Last January, I enjoyed my most epic holiday and greatest travel adventure yet: a relaxing getaway in Cape Town, my favorite city on earth, followed by an incredible trip to Antarctica, the 7th continent. I will publish my reviews over the coming weeks:
- Review: KLM Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class from Amsterdam to Cape Town (today)
- Review: One&Only Cape Town Resort, South Africa
- Review: The Silo Hotel Cape Town, Souh Africa
- Review: First Class flight from Cape Town to Antarctica in a private Airbus A340 jet
- Review: Echo Camp by White Desert, Antarctica (PHENOMENAL experience!)
- Review: Trip to the South Pole & Emperor penguins
- Review: Private Airbus A340 First Class flight from Antarctica to Cape Town
- Review: KLM Boeing 777 Business Class from Cape Town to Amsterdam
Today: KLM Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class from Amsterdam to Cape Town
Last January, I flew Business Class onboard a KLM Royal Dutch Airline Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands to Cape Town International Airport in South Africa. KLM’s Dreamliners feature an excellent reverse herringbone 1-2-1 seat layout in Business Class, with interiors created by Hella Jongerius (a famous Dutch industrial designer). The flight experience onboard the Dreamliner represents a massive improvement over KLM’s older 2-2-2 Business Class product, which you’ll find on the carrier’s Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s (although the carrier is currently installing a new Business Class product on its B777s, with seats arranged in a 1-2-1 layout and equipped with a sliding door).
Founded in 1919, KLM is the flag carrier of the Netherlands and the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name. It’s one of my favorite airlines in the world and I’ve always enjoyed flying with them. IMHO, KLM succeeds in differentiating itself from its competitors because of its fantastic cabin crew (which rank among the most friendly in the industry), its fabulous flagship lounge at Schiphol Airport, the incredible attention to details (e.g. innovative tableware, a designer amenity kit, menus created by a Dutch Michelin starred chef, etc …), complimentary onboard WiFi, and the Delft Blue miniature Dutch houses (filled with gin) which are offered as a souvenir gift at the end of each flight.
Have you ever flown with KLM? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
- Trip: Amsterdam (AMS) to Cape Town (CPT)
- Airline: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- Aircraft type: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
- Aircraft registration number: PH-BHD (nicknamed Bougainvillaea)
- On time departure: 6:30pm (yes)
- On time arrival: 7 am (yes)
- Miles: 6020 miles (9790 km)
- Flight time: 10 hours and 30 minutes
- Seat: 4K
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube video):
- KLM Crown Lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
- KLM Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Amenities & bedding
- Onboard internet
- Gift: KLM Delft Blue House
- My verdict (score)
KLM’s flagship lounge at Schiphol Airport is located between the E and F piers at Schiphol Amsterdam. The lounge’s official name is the non-Schengen Crown Lounge but the space is often referred to as the KLM House. The lounge is open daily from 4:45 am till 10 pm and is open to the following guests:
- KLM Business Class passengers
- Flying Blue Platinum and Gold members plus one guest
- SkyTeam Elite Plus members plus one guest
The entrance to the KLM House is immediately noticeable by its illuminated glass wall adorned with some five thousand Delft blue miniature houses (more on that below). Visitors access the lounge by an escalator to the first floor, where they are warmly welcomed by the lounge’s personal assistants. A white marble desk at the lounge’s entrance underneath four chandeliers takes the shape of a giant KLM logo.
The lounge boasts a surface area of 6,800 m2 (37,194 f2) and offers around 1,500 seats (more than twice the number of seats before its last renovation in 2018). Large floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the lounge offer great views of the runways, piers, and the KLM fleet in the background. The massive space is divided into four different zones – or “Dutch landscapes” – for working, relaxation, food & drinks, and entertainment.
- In the Polder landscape, guests can work and relax at the same time. The carpet, decorated in varying shades of green, is reminiscent of the Netherlands’ vast pastureland. And a 110 m (360 ft) LED light wall simulates the Dutch sky. The lighting adapts to the time of day and includes a beautiful sunset.
