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EK/KL/CO in Y/C/F from Kuwait to Orlando. Not trouble free!

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  • EK/KL/CO in Y/C/F from Kuwait to Orlando. Not trouble free!

    AUGUST 18

    Emirates 858
    Kuwait - Dubai
    Airbus A330-200 (AK-EAN)
    Seat: 22A
    Scheduled Departure Time: 18:10
    Scheduled Arrival Time: 20:40
    Actual Departure Time: 18:15
    Actual Arrival Time: 20:40

    Check In: We arrived at the airport and while my dad parked the car, my mother and I headed towards check in. We walked through the new terminal, which is a big improvement over the old one. The architecture reminded me of San Francisco's new International terminal and Continental's new pier in Newark. Once security was done and our bags had stickers placed on them, we headed over to the Emirates counters. There was one counter for Business and First and two others for economy. The ground agent told my dad we could check in at the F/C counter if we wished, which was nice, as we did not have to wait in the long lines at the other two counters. The agent seemed efficient but not that friendly but that has always been the case with Kuwait ground staff. We were handed boarding passes for 22 A, B, & C after we had asked for a window seat. We headed on out towards immigration which was fast and we out towards the restaurant. Had a coke and we sat down and talked till about 17:15 when we headed to gate 21.

    Boarding: Soon boarding was announced and it was a free for all; no announcement to do it by rows or anything. So we all scrambled towards the passage before the jetway where our boarding passes were sent through the machine. Interesting to note that no one took a look at our passport or asked for any form of identification. Eventually we made it to the plane and were greeted by a flight attendant who was nodding, smiling, and looking at everyone's boarding pass while directing them towards his or her seat. Crew were scattered all over the cabin helping passengers find their seats and help store their bags in the overhead bins. We sat down and I immediately started playing around with the touch screen of the PTV trying to find the nose camera. Ah, this is entertainment. After flying so much of NW/KL it was nice to have a touch screen with this much variety.

    We pushed back at 18:15 about 5 minutes late but that was fine. We started our long taxi towards the runway and, boy, was that forward camera great. Right before us was a Kuwait Airways Boeing 777 heading for Cairo. Soon we lined up towards the runway and started rocketing down it. The forward camera added a whole another dimension to this take off and I loved every moment of it. In case anyone is curious, these were the aircraft at Kuwait at the time:

    Kuwait Airways 777-200 to Cairo
    Thai Airways A330-300 to Dubai & Bangkok
    SriLankan A330-200 to Dubai and Colombo
    Air India A310 to Bombay (Mumbai)
    Gulf Air A320 to Bahrain
    Iran Air A310 to Tehran

    The Flight: After we climbed out, service immediately began. A good-looking British flight attendant came around and passed out hot towels. As she handed me mine, she said "cheers" with her good old British accent. Ah, how good it feels to be on Emirates. Then this Arabian steward came by to collect the towels, he did not smile, nor did he look too happy to be onboard either. He collected all the wet towels without ever uttering a "thank you" or a "you’re welcome." Oh well, you can't always have happy crew, must have been one of those days for him! Soon the meal service began and the steward was in charge of it. He started from the front of the cabin and worked his way back. Once he got to us, he asked if I wanted to eat, and gave me a tray. He asked me what I wanted to drink to which I replied, "coke please." He said he did not have coke, but did have a can of Diet Pepsi, to which I said, "that will be fine." My dad asked for a beer and as he did not have any, he did write it down on a napkin and said he would be back with it once he was done serving the meals. The meal today consisted of the following:
    The main dish had three small beef kebabs (2X1) on a bed of a rice pilaf with a bunch of chopped zucchinis on the side. There were three small packed Arabic roti's wrapped in plastic on the side with some butter. There was a fruit bowl with a slice each of melon, pineapple and watermelon and two purple grapes. I poured my Diet Pepsi into the plastic cup and realized that the soda was warm and that he had not put any ice in the cup. He looked busy enough answering passenger’s requests so I just sat back and dug into the kebab's. They were a little disappointing in taste and the rice was alright; a bit chewy. But the food was luke warm; it wasn't even hot. My Diet Pepsi was warmer than the food! The fruits were nice though; they tasted fresh and were nice to eat. To round off the meal was a small square chocolate.

    During the meal service I tuned into the Comedy channel. Saw an episode of Friends followed by Frasier. After the meal was done, the British Flight Attendant came by and collected the trays. I handed her the tray and with a smile on her face she said in her so perfect British accent, "Cheers, Do ya need nythin else?" By this time it was already pitch black and we had started out decent into Dubai. Headphones were collected a short while later and I put my PTV on the forward camera view. Now this is flying! The city of Dubai grew closer and we made a turn towards the airport, and there it was, the runway lit up in all its glory on my PTV.

    Arrival: After a smooth touchdown onto the runway we taxied off. Right behind us a SWISS A330 landed, too bad it could not be a Swissair plane. Ah well, enough reminiscing about the past. We parked at gate F12 and disembarked into the fantastic
    Terminal that is Dubai. We walked and walked and walked towards customs, talk about distance! It was a good 15 minutes walk from the aircraft to passport. Right before passport control we meet an EK Holiday representative and she gave us our packet and info. Passport control was a breeze, uncrowded with many counters open. We got to baggage claim and waited a while for our bags to come out. At that point some bags had already come out, mostly the ones with Priority tags. Good to know that they follow those tags. Eventually our bags came out and we off shortly thereafter in the hotel Cadillac CTS to the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa, Jumeira Beach.

    AUGUST 22 or rather AUGUST 21
    So it was already time to leave Paradise to head back to school! I only wish it could last longer. I got to the airport around 9:55, said bye to my parents and headed in. The counters were not open yet so I waited a bit. Then I saw the DNATA staff coming over talking to each other intently. They attended to the first couple in front of me heading to Manchester and they looked pissed. Something was definitely wrong! The couple walked away a little disgruntled. I handed my ticket to the agent and he immediately said the following, "Mr. Tamboowala, in case you did not hear the flight today is three hours late. One of KLM's aircrafts went tech in AMS and we had to combine the Kuwait and Dubai flight into one. The flight is now scheduled to leave at 3:45am. Looks like you have enough time to connect so I'll check you straight through." He tried typing into the computer and then said, "Please wait here, there will be a KLM representative coming to talk to you." Fine I went over to the side.

