Reviews

Review: KLM Boeing 777-300ER World Business Class (Singapore-Amsterdam)

KLM's World Business Class proves a solid choice when jetting to Amsterdam and beyond, with connections available from Australia.

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, January 13 2020
KLM Boeing 777-300ER World Business Class (Singapore-Amsterdam)
Route

Singapore - Amsterdam (return)

Aircraft Type

Boeing 777-300ER

Airline

KLM

Flight

KL836 + KL835

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

5D + 6G

Notes
The Good
  • Great flight timings for sleep and onward connections
  • New network-wide Qantas Frequent Flyer partnership
  • Cabin crew service
The Bad
  • 2-2-2 seating configuration
  • KLM's contract lounge in Singapore
X-Factor
  • Every flight comes with a collectable, gin-filled KLM Delft Blue house
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Dutch airline KLM recently celebrated its 100th birthday, but in its most recent years has gained even more to celebrate thanks to its evolving partnership with Qantas, which ferries Amsterdam-bound passengers from Australia to Singapore and relies on KLM to take them the rest of the way.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: Air France-KLM Flying Blue, SkyTeam. KLM is also now a Qantas Frequent Flyer partner airline, allowing travellers to earn and spend Qantas Points on KLM flights.
  • Qantas codeshare: The Singapore-Amsterdam route can be booked as a Qantas (QF) codeshare flight, adding Qantas status credits into the mix versus earning only Qantas Points on the usual KL flight number.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x115cm bags plus 1x85cm accessory such as a handbag, briefcase or laptop, up to a combined total weight of 18kg.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 2x32kg as standard, boosted to 3x32kg for Flying Blue Silver, Gold and Platinum; SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus; and Qantas Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers.
  • Airport fast-track: Use priority check-in, security screening and boarding in both Singapore and Amsterdam via the Sky Priority lanes.
  • Passport control tips: Business class passengers departing Amsterdam clear passport control via a separate Sky Priority section of the airport, made even faster for Australian passport holders who can use the EU eGates on departure (although not on arrival). Regular visitors to Singapore should also register for use of the country's e-passport gates.

Lounge

In Singapore, KLM relies on the independent Dnata Lounge in Terminal 1, which is also open to Priority Pass members.

The lounge was particularly busy ahead of the evening KLM departure, with most seats only available in the brightly lit working zone above, plus a few relatively uncomfortable chairs along the walkway.

Dnata offers showers, WiFi, alcohol, and buffet dining – including a local favourite, satay skewers – but given how busy it was (in the sections not photographed), a Priority Pass card was quickly put to use elsewhere, unlocking a Plaza Premium lounge in the same terminal: a much quieter and more comfortable place to unwind prior to KLM's 1:30am departure.

Business class passengers booked on the QF codeshare flight number instead have access to the Qantas business class lounge in Singapore, while Qantas Platinum members and above travelling on a QF flight number can also visit the new Qantas First Lounge at Changi Airport.

Be mindful that passengers booked on a KLM flight number (as opposed to a Qantas codeshare) cannot access the Qantas lounges in Singapore, regardless of status.

Departing Amsterdam, all lounge-eligible travellers can stop by the newly-revamped KLM non-Schengen Crown Lounge after passport control, which also appears as "airline lounge 52" on some airport signs and maps.

ET review: KLM’s flagship Crown Lounge, Amsterdam

Flight

KLM offers daily return flights between Singapore and Amsterdam, both of which run overnight.

Out of Singapore, it's a near 13.5-hour journey, departing at 1:35am local time to reach Amsterdam at 7:55am the same calendar day.

Returning from the Dutch capital, it's a 9:05pm push-back and a 4:20pm arrival at Changi Airport one calendar day later, with a shorter journey time of under 12.5 hours.

While Amsterdam is a popular destination in its own right, KLM's home hub also serves as a great connecting point for passengers travelling further within Europe, such as to London, where there are multiple flights per day.

Transit passengers will receive a single boarding pass covering both their flights, which makes the process on the ground quick and easy at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

When connecting from Singapore onward to a non-Schengen destination like London, all you need to do is clear security here (not passport control) and head to the lounge or your boarding gate.

