Beaches of South East Asia: Introduction
Beaches of South East Asia: KLM World Business Class SIN to DPS
Beaches of South East Asia: Grand Hyatt Bali
Beaches of South East Asia: The Laguna Bali
Beaches of South East Asia: Malaysia Airlines Economy Class DPS to BKI
Beaches of South East Asia: Hyatt Regency Kota Kinabalu
Beaches of South East Asia: Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort Kota Kinabalu
Beaches of South East Asia: Malaysia Airlines Economy Class BKI to DPS
KL835 Singapore Changi SIN – Denpasar Ngurah Rai DPS
Boeing 777-300ER PH-BVD
Amboseli National Park
Gate D34 Terminal 1 Seat 2A
After taking a cab from Marina Bay Sands in downtown Singapore, I arrived in Terminal 1 and walked up to an empty check-in counter. There was no queues to be visible in either the Economy lane or the Sky Priority lane. Instantly I was checked in for the flight and obtained my boarding pass which was affixed with the red SkyPriority sticker. Similarly, passport control was adequately fast and took about 10 minutes of wait before I was in the renovated Terminal 1 departure hall. Obviously Terminal 3 is more spacious but there really is no bad terminal at Changi Airport since they are actually connected anyway.
In Changi, KLM uses the Skyview Lounge which is also utilized by a bunch of other airlines including Cathay Pacific so I was kind of familiar with it. The photo above was taken on another previous visit. There are ample seats on the lounge with the bulk being Cathay Pacific passengers though the food and beverage choices in the lounge is just average. I was glad to note that there was a good variety of magazines and newspapers for travellers which helped me pass the time. After spending roughly half an hour in the lounge, I proceeded to the boarding gate since there is additional security at the gate in Changi Airport.
What I did not know was that the flight is delayed and I should have noticed that from the lounge since the gate was visible. However there was some confusion since the gate on the boarding pass did not correspond to the one shown on the departure information screen in the terminal. The gate visible from the lounge was gate D34 but the information screen mentioned D44 and thus when I saw no plane on D34 I thought it has been moved.
Anyway when I reached the gate I spot that the plane was already docked on gate D34 and there was some queue for security screening. After security screening, KLM segregates a portion of the waiting lounge nearest to the boarding door for guests with SkyPriority tags on their boarding pass which was appreciated. Since I was early I got to take some nice photos of the plane which features the SkyTeam livery! That was a pleasant surprise and made the early wait in the gate more worthwhile since there was a delay of around 30 minutes which is attributed to late arrival of aircraft as a result of the busy runway at Singapore.
The boarding was conducted giving elderly and families priority before those on Business class and SkyTeam elite members. Since it is my first time in a while after taking KLM, I tried to be one of the first to board. Thankfully the light on Business Class was quite light today and I was able to take some good photos of the cabin during boarding and later on the flight. The crew was all smiles but they were generally quiet and made no interaction with passengers. I guess the language barrier was a factor here since most of the passengers seems to be Dutch nationalities continuing on to Bali from Amsterdam.
There was a long boarding process and it seems some Economy class passengers had to pass through the cabin during boarding. This meant that welcome drinks were not served until much later. The World Business Class on KLM’s 777-300ERs was configured in 2-3-2 much like the business class of some Chinese-based airlines. The seats are angled lie-flat like Qantas business class and I generally think of these as Business Minus since the premium products have full lie-flat seats. The good part was that the inflight entertainment screen was of a decent size and offers a very clear resolution! In addition to the ‘Holland Herald’ inflight magazine, there was a newsletter by ABN-Amro. There was also 2 cubby holes for shoes in the lower middle section of the seatback pockets.
The crew came around and offered Business Class passengers a welcome drink once boarding was more or less complete. An interesting note was how there was a relief pilot or technician on our flight that was based out of Singapore and he sat in 1A for this flight. Another surprising note was the flight attendants giving out amenity kits even for this short flight. The amenity kit consists of a pouch made specially for KLM by Viktor & Rolf, an Amsterdam-based fashion house as well as some basic amenities like socks, eyeshades, pen and a lip balm.
