I’ve caught the odd flight now and again, and I’ve had the pleasure of flying with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines several times on international flights within and beyond Europe. But how do they shake out against other airlines?
As a former local of Minneapolis, my first time with KLM was thanks to the SkyTeam Alliance relationship with Delta Air Lines. It was a direct flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, usually including one leg on Delta Air Lines and one leg on KLM.
Delta Air Lines was my go-to since Minneapolis is one of their main hubs. But after that first flight, I ensured that my return flight was with KLM, too.
Since moving to Amsterdam, KLM has become a frequent choice of mine to explore the world. Here’s my recent KLM history, including flights operated through Delta flights, economy class, business class, and even short intra-Europe in economy comfort.
And that’s just the last few months. I’ve quickly learned the world is your oyster when you live close to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS), with KLM being the pearl.
What We Cover
- About KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- SkyTeam Alliance
- Flying Blue
- Flight Technology Innovations
- Booking and Check-In Process
- Online Booking System
- Mobile App and Airport Check-In Services
- Cabin Classes and Seating
- Economy Class Features
- Premium Economy Benefits
- Business Class Amenities
- First Class Service
- Flight Experience
- In-Flight Entertainment Options
- Meal and Beverage Offerings
- Extra Legroom and Comfort Enhancements
- Punctuality and Flight Performance
- Airport Lounges and Exclusive Facilities
- Customer Feedback and Airline Ratings
About KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij – literally Royal Aviation Society) is an Amsterdam-based airline that is one of the largest airline operators in the world. They are also the oldest airline worldwide, still operating under its original name since 1919.
In 2004, KLM merged with Air France, forming the Air-France KLM Group and becoming a dominating figure in the commercial aviation industry. As part of a larger whole, both entities are also leading the way in terms of sustainability.
The principal operating business, KLM Group, owns and operates KLM, KLM Cityhopper, Martinair, and Transavia. Transavia is a popular low-cost carrier in the Netherlands. They operate out of Amsterdam, Eindhoven, and Rotterdam.
These KLM ventures use a network of approximately 100 cities and 70 international destinations. This results in transporting at least 30 million passengers and 621,000 tons of cargo every year. For a country as small as the Netherlands, this is quite something.
KLM offers business class, premium comfort, and economy class options for long-haul fleets. All long-haul flights include the latest technology for video-on-demand, games, and audio.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines features a passenger fleet of more than 100 aircraft. The main workhorses of the fleet include variants of the Airbus A330, Boeing 737, 777, and 787. Most of these will be replaced with Airbus A320neo and A350 variants by 2030.
Of all the KLM flights I’ve taken, I’ve found myself exclusively on the Boeings. Avgeeks, take note:
- Boeing 737-700/800/900: Considering it’s the world’s oldest airline, it makes sense that KLM operates the 737. These reliable, functional jets are the most successful and ubiquitous airliners in the world, with nearly 11,000 variants made since 1968. Over one-third of KLM’s fleet is made up of 737s.
- Boeing 777-200ER/300ER: This twin-engine giant is a testament to Boeing’s mastery of long-haul travel. During my flights, I’ve noticed that KLM’s Boeing 777s are the workhorses of their intercontinental portfolio, illustrating a robust blend of efficiency and passenger comfort.
- Boeing 787-9/10 “Dreamliner“: The 787 family, particularly the 787-10, has been the jewel in KLM’s crown since their acquisition. My journeys in KLM’s Dreamliners have consistently featured advanced cabin amenities that redefine comfort in the sky. The Dreamliner’s design optimizes air quality and lighting, mitigating jet lag on those extensive hauls from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.
They are a partner of the SkyTeam Alliance, meaning that you’ll have shared access to rewards with Delta Air Lines, Air France, Aeromexico, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Air, and many others. That translates into over 1,000 destinations and over 170 countries.
Flying Blue is the mutual travel rewards program KLM shares with Air France, so you can earn miles on Air France and KLM flights. It’s not nearly as lucrative as some other airlines, but it’s still one of the stronger loyalty programs of the European carriers.
