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Business Class on KLM?

I know I'm jumping the gun here, but I can't stand not looking up potential flights. We're hoping to get to go to Italy next fall, and I'm perusing airline websites to see what's out there. (No, we're not booking flights yet, or anything else either, at least not until we find out whether or not RS tours are on.)

We usually fly British Air, but I've been checking out some other airlines, and for once, KLM seems to be cheaper than BA. We have flown KLM in the past and enjoyed it, as much as one can enjoy a transatlantic flight.

My question today is about business class on KLM. (It looks like the only choices are economy and business; I don't see premium economy.) The description mentions lean-back seats, not "lay flat." Has anyone here flown KLM business? Are the seats far enough apart that one actually could lean back to sleep without inconveniencing other passengers?

As I recall, we liked the food and the service, but we're of an age now where a decent night's rest (if not sleep) is important.

I'd appreciate hearing your experiences. Thank you.

Posted by
25 posts

Jane, there's no single, specific "KLM business class". It depends on which specific aircraft is on that specific flight (on that day).

KLM does not have a very extensive network of flights from North America (they only serve a few cities). Most flights sold as "KLM" are actually on Delta airplanes. A lot depends on which city you're flying out of.

You need to take a look at the specific flight number on the specific date in question. Go to seatguru.com, feed in the airline, flight number and date, and take a look at what the seat configurations are. That's good for a start, but do be aware that 1) seatguru is not 100% accurate, for a variety of reasons, 2) things change, and what you book today for a flight 9, 10 or 11 months ahead has a high chance of changing. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, just know about it.

Arriving well-rested after a good night's sleep in a comfy, flay bed business class experience is a great way to start a trip...

Posted by
2608 posts

I can't remember if it was in 2019 or 2018 but my flight to Paris from SFO on Air France was canceled and AF rerouted me through Amsterdam on KLM flight 606 to Amsterdam with a connection on to Paris. The airplane was so new that the flight attendant had no idea what to do when I asked her to tell me how to lower the shades. Our cabin was a typical lay-flat seat business class cabin. I have a hard time falling asleep on a flight that departs in the early afternoon but my family does not and all three of my travel companions, including my 6' 4" husband, slept well. Three things stuck out about that flight: (i) they had a signature cocktail in business class called the Flying Dutchman that was absolutely delicious, (ii) the flight attendant gave me two of those little Delft bottles/houses, and (iii) the pilot waited way longer than I think a US-based pilot would have to put on the fasten seatbelt sign when the flight got bumpy. As mentioned in the first reply, go to seatguru.com and enter your flight number and you will see the equipment usually used for your flight and see the type of seats. The particular airplane KLM used for the flight I took had what they call Comfort Economy which I think would be their premium economy product. Of course, there is also the possibility of a last minute change of equipment which could result in changed seat configurations and all your research will have been for naught.

Posted by
2237 posts

As mentioned above, KLM's business class seats are variable, depending on the plane. Some do not have direct aisle access for every seat (important to me as a solo traveler, perhaps less important to you as a couple). I don't remember any flights where the seat did not convert into at least an angled lie-flat. I slept fine on one of those on an old 747-400 Combi a few years back. I agree that Seat Guru is your friend.

the pilot waited way longer than I think a US-based pilot would have
to put on the fasten seatbelt sign when the flight got bumpy

I love that European pilots do this. US pilots' reluctance to turn off the "fasten seatbelt" sign turns the sign into a joke. No one pays attention to it except during take-off and landing.

Posted by
1593 posts

I have, but it was many years ago so my experience is not up to date. At the time the long haul business class seats were in a 2-2-2 configuration and did not fold fully flats, but close to. Not that bad when they where new, but by today's standards they are outdated. They have introduced modern seats that are a lot better and can be converted into 2 m fully flat beds, but I think there are still some aircraft with the older seats. Hopefully they are planned to be upgraded, but who knows when? So as mentioned, it depends on what aircraft you are on. And if it is a codeshare operated by Delta, there might be something very different.

Two advantages for KLM compared to British Airways though are that you won't need to go through security again when connecting on the way back (and if everything works as it should, not on the way there either). And, assuming the flights are actually operated by KLM and not a Delta codeshare, you can be sure that EU261 will apply to the flights.* But to be fair, those advantages also apply to all other EU airlines. And while I'm not a big fan of Amsterdam airport, it still beats Heathrow in my opinion.

In short, if KLM are cheaper I would without a doubt prefer them to British Airways. I see no reason to pay extra to fly British Airways.