    I started talking to the other people that were next to me. One of the guys was heading to Milwaukee on business, the other for his father funeral in Houston. The two teenagers on my right were heading to Montreal and the American couple behind them was heading for Minneapolis. As I was chatting with these people over here, I kept an eye on the counter. All the passengers traveling to Europe were getting their boarding passes and seats. While all passengers heading to North America were told to go to the side like me. Eventually a KLM representative came by and said she needed to tell us something.
    "I am terribly sorry, but the aircraft that KLM is sending in place of the usual 747 is a differently configured aircraft. It has fewer World Business Class seats. I am afraid we are over sold by 15 passengers in business class. That is why all of you are over here. We have had to offload you." Great! Just what I needed. She started dealing with everyone individually and as I was second in line I was sorted pretty quickly. The guy to Milwaukee was in front of me and as he needed to be there tomorrow he said he had to get a seat. So she said she would give him an economy seat and refundes him 400 Euros. He said fine. Then she started on me. After I said I would much rather fly Business than economy if possible, she said she would look for alternatives. She found one for me to Houston on a combination of Royal Brunei to LHR and British Airways onwards. I told her to let the guy heading for his fathers funeral in Houston to take it. "I'm sorry but that was the last seat I could get you." I said that’s fine, I would rather he get out tonight than me. So she picked up the phone and talked to someone at KLM's office.

    A short while later, "Mr. Tamboowala, we have managed to get you a seat all the way through to Orlando on the same route tomorrow. Would you like to accept this?" I said sure and asked her about a hotel for the night. She found me one room at the Crown Plaza and I was off to the arrivals hall a short while later lugging both of my bags. Dubai is a great airport, but all this running around from the Departures to the Arrivals was a hassle. I had to walk out of the terminal on the sidewalk for a few minutes before I even reached the arrivals area. This is not an easy task at midnight when the airport is full and you are lugging two roller bags. I got there and there seemed to be no Crown Plaza personnel, so I went over to the Emirates Hotel counter and asked if I could use the phone. I called them up and they said I should wait in the arrivals hall for a representative. Someone finally showed up around midnight and said he had to wait for a few more folks. Around 0:30 we headed to the hotel and I arrived to find that there was some confusion as to reservation. Eventually it was sorted and I was in my room around 1:30am.


    AUGUST 23


    KLM 428
    Dubai - Amsterdam
    Boeing 747-206B(SUD)Combi (PH-BUM) (Sir Charles E. Kingsford Smith)
    Seat: 3A
    Scheduled Departure Time: 1:00
    Scheduled Arrival Time: 6:00
    Actual Departure Time: 1:20
    Actual Arrival Time: 5:55

    Check In: The shuttle dropped me off around 21:55 and I was the second person in line again, behind a family of four. The DNATA agents came up around 22:00 and opened check in. A DNATA supervisor walked over to me, "Sir, would you mind going down to the end over there. I notice you hardly have any bags; it will be faster for you to check in over there.” I head on down there and the agent was very friendly. Addressed me by name and told me that my requests for window seats had been meet. I asked if they both were on the lower deck and he said the Amsterdam one was, but the Houston one was not and that he could not open it up from here. I said it would be fine and that I would check with the agents in the KL lounge in AMS. Both my boarding passes were handed to me and my bags were tagged to Houston. As I walked back I saw that the family of four was still being checked in. Passport control was breeze and I started the long walk towards the terminal at 22:20. I took it slow standing on the walkways and soaking up the atmosphere of this magnificent airport. I finally reached the main terminal Duty Free around 22:40. I bought some stuff and headed on over to the lounge next to gate 18.

    Lounge: The lounge was easy to find and had a big sign with KLM/NWA/Kenyan Airways/Czech. I walked through the door and the agent greeted me by name after I handed him my lounge invitation and boarding pass. Only one word to describe this lounge, wow! Amazing set of drinks and food, a thousand times better than Amsterdam's lounge! Simply amazing. There were two computers available for internet access and there was a rack with newspapers and magazines. I put my stuff down at a table on the corner facing a BA 777-200 in the Delftblue Daybreak scheme (G-RAES), I could not help but laugh at this. I headed on over and got myself a Pepsi from the fridge and sat down at one of the computers. Checked my e-mail and headed over to see what there was to eat and I was blown away by the choice. Sure, its no Emirates Business Class lounge but there was plenty of choice, ranging from sandwiches to Arabic pastries and even empanadas. The quality of the food was good as well and the staff were always on hand to replenish the snacks. As I was staring at the BA aircraft, I saw the AI A310 start their strobes ready for pushback but then stood there for a few minutes. Just then our KL 743 came taxing by. What a sight, or rather what a relief for me. Around 23:45 I headed on out and asked the guy for the exact time boarding would start, 0:15 was the response. I headed on out for a nice walk. Our gate was scheduled to be 22, so it was a walk to begin with.

    I headed on out to watch the array of aircraft around, it was pure heaven for me. Living in Daytona Beach, all I ever get to see is DL and COEX.

    British Airways 777-200 to London Heathrow
    SWISS A330-200 to Zurich from Karachi
    Air India A310-300 to Bombay (Mumbai)
    Lufthansa A340-300 to Frankfurt from Muscat
    PIA A300B4 to Karachi
    Aeroflot IL-86 to Moscow
    Air France 777-200 to Paris CDG
    Royal Brunei to London Heathrow from Bangkok & Bandar Seri Begawan
    Royal Jordanian A310 to Amman
    Qatar A320 to Doha
    Gulf Air A320 to Bahrain
    MEA A321 to Beirut
    Cathay Pacific 777-200 to Hong Kong

    AS I walked around, I took note of all the airline lounges. Here is a quick list for those of you interested.