If jetting to a Schengen country such as France, Germany or Italy, you'll clear passport control here in Amsterdam, and arrive at your final destination just like a 'domestic' passenger.

Read: What the Schengen Area means for your European trip

Seat

Business class adopts a 2-2-2 layout aboard KLM's Boeing 777-300ERs, with five rows of seats in the forwardmost section, and an extra row further back.

These are lettered as AC-DG-HK, so couples travelling together may prefer the window-side pairs, while solo flyers will naturally gravitate to the centre for direct aisle access without a neighbour climbing over them, or vice versa.

Seat pairs on the sides angle away from the aisle for just a tad more privacy when travelling with a companion.

For solo flyers in the centre, a fixed privacy divider between each seat will be appreciated, and becomes most useful when the seats are in 'bed mode'.

Each transforms into a fully-flat bed measuring 51cm (20 inches) wide and aproximately 200cm (79 inches) long in most rows, with a pillow and blanket provided.

Although a mattress topper would make this more comfortable (and pyjamas are BYO), I was able to rest through from dinner until breakfast en route to Amsterdam, and again on the return flight after dinner until just before the second meal service.

The seat is adjusted via this easy-to-use control panel, with presets for sleeping and landing, and adjustment keys for recline and the leg rest, as well as lumbar to make the seat cushion softer or harder.

In terms of available legroom, this depends on where you're sitting. In most rows, the seat narrows at the end, with a fixed shelf forming the tail end of your bed – seen here at 5D.

Passengers who prefer to sleep flat on their back may find this less comfortable than other business class seats – particularly those with larger feet – as it can be a tight squeeze.

In this case, the bulkhead seats in rows 1 and 6 are a better pick, as the fixed foot rest is wider, making the bed wider too. Here's 6G:

Storage-wise, there's a useful cubby for your amenity kit located directly in front of you (shown above), and a pouch to your side for literature, laptops and the like.

Shoes have their own place too, with a separate shelf up near the headrest for your water bottle and smaller items. This is also where your AC and USB power points are found; ditto the headphone connector.

While it's handy for keeping gadgets out of the way – a smartphone when recharging, for example – it's a tough spot to reach while comfortably seated.

Meal

Given the timing of both these flights, the meals served are dinner after take-off and breakfast before landing.

KL836: Singapore to Amsterdam

The service begins with a drink before departure followed by an open bar soon after, from which the Anniversary Cocktail (celebrating KLM's 100th year) proved an interesting take on a classic Italian Negroni, which, just like the airline, originated in 1919.

Given the 1:30am departure time from Singapore, your first instinct may be to sleep, but I found it helpful to eat a late and light dinner to help adjust to European time – 1:30am in Singapore being 6:30pm in Amsterdam.

The single tray service offers an appetiser of black pepper tuna with achar and Thai asparagus; a main course of chicken biryani masala, braised beef brisket or a carrot-ginger soup; a cheese plate featuring Cambozola and Comté; and a raspberry cheesecake with vanilla sauce for dessert.

Opting for the beef brisket, it arrived tender and flavourful, with the tuna starter also nice and fresh, although the asparagus on top didn't add much flavour-wise.

Concluding the service came the offer of a "miniature chocolate KLM house", which was impossible to refuse.

Fast-forward to breakfast and another single-tray delivery pairs fruit salad, a smoked salmon and cheese plate (Gouda and Gruyère) and a croissant with a choice of main dish:

  • Gruyère omelette with potato cubes, green asparagus and chicken patty
  • Ricotta pancakes with strawberry compote and vanilla sauce
  • Granola with plain yoghurt

The pancakes came light and fluffy, the croissant nice and buttery, and the rest was as expected. On the side, brewed coffee (espresso isn't offered), and juice.

KL835: Amsterdam to Singapore

This 9pm service offers a drink before take-off, where a glass of Champagne (Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve NV) is an easy choice.

Afterwards comes another round of drinks with warmed nuts, where a (Dutch) Damrak gin and tonic hits the spot.

Given the earlier departure time compared to Singapore-Amsterdam, the meal service is a little more leisurely and arrives in stages, beginning with a starter of either tomato soup or a salmon and spicy mango plate served with hazelnut, cucumber, pepper and a mango dressing.

