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  • KLM Flights NRT-AMS-LHR

    Hi all - abit of a delayed report that's been sitting in my computer since end of August but anyway hope you enjoy it ---

    Date: 25 August 2003
    Route: Tokyo Narita – Amsterdam Schiphol – London Heathrow

    KL862 NRT-AMS
    Seat: 61C
    Equipment: B747-400
    Schedule Departure: 10.40
    Actual Departure: 11.00
    Schedule Arrival: 15.10
    Actual Arrival: 15.08

    Preflight –

    I departed my airport hotel at 07.30 and arrived at the Terminal One at about 07.40. Straight away, I made my way to the check-in counters for my flight, only to find myself a very large queue for our zone. No wonder, half of the zone was closed, and in the tight space, there were Northwest Airlines which had a couple of departures and our KLM flight. For our KLM flight, there were only three or four check-in counters open for us, Coach Class (Economy) passengers. Nevertheless, I made my way to the end of the queue where I waited about 30minutes, finally reaching the security at the gate of our check-in zone. This is where the luggages are scanned, as well as the hand luggage. No problems for me, the guys stuck a huge “T1 INSPECTED” sticker on my suitcase and I made my way to another long queue for KLM flight check-in. Whilst waited, there was a couple who were angry, shouting and swearing at the Japanese check-in agents for having excess luggage. Stupid really, it’s really their fault and none of KLM’s as the ticket clearly stated our 30kg allowance. Anyway, with entertainment produced by those shouting passengers, I reached the check-in counter where I was served by a cheerful Japanese lady who asked all the typical security questions and my seat preference. I wasn’t actually expecting the seat preference, as I have already made my preferences on KLM’s website, but never mind I got what I wanted - AISLE seat for my 11 hour Tokyo to Amsterdam leg and WINDOW seat for my short Amsterdam to London flight. I was given boarding passes for both legs and my suitcase was tagged all the way to London Heathrow. It was nice to see that our boarding pass was printed on Northwest Airline’s boarding pass, which can be added to my collection. Upon completion of the check-in process, I exited the zone by going through another bunch of security officers only to find out that I have not been given my luggage receipt. Not that it’s absolutely necessary if the luggage arrived at my destination fine, but I wasn’t going to risk that especially with connecting flight so I decided to go back into the zone. I asked the same security officer at the zone exit whether I can go back in from exit, but he told me I couldn’t. Never mind, I just skipped the huge queue, went through security again once I explained my situation to the security agent, skipped more queue and got back to my check-in agent. As soon as she saw me, she knew exactly what was going on and she apologised, then gave me the luggage receipt tags.

    With good hours to kill, I decided to visit the observation deck which overviews the runway. At first, I didn’t know where it was so I went to the airport information desk to find out how to get there. The deck was very good, pleasant and clean, I could spend a very long time there. Nice to see the European names in front of me, Alitalia aircraft was parked right in front of me and I saw my KLM flight coming in from AMS, as well as a British Airways 747 from LHR. Other airlines I managed to see were Northwest, Japan Airlines, Air Tahiti Nui (haven’t heard of this airline nor seen one before so this was a nice surprise). I wanted to catch Virgin Atlantic VS900 from LHR but that was delayed.

    After a bit of time plane spotting, I made my way to the departures. First of all, security check and immigration which both went as smooth as it could, even though there were huge queues at the immigration centre. Nevertheless, I got onto the departures lounge in matter of minutes.

    There was nothing spectacular at this airport’s departure lounge, very few shops and lots of seats. I just sat back and watched planes coming in and going out, where I saw Virgin Atlantic flight coming in. Delayed arrival for this aircraft, meant those passengers to London on VS901 were delayed. Anyway, I went to my gate few minutes before the specified boarding time on my boarding pass, where everyone was waiting for the gate to open. Few minutes later, they finally started boarding for Business Class passengers and Silver Elite + passengers, followed by Economy passengers for 51 and beyond (I think). As I was allocated in seat 61C, I quickly proceeded to the gate entrance and boarded the nice clean aircraft.

    Inflight –

    The flight was full, completely full in economy with no extra seats at all. I sat next to a fat person which really made me uncomfortable but the nice seats on this KLM flight made up for it. This is my second time on this KLM 747-400, and I once again thought that they had good seat widths and pitches. Departure was somewhat delayed in connection with the flight plan and the air traffic control, and the fact that passengers couldn’t get checked-in on time due to the huge queue, however, captain came on the announcement to tell us that the flight today is 10 hours 50 minutes, about 50minutes quicker than the schedule so the delay will be made up by the flight time.

    After some waiting, we departed and nothing exceptional happened, smooth take off and into the clouds. Meals were served soonafter, which consisted of either chicken or beef. I chose chicken, which was a big piece of chicken in tomato sauce, with some vegetables as side dishes. Also on the tray were delicious chocolate cake and cheese with crackers. All very nice I must admit, KLM’s done very good job with meals from my experiences.

    I decided to get some sleep, and on these seats it’s very comfortable. The head rest has height adjustment which was good, as well as adjustable side supports. This made my sleep much easier, and made me think how bad Japan Airlines’ seats were on their 747-400 NRT to LHR leg last year. Also, blue seats on KLM aircrafts are nice and smart, but the red seatbelts on this aircraft was somewhat strange.

