Taking advantage of a fare reduction from Houston to Amsterdam to Dubai in business class, I was able to try KLM’s top-of-the-range product across the Atlantic. Here is my first impression of the service.
Matthew posted a fare deal from Houston to Dubai on Star Alliance partners in business class for around $1,500 to $1,800 round trip. When pricing my trip to Yerevan, Armenia, my coach costs were almost the same, so I searched for this deal, using points to fly from Dubai to Yerevan. For my dates, I couldn’t take advantage of the Star Alliance partner rate, but I was able to get a SkyTeam partner deal for $1,699 and it sounded too good to pass up.
My American Express Platinum Card also ran a promotion with Delta around the same time of booking to match and then upgrade your status one level with a competing carrier. As a result, I matched my United Premier Platinum status to Delta Diamond.
A chain restaurant owner instilled in me one of the greatest business lessons I have ever known. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “Never let your customer try the competition.” United did that in their selective status extensions last year, and this year I decided to be a free agent, Delta won that round.
Business Class Cabin
While KLM announced that it would be updating its business class in the near future, this particular 777-300ER featured a dated 2-2-2 business class layout. Seats were flat and comfortable but lacked privacy. I took a seat in what is often referred to as the single row “mini cabin” just past the gate and before premium economy class.
Note: I did watch Premium Economy from my seat and the layout was still 3-4-3 but with better recline and footrest functions. Wouldn’t be worth a bounty to me.
Meal service began shortly after takeoff. Pre-departure drinks were served with a choice of orange juice, water or sparkling wine. A selection of wines and spirits on the menu as well as signature drinks accompany the food menus. A lunch/dinner was served first with breakfast available before landing in Amsterdam.
For some reason my Delta Diamond (SkyTeam Elite Plus) status had not checked into the KLM system and as such I was not offered first choice on entries. I wanted to try the lobster appetizer as I hate mushrooms but all of these had been selected first by others. It was the same for the chicken entree. That said, the morel soup was not only my favorite thing I ate on the trip, it quickly became one of my favorites in general.
For my entree the Korean beef was good, the purple potatoes not so much. I was surprised and delighted that the beef was not overcooked.
At the end of the meal, a plate of desserts was offered.
Before landing, breakfast was served. The leaf was initially left in place, a small touch that takes away some of the magic of eating 30,000 feet above the ground, but it obviously didn’t materially affect my meal. Pancakes filled with fruit, salmon and cream cheese on a roll to start the day off right. The pancakes weren’t life changing, but were satisfying after a restful nine hour flight and in this case I got the top pick.
The ground experience is the starting point of your journey. Check-in was easy and I had access to one of the two SkyTeam lounges in Terminal D. The KLM lounge was better than the Air France lounge (more on those later) but to be clear – don’t visit either more.
SkyTeam has unified lounges in markets where multiple carriers can benefit, such as Dubai, Sydney and elsewhere. In the case of Houston, the city hosts flights from partners Air France, KLM, LATAM and AeroMexico in addition to serving a number of Delta customers who can begin their journey in the city. However, these lounges (also Priority Pass) are inconvenient and do not reflect the quality of the rest of the experience.
Once on board, noise-canceling and water-canceling headphones were in the seat along with an amenity kit comparable to that of other business class carriers. The IFE system was modern and the remote control could be used to present flight data independently of the control screen.
Although Covid-19 mask protocols remain in place for US flights, masks were optional once on the plane as it was traveling to Amsterdam, however, I was informed by staff that masks were required for go to America even though they were not needed on KLM flights.
I received one of the “little houses” that KLM offers to business class passengers. Matthew wrote a great article on this which I couldn’t do more justice to, so I’ll refer you to his content on this. I will note that I thought the key, while small, was a smart one that both reflects Dutch culture and gives passengers a little incentive to choose KLM again when other choices are equal.