Review: KLM Economy Class San Jose to Amsterdam (Boeing 787)

In this review, we will take a KLM flight in economy class on the Boeing 787-9 from San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) to Amsterdam (AMS).

Business vs economy

Having spent some time in the Costa Rica VIP Lounge at San Jose Airport, it was time to head to the boarding gate.

While having a random conversation with an elderly German couple in front of me in the queue, my name was suddenly announced through the intercom.

I was aware from a chat in the lounge that the flight to Amsterdam was almost fully booked as a Dutch girl told me that she needed to buy a last-minute ticket home but wasn’t able to secure a seat in economy so had to go for an expensive business class ticket.

Fully expecting a magical op-up to business class due to economy being overbooked, I went to the desk with a small grin on my face, only to be utterly disappointed when the gate agent handing me a KLM-branded boarding pass with the same seat number saying “it is better than the one you have”, referring to my boarding pass printed on COPA-branded paper which I picked up before in Panama.

Whatever the logic was behind that I don’t know, but alas, economy class it would be on this flight back!

At the very least, I could now compare KLM’s economy class product on the Boeing 787 head on with the Air France Boeing 787 which I took from Paris to Bogota just a week before.

San Jose (SJO) to Amsterdam (AMS) on KLM
Flight KL760 – Boeing 787-9 – Economy class, seat 12A
Departure: 9.15pm
– Arrival: 2.35pm (+1)
Flight time: 10h20m – Distance: 5,634 miles
Costs: 450 EUR, as part of an OTP-PTY return ticket

klm boeing 787 flight review
It takes just over 10 hours to fly eastbound from San Jose, Costa Rica to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. ©Great Circle Mapper

Economy comfort

Priority boarding was neatly enforced and I was the second person to enter the economy cabin of the plane. Unlike Air France, KLM doesn’t have premium economy on its long-haul planes.

The Dutch flag carrier does however sets itself apart by offering something called “economy comfort”, which on the Boeing 787 are the first five to six rows in the economy class cabin (seats A-C and J-K of row 10 to 15, as well as the middle seats D-G of row 10 to 16).

Don’t be mistaken – despite the name this is not a proper premium economy cabin as the seats are exactly the same as the others in the economy cabin and you get the exact same in-flight service.

The big difference is however that these seats are more spacious than regular economy seats, having a seat pitch of 89 cm (35 inch) compared to 79 centimetres / 31 inch seat pitch of the other seats.

These economy comfort seats also have double the recline of a normal economy class seat.

Of course, these seats come at a surcharge, although the prices are a lot lower compared to full premium economy products and usually ranges between 60 to 180 EUR per one-way intercontinental flight.

Elites of Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue frequent flyer programme, as well as Sky Team Elite Plus members of other frequent flyer programs, do however get a discount.

If you hold Flying Blue gold status (or Sky Team Elite Plus through another program) you get a 50 percent discount if you purchase an economy comfort seat. Flying Blue silver members get a 25% discount.

Flying Blue platinum members can however assign such seats for free no matter the booking class of the ticket.

Holding platinum status myself, I had assigned myself seat 12A. When I fly long-haul in economy I just need a window seat to be able to sleep properly, as this way I can rest my head on the fuselage.

Besides that, I prefer to climb over the legs of my seatmates to reach the aisle rather than having others disturb me in the same way, knowing as well that unlike some other passengers I hold proper flying etiquette in high regard and would anyway not have to go the toilet very often at night.

The worst thing on an overnight flight is having the aisle seat next to a neighbour who has to get up to the lavatory every hour!

economy comfort klm
Seat map of the front of the economy cabin of the KLM Boeing 787. The orange coloured seats are the economy comfort seats. ©KLM
boarding klm
Boarding my KLM flight to Amsterdam. ©Paliparan
klm boeing 787 review economy class
The seats with the black headrests up to the divider seen in the middle are the economy comfort seats on board the KLM Boeing 787. ©Paliparan

KLM Boeing 787 seat

Boarding was a protracted process due to full flight.