    KLM - NWA/Kenyan/Czech
    Emirates - First Class & Business Class
    British Airways
    Air France
    Gulf Air - SWISS
    Star Alliance – Lauda Air/Lufthansa/Singapore Airlines/Thai and all Star Alliance partners

    Boarding: I headed on over to the gate at around 0:15 to find a bit of a line. Decided to just wait. Took a few minutes as they were checking passports as well. Boarding Passes were scanned and I headed on over to the lounge. Stood by the railing and looked at the plane. In about two minutes the doors were opened and the crowd just rushed towards the door. Thankfully I was close to the door so I managed to get ahead of most of them. No announcement was ever made and the representative was not checking boarding passes or anything of that nature. Once I got on the jetway, there was a separate one connected to Door 1L.

    I got down that and turned towards the front cabin. There was flight attendant smiling at me but she was standing in front of 3B. I told her that my seat was over there and she smiled at me and said, "Ja, thatz vod mak it hard fur ya to get there." I smiled back and said, "it sure would." I placed my bag in the overhead bin and sat down. The flight attendant then came around with the usual tin box with the sock packet and a pair of noise canceling headsets and the menu for tonight. Soon my neighbor dropped by and sat down. He immediately started talking in Dutch to the flight attendant. Soon she came around with a tray full of the normal array of welcome drinks, Champagne, water, and orange juice. I started talking to my neighbor who turned out to be traveling from Iran and we had a discussion about general topics. 1:00 rolled by and both jetways were still connected and I thought, oh no, what’s wrong now? At that moment the pilot came on in his British accent, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are waiting on some passengers who seemed to have got lost along the way. It should not be too long as I see some of them coming down the jetway right now. Either way we should not be late at all, as we would have had to circle around Amsterdam if we had left on time due to the airport curfew times in Amsterdam. So this works out in our favor. Sit back and relax and I wish you a pleasant flight." Doors were closed ten minutes later and we pushed back at 1:15. We taxied to the runway and around 1:20 accelerated down the runway.

    The Flight: A short while later the lights were turned on and hot towels were passed around. Ah, they were refreshing, even at this late or rather early hour. The menu today consisted of the following for the snack after take off.

    Light Snack

    Immediately after take-off we will be serving you a typical Arabic snack, and your choice of beverage.

    Arabic Cuisine

    Arabic cuisine has its roots in tent cookery. Nomadic tribes could use only transportable foods such as rice and dates, or ambulatory stock like sheep and camels in their recipes. As the caravans journeyed throughout the Middle East, the Nomadic
    Bedouin influence was broadened by other cuisines from the Arab world, notably from the Levant, the centuries-old crossroad of civilizations and one of the main historical market places of the Arabic world.

    The Arabic food can rival any international gastronomy for originality and good taste, and, because it basically comprises simple, natural and easily digested foodstuffs, it ranks high in nutrition value with today's fitness-conscious society.

    On your flight today we would like to offer you a selection of Lebanese cold mezzah items, symbolic for the Arabic hospitality and samples of a wonderful cuisine.


    KLM’s Wine Cellar in the Sky

    White Wine
    Chablis Saint Martin 2001 – Domaine Laroche, France
    Sauvignon Blanc 2003, Steenberg - Constantia, South Africa

    Red Wine
    Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Max Reserva - Errazuria, Chile
    Shiraz 2002, Steenberg - Constantia, South Africa

    Champagne
    Piper Heidsieck – Champagne Brut
    Cape Vintage 1997, Overgaauw - Stellenbosch, South Africa

    Dessert Wine
    Brampton GPI - Stellenbosch, South Africa

    KLM Special Wine
    Groene Cloof Rose 20003

    The tables linens were laid down a short while later and the tray appeared with the oh so wonderful KLM smile, "Mr. Tamboovale, vat vod you lik to drink?" The tray was handed to me with a glass of coke on it as I had requested. The tray consisted of one plate with some artichokes and three pieces of cold mezzah, something similar to goat cheese I think. On the whole, very disappointing, but thankfully I had eaten more than enough at the lounge so I was set. I nibbled here and there and decided to give up. The snack out of Kuwait is so much better! Anyway that was cleared up as soon as possible as the crew knew we passengers wanted some rest.

    During this quick snack I was watching the comedy channel which consisted of an episode of Men Behaving Badly, Spin City, Frasier, The Simpson’s, and The Nanny. I basically stopped after Frasier, put my seat back all the way and plugged in good old channel 9, "KLM Hitline." For those interested, the entertainment on offer tonight was the following:

    Channel 1: BBC News
    Channel 2: Comedy
    Channel 3: National Geographic
    Channel 4: X2
    Channel 5: The Hunted
    Channel 6: Down With Love
    Channel 7: Flight Tracking

    NEXT SET

    Channel 1: BBC News
    Channel 2: Culture
    Channel 3: Drama - E.R./Sex in the City/CSI
    Channel 4: Agent Cody Banks
    Channel 5: Anger Management
    Channel 6: Identity
    Channel 7: Flight Tracking

    Right after I put my seat back, the flight attendant came by with the usual bottles of water and put one on the armrest for each person. I took my sporadic naps waking up occasionally sipping the bottle of water, which was refreshing to say the least. I woke up to the smell of bread in the oven and decided it was time to wake up. I took out my PTV and saw we were just entering German airspace. I decided to use the restroom at this point and I had absolutely no problem climbing over my neighbor despite the fact that he was sleeping, as was the person in front of him. Don’t worry; no sanitary napkins were harmed during my visit to the loo. Soon the flight attendant came by with hot towels with a huge smile on her face. "Good Mornin Mr. Tamboovale. Vod you lik a hat tovel?" It was nice and refreshing. Soon I took my tray table out and the usual white linens were laid down. Today’s menu featured the following for breakfast.

    Breakfast
    For the breakfast service, we are pleased to offer you afresh fruit salad, yoghurt, a variety of cheeses and smoked chicken, assorted hot rolls and your choice of a savoury or sweet hot breakfast dish.