- In the City landscape, guests can enjoy “live” cooking, a Heineken Bar, specially designed by Heineken, and a coffee bar with a barista. The food and beverage concept – characterised by high-quality, and fresh seasonal products – comes from KLM’s partner Vermaat. During my visit in the evening hours, cold dishes included a variety of breads, cheese, cold meats, fresh fruits and salads, while hot dishes – offered in an open kitchen – included vegetable soup, grilled chicken, rice, and pasta.
- The Sea landscape offers everything guests need to recharge their batteries during their journey. The area has twenty free showers, which customers can reserve in advance at the lounge’s self-service kiosks. There are also sleeping cabins offering privacy, tranquillity, and comfort (for a fee).
- The striking Dutch Mountain zone is a multi-level platform with various places to linger around, offering visitors a variety of options for working and having fun, from a TV room to a DJ stand for special events. It devotes attention to Dutch design and historical attributes from KLM’s heritage are on display.
The Crown Lounge is spread over two floors and the upper floor features an entirely different ambiance. Considered to be the 5th landscape (the Sky), the upper floor features a restaurant, stylish bar, and an outdoor observation deck with great airport views. The bar, called Blue, is an elegant space featuring a marble bar counter, several high-top tables as well as some more intimate seating niches. A fusion between a coffee lounge and cocktail bar, Blue offers more than 300 local & international spirits as well as exquisite wines.
In front of Blue Bar is Blue Restaurant, which used to offer a menu curated by Joris Bijdendijk of RIJKS, the Rijksmuseum’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Sadly, the venue closed during the pandemic and still has not reopened, although the beautiful space is still present and accessible for working or lounging during peak hours.
2. KLM BOEING 787 DREAMLINER
The Boeing 787 “Dreamliners” got their nickname from a worldwide competition Boeing held in 2003. The Dreamliner is a lightweight aircraft and can easily be recycled. It consists of 50% composite, 20% aluminium, 15% titanium, 10% steel, and 5% other materials, generating less waste and chemicals than a similar aircraft.
In 2015, KLM introduced this aircraft type its longhaul fleet, and the carrier is now flying across the world with a total of 21 Dreamliners: 9 Boeing 787-9s and 12 Boeing 787-10s (both subtypes feature a slightly different Business Class product). KLM’s 787-9 Dreamliners are all named after flowers. “Sunflower” was the 1st, followed by: Carnation, Lavender, Bougainvillea, Dahlia, Mimosa, Jasmine, Lily, Marguerite, Hibiscus, Morning Star, Tulip, and Orchid.
3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
KLM’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner offers 30 lie-flat seats in Business Class, 48 recliner seats in Premium Economy Class, and 216 seats in Economy Class. Located in one cabin in the front section of the plane, the 30 Business Class seats are spread over 8 rows and arranged in an excellent 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout. The seats on the side angle out toward the windows while those in the plane’s center are angled toward one another. This configuration maximizes privacy and ensures direct aisle access for all passengers. You can also find this type of Business Class layout onboard the planes of Air France, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Finnair, Avianca, Air Canada, and SriLankan to name a few (click the links to read my reviews of these airlines’ Business Class products).
Overall, the Business Class cabin feels fresh and modern. Different shades of blue are used throughout the cabin, reflecting KLM’s brand identity. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s cabin interior was designed by KLM in collaboration with Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. The dot, which has become part of Jongerius’s signature style, recurs in many elements of the interior, creating a soft, somewhat diffuse look. According to Jongerius, the soft padded ‘ears’ of the cocoon-like business-class seats are a contemporary interpretation of upholstered residential furniture, aiming to help travelers feel at home in a luxurious private space.
Click here for a seat map of KLM’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
4. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
KLM has installed the popular Zodiac Aerospace-made Cirrus Business Class seat onboard its Boeing 787-9 planes. With a pitch of 106 cm (42 inches) and a width of 53 cm (21 inch), the seat feels comfortable and private. Each seat is located in its own shell, and features luxurious accents, such as soft padded blue leather on the shell’s interior wall.
