Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, I enjoyed a wonderful trip to New York City and the Caribbean islands of Anguilla and St Martin. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350 Upper Class from London to New York
- Review: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, New York City
- Review: TWA Hotel at JFK Airport, New York City
- Review: JetBlue Airbus A321 Business Class (Mint) from New York to St Maarten
- Review: KLM Airbus A330 Business Class from Amsterdam to St Maarten (today)
- Review: Bemond La Samanna, St Martin
- Review: Belmond Cap Juluca, Anguilla
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Anguilla
- Review: Delta Airbus A350 Business Class from Detroit to Amsterdam
Today (January 27, 2021): KLM A330 Business Class from Amsterdam to St Maarten
Last year, I flew Business Class onboard a KLM Royal Dutch Airline Airbus A330 from Amsterdam to the Caribbean island of St Maarten. KLM recently completed an extensive refurbishment of the Business Class cabins of its A330 fleet (which comprises 13 aircraft). The new seats and interior were created by Hella Jongerius (a famous Dutch industrial designer) and represent a massive improvement over the old product, with fully flat seats, HD-quality touchscreen displays, and a brand-new inflight entertainment system. Unfortunately, KLM choose for a 2-2-2 Business Class seat configuration on its A330s, which is not the best in the skies and definitely a step down compared to the carrier’s B787 fleet, which features Business Class seats in an excellent herringbone 1-2-1 layout. That said, I always enjoying flying KLM, because of its fantastic cabin crew, the incredible attention to details (e.g. innovative tableware, a designer amenity kit), and the Delft Blue miniature Dutch houses (filled with gin) as a souvenir gift.
Have you ever flown with KLM? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
- Trip: Amsterdam (AMS) to St Maarten (SXM)
- Airline: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- Aircraft type: Airbus A330-200
- Aircraft registration number: PH-AOB (delivered to KLM in 2005)
- On time departure: Yes (1.15 pm)
- On time arrival: Yes (5.15 pm)
- Miles: 4310 miles
- Flight time: 9 hours
- Seat: 3J (window seat)
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Cost of my ticket
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Amenities & bedding
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
I paid 1350 euros for my return Business Class ticket from Amsterdam to St Maarten. I booked the ticket directly on the KLM website.
I have previously reviewed the KLM Crown Lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport here.
3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
KLM’s A330-200 aircraft features 18 lie-flat seats in Business Class, 36 standard seats in Economy Comfort (with more legroom) and 214 standard seats in Economy Class. All Business Class seats are located in one cabin and spread over 3 rows in a standard 2-2-2 layout (so passengers in the window seats don’t have direct aisle access). Fixed dividers are installed between paired seats, which are inconvenient when you want to talk to your travel companion in the other seat and not large enough to provide enough privacy when you are seated next to a stranger (although paired seats are staggered by a couple of inches, so it doesn’t feel too uncomfortable). The cabin interior feels fresh, modern, and above all typically KLM. Different shades of blue are used throughout the cabin, complementing the dark brown color of the seat covers.
This Business Class layout isn’t unique to KLM as other airlines have installed the same type of Business Class seat (e.g. Ethiopian Airlines B787/A350s, Qatar Airways’ A330s, and United B787s).
Click here for a seat map of KLM’s Airbus A330-200.
4. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
KLM’s A330 Business Class seat is 25,5 inch (65 cm) wide and has a pitch of 60 inch (152 cm); the latter is defined as the distance from any point on one seat to the exact same point on the seat in front or behind, and thus a good indication of the legroom.
One side of the seat shares a console with its paired seat, which can be used as a small table for a drink and which also holds the tray table. This side of the seat also features a fixed privacy screen, a reading light at eye level, and an armrest with an electronic control panel to adjust the seat position. The seat’s other side (towards the window or aisle, depending on your seat location) has an easy-to-reach fixture above the armrest, which holds a universal AC power outlet, a USB port and a wired controller for the inflight entertainment (more on that below). There’s also a small compartment behind the headrest, where you can store items like your wallet, glasses or smart phone; actually, it’s the only storage space around the seat (you need to store all your carry-on luggage and larger items in the overhead bins).
In front of each seat is a 18.5” touchscreen high resolution TV in 16:9 format and a small footrest. The latter becomes part of the flat bed when the seat reclines 180 degrees into its horizontal position. The fully flat bed is a massive improvement over KLM’s older A330 Business Class product (which featured angled lie flat seats). With its length of 206 cm long (6 ft 9 inch), the bed is very comfortable, even for taller passengers. Although the bed is a tad narrow, you can lower one of the arm rests to increase its width and enhance your sleeping comfort.
What are the best Business Class seats on KLM’s A330-200? Click here for a seat map.
- All seats in the cabin, except for the first and last row, are quite good, especially for couples. Make sure to prebook your seat online (which can be done free of charge) to avoid disappointment at the airport, since KLM’s flights are often fully packed.
What are the worst Business Class seats on KLM’s A330-200? Click here for a seat map.