    Hot breakfast dishes today:

    Savoury dish:
    Vegetable omelette with mushrooms served with spinach and hash browns
    OR
    Sweet dish:
    Waffle with carmelised orange served with pancake filled with pineapple compote and raspberry coulis

    When she came around to me I selected the waffle and a cup of tea. The tray had a bowl of fruit, which consisted of half a strawberry, one slice of pineapple, two slices of watermelon, and four square pieces of melon. There was a plate to the side that consisted of none other than the snack served out of Kuwait, a plate of assorted cheese with 3 slices of smoked chicken. A basket full of assorted breads was also offered and I selected a croissant. The fruits were nice and the waffle was a great change from the normal scrambled eggs I get for breakfast on KLM. There was also a strawberry yogurt, which was nice and chilled. The croissant was hot and flaky and was great with some butter and strawberry jam, which was already on the basket. Overall an excellent breakfast, but I did not touch the chicken and the cheese as it was too early in the morning for me and it seemed out of place with the other stuff. I was offered the breadbasket again, but I declined, as I was full. The tray was cleared and I tuned into an episode of E.R. Soon our decent started and we had to store our PTVs away as the headphones were collected. Of course before that was done we were offered the usual Delft Blue houses with alcohol this time! Something I tend to miss on my Kuwait flights.

    Arrival & Transit: We touched down onto Amsterdam’s new runway 18R according to our pilot who made the announcement during our decent. Then we had a long taxi on the wet AMS ramp to the terminal. We parked at F2, you know, the gate that is notorious for having China Airlines always park there. "Dank you fur flyin vit us toda, see ya zoon." "I look forward to it. Thanks for a great flight." I guess that was the first time someone has ever said that to her, her smile became even bigger than before. We WBC passengers walked through the galley that KLM has on the right side of their aircraft, and it was quite an experience. I headed on up to the lounge at around 6:10am and presented my boarding pass. "Gut mornin Mr. Tamboovale. Nice to zee you again, vat can I do fur you?" Wow, they have never addressed me by name before in the lounge. Guess that is what happens when you use it too often. I asked if it was possible to get a window seat on the lower deck? It turns out it was too early to change seats as the flight was booked solid and almost ever seat was taken, but 1A was available and I was told to check back closer to the boarding time. I went and sat down at one of my usual tables with my cappuccino in hand and started out the window. What a great sight, sunrise over Schipole. I could clearly see my 743 being emptied right in front of me.

    Soon I headed on down to get the latest "Airliner World" that I normally buy when I am in Amsterdam, I guess you could say it is a tradition for me now. I normally buy it in the G concourse so that I can stretch my legs as well as well as get a view of some of the airlines over there. Today there was a nice surprise waiting for me, a DCA 763 had just arrived from Curacao and it looked great. I headed on back to the lounge and read the magazine with another cup of cappuccino while staring out at the planes going by. Soon 9:30 rolled by and I headed on up to one of the agents and asked about the seat on the lower deck. Turns out all the seats were full and she even showed me the computer screen so that I could see it for myself, which I thought was a nice touch. I also asked her if she could please re-print my boarding pass on KLM paper instead of the DNATA one I had with Arabic writing. "Haha. Ah, I zee ya know thiz routin. I can not imazine wat ya go through at timez." I got my new boarding pass and headed on out on the long trek towards gate E 20.


    KLM 661
    Amsterdam - Houston
    Boeing 747-406Combi (PH-BFI)(City of Jakarta)
    Seat: 80K
    Scheduled Departure Time: 10:30
    Scheduled Arrival Time: 13:40
    Actual Departure Time: 10:35 (Actual Take Off: 11:55)
    Actual Arrival Time: 14:30

    Boarding: As I approached the gate I was thinking wouldn't it be nice to get the new colors, and low and behold, what could I see in the distance at my gate, a 747-400 in the new colors. I approached the line and waited a few minutes while they took a look at everyone’s passport to make sure we had the correct documentation for the United States. I was through after about 15 minutes and security was painless and I was done in 30 seconds. At the exact moment I got through security the announcement for an "all remaining passengers may now board the aircraft" was announced, so everyone rushed towards the door and I just took it all in stride. There was a separate jetway hooked up to door 2L and I got on, but there seemed to be a wait and I waited a good 15 minutes on the jetway. Eventually I steeped foot onto the aircraft with a "Velcome an board." I headed up the stairs to find my seatmate already in his seat. So he had taken the overhead bin space. At that moment a gorgeous flight attendant came up to me and said "Letz me putz dat in da clozet in the back." I said thanks and sat down in my plush blue seat. I exchanged "hello's" with my neighbor who turned out to be living in Oman and had flown in from DXB on the same flight as me. Soon the flight attendant came over and handed me the usual tin kit, sock packet, menu and headphones with a "Velcome an board Mr. Tamboovale."

    10:30 rolled by and the captain came on the PA. "Ladies and Gentlemen it seems as if we are going to have to wait for some extra catering. It looks like we shall be delayed a bit." Then all of a sudden at 10:35 we pushed back and the pilot once again came on, "Ladies and gentlemen. As can you can see, we have pushed back, but unfortunately we have not received our catering yet. It turns out another aircraft needs our gate so we will be towed to a remote area on the side where we will have the catering truck deliver the meals. We still do expect an on time arrival in Houston." We were towed out and we stood still at a point between terminals D & E. Just as we came to a halt there, an Iran air 747SP taxied into our gate. A short while later the catering truck appeared and docked with our aircraft and I could see it perfectly out of my window.

    Within five minutes the catering truck was on its way out when all of a sudden the cockpit door flew open and the first officer came running out and walked down the stairs muttering something under his breath. The catering truck left and we were still standing still. Then the first officer came back up the stairs quickly said something in Dutch to the two-cabin crew in the galley and rushed back into the cockpit. A minute later the pilot came on once again. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have the catering situation solved, but just as that was finished, one of our vital cockpit instruments failed. I have called our mechanics and it seems that we are going to have to replace a part so it looks like we will be here longer than expected. I would like to ask the cabin crew to start a drink service here while we wait to keep you comfortable." The crew pulled out the carts and the bowl of nuts that is normally served before the meals was passed out with a drink of our choice, which for me was a coke. All the while the two-cabin crew serving us had smiles on their faces and were taking orders and doing as much as possible to keep everyone happy. At around 11:45 we started our engines and started our taxi towards the runway. Just as we did that, there was N802NW, one of NWA A330-300 parked at one of the remote stands! I cannot wait to get on one of those beauties in the future.

