In this flight review, we will fly in KLM business class on an intra-European flight from Amsterdam (AMS) to Bergen (BGO) in Norway.
After a long travel day in which I first flew on Azerbaijan Airlines from Baku to Paris followed by a Paris to Amsterdam flight on KLM, it was time for the last leg of the day from Amsterdam to Bergen.
It would be the 12th and final flight of the epic Air France business class error fare which I had booked. Even though I would still visit some places in Norway during the remainder of the trip, it did certainly feel like the trip was already coming to an end.
I just hoped that this last KLM flight would be a nice closure, as so far I wasn’t too impressed with KLM’s intra-European business class product on the two flights I flew before with them on this trip.
Priority boarding was neatly observed, with the gate agents asking Sky Priority passengers (those in business class and Sky Team Elites) to step forward.
Amsterdam (AMS) to Bergen (BGO) on KLM
Flight KL1193 (booked as AF8297) – Boeing 737-800 – Business class, seat 3A
Departure: 9.05pm – Arrival: 10.50pm
Flight time: 1h45m – Distance: 553 miles
Costs: 800 EUR, as part of a ticket including 12 flights in business class
KLM Boeing 737 cabin
As I talked already more in length about the KLM business class cabin and seat on board the Boeing 737 – I will keep it short here. The whole product is pretty uncompetitive, but that is something which counts for most European airlines.
Just like most other European airlines, KLM’s narrow-body fleet consists out of all-economy seats planes. Due to a movable divider and curtain, the business cabin can therefore be increased or decreased in size according to demand – which is of course the major reason why most airlines decide for this product over proper recliner seats in business class.
The only difference between economy and business class is that in business, the middle seat is left vacant to give passengers more shoulder room. You also get premium meals and beverages and if you’re lucky you have an inch or so more legroom compared to seats further in the back of the plane.
Although the seat is comfortable enough for a short flight, it is certainly not something I would ever pay a premium for out of my own pocket unless you are connecting to a long-haul flight with proper lie-flat business class seats.
Unfortunately, the signs were clear from the start that this would not be the most enjoyable flight of this trip. Indeed, it would turn out as the worst one relatively speaking.
The two middle-aged women serving the business class cabin, which was filled to the brim just like economy in the back, were absolutely grumpy and snappy.
This is an aspect which always puzzles me when flying KLM and which I already addressed in my review of my first KLM Cityhopper flight from Stavanger to Amsterdam. The crew on that flight was absolutely wonderful. On a good day with a good crew, KLM crews can be among the best in the world as they mix dedication for service with a fun, chatty vibe.
If you however hit a bad crew, which is unfortunately fairly common on KLM, you may find them bordering on downright arrogance and sheer rudeness, like they want to show the entire plane that they are in a foul mood and they should not be bothered at all. This was exactly such a crew.
It being KLM, no pre-departure beverages are distributed on intra-European flights in business class. As it was pitch dark outside and my window was rather dirty, I did not manage to take any pictures upon departure.
KLM serves a premium snack as a meal on its intra-European flights. Do not count on getting a full, hot meal as most of the times the snack is just a luxury sandwich.
The only exceptions are the few flights to destinations in which KLM faces stiff competition from a competitor with a clearly superior in-flight product, such as the Moscow route in which they have to compete with Aeroflot or the Istanbul route where KLM has to compete with Turkish Airlines’ vastly superior business class seat and catering.
Although KLM seems to be a bit ashamed of their paltry food offering in their intra-European business class on those routes and decided to up the ante, they are clearly unabashed about their product on most flights within Europe.
That was certainly the case on this flight to Bergen, as I could barely believe my eyes when reading the menu card which was distributed when we reached cruising altitude.
Leaves, grass and more green stuff
As appetiser a Waldorf salad was listed on the menu, fair enough. But what about the main? Another salad! Either KLM wants their business class passengers to starve at dinner time, or perhaps the person who designed this menu is a vengeful vegan wanting to force-feed passengers with cow food.
Who else would possibly come up with a ridiculous term like a “beetroot burger”? Just give me some meat or fish, or at least a proper vegetarian meal such as a decent pasta instead of just a plate with more grass and leaves and other green stuff on it.
It would however not surprise me if someone at accounting came up with this after calculating that a salad is the cheapest food they can offer and it should therefore be both an appetiser and a main. The worst of all was that the main salad was even downright inedible and I ended up only picking the bits of cheese out of it as those were the only tasty parts.
The only positive aspect of the meal was that at the very least it was beautifully plated and presented.
Even though I’m not a fan of KLM’s choice of cava which they serve on intra-European flights, I decided that to drink something bubbly would at least end my trip on a bit of a high note.
The rest of the flight went by pretty unremarkable. Upon seeing the grumpy faces of the crew reluctantly giving a refill to someone else in the cabin I decided not to bother to get another mini bottle of mediocre cava and just dozed off for the remainder of the flight.
We landed safely and on time in Bergen, which is what is most important anyway in the grand scheme of things. Having no checked luggage, it took just minutes to disembark the aeroplane and to walk to the airport tram station to catch one of the last trams of the night to the city centre.