One side of the seat – located towards the cabin wall for the window seats or the center line for middle seats – features a large cupboard that provide personal storage space while doubling as seat dividers. Besides offering plenty of room for personal belongings, the cupboard also holds a specially designed mirror for checking your hair after a sound sleep in the full-flat seats. When opened, the brushed aluminium door functions as a seat divider for greater privacy.
On the cupboard’s outer wall, you find a reading light (at eye level), a wired handheld controller for the inflight entertainment system, and a metal trim holding the seat controls. This side of the seat also features a trapezoid shaped working surface as well as a bi-folding tray table which is released at the push of a button; it’s pretty easy to slide the table out and swing it back and forth according to your liking.
Each Business Class seat comes with its own 16-inch HD touch entertainment screen. The screen is locked in the sidewall, but it is released and swings out towards the seat at the push of a button. The suite’s apex features a footwell with an additional storage area underneath (which is perfect for stowing away a handbag or shoes). The ottoman is wide and also open on one side, which enhances the sleeping comfort when the seat is fully reclined.
In its flatbed position, the seat has a length of 2 meters (6.5 feet) and the soft seat cushions feel quite comfortable. When sleeping, the aisle armrest can be left up for more privacy, or lowered for providing some welcome extra bed width.
What are the best Business Class seats on KLM’s B787-9?
- Solo travelers should choose one of the window seats.
- Travel companions should go for the middle seats. However, due to how private they are, they really don’t lend themselves all that well for traveling with a partner, as you have to lean forward when you want to have a chat (the consoles of both seats are located in the middle).
What are the worst Business Class seats on KLM’s B787-9?
- I suggest to avoid the very front row (row 1) due to its proximity to the galley and lavatories.
- Seats 5A and 5K are missing a window and are best avoided.
- I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class (row 8) which is in front of the Premium Economy Class bassinet seats.
Click here for a seat map of KLM’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
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)
During this overnight flight, two meals were offered: a dinner after takeoff and a breakfast before landing. The beautifully designed menus (with references to Delft tiles & houses) were extensive and offered excellent wine pairings. The dishes were created by Chef Jonnie Boer, considered to be the most prominent chef in the Netherlands. Jonnie Boer, awarded with three Michelin stars since 2004, focuses on the flavor of his region and is co-owner of the restaurant De Librije in Zwolle.
I choose the following selection from the dinner menu:
- Appetizer: grilled zucchini, chickpea salad, salad with feta cheese, and nut salad
- Main course: grilled beef loin in a veal stock with duxelles and celeriac puree, fondant potatoes, marinated portobello and butter beans
- Dessert: apple tart tartin, lemon curt cake and chocolade raspberry cake with fruit and whipped cream
The dishes were beautifully presented, in part because of KLM’s 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.
Breakfast service started 90 minutes prior to landing in Cape Town, and comprised a seasonal fruit salad, a cold plat (Beemster cheese with jam and butter) and a hot dish (apples and raisin pancake with cinnamon sauce). The breakfast was served with warm rolls, croissants, jam, yoghurt and a granola mix.
Each Business Class seat is equipped with a large 16 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 offers WiFi onboard its Boeing 787 Dreamlines and free messaging is available to all passengers during the entire flight (how great is that!). This lets you send and receive text messages via WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and similar services. Note that you cannot send or receive photos, videos, or audio files.
Two other internet packages are available for purchase on KLM’s longhaul flights:
- The Surf Pass is available as 1-hour voucher for EUR 8, or a full-flight voucher for EUR 18. With this pass, you can surf the internet, and send & receive e-mails.
- The Stream Pass costs EUR 18 for the entire flight and lets you surf the internet, send and receive e-mails including (large) attachments, send & receive messages including photos, videos, & audio files, and stream music, audio, & video. The Surf Pass is currently only available on KLM’s B777s and A330s.
9. GIFT: KLM DELFT BLUE HOUSE
Shortly before landing, KLM’s longhaul Business Class passengers 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 1952. 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.
10. MY VERDICT
- Lounge: 10/10
- Seat comfort (upright): 9/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 9/10
- Food (quality): 8/10
- Food (quantity): 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 9/10
- WiFi: 10/10
- Service: 10/10
- Cabin design: 8/10
- Overall experience: exceptional 9/10