Trip Report: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (B747-400M) World Business ORD-AMS

The Details

  • Flight: KL612
  • Aircraft: B747-400M
  • Class: World Business
  • Seat: 78A and 78B
  • Route: Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)-Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
  • Distance: 4,201 miles
  • Duration: 6hrs 55min
  • Departure: 5:59PM
  • Arrival: 6:54AM

The Preflight

This was going to be a very specials flight for my SO and I since this would a few firsts. This was the first time that my SO and I were going to be flying in business class together, the first time that I was going to be flying in business on a 747, and the first time that I was seated on the second floor of the Queen of the Skies.

Naturally, I was looking forward to this flight and we arrived at Terminal 5 at Chicago O’Hare International more than three hours before departure. Terminal 5 is the main international terminal at ORD where most of the non-AA, UA flights depart from.

There was a slight line at the two KLM Business Class/Skyteam Elite check-in counters but we had our boarding passes in 15 minutes. Terminal 5 has a dedicated TSA PreCheck lane which allowed us to get airside in about five minutes.

There was a rather disappointing Air France-KLM Lounge at T5 which had a selection of cold sandwiches and packaged chips/snacks on offer. The lounge was incredibly crowded and seating was difficult to find.

Boarding began exactly on time at 4:45PM from Gate M9. Unfortunately, there were no amazing views of our jumbo jet from up close but the blue nose was unmistakable from afar.

Our B747-400M, registration PH-BFT and named “City of Tokyo”, was delivered brand new to KLM back in May 1997. She was one of only 61 of the specialized “Combi” passenger/freight B747s ever produced by Boeing.

The Flight

KLM offers a total of 35 business class seats aboard their B747-400Ms. They also have 36 premium economy, and 197 economy seats for a total of 269 passengers. The business class seats are B/E Aerospace Parallel Diamond that are all too common among other carriers.

Each seat was 20″ wide and pitch was 63″. Between each pair of seats was a non-adjustable privacy shield.

We were seated in 78A and 78B, which was the last row on the left hand side of the upper deck. There were a total of 20 business class seats arranged in a 2-2 configuration on the upper deck which had a very intimate private jet feel (not that I have even been on a private jet…) The remainder of the 15 business class seats were in the nose on the lower level.

There was a 110V outlet, USB port, and headphone jack to the left of the headrest in addition to a water bottle holder. The bi-fold tray table was stored in the center console.

The IFE screen was touchscreen but it felt dated and had very poor definition. Below the screen was a small cubby perfect for passports and wallets.

I loaded the inflight map and was surprised at just how old-school it was.

The main reason I am not a fan of the Parallel Diamond seat is the fact that the footwell is incredibly narrow. Even though the footwell was open on one side and had more space due to curvature of the hull, I still found it constrictive.

The seat controls were located in the center console and had an option for lumbar support.

Awaiting at each seat was a packaged blanket and dense pillow. The blanket was fairly comfortable and thick

We were also given a pair of KLM branded noise cancelling headphones. There were not as good as my own pair of QC35s.

Each passenger was also given a Jantaminiau amenity kit. Contents included socks, eye mask, dental kit, ear plugs, a pen, and Rituals branded lip balm and hand lotion.

Once my SO and I were situated, flight attendants came by with predeparture beverages. Options included sparkling wine, orange juice, or water. Hot towels were also passed out.

Menus were also distributed.

Boarding was completed at 5:30PM and we pushed back 10 minutes later. The Dutch pilot welcomed all passengers aboard in perfect English and announced that our flying time would be six hours and 55 minutes.

We had a fairly quick taxi to the runway and in no time the four GE CF6 engines were roaring to life. There were some good views of the Chicagoland sprawl on our climb out.

The first hour of the flight was fairly bumpy and service did not start until an hour and 25 minutes after take off. Flight attendants came around with a second round of hot towels followed by a beverage service. Cold salted mixed nuts were served in the signature KLM china. Beautiful.

Flight attendants were professional and addressed passengers by last name during the service. Interestingly, they used a tablet to enter the dinner choices. Appetizers where served two hours and 10 minutes after take-off. I opted for the crab Daikon roll which was excellent. Fresh, crisp, and with the perfect amount of sweet and sour sauce.  I’d order this at an Asian restaurant on the ground. The bread (whole grain or white) was served cold from a basket. The salad was generic with a single mozzarella ball and cherry tomato. Salt and pepper was provided in adorable little red shoes!

Forty minutes after the appetizer was served, the main course was delivered. I chose the stewed beef shank which was tender and the sauce flavorful (albeit heavy and greasy). It was clearly pre-plated as the flight attendant brought it to my seat covered still covered in aluminum foil. Instead of a red wine I opted for a 4th glass of champagne…

Three hours after departure and nearing the half-way point of the flight, the cheese and dessert service began. All 3 choices sounded good so I had cheese, fruit, and the Lemon Mousse with hazelnut brittle. Calories don’t exist on vacation right? The cheese and fruit were average. However, the Lemon Mousse was superb and the hazelnut brittle deliciously crunchy. So good that I was tempted to ask for more. A nice glass of port was my fifth alcoholic beverage of the night.

Cute Belgian chocolates of the famous KLM houses were handed out. Options included Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, or White Chocolate. The milk chocolate was definitely worth the extra calories.

Water bottles were also distributed.

After the plates were cleared, flight attendants dimmed the lights. We only had about three hours and 30 minutes left in the flight due to the initial delay in service from turbulence and the relatively slow speed of service. I dutifully made my own bed and tried unsuccessfully to get some rest.

After finishing the movie Sicario: Day of the Soldado I ventured back to the galley for some snacks. Options included stroopwafels and packaged nuts. I decided to also have a black coffee.

Just two and a half hours after dinner service concluded the lights were turned back on for breakfast. Flight attendants came around with fresh orange or apple juice and a hot towel.

Even though I was still full from the enormous dinner service and mid-flight snack, I decided to have breakfast. Why not? I picked at the Swiss Cheese and Turkey Bacon egg strata. The croissant was hot, crunchy, and inside fluffy. Flight attendants also came through the cabin offering a hard boiled egg which I declined.

After breakfast, classic KLM houses were passed out. The one on the right was the newest 99th edition “De Witte Os”. In my opinion, not as good looking as the 83rd edition on the left.

Soon we began our descent to a beautiful sunrise over the canals and landscape of the Netherlands.

We landed at 6:54AM local time in Amsterdam and taxied directly to the gate. We passed by another beautiful B747-400 in the KLM blue.

Thanks for the ride!

Overall, the flight was perfect for a red-eye trans-Atlantic. The service was professional and genuine despite being slow. The food was better than average and plated in beautiful china. And of course, any flight aboard the 747 is always a delight.

3 thoughts on “Trip Report: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (B747-400M) World Business ORD-AMS

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