    It took my breath away, of course I am a Airbus fan so it was perfect for me! We rocketed down the runway a short while later around 11:55 and made a sharp left turn heading towards the Atlantic Ocean.

    The Flight: Soon the flight attendants came around asking what we would like to have for lunch today. I opted for the steak with a glass of coke and here is the menu transcript for you.

    Appetiser

    Smoked halibut and serrano ham
    Served on fennel and olive salad with parsley and basil sauce and tomato chutney

    Main Courses
    Beef with Soubise sauce
    Braised fillet of beef in a herbed red onion sauce served with risotto ai porcini and carmelised onions garnished with olives, artichokes and Parmesan

    OR

    Navarin of Lamb
    Lamb stew served with herbed gravy, summer vegetables and saffron basmati rice

    OR

    Seabass and Ratatouille Nicose
    "Catch of the Day"

    Sautéed sea bass and ratatouille nicoise of assorted peppers, courgettes, aubergine and tomato, served with mixed rice and a tomato, basil and olive oil sauce

    Dessert
    We invite you to select your choice of tart, cheese or fresh fruit from our dessert trolley

    KLM’s Wine Cellar in the Sky

    White Wine
    Chablis Saint Martin 2001 – Domaine Laroche, France
    Sauvignon Blanc 2003, Steenberg - Constantia, South Africa

    Red Wine
    Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Max Reserva - Errazuria, Chile
    Shiraz 2002, Steenberg - Constantia, South Africa

    Champagne
    Piper Heidsieck – Champagne Brut
    Cape Vintage 1997, Overgaauw - Stellenbosch, South Africa

    Dessert Wine
    Brampton GPI - Stellenbosch, South Africa

    KLM Special Wine
    Groene Cloof Rose 20003


    Soon hot towels were passed around and our pre-ordered drinks arrived shortly thereafter. I turned my PTV on and settled on watching "Finding Nemo." Soon the table linens were laid out and my tray arrived a short while later with the appetizer on it. Hot bread was also offered and it was an excellent addition to the appetizer, piping hot with butter to go with it. The two slices of Serrano ham were good and I mean good as I am not a ham person, but did enjoy these two slices. The halibut was equally good and a refreshing change, but I have to say I still prefer my smoked salmon to this. There was also a bowl of salad with vinaigrette dressing in a small jar on the side. The salad was fresh and with the dressing was great. Soon the appetizer plate was taken away and the main dish was put down and the aroma just made my mouth water. It certainly lived up to the expectations; it was one for the books, well done AMS catering! I was offered more bread but declined thinking about dessert. The tray was cleared and the dessert trolley came by with the three options, the usual cheese and cracker, strawberries with freshly whipped cream or an apricot mousse tart. I opted for the tart and what can I say, it was exceptional just like every other KLM desert I have ever had, just great! The tray was cleared and I put my seat back and watched the rest of the movie.

    Just as the movie finished an elderly lady in a KLM uniform came up and started greeting each passenger individually. "Mr. Tamboovale, velcom an onboard once again. I am your lead purzer and I would lik to apoligize for the delay today. I have been informzed by de capitain that ve vill be ariving dhirty minuts late." I lost my composure for a second and she clearly saw that on my face. She inquired and I told her that I originally had a one hour and 40 minute connection time to begin with. "But vy do you fly thiz way? There are better vayz of gettin to Orlando." "I prefer to fly KLM over the other airlines" was my response. She smiled winked and said, "I know exactly vat you mean. Dank you, I zertainly appreziate it and on behalf of Ka el em I would lik to thank you fur chozing us. Vod you mind filin thiz in fur me?" She handed me a KLM questionnaire and I gladly accepted it. I put it on the side bin, put the seat back and plugged into channel 9, KLM "Hitline". At that moment a bottle of water was placed on my armrest with a huge smile. I said "thank you" and the flight attendant immediately replied, "you are very velcome Mr. Tamboovale. If there iz anythin elze I can getz you, just azks me." I smiled back and she went back to the galley. I pulled my window shade down and put the big pillow behind my head and took a nap, as I was exhausted by this time. This was the entertainment list for this flight.

    Channel 1: BBC News
    Channel 2: Comedy - My Family/Will & Grace/Friends/News Radio/Everybody Loves Raymond
    Channel 3: Sport - Futbol Mundial/Sport Talk/French Tennis Open
    Channel 4: Finding Nemo
    Channel 5: Blue Crush
    Channel 6: A Man Apart
    Channel 7: Bringing Down the House
    Channel 8: Basic
    Channel 9: Rabbit Proof Fence
    Channel 10: Splash
    Channel 11: Exclusive - Fifth Gear/Celebrity Overload/Hollywood Real Estate
    Channel 12: Travel - The Navigators/Bazaar: London/Pilot Guides: California
    Channel 13: Flight Tracking

    Eventually I got up just as the crew came around with tray full of sandwiches and ice cream. I selected a small tub of Hagen Daz Belgian chocolate. I switched the PTV on to the comedy channel and to my amazement; they were the same episodes as July. It was all right though as they were still entertaining. I finished my bottle of water and another one was put on my armrest with "Iz there anythin elze I can get ya?" Once the comedies were done, I switched it over to "Blue Crush." I saw this movie in August last year and found it to have no story whatsoever, but nonetheless had some stellar views if you know what I mean! During the movie the immigration forms were handed out by the lead purser. I had to go back to the closet in the back and try to search for my bag; unfortunately I could not find it, as the closet was full of bags. Just then the gorgeous flight attendant came over to me and said, "Yourz iz the blak von vit de Nordvest Elite tag no?" I said it sure is. "Let me getz that fur ya. I put it in der back over there.” So we both dug into the closet and pulled my duffle bag out of the other side of the closet together. I said thanks and she said "Ach ne, you are velcome." We started chatting and she was telling me about her travels and how much she liked Florida and so on. She even tried to speak to me in German, which caught me off guard, as my German has gotten pretty rusty after moving away two years ago. We talked for a good thirty minutes and she had to get the second meal prepared so I headed off to my seat to fill in the forms and the KLM questionnaire.