With a light load on Business class but a relatively packed Economy class, the boarding took a while and there was another wait for our plane’s turn to take-off in congested Changi for the afternoon departures. However, take-off was quick and provided passengers with a wonderful view of the harbour as we flew past the Indonesian islands of Bintan and Batam.
As we flew past Bintan, the crew got around handing out the menu for this segment of the flight. There was basically 2 choices for the main course and the flight attendant took my order a while later where I picked the fish main course.
While the meal service was similar to what other Asian airlines would give for a short flight, the beverage list was extensive enough and includes some interesting choices. However there was one flaw I noticed during meal time. The tray tables that is retracted from the armrest actually does not go flat when flipped open. Instead it creates a slight V-shape crevice and that means when the meal tray was laid out, it did not remain firmly on the table. I was definitely glad there was not much turbulence in this short flight!
During the flight, I also immersed myself by watching the movie ‘Now You See Me’ which was enjoyable but it was just too bad the flight time was too short for me to complete the movie. I did, however manage to finish the movie on my flight aboard Malaysia Airlines.
The meal service was immaculately presented and I found their cutleries to be really special with all the intricate carvings. Emphasis placed on little details that showcases the airline’s home country arts and culture definitely makes a flight much more enjoyable. The appetizer was a salmon dill terrine served with crab cocktail and melon and I had nothing against it. However the main course of fried garoupa fish fillet that was served with some tomato sauce was just average. It tasted just like what airline food felt like and that is not a compliment. The top layer of the baby kailan was also over-cooked and some of the rice was a bit dry. I did like the fact that they garnished the dish with some onions. Flight attendants also came by with a bread basket during the meal service and if I was not satisfied by the main course, I do like the bread that I picked since it was warm and would not be out of place in a high end restaurant. At least a good part of the meal!
The saving grace to this lacklustre main course was the dessert of apricot mandalino cake served with raspberry coulis that I finished. So another star of the meal service means KLM is not half bad after all since I did have worse airplane meals on board Business Class before. Along with the meal, I was also able to get a glass of iced tea, and to my surprise the iced tea was sparkling. It seems to be direct from Europe so it was great to enjoy a glass of refreshing iced tea while flying across tropical isles. Before I started on dessert, I also asked for a glass of champagne to go with the cake.
At the end of the meal, the cabin crew came around with a box of pralines and I was able to select a couple of tasty chocolates to finish the meal service. Shortly after, the flight attendant came and clear the tables and when I finished my drinks, enquired about a refill which I appreciated. The service on the short flight was better than expected and while not overly friendly, it did the job for me. I think it also helps that the crew serving us was fresh from Singapore.
With the meal service concluded, I walked around the cabin to take some photos as well as use the lavatory to freshen up. Generally the ambience during the flight was relaxed and pretty quiet as the passengers in the Business class cabin was engrossed with the entertainment system or just catching a nap. I also tried the seat in the full lie-flat position and the lounge position. Overall I would say they seat is more or less similar to Thai Airways regional A330 in terms of comfort but the gray and blue colour scheme of KLM is really dull and I am not a big fan of it.
Since it was already dark outside after the meal service, I chose to take a nap for the remainder of the flight. I managed probably a 20 minute shut-eye before the cabin crew re-emerged to wake me up from my slumber as they were preparing the cabin for descent. During this period, one of the flight attendant also went around with a tray full of the Delft Blue houses that KLM is famous for. Somehow she knew that most passengers will be excited for this and that they take their time to choose. She even made recommendations on the newest house that was launched just a week ago as KLM does that in October every year. To date, the airline has a total of 94 different designs, each indicating a year they have been operating for.
Shortly thereafter we landed on Denpasar’s Ngurah Rai airport under clear weather conditions and perhaps 20 minutes off our original scheduled landing time so that was a really short flight that was enjoyable. The service and the amount of effort put by KLM onto the short flight does make me a satisfied passenger and I would definitely consider a flight with them again in the future. The good news is that they are replacing the angled lie-flat seats on their long-haul fleet starting with their old 747s. The replacement will be a staggered full-flat business class seat that would definitely be on par with offerings onboard other airlines. That may then be a time I will consider flying with them to Amsterdam. For some trivia, KLM is also one of the few airlines that still operates the 3-engined MD-11s and that would be of interest to me as well!