KL835 Business Class (SIN-DPS)

Finally, that time of the year again!  However, this was just a short family getaway to Bali.  As mentioned in my previous post, I bought 6 (4A + 2C) tickets early this year for $3.2k (using DBS-Expedia promo) and subsequently I found out that KLM was having an offer.  Thankfully, I managed to cancel my old tickets at no cost and rebooked the same tickets at $2.2k (a massive $1k savings).  So how does KLM’s World Business Class fare?

 

KLM operates a daily flight from AMS to SIN and onwards to DPS as KL835 and immediately does a return to AMS via SIN as KL836.  Instead of parking the plane at Changi, why not earn some extra bucks for this turnaround flight?  5th freedom flights tends to offer very competitive price (at the expense of lousier timing) and at $399 per adult for an international business class, you can’t get a better offer than this!

 

This route is typically served by a 777-300ER while twice a week it will be using a 777-200ER (from what I see on Flightradar 24, flights departing AMS on Monday and Friday).  So what is so different between these 2 birds?  Although the 77W are newer planes, they are still using the old World Business Class which uses an angled lie flat-bed in a 2-3-2 configuration.  772ER despite being older, uses the refurbished seat which is a full flat bed in a 2-2-2 configuration (with a much bigger TV screen too!)

 

We arrived early in Changi Airport Terminal 1 as I was planning to let my kids play around in the airport before flying off.  Being in Business Class, we were able to check in on the Sky Priority check-in line (which was empty).  We were then issued our boarding passes (with the sky priority sticker) and a lounge invitation card to Dnata Lounge (which I will review separately).  Skyteam has a very weak presence in Singapore, hence none of the Skyteam carriers have their own lounge in Singapore.

 

The flight from AMS arrived on time and hence it allowed the plane to depart Changi punctually.  We made our way to the gate and on arriving, we saw a long queue for the security check.  Thankfully, there was a separate Sky Priority Line and the 6 of us cleared the security in less than 5 minutes!  We got in just in time for the boarding to start and boy was it messy with people queuing all over the place.  Once again, Sky Priority saved the day and got us thru in just a few minutes and we were soon on the plane.  I later found out that this flight was 100% full in both Y and J!  The bird that flew us to DPS was a 6-year-old 777-300ER (PH-BVD) painted in the Skyteam livery.  The interior however, felt more like 12 years old!

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6 year old PH-BVD (777-300ER) painted in the Skyteam Livery

 

Date: 6 June 2016

Flight: KL835

Plane: Boeing 777-300ER (PH-BVD)

Photo taken: iPhone 6+

Seats: 2G/2J/3G/3J/4G/4J

Duration: 2 hours 12 minutes

 

We were seated in rows 2,3 and 4 (G and J).  Unlike Singapore Airline’s Business Class where the side seats are devoid of overhead bins, KLM had these installed (and it was definitely helpful to have these with a full J cabin).  Once seated, we were offered welcome drinks (which comprises water, juice or champagne).  Being full, the crew were visibly stressed.

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The seats are fixed shelled angled lie flat seats with a seat width of 20″ and a 60″ pitch.  Each seat was provided with a large pillow but no blankets were provided.  The seats felt alright, narrow compared to its competitors but still adequately comfortable.  At the same width, I personally felt that Air Canada’s classic pod was more cozy.

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The seats can be controlled manually (for decline and leg rest) or by using the preset position buttons (3 mode : seating, lounging, sleeping).  In addition, there is a lumbar massage function too! (but the massage strength is very weak).  The table is hidden at the seat divider and it slides out as you pull it.  There is also a small cocktail table at the edge of the divider.  Each seat has its own LED lamp, 2 side compartments, IFE remote control and the headset plug.  AHHHH.. the elusive headset plug which has got to be the most well hidden plug on any airplane seat I have encountered so far.  It took me 5 minutes of searching and I still couldn’t locate it.  I had no choice but to ask the crew where the plug is and she sheepishly showed me the plug which is located deep inside the seat, underneath the seat divider!  She admitted that many of her passengers can’t seem to locate the plug.  I had to squat down on the floor to plug-in the headset.

 

 

At the back of the shell, there is a compartment for magazines, with another 2 compartment below which I believe is meant for shoes.  The TV is fixed into the seat and the angle cannot be adjusted.  In lounge and sleeping position, TV viewing gets a little uncomfortable.

 

As for the IFE, it is miles apart from Silverkris!  The software (content and ease of navigation) is not as easy as Silverkris’ while the hardware is probably worse off.  The screen size is adequate for the viewing distance but it has an extremely poor brightness.  With sunlight, one can barely see the images (and there is no option for brightness control).  The controller is pretty standard, no different from those of other aircraft’s.  The supplied noise cancellation headphone is does its job in filtering out surrounding noises and provide adequately good sound quality.  However, the noise cancellation is nowhere as good as the Bose QuietComfort used in Singapore Airline’s First Class (or even Phitek used in the Business Class).  At least the IFE is gate-to-gate on this sector.  Unfortunately, two of my 6 IFEs were not working when we boarded and the crew had to hard reset it.

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Picture completely washed out by strong sunlight – with no options for brightness control

 

Meal was ok for such a short flight.  Before the meal, the crew went around the cabin to place a table-cloth before serving the meals.  I guess the crew must have been so stressed by the full cabin that they did not offer any hot towels prior to the meal!  It was a 3 course meal in which an appetiser, a main meal (from a choice of 2 meals) and dessert were included.   The 3 courses were served simultaneously on a tray, using porcelain wares (covered with economy-class styled sheets) and stainless steel cutlery.  Coffee/Tea is served after conclusion of the meal together with some pralines!

Drink selection was not too shabby for such a short flight which includes champagne (Nicolas Feuillate), wines, alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages.

 

The Business Class cabin has only 2 toilets serving 35 passengers (which ratio i feel is on the high side).  The cabin looked clean at first sight but when scrutinized futher, you can see dust accumulating at seat corners with some visible stains.  One thing missing was the Viktor & Rolf amenity kits (which was given on this sector from other reviews).

More importantly, the Delft Houses were still given to everyone in the Business Class cabin.

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Thankfully, we arrived on time to DPS and once again, Sky Priority helped us to get through the immigration in less than 5 minutes (it took us almost 1.5 hours back in 2013).  The newer and bigger terminal in DPS also made arrival felt more pleasant.

 

At $399 (all-inclusive), the value is definitely great for a short trip.  However, I doubt I will pay to take KLM to Europe (definitely not at the price of $6000+) in this cabin!  I believe the New World Business Class should fare better.  At this price, I will not hesitate to take this flight again to DPS despite its shortcomings.  If you can time your travel to coincide with the 777-200ER, that would be an added bonus!

Additional tip – Seats 4A / 4J has 3 windows!

 

Next up, KL836 (DPS-SIN)

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