always find a friend of mine there. This time wasn't the exception and I found a friend of mine travelling also to Amsterdam, but he was doing it with Varig. I imagine he had a great time flying on RG's B777. After having a conversation with him, he had to board for his GRU-CDG-AMS flight, read a newspaper (Jornal do Brasil) and went to my gate.

    Boarding started at 9:55 p.m.

    Airline: KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines
    Flight number: KL 798
    To: Luchthaven Schiphol in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands (AMS)
    Airplane: Boeing 747-406M Combi
    Registration: PH-BWF "Shanghai"
    Seat: 6C (main deck)
    Take off: July 11st 2003, 11:00 p.m. (Local time)
    Landing: July 12st 2003, 1:40 p.m. (Local time)

    When boarding, a nice-blonde-young-beautiful FA greeted me. I wanted her to attend me during the flight, of course. Well, no luck, she was in Economy. I'll send a letter to KLM saying I pay more than twice what Economy passengers pay, so I should have the cool FA. Anyway, I took a newspaper (Algemeen Dagblad) instead of the FA and read it.

    After that, went to my seat. It was an enormous, big, blue seat with KLM World Business Class inscription in the back. I really liked it. An not-so-nice-blonde-young-beautiful FA came and gave me my necessaire (very nice indeed) and today's menu.

    We took off and a few moments later, the same FA took my order: just the quick snack. I really wanted to sleep. Quick snack consists on two different sandwiches, which were fine. I took a mineral water to drink. Meanwhile, I watched BBC News and read KLM's Holland Herald in-flight magazine. I was surprised: nothing was, as the same as the hole plane, written in Dutch. This was a 99% English-speaking plane, except for the voice messages (Dutch, English, Spanish and French, no Portuguese, just a tape saying Aprete o seu cinto de segurança, fasten seat belt) and the welcome-a-board-message of Leo van Wijk, KLM's CEO and President, on Holland Herald's page 2, which was bilingual.

    During the rest of the flight, I just slept, slept, slept and slept during 8 hours. It was nice to see that the FA let with me a bottle of mineral water, just in case I was thirsty during the night.

    I woke up for the brunch. I don't call it breakfast because it was given at noon. It was lekker (very good in Dutch).

    Finally, at about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, we started our approach and descent over Rotterdam, The Hague and finally Schiphol.

    Three weeks later...

    At Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport (AMS)

    I arrived at Schiphol at about 11:00 a.m. by train from The Hague. It is a 30-minute trip. I went to KLM/NWA World Business Class counter row no. 13, where I checked-in. Check-in was quick and efficient.

    After passeport control, I went to KLM Crown Lounge. It isn't as great as I waited, but it has lots of drinks and some food. Also newspapers' variety was bigger. I took a look at Le Monde's cover, but it didn't say anything interesting, so I didn't read it.

    Instead, I went to see the planes and walking over the airports. I sarted with concourse E, just because it was the nearest to the lounge. I had a very nice surprise on gate E2. I was watching the MD-11 with destination Toronto (YYZ) and a woman voice told me "Hey, Marcos!" (that's my name). It was a Canadian friend of mine who was waiting to board. We had a nice conversation while waiting. She told me she has the Platinum Elite Flying Dutchman membership but she didn't went to the lounge. Can't Platinum Elite cardholders get into the lounge even when flying Economy? I think so. She also bought Sushi for her flight because (let me quote her) Food is just a disaster on KLM. Wow! Is is that bad? I actually prefer the classic chicken-or-pasta choice than Sushi, but however...She boarded, I send her a hand bye bye and then I went to my gate, E18. But first, I passed in front of a NWA A330 in the new colours. Even if older are nice, newest are really cool.

    Boarding started at about 1:00 p.m.

    Airline: KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines
    Flight number: KL 797
    To: Aeroporto de Guarulhos in Guarulhos, São Paulo, Brazil (GRU)
    Airplane: Boeing 747-406M Combi
    Registration: PH-BFW "Shanghai"
    Seat: 77A (uper deck, emergency exit row)
    Take off: August 1st 2003, 2:00 p.m. (Local time)
    Landing: August 1st 2003, 8:30 p.m. (Local time)

    I was surprised that this time it was "Shanghai" again. I flew the same plane on my GRU-AMS flight. Might "Shanghai" be fixed for this route? Anyway, this time there was another very very pretty FA and she seated just in front of me. That was nice.

