Once we deplaned at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in the E Gates, we exited through a very efficient passport control and headed toward our connecting gate to Madrid, which were in the C Gates. Schiphol has two KLM Crown Lounges, one of them, the “Schengen Lounge,” located between the C and D Gates (where most of the Schengen Area flights depart), and the other, which Ben reviewed last year, located between the E, F and G Gates near the non-Schengen departures. Since our flight was departing closest to the Schengen lounge, we headed there.
Ben’s flown in KLM’s new business class from Amsterdam to Chicago before, but KLM’s business class was a new product for me and one I was very excited to try. KLM World Business Class passengers flying from LAX have access to the Korean Air Lounge at the spectacular Tom Bradley International Terminal. Ben’s reviewed the lounge before, and there’s nothing really worth recapping, except to say that while it’s rather beautifully designed and outfitted, the catering at the KAL Lounge (basic snacks, tiny finger sandwiches, poorly stocked self-serve bar, Woodbridge-branded wines and, to Ben’s horror, no champagne) seems straight out of an Alaska Airlines Board Room in Spokane. I’d suggest if you get to LAX early, you explore the shops and restaurants in the terminal rather than waste your time at the middling lounge.
Boarding started about 25 minutes late for an unspecified reason, but once boarding began, we were directed into the nose of the 747. KLM’s World Business Class occupies four rows on the lower deck, at the nose, and six additional rows comprising the entirety of the upper deck. However, the lower deck offers a few seats which are by themselves rather than two-by-two (1A, 4A, and 4E), which are the seats to select if you’re able to choose them.
As you may recall, back in early September Ben posted about some amazing business class fares between select West Coast cities and Europe. SkyTeam was targeting oneworld hubs, and vice versa. I leapt at the opportunity to buy a round-trip business class fare to Madrid for under $2,000. (Of course, just a month later those same fares fell to a sub-$1,500 level, which was even harder to resist… so I’ve got another trip to London planned thanks to that fare sale.) I’d never been to Madrid before, and figured it would make an ideal city for a short four-day getaway, and would allow me to try out a range of new SkyTeam products there and back.
While you may know me as a SkyTeam apologist, I should be upfront and let you know the booking situation from start to finish was a giant pain in the ass, because I made the mistake of booking through KLM.com (having heard it offered a $20 “time to think” option to hold a reservation for up to two weeks at the quoted price). Air France’s website offers the same option, which I wish I’d known at the time because, ladies and gents…
There’s perhaps no airline that is quite as vilified by Ben as — you guessed it — Delta Air Lines.
What he sees is an airline running a mileage program that is not as lucrative as American’s, a program that requires significant spend (or use of a co-branded credit card) to reach elite levels and offers poor redemption availability on its own metal domestically.
Ben sees a program that won’t let you redeem miles for travel on partner airlines in international first class.
Ben sees a program that has made some customer-unfriendly changes within the last few years.
I see it differently.
Hello! By way of introduction, I’m a friend of Ben and a One Mile at a Time blog reader and I’m honored that he’s invited me to guest post now and then.
Unlike many points-and-miles bloggers, I rank fairly low on the totem pole as far as elite status and butt-in-seat miles are concerned. I don’t travel often for my job, and were I to do mileage runs left and right and be on a plane for 36 hours a weekend, it would surely lead to impending divorce.
But, I love travel, I love airlines and hotels, and I love the challenge of accruing and redeeming points. I have elite status with Delta and low-level elite status with Hyatt (through my Hyatt Chase Visa) and Starwood (through the AmEx Platinum card) and that’s about it, but I hope I can bring you guys my perspective of being a “casual traveler” who still enjoys the points-and-miles hobby in moderation. I also like to think that I bring the perspective of not being in the oneworld “bubble.”