The Flying Blue program has been a substantial part of my flights from Minneapolis to Amsterdam and beyond. The beauty of accumulating miles is evident in the tangible rewards—priority boarding, airport lounge access, and often an extra baggage allowance.
Each flight ticket inches me closer to these perks, making each booking not just a transaction but a step towards greater travel comfort. Business upgrade, here I come!
I’ve witnessed the practicality of Flying Blue during my European jaunts. Partner airlines expand where I can earn and burn miles, a boon for travel enthusiasts. Here’s a snapshot of some benefits:
- Miles Accrual: On flights and with partner services like hotels and car rentals.
- Tier Advantages: Extra rewards as you ascend from Ivory to Platinum.
- Spending Flexibility: Use miles for seat upgrades or save them for future trips.
The interface for account management, vital for scrutinizing mile balance or booking with points, proves user-friendly. A simple login and dropdown menu suffice for me. No frills, just efficiency.
Flight Technology Innovations
KLM infuses its operation with industry-leading innovations that optimize passenger experience and flight efficiency. Specifically, with their implementation in the 787 Dreamliner series, these innovations touch every aspect of the journey.
- Cabin Pressure and Humidity: KLM’s Dreamliners boast technologies that moderate cabin pressure and humidity, maintaining a closer approximation to conditions on the ground, which is an absolute godsend for weary travelers like myself.
- Fuel Efficiency: A crucial element I’ve gleaned from the cockpit crew during my travels is the importance of fuel efficiency in modern aircraft technology. Boeing’s KLM aircraft highlight aerodynamic designs and advanced materials to significantly lower fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions.
- In-Flight Entertainment: Personally, the technological strides are most tangible in the in-flight entertainment systems. Whether on the 777 or 787, KLM’s in-flight entertainment is top-tier, with swift touchscreen responses and many options, keeping me connected and entertained.
- WiFi: For KLM Cityhopper flights, there’s usually no WiFi on board. But in terms of WiFi, long-haul flights have WiFi-enabled aircraft that require payment. It’s usually tiered based on WiFi speed and duration. For example, I paid 30 euros for WiFi during my flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis. It’s expensive, but someone has to write reviews about airlines…
Booking and Check-In Process
Navigating the booking and check-in process can set the tone for your travel experience. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has streamlined this journey, balancing convenience and personalized service.
Online Booking System
The seamlessness strikes me when I secure my flights on KLM’s website or the user-friendly mobile app. The intuitive booking platform on the KLM website guides me through flight selections with filters that swiftly narrow my options.
Entering my information feels secure, and the clarity of the final cost, with a transparent breakdown of taxes and fees, instills confidence in my purchase. Importantly, the service doesn’t falter when I need to manage my booking; making changes or choosing seats can be done with just a few clicks.
Mobile App and Airport Check-In Services
The experience before the airport is equally streamlined, and checking in using the mobile app is pretty easy. The airport service complements the digital experience, maintaining a smooth transition from online to the physical realm of travel.
KLM offers numerous kiosks for those who prefer to handle things on the ground. I maintain that the Dutch deliver some of the best customer experiences on the planet. When you check in at Schiphol, the ever-friendly staff are polished in assisting, navigating the machines, or dropping off baggage.
Cabin Classes and Seating
When boarding KLM’s aircraft, I’m always clued into the subtleties of my surroundings—the tactile feel of the upholstery, the spacing between seats, and the overall cabin ambiance that greets me.
Economy Class Features
Economy Class on KLM provides a satisfactory blend of value and comfort. Economy seats are designed with adjustable headrests and more than adequate legroom for the average traveler (and a little extra if you score an aisle seat). My personal experience confirms the consistency of comfort KLM offers in this cabin, and it’s my go-to.