- The 2-2-2 Business Class layout does not make the cabin very attractive for solo travelers, since you will always end up sitting next to a stranger. There is a small screen though between paired seats for added privacy.
- Window seats don’t offer direct aisle access.
- Passengers seated in the first row may be bothered by the noise of the galley and passengers going to or returning from the lavatories.
- I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class, which is close to the Economy Class bassinet seats.
5. AMENITIES & BEDDING
Business Class passengers receive the following amenities on one of KLM’s longhaul flights :
- An amenity kit, which is presented as a pouch. The kit is created by successful Dutch fashion designer Jan Taminiau (in 2014 he was awarded the Netherlands’ most prestigious fashion prize the Grand Seigneur). It contains an eye mask, ear plugs, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, and Rituals lip balm & face moisturizer.
- A comfortable pillow
- A stylish and comfortable, marine blue blanket
- Noise cancelling headphones (which can only be powered within the plane and need to be returned to the crew prior to landing)
Before landing, Business Class passengers also receive a wonderful gift: a Delft Blue miniature traditional Dutch house, filled with Dutch gin, also known as “jenever.” Each miniature depicts a real Dutch house. KLM has been presenting Business Class passenger with this gift since the 1950s. Every year on October 7th, the airline celebrates the anniversary of its founding in 1919 by presenting a new house. Over the years, these miniature houses have become desirable collectors’ items, even generating a lively trade among passengers. KLM has a site where you can keep track of all of the houses, as each one is unique and has a special story to tell.
Two meals were offered on this 9 hour flight from Amsterdam to the Caribbean: a full lunch after takeoff and a light meal 60 minutes prior to landing. The beautifully designed menus (with references to Delft tiles & houses) were extensive and offered excellent wine pairings. Another design detail that KLM gets totally right is the stylish and unique tableware. The porcelain, glassware, cutlery, linen and tray have all been designed by Marcel Wanders, a famous Dutch designer. Even the salt and pepper shakers come in the form of clogs, one of Holland’s symbols.
I choose the following selection from the lunch menu:
- Starter: salmon and spicy mango served with hazelnut, cucumber, pepper and a mango dressing
- Main course: pan-fried cod and Dutch prawns with herb potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, and broad beans in a mussel gravy
- Cheese plate: blue cream cheese, goat’s cheese and Leerdammer
An hour prior to touchdown, a light meal was offered, with all course served at once on the same tray:
- Appetizer: sweet potato salad with white cheese and pomegranate
- Main course: Angus beef burger on brioche with cheese, fried onions, and hamburger sauce
- Dessert: apple pie
Each Business Class seat is equipped with a large 18,5 inch high resolution TV screen with bright and clear pictures. The TV can be commanded by directly touching the screen or by using a handheld wired controller which is located in a fixture above the armrest. The controller also features its own small touchscreen, allowing you to watch a different program (e.g. flight map) from the main screen. KLM offers more than 1000 hours of interactive entertainment in various languages (e.g. Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese or Spanish). There are more than 200 films to choose from, including recent releases, classics and world cinema, in addition to hundreds of TV shows, CDs, language courses, games, audiobooks, and a dedicated kids channels.
8. ONBOARD INTERNET
KLM’s AA30s are equipped with onboard WiFi. Charges vary, depending on the selected package.
9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: KLM’s cabin crew ranks among my favorite airline crew in the world (together with their colleagues from Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and Qantas). The flight attendants are always super friendly, efficient and seem to genuinely care about the passengers, and it was not different on this flight, with impeccable and courteous service. I also like the oh-so-recognizable KLM cabin attendant uniforms, which were designed by famous Dutch couturier Mart Visser.
# BAR: a walk-up bar was set up in the galley during the flight, offering drinks, stroopwafels and biscoffs.
# LAVATORY: There are two lavatories onboard KLM’s A330 aircraft for Business Class passengers, both of them located behind the cockpit. The lavatories feature wallpaper with white and blue delft houses, and are stocked with high-end toiletries from Rituals (with scents of Dutch tulips and Japanese yuzu).
# VIEWS: we enjoyed nice weather during the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, allowing for some great views.
10. MY VERDICT
- Cabin design: 8/10
- Seat comfort (upright): 8/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 8/10
- Food (quality): 7/10
- Food (quantity): 7/10
- Inflight entertainment : 9/10
- WiFi: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8/10
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We have flown Manchester to Johannesburg via Schipol business class a number of times and we find their whole approach is far superior to other European airlines. I believe because there isn’t a huge amount of business class seats the attention you receive, the meals on board and the atmosphere they create all benefits. We found Swiss Air cabin crew really rude , the seats on Lufthansa on the A380 were the same as the old business class seats but a lot more of them and not enough cabin crew for the amount of passengers. Air France seats are not fully flat and we try to avoid if possible.
Your description of your flight experience to St Maarten is excellent. I just wonder if you also have written up your stay in St Maarten. Which hotel do you prefer and what is your experience on the island? Thanks.