It took some work in routing, but I managed to book a frequent flier (FF) ticket in KLM business class from ORD to Tel Aviv Israel (via Amsterdam) in one of their classic double decker Boeing 747s.
The route was listed in a Flying Blue promo sale for only 39,000 FF miles (one way) an absolute steal, as these seats usually go for 2x-4x more in miles. I only had to pay some modest taxes+fees – in other words, it was free! God bless FF miles.
Some of my quick impressions: The check-in was a breeze. The KLM lounge at O’Hare was ok, nothing special. Frankly, all of O’Hare Airport needs a makeover, it’s getting a bit dated, stuck in the 1980s.
I sat on top deck of the KLM Boeing 747 (this one was named “Seoul”) which felt like a private airplane experience. It’s rare experience and it won’t last much long as KLM is retiring all their 747s in the next few years. Too bad as I think it’s one of the coolest planes ever made – the end of an era.
Overall, KLM business class service was impressive. The food was great — cocktails, champagne and lobster at 35,000 feet. Real silverware, too.
KLM seats were comfortable and lay flat. Unlike most American airlines, KLM employees take more pride in their work, and the A+ service made the experience.
The business class seating does combine two side-by-side, which was fine with me. The KLM entertainment video system could use an upgrade, however.
KLM has a couple “unique” signatures to their business class of service: the “Flying Dutchman” gin cocktail, signature Jantaminiau amenity kits, and a ceramic Dutch house figurine filled with gin, all which made the trip into something memorable.
Compared to their partner, Air France, I would say Air France is still a bit better in some regards, but KLM still offers a fine product on their trans-Atlantic 747s.
Arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was like being jettisoned into the future – the airport is super modern and well organized. Even with the flood of daily passengers, it still felt manageable.
The recently completed KLM Crown Lounge was a show stopper – encompassing two floors, it has to be the largest and most modern business class lounge in the world. It has every available amenity (lockers, showers, food, drink) including a full length bar on the second floor. It’s amazeballs.