I couldn’t help a small giggle when our tram passed a station called “slettebakken”, which in Dutch basically means “dirty sl*ts”. I guess in Norwegian it means something entirely different!
Oh boy, where to begin. If I would have paid business class for just this flight I would have been quite pissed off at KLM for their paltry food offering, which was hilariously bad. The flight was made worse by an extraordinary grumpy crew, which unfortunately is not uncommon when flying KLM.
There aren’t many airlines I know with such a huge discrepancy between cabin crews as KLM. My first KLM flight on this long journey had an absolutely amazing crew, I had some great conversations with the delightful receptionists at the KLM Crown Lounge before this flight, but then there is the sheer arrogance and rudeness of the crew on this flight.
Although flying in KLM’s long-haul business class can be a real pleasure, I do not think this is the case on intra-European hops such as this. Who would in their sane mind pay a huge sum of money to get the same economy seat and a “premium” meal? Sure, I understand that other factors play a role too (ticket flexibility, connecting to a long-haul flight) but if that doesn’t play a role for you then business class is a giant rip-off.
If the price for a long haul journey is right, I would have no problem at all to fly KLM’s business class again as the long-haul KLM product is quite good and the connecting intra-European legs would then just come as an extra.
But for a journey solely within Europe on narrow-body planes, I would certainly not pay out of my own pocket to fly KLM in business class again. Especially when you consider than the KLM economy product is actually pretty good!
Compared to intra-European business class on partner airline Air France, KLM lags behind on every front, and that’s even before I start comparing it to airlines such as Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines which do have proper business class seats and a lavish meal service.
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘Siberian Shuffle – A Crazy Winter Trip Around Eurasia‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Wizz Air Bucharest to Oslo Sandefjord Torp (Airbus A321)
2. A Day in the Norwegian Capital of Oslo
3. Review: Norwegian Railways Night Train Oslo-Stavanger in a Private Sleeper
4. Review: Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Stavanger
5. Stavanger – A Great Norwegian City Trip Surprise
6. Review: North Sea Lounge Stavanger Airport
7. Review: KLM Cityhopper Business Class Stavanger to Amsterdam (Embraer RJ-175)
8. Guide to the Carnival Celebrations in the Netherlands
9. Review: KLM Crown Lounge (Schengen) Amsterdam Airport
10. Review: Air France Business Class Amsterdam to Paris (Airbus A319)
11. Review: ‘Salon Paris’ Business Class Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2C
12. Review: Aeroflot Business Class Paris to Moscow (Airbus A320)
13. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Lounge Moscow Sheremetyevo
14. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Moscow to Irkutsk (Boeing 737-800)
15. Review: Matreshka Hotel, Irkutsk
16. Irkutsk Trip Report: Exploring the ‘Paris of Siberia’ in Winter
17. Review: Mayak Hotel, Listvyanka (Lake Baikal)
18. A Winter Trip to the Frozen Wonderland of Lake Baikal
19. Review: Ibis Irkutsk Center Hotel, Irkutsk
20. Review: Domestic Business Class Lounge Irkutsk Airport
21. Review: Aeroflot Domestic Business Class Irkutsk to Moscow (Boeing 737-800)
22. Review: Pushkin Hotel, Moscow
23. A 24 Hour Stopover in the Russian Capital of Moscow
24. Review: ‘Moscow’ and ‘Jazz’ Business Lounges Moscow Sheremetyevo Terminal D
25. Review: Aeroflot Business Class Moscow to Paris (Airbus A320)
26. Review: TAROM Business Class Paris to Bucharest (Airbus A318)
27. Review: TAROM Business Lounge Bucharest Otopeni Airport
28. Review: Air France Business Class Bucharest to Paris (Airbus A320)
29. A Short Overnight Stopover in Paris
30. Review: Sheltair Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2D
31. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class Paris to Baku (Airbus A320)
32. Review: Old City Hotel and Apartments, Baku, Azerbaijan
33. Destination Baku: An Intriguing Mix Between Old and New
34. Guide: Train Travel in Azerbaijan
35. Sheki: Azerbaijan’s Most Lovely Town and Springboard to the Caucasus
36. Must Be the Ganja! A Visit to the City of Ganja in Azerbaijan
37. Review: Shah Palace Hotel, Baku, Azerbaijan
38. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Lounge Baku Airport
39. Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class Baku to Paris (Airbus A320)
40. Review: Air France Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2F
41. Review: KLM Business Class Paris to Amsterdam (Boeing 737)
42. Review: KLM Business Class (Boeing 737) Amsterdam to Bergen (current chapter)
43. Blissful Bergen – Is It Really Norway’s Most Beautiful City?
44. Review: Bergen to Oslo on a Norwegian Intercity Train (Bergensbanen Railway)
45. The Flamsbana Railway – From the Myrdal Mountains to the Fjord at Flam
46. Review: SAS Economy Class Oslo to Brussels (Boeing 737-600)
47. Review: Diamond Lounge Brussels Airport Pier B Non-Schengen
48. Review: TAROM Economy Class Brussels to Bucharest (Boeing 737-800)