    Soon hot towels were passed around and the table clothes were laid down. Today’s selection was the following,

    Hot Snack
    Prior to arrival
    We are pleased to offer you a menu with your choice of hot snack

    Appetiser
    Vegetarian hors d'oeuvre
    Asian red cabbage salad served with stuffed vine leaves and Spanish artichokes

    Hot Snacks
    Roast vegtable feuillete

    OR

    Summer berry frangipane
    Served with forest fruit sauce blueberries and almonds

    She came up to us and asked us what we would like. The guy next to me said he was a bit confused with the choices as he did not understand what they were and to be honest neither did I. "Vell I don't know how ya zay it in Engliz, but it iz a hot, um...um... stuffin." The guy just looked at me like what is she saying? As I have become accustomed to the snacks on KLM I said, it probably was the Indonesian pastry puff thing they tend to serve so often. "Ach, ya. Thatz iz it." He selected that and I selected the cake. I really did not touch the appetizer as I am not an artichoke or red cabbage person but the guy next to me cleared his plate so I assume it was good. My cake was excellent, really good and it turns out I was right about the Indonesian pastry as that is what the other guy had. There was also a bowl of fruits on the side with different types of melons and grapes.

    Soon the tray was cleared and the Delft Blue house trays were brought around and I had to make sure I did not take one that I did not have. She politely held the tray closer to me so that I could take a closer look with a smile beaming on her face from ear to ear. Soon descent started and the headphones were collected. I kept looking at my watch hoping that maybe we had caught some time en route.

    Arrival & Transit: We touched down and the pilot really applied the brakes, he applied them so hard that anything that was on the side bin just flew right on down to the front, in my case my pillow and blanket. It was a good thing I had put my Delft Blue house in my bag otherwise it would surely have been in pieces. As we turned off the runway there was a very pungent smell of burning rubber starting to circulate throughout the cabin. We slowly taxied on over to gate D8 and opened all doors a short while later. I managed to get stuck on the top of the stairs and I said "Bye. Thanks for an excellent flight. I look forward to flying with you guys soon." She smiled back at me and said "It vaz my pleazure. Gut luck vit your conneczion." Ah, how I am going to miss that accent. The line started moving a short while later and I dashed on out since it was 14:35 already praying that some miracle so I could get to my flight only to be held up by immigration officers at the end of the jetway who were inspecting passports.

    I am going to leave out the details of immigration here for the sake of security. Lets just say when I got out of immigration and customs, it was close 16:45 and considering my Northwest flight to Memphis left at 15:05, I had to face the inevitable! I asked the Continental guy at the transfer desk after customs where the Northwest counter is and he told me I had to go downstairs and take a train to Terminal B. So I headed on down with my two roller bags and got on the train. The terminal is under construction so it was difficult to locate the train as the signs were all out of place or covered but I eventually found it and took the train over to Terminal A. For some reason these IAH trains remind me of the trains at Tampa International, the one that takes you between the car park and the terminal, very similar, but a bit older. I met a Continental flight attendant on the train who looked at me and said "You look exhausted!" I laughed and gave her a quick synopsis of the past two days and she laughed and said it will all get better when I board my Continental flight. I couldn't help but laugh, "I sure hope so too."

    Eventually I got to Terminal B and walked on up towards a deserted Northwest counter. I handed my ticket over to the agent with an "I was supposed to be on the 3 O’clock to Memphis." "Oh my. Well you missed that one by quite a mile. Let me see what I can do for you. Did you get caught up in the immigration mess?" "You could say that," was my response. She spent a few minutes typing on the computer. "Alright well I can put you on the 7pm Continental flight to Orlando. Just take your stuff over there (pointing to the continental counters a few feet away) and check in there." So I grabbed my bags once again and dragged them over to the Continental counters.

    The check in was quick and painless, thankfully. "Alright sir, your seat is 3A and your gate will be C-19. Just take your bags over there to the TSA machines and then head off through security.” I asked what aircraft it would be tonight and she told me it was a 757. I was silently hoping for a BusinessFirst equipped 752 but I knew better. Dropped my bags off at the TSA x-ray machines and went through a fast security line. Flashed my Florida drivers license and was waived through, went up the escalator to a deserted train station and took the train to the other side of the terminal. Got off and headed on out towards C-21 which had some empty seats. I sat down, completely exhausted and made a few phone calls to get things sorted out as I should have been home yesterday and had a ton voicemails with "where are you?" This gate also had a nice view of the International terminal, which was nice. What should I see right there; non other than a British Airways 777-200 in the Delftblue Daybreak scheme (G-RAES). The same aircraft I saw out of the KLM lounge in Dubai hours ago. It followed me all the way to Houston. Eventually I headed on over to the gate around 18:10 as boarding had been listed as 18:15.


    Continental 552
    Houston - Orlando
    Boeing 757-224 (N2110
    Seat: 3A
    Scheduled Departure Time: 19:00
    Scheduled Arrival Time: 22:32
    Actual Departure Time: 19:00 (Actual Take off: 19:30)
    Actual Arrival Time: 22:30

    Boarding: Around 18:15 boarding was announced for First Class passengers and I headed on to the aircraft. Steeped on board and noticed that the aircraft was in a domestic configuration, drat! I really wish they had adjustable headrests but it was a short flight anyway, it did not matter. I was greeted at the door with a "hello, how are you doing today?" Oh how I already miss the Dutch accent already. I got to my seat and sat down. Almost immediately a flight attendant came over and asked if I wanted to drink anything? My glass of water was brought to me within a minute and placed on my armrest with a smile. The door was closed at 18:55 and we pushed back exactly at 19:00 with that fantastic Gordon Bethune welcome message flashing on the screens. We taxied on out and stood behind the plethora of Continental planes leaving at the same time. We eventually lined up and rolled down the runway shaking and rattling all over. The aircraft definitely looked a bit old and worn down.