    During the flight, two more meals were served – one noodle during the film and another meal which was pasta in tomato sauce served with more cheese and crackers. Nice one KLM, all excellent stuff.

    Throughout the flight, nothing spectacular happened and the flight was smooth. With comfort, we reached Europe quickly and arrival information as well as connecting flights information were shown on the main screen. We landed at Amsterdam Schiphol airport, arrived at gate F8 at 15.08. One cabin crew thanked us for travelling with Northwest/KLM in Dutch and English, and the Japanese cabin crew translated into Japanese, also adding an apology for the delay at Tokyo Narita departure.

    As I was at the back of aircraft, I couldn’t disembark for a while so I just kept seated at my seat. Upon leaving the aircraft, I thanked the ever so cheerful crew and made my way into the terminal.

    Transit -

    I decided to make a phonecall to my UK friend who I was going to stay with, so I made my way to the communication centre. 10 Euros were taken as deposit, and I made a phonecall from my designated telephone. One thing I love about Schiphol is this nice modern communication centre. Anyway there was nothing better to do after that, other than plane spotting from the terminal so I walked around with my camera. I actually wanted to go through the immigration and onto the observation deck, but with limited time for transit, I thought I didn’t want to risk it. Anyway I saw loads of KLM aircrafts, Japan Airlines arrived and few other interesting aircrafts such as Kuwait Airways. I wanted to go to the end of Pier E right by a heavily used taxiway, but unfortunately, I was told by the strict security man that I cannot go beyond Kuwait Airways occupying the end of the pier for some reasons. Never mind, I walked around for a while, sitting around watching aircrafts and went to my connecting flight’s gate to London Heathrow at gate D42.

    KL1023 AMS - LHR
    Seat: 15F
    Equipment: B737-400
    Schedule Departure: 17.25
    Actual Departure: 17.25
    Schedule Arrival: 17.40
    Actual Arrival: 17.15

    Inflight –

    An old looking 737 was serving my flight, I was hoping it would be a 737-800 but it was a 400 series.
    This aircraft didn’t look very clean inside, walls seemed dirty and the carpet had some rips and dirt. Really, if this was my first time travelling with KLM on this aircraft, I don’t think I would be happy with the airline but since my previous flights with KLM were all excellent, nice and clean, I was still happy with them.

    I went past the economy-class looking business class seats, and then to my allocated seat of 15F where I sat next to a business man, and left the gate few minutes before the scheduled departure time. I realised that there were quite a lot of Japanese passengers on board like myself, so I assumed majority of them were transferring from KLM flights from Tokyo and Osaka. With cheap fares for London to Japan and back through Amsterdam with KLM, no wonder many people choose this option.

    Cabin crew proceeded to the safety demonstration, which I must admit, I didn’t take any notice of as I was tired. We taxied out, and this time, the runway was the new one miles away from the airport, the one in the middle of the fields (can’t remember the name of it) so it took a long time just to get to the runway.

    We speeded down the runway once cleared, and smoothly lifted into the air. Nice views of Holland with clear skies, I saw about 3 aircrafts clearly cruising around during my flight. A snack of sandwich with turkey was served, which again, was very nice. I decided to keep the napkin with KLM logo on it (unused) just as a memorable item…

    The seats on this aircraft were no where near as nice as the 747-400 just as I expected, and very basic structure but also very comfortable like wrapping my body perfectly. Blue seats again, my favourite, and smaller but still comfortable seat pitch and width.

    This was a short flight, and very uneventful. Cabin crew distributed the landing cards for non-EU passport holders and I picked one up as I was a Japanese passport holder. Unfortunate for me, I didn’t have a pen on me and it was in the overhead lockers. As I couldn’t get out of my seat and didn’t want to disturb the other 2 passengers in my row just for sake of pen, I decided not to bother and write at the airport. England, as always, was cloudy and whilst decent, we went through a very thick layer of cloud followed by misty weather condition. Aircraft made the landing at the airport, and we went around the terminal one and two to get to Terminal four. We arrived at the gate soon, and disembarked the aircraft with thanking the crew.

    Arrival –

    Well, I’ve finally arrived at my final destination and made my way to the baggage reclaim. Immigration was very smooth, and hardly any queue even for us, non-EU passport holders. This, in comparison to Terminal three was a heaven as when I arrived at Terminal Three from Japan, there were other aircrafts arriving from all parts of the world (including 4 aircrafts operated by JL/NH/VS arriving from Japan) at the same time making the non-EU passport holders queue very long and time consuming. This is one good thing about travelling to Japan via other European city (in my case, Amsterdam). With smooth immigration, I went down and retrieved my luggage which was already on the reclaims belt circulating. Picked my luggage up, and straight out of the Green exit for “Nothing to declare”. Went out of the terminal, where I was picked up by my dad.

    Whilst on the road going out of terminal four towards the motorway (M25), I noticed a lot of plane spotters standing on their parked cars at the petrol station, and soon later the beautiful British Airways Concorde approached. If only I had my camera on me to take a picture of the landing Concorde… it was at the back of the car where I couldn’t reach.

    The flights with KLM, like before for my outbound flight, were excellent. Nothing that I’d complain about, and no doubt I’ll be joining FlyingDutchman rewards program for my future flights with KLM. With cheap fares to Tokyo in comparison to direct airlines such as Japan Airlines and British Airways, I really recommend this airline and I hope this standard of service won’t disappear with the new Air France – KLM merger.