On the side, a mixed salad with Reypenaer cheese, pumpkin seeds and a beetroot dressing, and bread with olive oil.

It's a tasty and very European serving, soon followed by a main course:

  • Pan-fried cod and Dutch prawns with herb potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes and broad beans in a mussel gravy
  • Miso-marinated chicken thigh with carrot, potato purée and Brussels sprouts in an orange beurre blanc sauce
  • Beef stew with red cabbage, potatoes and cornichons

The cod sounded like the lightest choice, and was enjoyable with the mussel gravy complementing the dish's other seafood flavours.

Afterwards, dessert offers a choice between a three-cheese plate and a line-up of sweet bites. No prizes for guessing which was the top pick.

Although the flight arrives into Singapore at 4:20pm, if you've spent the better part of it catching up on sleep, you still tend to crave breakfast prior to landing – this is where a strong cup of coffee and a freshly-squeezed glass of apple juice are welcome.

Joining fruit, cheese, a croissant and a hard-boiled egg is one of the following choices:

  • Egg soufflé with cheese and mushroom ragout
  • Crepe with cranberry, pistachio nuts and vanilla sauce
  • Granola with plain yoghurt

The egg soufflé seemed the most interesting, and was indeed delicious – although would have been a better 'star' of the tray than an egg in a cup with a plastic-wrapped cheese slice:

A note for whisky drinkers, albeit most relevant during other parts of the flight: your choices include Jack Daniel's, Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch, and Aberfeldy Single Malt.

Entertainment & Service

Although KLM's Boeing 777 business class seats aren't cutting edge, the inflight entertainment system more than passes muster with a 17-inch touchscreen for each passenger.

Being fixed in place means you can watch your chosen content from the moment you board until stepping off the plane – although the 'moving map' won't come to life until you're indeed moving.

There's a solid selection of movies, TV shows, music and games to choose from, with the system also supporting multiple languages.

Perfect for when you're lying down, a separate touchscreen entertainment controller mirrors the functionality of the main screen, so you won't need to sit forward to pick your next movie.

It's also quick and easy to see how long your flight has until landing, as well as how much longer your movie runs for. If there's insufficient time, you'll be warned.

Service on both flights was attentive, with the arrival of KLM's signature Delft Blue houses a welcome interruption to those movies.

These are designed as collectables, with 100 different houses in the range. KLM even has a dedicated Delft Blue house smartphone app, allowing regular business class travellers to keep track of which houses they already have in their collection, helping to inform their next pick.

Interestingly, they're also filled with gin – and if you have a connecting flight, the crew will even seal these in a security-compliant bag with a dated card to avoid any issues at the checkpoint.

While this route doesn't feature the airline's newest plane or even its best business class seat, you do get a good sense of history and of Dutch national pride, touching everything from the colours of the cabin and crew uniforms through to the service, flatware, glassware, and of course, those collectable Dutch houses.

Just don't forget to place yours in your checked bag for the journey home – and if you're a regular KLM flyer, to add the house to your Delft House app before you next depart!

Also read: Qantas expands frequent flyer partnership with KLM

Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of KLM.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 402

Looks very bland. The aircraft type 777 for long haul=fail. The seats=fail. The food looks great however and service from past experience is great too. AMS of course is a very nice place to visit. I won't be rushing to use this service. Give me a QF codeshare on EK over this any day.

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 66

That's because it is. As bland as Swiss.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 586

Unless it has changed recently, I believe the Qantas lounges in SIN close when boarding is called on the last QF flight for the night which is usually QF38 to MEL but occassionally QF1 to LHR if it is running late. Either way, this means the lounge usually closes up at around 11:30PM so you will still need to use one of the alternatives provided by KLM.

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 66

I've flown KL several times from SFO in practically all their configurations (747, 772, 77W and 789). 789 is the relatively the best. But KL isn't my favourite by any means: in addition to the most common 2-2-2 config, I find their meal service very slow, dessert portions extremely tiny, service prompt but a bit “stiff”, and their IFE (both screen controls and media) average at best. I flew their sister AF to SFO on their reconfig'ed 77W (1-2-1) and the difference was night and day. Hospitable, almost chatty bordering on flirty staff, much better food and tasty dessert.


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