I love that European pilots do this. US pilots' reluctance to turn off
the "fasten seatbelt" sign turns the sign into a joke. No one pays
attention to it except during take-off and landing.

Could it be a cultural issue? We don't have a silly lawsuit culture in Europe so there is no need for the pilots to keep the light on to avoid some passenger suing the airline for a silly amount of money just because they accidentally tripped and hurt their knee?

Posted by
7213 posts

KLM is flying business suites on some routes. It’s a 1-2-1 configuration with four walls dividing off the lie-flat seat.

Posted by
2608 posts

As to the seatbelt issue, I have flown on a lot of European airlines so I know that the fasten seatbelts sign tends to be off longer on those flights but this KLM pilot kept the fasten seatbelt sign off for a very long time even by European standards. My husband joked that it was so bumpy the pilot was busy flying the plane and did not have the time to put turn on the sign. Anyway, as to the litigiousness, I read an article once that said that it was America's litigious society that was at the root of the difference in how the pilots treat the signs and the writer was especially annoyed at how often and for how long Delta pilots turned on the fasten seatbelt signs. On the other hand, there are some benefits to a "silly" litigious society, I once took a ferry across Lac Léman that was the worst transit ride I have ever taken. People fell, threw up, and were literally praying as the boat traversed the lake. No way, that ferry would have left the dock in the United States for fear of lawsuits and IMO that would not have been a bad thing.

Posted by
4388 posts

Thanks for the suggestions about seatguru, everyone, and Joe, thanks for the links. It seems that the last time we flew KLM we had "comfort economy," but the last couple of times I did a sample booking, the only choices were economy and business. That was from Tulsa to Rome and back; it's possible other routes have different choices.

I don't particularly care about lay-flat seats, but my husband likes them. I normally sit bolt-upright (which weirds people out when we're visiting) or occasionally reclined just a couple of inches. I do like the other amenities of business class, though.

Thanks, everyone.

Posted by
2237 posts

Two advantages for KLM compared to British Airways though are that you
won't need to go through security again when connecting on the way
back

I would add the word "probably" between "you" and "won't" in the sentence above. In early 2019, AMS added a small security area immediately to the right of the exit from immigration control (going from the Schengen to the non-Schengen area of the airport). As people exit immigration control, some are "randomly" selected to go through a security check. I think one would know it's there only if one had been selected for the check (like me!).

Posted by
597 posts

We are flying BC on KLM next year (hopefully) on a widebody 777. It is the 2/2/2 configuration which is fine with us as we like the window/aisle pair. One thing I noticed about KLM's economy comfort seats is they are mostly or all in 3/4/3 layout. Most of Delta's use the 2/4/2 which is much better for couples.

Posted by
1650 posts

You might go over to flyertalk com. There’s entire forums dedicated to various airlines over there and I’m sure there are a lot of people on there who have extensive experience flying business class on KLM and can probably help you, I will warn you it’s not a touchy friendly place but there are some great experts on there

Posted by
1593 posts

I would add the word "probably" between "you" and "won't" in the
sentence above. In early 2019, AMS added a small security area
immediately to the right of the exit from immigration control (going
from the Schengen to the non-Schengen area of the airport). As people
exit immigration control, some are "randomly" selected to go through a
security check.

Thanks! I wasn't aware of that. You shouldn't have to go through security though as there is an agreement on common airport security standards in the EU so if you arrive from another EU country you should not have to go through it again. But random checks might be allowed.

Regarding premium economy, KLM's version of it on long haul flights has been pretty unimpressive so far. It has been economy with a bit of extra legroom and nothing more. Compared to other airlines where premium economy often include things like wider seats, more luggage allowance, better food, lounge access and other things. But they mentioned recently that they plan to introduce a "real premium economy".

In general I'm not a huge fan of KLM. They are not a bad airline, but they are bit conservative and very slow to adapt new things. They do have a very good route network to smaller airports in Scandinavia and especially the UK though, which is a great advantage for them.

Posted by
2237 posts

Badger,

The small security area has only one or two lanes. It popped up when the old Delta E1 "gate" went away. That was the gate to which everyone headed to the US on Delta or KLM was sent; everyone was asked security questions and then told what their "real" gate number was. I was always tempted to try to be sweaty and shifty-eyed during questioning just to see what would happen, but I never quite had the nerve to do it.

Posted by
3023 posts

Just a reminder that economy comfort and premium economy are completely different terms, and never mean the same thing.

Posted by
4388 posts

Tom_MN, and the definitions vary from airline to airline.