KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) KL 405
Astana – Amsterdam (TSE – AMS)
Departure : 5:55 Actual Departure : 5:45
Arrival : 8:00 Actual Arrival : 7:32
Duration : 6 hours 5 minutes Actual Duration : 5 hours 47 minutes
Aircraft : Airbus A330-200
Registration # : PH-AOF
Seat # : 22J
Monday, 5 September 2016
Okay I’m about 10 months late writing this flight review. But as the saying goes, better late than never right? Last August, I had a wonderful trip to Kazakhstan’s capital city – Astana. I flew there and back with KLM for the first time. I already did a review on my outbound flight to Astana on board KLM’s A330 aircraft – a flight which I quite enjoyed. So here is my review of the return flight.
First of all, the departure time of this flight was way too early, at almost 6 AM! Considering I’d have to get to the airport at least 2-3 hours earlier was near impossible because no public transportation goes to the airport in the early morning hours. My friend who showed me around Astana offered me to take me to the airport at that time but I figured it would be too late and he’ll have to get up for work the next morning, so instead we went to the airport earlier around 1 AM and had our farewell.
The check-in counters for international flights usually open 3 hours before departure. This meant that I couldn’t check in and drop off my luggage for at least another 2 hours! All in all, I was making myself ready for an exhausting and sleepless 4+ hours of airport waiting on this night (I have been sightseeing and going around earlier most of the day). Fortunately, there was a large waiting hall at the airport where many people seemed to be already asleep or taking a nap. I figured they, like me were also having an early morning flight and wanted to get to the airport earlier at night due to lack of transportation.
When finally the check-in desks opened, I was the first person to check-in. The nice check-in agents offered me a business class upgrade at a discounted rate of around € 200, which I refused. I know it sounds crazy and most wouldn’t have refused but I had my reasons. For once, I don’t fancy flying business class for just a 6 hour flight and secondly, as a student € 200 is quite an amount which I could otherwise spend on another trip 😉 Moving on…
After check-in and immigration formalities, I moved to the airside of the airport. The airport itself is actually not huge, but has adequate passenger facilities. My KLM aircraft has still not arrived from Almaty (the return leg was Almaty-Astana-Amsterdam). By this point, I was super sleepy and tired and all I wanted was to sit in the aircraft and fall asleep.
Fortunately around 4:45 AM, the KLM A330 finally arrived and parked at the gate. Any minute we’d start boarding. Finally the moment arrived at 5:10 AM. Presenting my boarding pass at the aircraft gate I went inside and noticed three things.
– This A330-200 aircraft was older than the one we flew in to Astana because the seats and inflight screens were old.
– There were already passengers sitting and sleeping who boarded the aircraft in Almaty, which caused some passengers, including me, to wake up our ‘seat neighbors’ so we could take our places.
– Some of the cabin crew looked familiar and were actually from my flight into Astana!
The inflight entertainment screens were so small and old that I wondered whether there was actually anything to watch or enjoy. But I wasn’t really too concerned about that on this flight, all I wanted was few hours of sleep (though didn’t want to miss out on the meal service as I was pretty hungry at this point). The screens however showed the map/airshow at least, so that was a relief knowing where we are flying over if I wanted to.
Boarding was over in just 12 minutes. The occupancy was around 90%. The captain welcomed us on the PA and announced that the flight would take around five and half hours and at 5:45 local time, the aircraft started its pushback. After a brief 10 minutes taxi onto the runway, we took off around 5:56. The golden dawn light was already seen at the horizon by now. Five minutes later, the seatbelt signs were turned off and breakfast service began around 40 minutes after takeoff.
I forgot what the options were. But I remember my choice was the pancake. It tasted okay and I was done in just 15 minutes because I wanted to sleep more than anything else. I don’t have much to say at this point as I was mostly sleeping/napping for most of the journey. Let’s fast forward to 1 hour and 20 minutes before arrival, when pre-arrival snack boxes were being handed out.
At this point, I think we were somewhere over Sweden/Denmark and the sky was already quite bright outside. The snack consisted of a chicken sandwich and a chocolate croissant, which tasted quite good! Took me like 20 mins to complete my snacking.
About half an hour before touchdown, we started our descend. As the sun was slowly rising in the Netherlands, it gave me an opportunity to shoot some awesome landscape views! Unfortunately, the window wasn’t the cleanest/clearest. Although scheduled arrival into Amsterdam was 8:00 AM, we touched down almost half an hour earlier at 7:32 AM.
While deplaning I asked the crew whether I could take a peek into the cockpit. With the consent of the captain, I was welcomed in to A330’s cockpit for the first time! Unfortunately, I had only enough time to take some pictures and ask maybe one question only, even though I had several technical questions in mind…ohwell. Maybe next time!
To Sum Up
It seemed quite a short flight actually, because most of the flight I was just asleep. The aircraft was an old one with outdated seats and entertainment system. But I think that hardly mattered, even if they deployed a newer A330 on this flight, I would’ve most likely slept through anyway. The KLM crew, like my previous experience, was very friendly and attentive. The food could’ve been a bit better though!