Premium Economy Benefits
The Premium Economy cabin, a relative newcomer to KLM’s fleet, is the next step available for those yearning for extra space. I’ve noted that seats in this class afford passengers serious additional legroom and recline. As perks, there are also enhanced amenities like priority boarding and a premium meal service.
Business Class Amenities
In Business Class, I find solace in the privacy and the expanded array of services. The full-flat recline feature of the business class seat is particularly refreshing on long-haul flights. The attention to detail is evident in the fine dining and the ample storage space for personal items, giving the experience an upscale feel.
First Class Service
Although KLM doesn’t offer a first-class cabin on its 777 fleet, venturing elsewhere into its top-tier offerings, the hallmark of luxury is its thoughtful, first-class service. KLM’s staff, from check-in desk to cabin crew, are lovely and will make you feel like their whole world when helping you out.
KLM’s attention to detail shines through in its onboard services and amenities, offering a blend of comfort and entertainment designed to enhance the flying experience.
In-Flight Entertainment Options
My flights with KLM have never lacked engaging entertainment. Every passenger is afforded a screen, where choices abound. From the latest Hollywood blockbusters to addictive series, documentaries, and music, the airline ensures passengers have various options.
Moreover, I’ve found the flight map and journey information quite immersive on longer flights. It’s incredible how watching a tiny marker creep across a map of the world turns a simple screen into a portal of discovery about your route!
Meal and Beverage Offerings
As someone who appreciates a good meal, I find the food and beverages served during flights are more than satisfactory. On intercontinental flights, two meals are standard: a main meal and a lighter snack towards the end of the flight.
Here’s an example of the meal while flying KLM Business Class. I opted for the sea bass during this flight.
European flights might offer a small snack or sandwich instead, depending on the duration. For beverages, options typically range from soft drinks to wine and spirits.
The quality is decent for airline fare, on par with some restaurants, and the meal planners do attempt to incorporate a taste of the Netherlands into their menu choices. Here’s an example of the in-flight meal in economy class:
It’s pretty standard fare for airline food – similar to fast-casual or diner cuisine in the US. And who can say no to the comfort of a nice warm bowl of pasta and tomato sauce?
Extra Legroom and Comfort Enhancements
Concerning comfort, KLM’s Economy Comfort seats warrant a mention. On the flights where I’ve decided to upgrade —which costs extra— the additional legroom and reclining in these seats have made my journeys significantly more comfortable. They’re seemingly minor enhancements, but they really make a difference to the experience.
Although the price varies depending on the flight’s length, the investment for that extra space is a game-changer, especially on their long-haul routes. Details like these exemplify how KLM’s service is carefully attuned to the needs of its travelers of all shapes, sizes, and ages.
Most importantly, I loved how they look out for the kids! They were excellent with my daughter, who doesn’t have the best time on all flights. Not only did the crew engage with her in English and Dutch (my daughter is more fluent than I am), but they also provided her with a goodie bag.
I haven’t experienced this with big United States carriers like Delta Air Lines, and I wish they did this type of stuff more. It’s a really thoughtful touch that helps young kids cope with long-haul flights. Here’s what was in the package of stuff my daughter received to play with on the plane:
The patch made a really big impact on her. Instead of being forced to tolerate sitting quietly on a multi-hour flight, this small fabric disc made my daughter feel like she was part of the KLM team.
Punctuality and Flight Performance
My journeys with KLM have given me ample perspective on their punctuality and overall flight performance. In my experience, KLM demonstrates a strong commitment to making good time.
Their punctuality (i.e., flights taking off and landing within a reasonable time frame of the scheduled hours), is pretty consistent. During 2021, KLM underwent meticulous analysis pointing to admirable punctuality statistics. This continued into 2022, wherein they recorded an arrival punctuality rate of 75%.
Considering everything that goes into getting a plane off the ground, this is nothing short of stellar. My travels mirror these findings, as I have seldom been delayed.
While fluctuations in punctuality are an industry-wide issue, they should always be minimal. KLM can go with the flow when things go awry, even when faced with external challenges, by minimizing the impact on its passengers, particularly those with connecting flights.
