06 Apr Flight Review: KLM London to Los Angeles via Amsterdam
Los Angeles is a city I fell in love with the first time I visited, so I was really excited to go back this year and experience the city’s music scene with KLM and Spotify. They sent me there to attend a concert (I chose my idol Bruce Springsteen!) and explore the city’s highlights, of which there are many! I rode around in a Mustang, sunbathed on Venice Beach, attended a pool party at The Mondrian and strolled down Hollywood Boulevard. The last time I’d flown KLM was on a trip to Singapore back in 2006 before I even owned this blog, so I couldn’t really remember much about the flight experience. This time however, I was able to document it to give you an idea of what it’s like.
Flight KL1000 depart London Heathrow at 06:30, arrive in Amsterdam at 09:00
Flight KL601 depart Amsterdam at 09:50, arrive in Los Angeles at 11:45
Flight KL602 depart Los Angeles at 14:45, arrive in Amsterdam at 09:05 the following day.
Flight KL1009 depart Amsterdam at 10:15, land in London at 10:45am.
London Heathrow to Amsterdam
On my journey from Heathrow to Amsterdam my seat was actually moved to a Business Class seat at the boarding gate. Since this is a very short European flight you don’t get all the frills that come with long-haul flights, but you do get to sit at the front of the cabin with slightly more legroom. Seats are configured in a 3-3 configuration, but the middle seat is kept free so there’s space between you and the next passenger. I was offered a free newspaper and a drink (I opted just for sparkling water at this time of the morning but there is wine!), then the meal service came around. Since it was breakfast time I was served a plate of ham, cheese and salad, alongside fresh fruit, yoghurt, jam and pastries.
Coming back from Los Angeles at the end of my trip, this portion of the journey was operated by a much smaller aircraft, with just 2 seats on each side of the aisle.
Stopover in Amsterdam
This was definitely the smoothest stopover I ever had. I often worry with short connection times that my bags won’t make it onto the plane, but I’m happy to report that my bags made it all the way to the other end, both there and back. With just 50 minutes stopover on the way there, no sooner had I disembarked the aircraft than I was ready to board the next one to Los Angeles. One of the best things about the stopover in Amsterdam was that I didn’t have to put my bags through security again. I simply walked through the airport (it was quite a walk to the next gate) and by this time, my flight to LA was ready for boarding.
The return journey back to London was just as smooth and quick, with no delays.
This route to Los Angeles is very busy, so I’d recommend checking on your mobile or laptop as soon as online check-in opens. This is usually 30 hours before departure, or 24 hours for flights to and from the United States. On the journey back home the flight was actually overbooked, so this is clearly a very busy route.
Bag drop at the airport was pretty quick and efficient, even with so many people checking in for flights.
I flew to Los Angeles on a Boeing 747-400, which is arranged in a 3-4-3 configuration in Economy.
I left it a bit late for online check-in and ended up with an aisle seat on the way there and the way back, which was a bit frustrating because I’m much more of a window seat girl. I like to be able to see out the window and rest my head when I’m tired, so sitting in the aisle seat meant I had to face plant myself into the tray table to get some sleep. So remember to pick your seat as soon as check-in opens!
If you can, I’d recommend paying the little bit extra when you check in online to get a preferred seat or seat with extra legroom. I was in seat 55C from Amsterdam to Los Angeles, which is a standard aisle seat just next to the galley. The seats with extra legroom are at the front of each cabin section.
My smartphone had barely any battery left by the time I boarded the plane, so I looked around for plug sockets but there are no plug sockets in Economy Class. There’s no Wi-Fi either, so expect to be out of contact for the duration of the 13 hour flight.
The seats do, however have TV screens with on-demand movies, TV shows and music. The members of cabin crew hand out earphones that hook onto your ears but I used my own, plugging them into the arm rest. With so much choice, the question was – which movie to pick? Luckily they have an app that you can download before your flight to see what’s on. I ended up watching the final Hunger Games and Miss You Already, which was a proper tear jerker. I also thought KLM’s in-flight magazine – Holland Herald – was one of the best I’ve read, with lots of interesting features with entrepreneurs and bloggers.
On the return flight I was seated in 29D initially but someone asked me to swap with them so I ended up in seat 29C, which is closer to the front of the plane but still near to the galley. Towards the end of the flight the in-flight entertainment system had to be switched off and reset due to a problem with some screens (not mine). I was sleeping soundly so didn’t really notice this problem, but after the flight we were handed a €25/$25 voucher towards our next booking with KLM, Delta or Air France.
On the outbound flight my main meal consisted of meatballs with mash, a salad, profiteroles and a KLM ‘Tasty Blue’ box of cheese. There are usually two options, but the time the meal cart reached my seat in 55C, they were all out of the other option.
Later on in the flight we were served ice cream and you can help yourself to various snacks in the galley. A couple of hours before landing we were served a tomato and mozzarella salad, a slice of pizza and dessert. Obviously all meals are accompanied with a wide array of drink options, including wine and spirits.
On the return flight I got to choose between two main meal options, so I chose the tomato pasta.
One of the things that sets KLM apart from other airlines is how active they are on social media and how much information they provide for their customers. In addition to smartphone and smartwatch apps, they are also available online 24/7 via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can even ask for the lowest fares to your destination by Tweeting them with @KLMfares. I really appreciate airlines that are harnessing social media to improve their service for travellers.
Onboard the aircraft I found the staff to be friendly and attentive, particularly on the way back from Los Angeles to Amsterdam. It happened to be the last day of work for a long member of cabin crew, so the entire team were wearing badges, smiling and celebrating.
The whole journey took roughly 13 hours 15 minutes there and back, which is pretty good going considering there’s a stopover in Amsterdam. So providing there aren’t any delays, the journey feels fairly quick, even though it’s not direct. I didn’t experience any delays. I would however like to see an aircraft upgrade sometime in the future, as connectivity – for example plug sockets and Wi-Fi – are things I look for.
I believe you can use WiFi on all of KLM’s brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners and on 1 of their Boeing 777-300 aircraft, but it has yet to become available on other aircraft types, so it depends which route you are travelling on.
KLM’s prices start at £520 return from London to Los Angeles, so it’s an affordable, value-for-money option if you want to get to the City of Angels on a budget.
Best of all, KLM has partnered with Spotify to create an interactive music guide to its destinations around the world. You can listen to their playlists, explore popular venues and see what’s on in cities like Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Toronto, Havana and Buenos Aires. I popped my earphones in, loaded Spotify on my phone and soon I was California Dreamin’!
Check out KLM’s Los Angeles guide for practical info and flight offers.