As part of my long journey from Canada to India, I had the opportunity to experience KLM’s new World Business Class product on my initial transatlantic flight between Calgary International Airport and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
In Canada, KLM offers direct flights between Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal. This makes the airline a popular and convenient choice for those visiting the Netherlands, or connecting to other parts of Europe. In my case, the airline’s new codeshare partnership with Jet Airways allowed me to seamlessly transfer from KLM to my connecting Jet Airways flights to Mumbai and Kolkata, without the need for new boarding passes or claiming baggage.
Out of Calgary, KLM uses a mix of Boeing 777, 787 Dreamliner, and Airbus A330 aircraft, depending on the season and day of the week. While my aircraft was originally set to be the 787 Dreamliner, it was changed about 30 days prior to departure to the larger Boeing 777-200ER.
KLM has invested heavily in updating its business class product with fully lie-flat seats. In 2013, the line began rolling out its New Business Class product on the Boeing 747, and can now be found aboard the airline’s entire Boeing 747 and 777-300ER/200ER fleet. It hasn’t, as of yet, been expanded to include the Airbus A330.
The New World Business Class cabin was designed by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius, and makes use of the B/E Aerospace Diamond seat (customized fully for KLM by Jongerius) that offers 78” of bed space when extended into its fully lie-flat position, and a whopping 63” of pitch between seats. Seats aboard the Boeing 777 are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration, and pairs are staggered slightly to allow for more privacy between seatmates.
Jongerius gave substantial thought to the overall cabin design, which is warm and inviting but still quintessentially Dutch. It features continuous carpeting throughout the cabin (it makes a different – trust me) that is made in part from recycled KLM uniforms. Dark and light shades of blue are predominant here, but aren’t as overpowering as on some older aircraft (remember the MD-11?). Instead, blues are complemented by shades of grey, slate, and silver that gives the cabin a classy, upscale feeling that you’d expect from a business product.
KLM’s new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft have a slightly different World Business Class seat, favouring herringbone pods arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration that allows for direct aisle access from every seat.
Flight: KL 678
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER, Registration PH-BQE
Date: February 27, 2017
Seat: World Business Class, 3D
Flying Time: 8h30
Customers holding World Business Class tickets on KLM can check in using the SkyPriority lanes. Check-in was quick and efficient, and most importantly, friendly. World Business Class customers also have access to priority security where available.
Customers flying KLM World Business Class in Calgary get complimentary access to the International Terminal’s Aspire Lounge. This isn’t as swanky or as dedicated as KLM’s Crown Lounges at Amsterdam Schiphol, nor is it exclusive to SkyTeam members (expect to mingle with Star Alliance and Oneworld fans, too!).
It did, however, give me everything I look for in a lounge: comfortable seating, fast wi-fi, a quiet atmosphere, and complimentary beverages and food offerings. The food didn’t really stand out for me (it’s your usual lounge fare), but the beverage selection was quite good.
To get to the Aspire Lounge, head down the concourse and hang a left at the sign. An elevator will then take you from the first floor to the third floor, and a sealed corridor that allows for Lounge access. The views are quite nice from the lounge, as they overlook the bustle of YYC’s new Transborder Terminal.
The most beautiful thing about Business Class is not having to join the crush of hundreds waiting to board. KLM handled boarding in a clear and efficient manner at YYC, first inviting families travelling together with small children and those with mobility difficulties to board first. This was then followed by Business Class and those guests with SkyPriority status, regardless of their cabin.
A quick walk down the jetway and a turn to the left, and I was making my way to Seat 3D.
World Business Class aboard the 777-200ER is split slightly. Entering through Door 2L, most seats are to the left, while a small section of six seats (6AC, DG, HK) is to the right of the door, just ahead of Economy Comfort. Some people prefer one cabin over the other; I wouldn’t personally mind. Business is Business.
My first impression of Seat 3D, located on the middle-left side of the aircraft, was that nine hours wouldn’t be enough to fully enjoy it. Even in its fully upright position, it’s one of the most comfortable seats I’ve sat on. Only Air Canada’s Boeing 787 Executive Pod Business Class seat ranks higher in terms of comfort in my opinion, but I much preferred the warmth of the KLM design to Air Canada’s cold look.
I wear eyeglasses, and I’m always fumbling around when I travel in Economy (which is about 95 percent of my flying year) for a place to put them. Fumble no more here: lots of little storage spaces are available for books, glasses, iPods, and whatnot.
Directly in front of you is a 17” screen that can be controlled by touching it. But, as it is a serious distance away from you (I could just barely touch it when seated upright and buckled in), a remote control has been inset into the side of the seat’s console. It can be removed to control the in-flight entertainment system, turn your reading light on, or call the flight attendant. Guests are also provided with
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