    The Flight: Soon the flight attendant came around and asked us what we would like to drink. I asked for a Dr. Pepper. She went on to say that tonight's dinner service would consist of Pea Soup with a barbecued beef brisquette sandwich. Soon hot towels we handed out followed shortly by my Dr. Pepper and a small bag of Blue House - Almonds. A short while later the meal tray came by. Today there was a bowl of pea soup in the left hand corner with a plate of in the center with the sandwich, a small tub of barbeque sauce, and a small tub of potato salad. The sandwich was excellent, really one of the best CO meals I have ever had. I love the potato salad that Continental serves as well, nice and thick, the way I like it. Now the pea soup, hmmm, no comment, one spoon full was enough for me to never look at anything green the same way again. To finish this meal was a small piece of Ghiradelli chocolate. I am so happy that they got rid of that awful Pecan Delight thing they used to serve! Thank you Continental, trust me, no one is happier than me. The tray was cleared a short while later and my glass was always topped off. Eventually when I said "no thanks," she asked me if she could get me something else? I opted for another glass of water.

    During the flight the two flight attendants were walking around making sure we did not need anything else and were always happy to get me or anyone else anything we needed. The video's today showed the normal "Continental Visions" which had an episode of Sabrina, which was fun to watch. Soon descent started and the cabin lights were dimmed for landing.

    Arrival: Touch down was smooth and we taxied to the usual Continental area at Orlando. We parked and I headed on out, caught the usual train to the main terminal and headed to the lone Continental baggage carousel. Once again, Continental needs more than one carousel at Orlando. When I got there the Newark flight was just being unloaded! I stood there for close to 30 minutes. Eventually my bags came out and once again the "Priority" label did not mean anything. What is the use of it if it is never used! Anyway just got straight into my friends car and we drove to Daytona Beach and I collapsed into bed with the thought that in three days I will be out on the West Coast traveling again.


    Verdict:
    Emirates: What can I say? Not what I expected at all. I have flown Emirates a lot up front in Business and this was my first economy class experience with them. I was not very impressed at all this time! The service in the back is worlds apart from the service in the front. Not to say that it was bad, it was definitely better than most US & European airlines, but just lacked the charm and sophistication that we hear so much about from Emirates. I was very happy to receive a meal for this short flight and the one female flight attendant was excellent but the other one seemed to ruin the whole experience. Will I fly Emirates again? Absolutely! Will I change my business from KLM to Emirates when they start serving the US? Absolutely not! I am sure I caught them on a bad day, but hopefully that does not occur often. I look forward to more flights with them soon.

    KLM: Apart from the incident at Dubai they were great. The situation in Dubai was handled well with charm and sophistication that can only come from a well-trained Asian staff. They did their best to re-accommodate me while finding a hotel and so on forth. The in-flight service was excellent like always and the food was no exception. I have come to expect a certain level of service from KLM and they have always exceeded my expectations. KLM truly is a great way to fly and I have no regrets for making them my carrier of choice these days. They get me going where I want to go and they do it with a certain charm and unique style that I have not seen since the days of Swissair.

    Northwest: My brief encounter with the check in staff at Houston was exactly what I have come to expect from Northwest. Helpful employees who seem to enjoy their jobs and who treat their customers with the respect they deserve.

    Continental: Unbelievable! What a sharp contrast from my flights with them earlier this year. This is the Continental that I have come to enjoy flying with. This flight once again reminded me why I choose to fly Continental over the others domestically. The sandwich was amazing; it may very well have been the best Continental food I have had to date. The crew were no exception either; the service was excellent. I am glad to see Continental back on track after my lousy flights with them earlier this year. I can honestly say that the service I received on my flights to California three days later was just as great as this flight.

    Here is the point system that some of you liked from my previous trip report.

    Emirates 858
    Check In: 8
    Boarding: 3 (Free for all, no boarding by row number)
    Seating: 8 (Little on the cramped side. US 330's are better than this)
    Crew: 7 (One great FA and one so-so)
    Food: 7 (Being generous here, severely lacking in quality)
    Aircraft: 10 (Excellent condition)
    Entertainment: 10 (Perfect, just no AVOD like I prefer for long haul)
    Arrival: 9 (Excellent airport with equally excellent facilities)

    KLM 428
    Check In: 10 (Considering what I went through, very professional and friendly)
    Lounge: 9 (Small but well stocked with excellent facilities)
    Boarding: 5 (No announcement, free for all, thankfully separate jetway for WBC)
    Seating: 9
    Crew: 10 (Exceptional, just perfect!)
    Food: 9 (Disappointing snack, but excellent breakfast)
    Aircraft: 7 (Really showing its age, upper deck is much nicer on the 743's)
    Entertainment: 7 (Not as many channels as the 744's & M11's)

    Amsterdam
    Lounge: 7 (Great view and personnel, but that’s it. Not big enough, with few amenities)

    KLM 661
    Boarding: 8 (When I got there, free for all with a long wait on the jetway)
    Seating: 9 (Lie flat keeping it from a 10)
    Crew: 10 (Exceptional once again, just great!)
    Food: 10
    Aircraft: 10 (In perfect shape)
    Entertainment: 9 (More than enough choice)
    Arrival: 9 (Not KL's fault here though, just a little ticked off)

    Continental 552
    Check In: 10 (Friendly and efficient)
    Boarding: 10
    Seating: 8 (Old seats with no headrests)
    Crew: 10 (Not like KL, but as far as CO goes, great!)
    Food: 8 (Would have been a 10 if not for the soup)
    Aircraft: 7 (Showing a little age here)
    Entertainment: 6 (Once upon a time used to get a movie on this flight)
    Arrival: 5 (CO needs more than one carousel, priority tags were ignored once again)


    Emirates: 62/80 = 0.775 = 77.5%

    KLM: 138/160 = 0.862 = 86.25%

    Continental: 64/80 = 0.8 = 80%

    Hope you enjoyed it. Got any questions? Let me know what you think as this was my first trip report posted on jetphotos.net.