My Take: KLM’s efforts to stick to their timetable is evident, particularly when managing boarding and offboarding. The efficiency observed in these processes heavily influences their ability to maintain a scheduled flight performance. And they do it all with a smile.
Airport Lounges and Exclusive Facilities
My solo travels have often led me through the doors of KLM’s airport lounges, particularly at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where a palette of comforts awaits the weary traveler. The amenities offered in these havens of tranquility aim to revitalize and set up passengers for their journeys.
Inside the non-Schengen Crown Lounge—my usual retreat—the abundant seating is strategically designed to afford openness and privacy. KLM’s service ethos is apparent, with attentive staff ensuring your needs are met with the usual warm smiles and professional demeanor.
The Schengen Crown Lounge is generally busy but rarely overwhelming and offers a food and drink selection that caters well to a spectrum of tastes while not the epitome of luxury. It feels like a good fit for anyone and everyone.
The Business Class lounges at Schiphol distinguish themselves with their comfort factor—a commendable feat given how busy these spaces can get. Whether I’ve sunk into comfy chairs for a brief respite or settled in to answer emails, the sense of relaxation has been a constant.
Additionally, the lounges provide sleep cabins, albeit at an extra cost; these are a quiet boon for those craving a nap amidst long layovers. Here’s a glance at what to expect at Schiphol:
|Over 1,000 seats
|Including privacy-centric areas
|For a fee (e.g., €49.50/3 hours)
|No price is too steep for a decent rest!
|Food & Beverages
|Complimentary, with paid options
|Blue Bar & Blue Restaurant access
|Costs extra; separate from lounge
See Related: Lounge Pass Review: Is It Worth It?
Customer Feedback and Airline Ratings
It’s hard to say that I’m not biased towards KLM. I expect great service, amenities, and a seamless process from booking to boarding flights with KLM. But I like to think I am being honest with my review of KLM.
I also like to think my travels, from the US to the Netherlands, through the aerial veins of Europe, and beyond on KLM and countless other carriers, provide a sound foundation to gauge the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, I think I can be fair.
And, in the further interest of fairness, I’ve listened to the eclectic symphony of customer voices and ratings of KLM. After reading a LOT of reviews about what feels like every conceivable aspect of KLM, here’s what I’ve surmised:
- Travelers have awarded KLM numerous accolades, celebrating its success in customer choice categories from 2017 to 2020 alone.
- The seat comfort and legroom resonate well with frequent flyers, as do the onboard entertainment options.
- Comfort and cleanliness often receive thumbs-up from patrons.
- Customer service experiences are pivotal, with significant appreciation often cited in reviews.
My take: Personal interactions with KLM staff have underscored their professionalism and responsiveness, an observation supported by numerous online testimonials from the flight experience.
Sifting through many reviews, you’ll find some that express negative experiences concerning customer service outside the plane and a couple complaining about the in-flight experience. But if you take a closer look and read between the lines, most of these poor reviews concern things not always within KLM’s control (e.g. flight cancellation), or being cut off from booze (read “user error”).
People tend to leave reviews for things if they are prompted to do so. A canceled flight is objectively terrible; sometimes, it comes at the most desperate times.
This becomes incredibly frustrating because you want to be home with your family after a long business trip, or you’re now freaking out about where your kids can sleep on this impromptu layover. This results in extreme customer responses- as is being cut off from drinks.
But most airlines have similar reviews – and many of these airlines have more of them. I like to think of airlines like your cable company.
You’ll never get great reviews and online customer support when they have automated call centers. But compared to what I know about other airlines, KLM genuinely has their craft down pat.
If there’s one area I feel KLM slips, it’s the price of airfare. They aren’t the cheapest carrier, but even so I can personally make peace with this.
KLM itself has never tried to be a budget airline. I think the service you get from them does reflect the price of your ticket as a whole. Besides, they’re the oldest airline in the world; they know what they’re doing better than most.
Here’s my overall summary:
|Value for Money