    This flight was much slower than the other one, due to the fact that it was a day flight, so it was harder to sleep. I still ask myself why does KLM fly from AMS to GRU during the day, when all other airlines do it by night.

    I had lunch, lamb with salad, very good and some bread (of course, after all they're the Royal Dutch Airlines). Dessert were some different sorts of cheese, which weren't that great. I took a Diet Coke to drink.

    A few hours later the purser came to chat with the passengers. She was very cool and sympathetic. She even recommended me a dentist in The Hague!

    After that I watched Finding Nemo, the Roadrunner and Friends. I really liked KLM in-flight TV program. I also read Holland Herald. The nice FA came then with ice creams and sandwiches. I choose the Haägen Dasz Belgian Chocolate ice cream. Very good, as always.

    Some more long hours came later and we finally started our aproach over São Paulo. The interesting thing about GRU is that you see when landing: first, the richest neighbourhoods, second the middle-class ones and finally the favelas, or slumbs. It is good, as it remembers you're in Latin America after all.

    At São Paulo's Guarulhos Airport (GRU)

    A KLM agent, Mr. Lopes, called all the passengers for Buenos Aires on the gate. Then, he took us to the Terminal 1 for a (let me quote him) "ID check". The "ID check" consisted on a guy checking you're the same person than in your passeport's picture. Then they stamped a "TAM Security" on it. When I asked her if I could go to the lounge first and then doing it, he told me: "No, no, and don't ask me things like that...I have better things to do." The nice guy at the ID check told me, when I asked him the same "but you could wait in the lounge and then come weren't on a hurry". The thing is that I had to spend 45 minutes on TAM's Terminal 1, which is quite horrible. I already sent a letter to KLM Argentina asking them what the hell was that. Also a Continental 767 to Newark was there and The Magic Red Carpet / O Mágico Tapete Vermelho, TAM's A330-200, which was going to Paris. Damn! I wanted the A330!

    Airline: TAM Brazilian Airlines
    Flight number: JJ 8001
    To: Aeropuerto Ministro Pistarini in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE)
    Airplane: Airbus A320-200
    Registration: Unknown
    Seat: 1D
    Take off: August 1st 2003, 11:10 p.m. (Local time)
    Landing: August 2nd 2003, 1:20 a.m. (Local time)

    After boarding a problem happened. I had seat 1D assigned by KLM in Amsterdam, which means TAM. But another guy had seat 1D, asigned by Varig in São Paulo. They made overbooking but also over-registration! Never saw something like that! Thankfully flight was 70% full, so the other guy could seat on 3B.

    After take off, the man FA came and ask me what would I like to eat: fish or meat. I choose meat, I wanted a good churrasco after almost a month in Europe (Brazilian meat is not like Argentinian, but...). Meat was excellent. I didn't take a dessert, I just slept up to Ezeiza.

    I should say Varig is better than TAM. Believe it or not, the old MD-11 was much better than this A320. Seats in Varig were real Business Class seats, while in TAM they were just a bit bigger than Economy ones. Plane was also very very old. I was really disapointed by TAM, I thought they would be much better than what they really are. Service is good, but FAs only speak Portuguese, not English nor Spanish, so take with you the Lonely Planet Portuguese Phrasebook if flying TAM!

    Anyway, at 1:00 a.m. we started our descent over Buenos Aires. I could recognize Aeroparque (our national flights airport, AEP) and my neighbourhood, Palermo. Finally, we reached Ezeiza and the international airport, where we landed at 1:20 a.m.

    Customs and immigration were both very quick, because we were the only flight to arrive at this hour.

    Well, that was my trip report. I really hope you like it.


    Marcos (Aerolíneas Argentinas)
    Aerolíneas Argentinas, como tiene que ser.