Review: KLM Boeing 737 'Europe Business Class' (Amsterdam-London Heathrow)

Like most European carriers, KLM's short-haul business class provides upgraded service, but still in an economy-style seat.

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, September 10 2021
KLM Boeing 737 'Europe Business Class' (Amsterdam-London Heathrow)
Route

Amsterdam to London Heathrow

Aircraft Type

Boeing 737-700

Airline

KLM

Flight

KL1011

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

2F (window)

Notes
The Good
  • Your ticket guarantees having no direct neighbour on board
The Bad
  • There's more legroom than economy, but the seat is the same
X-Factor
  • KLM's Crown Lounge in Amsterdam is worthy of an early arrival
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

When you've ventured all the way from Australia to Europe, there's a good chance you'll visit more than one city: and that's where European business class comes into play.

Many travellers get caught out, thinking 'business class' means a bigger seat – but in Europe, it normally entails an economy-style seat instead, yet with upgraded catering and service.

That's what you can expect in KLM Europe Business Class, including on key routes like Amsterdam to London.

Editor's note: This journey took place prior to COVID-19 travel restrictions, although every effort has been made to provide the most up-to-date information.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: Flying Blue, SkyTeam alliance. Qantas Frequent Flyer members can also earn Qantas Points (but not status credits) on KLM flights.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 2x32kg as standard, increased to 3x32kg for Flying Blue Silver members and above, SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus cardholders, and Qantas Silver frequent flyers and higher.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x115cm bags at a combined total weight of 18kg, plus one smaller item such as a handbag, laptop bag or briefcase.
  • Priority airport services: With an earlier connecting flight from Singapore, baggage was checked right through from Changi, with Sky Priority lanes for fast-track transit security and boarding.

Lounge

A London-bound ticket in KLM's Europe Business Class grants access to the airline's flagship Non-Schengen Crown Lounge at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

As of September 2021, the Crown Lounge opens daily from 6am to 10pm, offering travellers a wide variety of space in which to work, dine, and relax.

While Blue Bar and Blue Restaurant on the lounge's upper level are temporarily closed, food and beverage remain available throughout the lounge's main level. 

If your visit calls for pre-flight work, the WiFi here is swift, with download speeds of 47-86Mbps and uploads centred on 69Mbps during our most recent visit.

ET review: KLM’s flagship Crown Lounge, Amsterdam

Flight

KLM offers regular flights between Amsterdam and London, serving both Heathrow and London City airports.

Schedules vary from day to day, and aircraft swaps may occur – but for the most part, Heathrow flights are served by these Boeing 737s, with London City flights now operated by Embraer E190s.

Between Amsterdam Schiphol and London Heathrow, flight times are generally 1hr 20min.

It's a quick hop, so only around 45 of those 80 minutes are spent in the air – you can thank long taxiways and take-off queues for the rest.

Seat

Like most European airlines, business class on KLM means an economy-style seat, but with a guaranteed vacant seat beside you.

Rather than a 2-2 layout as you'd expect of airlines like Qantas and Virgin Australia in short-haul business class, that places the KLM configuration as 3-3.

In each trio of seats, the aisle and window may be occupied, but the middle definitely won't be – and if you're travelling during winter, that's a great place to hang a jacket or coat.

With a seat pitch of 33 inches (84cm – more than in regular economy and Economy Comfort), there's room enough for such a quick intra-Europe hop, without your knees touching the seat in front.

Stretching your legs outwards and forwards finds even more space.

Still, unlike Club Europe business class offered by competitor British Airways between London and Amsterdam, there's no cocktail table over that vacant seat: it's just kept free, giving you extra elbow room.

Speaking of room, that centre seat does have a regular tray table that can be lowered and used in lieu of your own, such as to hold a drink.

These tables have a grooved cup holder on each side, so you can share that middle table with your distant seatmate: or indeed, use your own as a sturdy surface for any laptop work.

It wasn't obvious that inflight power was available until we asked, but each seat has an international-style outlet hidden directly below it, facing forwards.

In terms of direct competition, KLM's Europe Business Class offers more legroom than BA's Club Europe on competing routes, and is reasonably comparable with other major European carriers like Air FranceLufthansa and SWISS.

Meal

With an 11:40am departure from Amsterdam, this flight oddly served breakfast – and indeed, the same menu as the day's 5am services.

That found a breakfast plate of yoghurt, fruit salad, cheese, a warmed roll, and other light bites.

But for this traveller connecting from Singapore to London via Amsterdam, it came as the third breakfast of the day – the first before landing in Amsterdam, and the second in the lounge.

Had the flight departed just 20 minutes later, it would have qualified for a 'lunch' service – but at least, bubbles weren't away. 

While we'd love to see that 'lunch' timing brought forward by an hour or so, 'breakfast' flights still provide a full bar, if you're so inclined.

It was charming to have a menu booklet on such a short leg, which helpfully listed every beverage option available on board. 

Entertainment & Service

On these very short journeys – which are barely longer than Sydney-Canberra – entertainment is whatever you bring with you.

However, don't stay too glued to your screen as you approach London – the view out the window is worth pausing for.

While KLM's Europe Business Class seat isn't on-par with what many Australians are accustomed to at home, it remains competitive with the local European market.

To that end, KLM offers the most legroom in business class of any airline flying between Amsterdam and London, and while it may lack BA's fixed cocktail table, it makes up for it in comfort.

Also reviewed: KLM E190 business class, London-Amsterdam

Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as a guest of KLM.

Chris Chamberlin

A Brisbane-based contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.


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