    SR 103

  • #2
    Re:

    WOW!! Absolutely incredible! Awesome report, w/ gr8 details!

    Just have one question: You lost me somewhere around IAH. Were you booked on the earlier flight to MCO through MEM or was it nonstop? Also, did you get business class upgrades on KLM or were you already booked in bix class?

    Thanks, and

    Happy Flying!

    Comment


    • #3
      SR 103,

      Welcome to JetPhotos.net forum,

      I have read your trip reports on Airliners.net to KWI and KHI, and they always seem to amaze me on how detailed they are! Well done. I love reading them!

      Have any plans on going back to the subcontinent anytime soon?

      -Pete
      Pete Ganabathi
      Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

      Fly Frontier Airlines - A Whole Different Animal

      Comment


      • #4
        Cool report

        very long flight.

        As far as I know Kuwait Airways fly to two cities in the USA with one stop in europe.
        15 Nov is my Birth day! I want A340? pls dad pls mom LOL

        Comment


        • #5
          Good descriptive review man.. those nose cameras sound really cool and I'm a big Airbus fan also...

          Can you explain a little more about Immigration? Why'd you request a new non-Arabic boarding pass? We you hassled before and so this time you knew?

          Thanks

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for the comments. Glad you guys enjoyed my trip report.

            Foxtrot,

            Thanks; glad you enjoyed the trip report. Sorry about loosing you there. I was originally booked on the following

            NW IAH-MEM (A319)
            NW MEM-MCO (A320)

            My dad booked the international segments on KL, as his company pays for one trip a year for me to visit them. The domestic flights on NW/CO are all upgrades as I am currently a Gold World Perks member with NW. So I get the complementary upgrades.


            [email protected],

            Have any plans on going back to the subcontinent anytime soon?

            In fact I do. I have the following segments booked for December/January.

            NW MCO-DTW (752)
            NW DTW-AMS (333)
            KL AMS-KWI (763)
            EK KWI-DXB (332)
            EK DXB-BOM (777)
            NW BOM-AMS (D10) <<< Praying that will change
            KL AMS-IAH (744)
            NW IAH-MEM (DC9)
            NW MEM-MCO (320)


            sv,

            KU in fact does serve two US destinations, JFK & ORD. The routes are as follows.

            KWI-LHR-JFK (5 times a week)
            KWI-JFK (2 times a week)
            KWI-AMS-ORD (2 times a week)


            PrinceAir,

            Can you explain a little more about Immigration? Why'd you request a new non-Arabic boarding pass? We you hassled before and so this time you knew?

            Unfortunately I would rather not go into any description about the immigration procedures at Houston simply due to security. Sorry. All I can say is that this is not the first time I have been questioned, nor does it seem like it will be the last. As a foreign student studying aviation here in the US, it raises some eyebrows.

            As far as the boarding pass issue, yes I have experienced problems before. I regularly fly between Kuwait and the US and I mostly fly a combination of KL/NW/CO and I know what not to do. Walking up to a US bound flight with anything written in Arabic gets me questioned extra by the security personal. There is a set of security questioning each passenger that is about to board a US bound flight at the gate and from my experience, they do not like the boarding passes issued in the Middle East. So just to save myself any extra trouble, I have them re-issued.

            SR 103

            Comment


            • #7
              SR 103,

              Thanks and fair enough - I wouldn't want you to compromise security at all by posting anything inappropriate. It makes sense now that you say you are a foreign aviation student.... I travel quite a lot through immigration myself and I know what it can be... though I've never been through Houston. I was just curious about the board passes as that is not something I'd have thought of. Thanks...

              Thanks again for a good report.

              Comment


              • #8
                Walking up to a US bound flight with anything written in Arabic gets me questioned extra by the security personal
                To this point !
                15 Nov is my Birth day! I want A340? pls dad pls mom LOL

                Comment


                • #9
                  PrinceAir,

                  You are from the Orlando area so I am sure you have heard of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. I am sure you also heard the rumors that float around about who we trained and so on forth prior to 9/11.

                  Thus I run into my fair share of problems everywhere with the University name attached to my visa and documentation.


                  Originally posted by sv
                  To this point !
                  Sorry what do you mean? I am lost with what you said. Sorry.

                  SR 103

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Truly a jaw dropping book of a report!
                    "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."

                    -Leonardo da Vinci

                    My first taste: SFO-SNA, United 757-200 May 10, 1993

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the report and numerous details making it very enjoyable to read
                      Alain
                      Thanks for visiting
                      *Avimage's Monthly Slide list *
                      *JetPhotos*
                      Airliners*Pbase.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the comments. I was not expecting any more replies especially after two years. Since you guys enjoyed it so much I shall do my best to post a report of my Malaysian flights from January this year. This one will include pictures as I now have a camera.

                        SR 103

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Your report was outstanding without photos. I can't wait to see what kind of report you will produce with the implication of visuals. Keep up the great work!
                          "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."

                          -Leonardo da Vinci

                          My first taste: SFO-SNA, United 757-200 May 10, 1993

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            great report, one of the best I have read.
                            He who expected nothin......aint gonna be deceived-JR

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              hey SR 103,
                              i have red this and other Trip reports of you on airliners.net
                              and i really have to be honest that you have very nice trip reports inculding this one i am not regiserd because it is not free
                              so i am now very happy to comment your Trip report and i cannot wait until more of your Trip reports come here,

                              Thank you sincerly,
                              Airfrancefan
                              Airlines: XT,KL,SN,ACA,DL,AF,TV,SN,OS,LX,WA,NW,FI,US,AW,CO,OH,OO,9W,AA,AE,FL,B6

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                              Airports: ANR,AMS,ATL,BRU,ATH,JFK,LGA,GSP,CDG,FCO,EWR,FAO,VIE,ZRH,MEM,DTW,KEF,PHL,CLT,IAH,MIA,JAX

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