Today’s load seemed to be near 100% full in economy class – or at least something quite near it. Unfortunately, the two seats next to me were also soon occupied by other passengers.

Economy class seating on board the KLM Boeing 787 is three abreast (3-3-3 seating configuration).

The actual economy seat on KLM’s Boeing 787 was exactly the same as on board Air France and I would rank it at above average when it comes to the actual comfort.

Where KLM scores better is of course the amount of leg room, as the economy comfort seat beats the normal economy seats on board of the Air France Boeing 787.

That said, most passengers on board these KLM flights are likely to occupy a normal economy class seat, in which case there is close to zero difference between the Dutch and French airline.

I was however wondering whether or not I would spend 180 euro more for an economy comfort seat compared to a normal economy seat in the case I would not get it for free due to my platinum Flying Blue status.

Personally, I really do not think it is worth it to be honest. Although I can imagine that for those passengers taller than me (I’m 1.86m / 6’1″) it could make a bit of a difference a comfort, I would probably keep the money and spend it on something else.

Flying long-haul economy is never completely comfortable anyway, economy comfort seat or normal economy seat.

That said, those seats in the back of the plane did look quite cramped when it comes to seat pitch! In the end, it’s entirely a personal choice with each passenger valuing it differently.

legroom klm boeing 787
The economy comfort seat certainly had a decent amount of legroom. ©Paliparan

Meal service

Take-off from San Jose was on time and a smooth affair. While we were slowly ascending towards cruising altitude, I wondered how the inflight service on board KLM would compare to Air France.

Air France started off by doing a drinks and nuts round first, before handing out pre-packaged wet towels and starting their dinner service with another drinks run.

With KLM, there was no such aperitif as it was straight to dinner. I’m not sure whether this is a plus or negative, as at one hand you want to maximise sleep on a long intercontinental flight, but at the other hand a more drawn out meal service does kill some time.

Flying long-haul economy class can at times be quite torturous, so killing more time drinking instead of trying to sleep is not necessarily a bad thing.

There were no menus distributed during the flight, with the crew basically shouting out their variant of the old “chicken or beef” question.

I opted for some meat dish with potato puree. It was certainly edible and filling, and I couldn’t complain about the portion size.

The dessert however was totally unimaginable and the salad lacked dressing and couldn’t be more dry.

I would rate the KLM meal just above average as it really wasn’t bad at all overall. But compared to Air France, KLM was clearly a step down in meal quality.

KLM offers a full complimentary bar service on board its economy flights.

I went for some red wine to wash away the food. It was certainly decent enough, but again Air France has better wines in their economy cabin.

klm economy class review
Economy class dinner on board my San Jose-Amsterdam flight with KLM. ©Paliparan


The second meal on board the flight was breakfast shortly before landing in Amsterdam.

There were two choices as well here. I went for the omelette, which was fairly OK as far as airline breakfasts go.

Again the portion size was certainly good (and the fresh fruit a big plus) – but the actual quality of the meal rather average.

klm breakfast
Breakfast just before landing in Amsterdam. ©Paliparan

Inflight entertainment

KLM’s Boeing 787 has USB power ports at each economy class seat and has WiFi internet as well.

As I planned to go to sleep straight after dinner service, I didn’t bother buying a WiFi package so I can’t really comment about the speed and reliability of the internet.

KLM does however offer free messaging (via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and similar services) aboard their WiFi equipped aircraft which is rather generous and a nice touch.

I would however suggest to bring your own entertainment on board in the form of some films loaded on your tablet/laptop or a good book, as I wasn’t impressed with the in-flight entertainment system.

Sure, the screen itself is big and has a good resolution. It is easy to browse through the selection as well as the system is certainly responsive and simple to navigate through.

I however did think that the selection of films, series and documentaries and the like was rather limited – not only compared to Air France but even with other airlines not really known for offering great entertainment such as Saudia.

I have rarely seen such a dreadful selection of films, as on this KLM flight – not only quality-wise but also when looking at sheer quantity.

The best thing I could find were one or two classics such as The Godfather. But if the best you can offer are 1970s classics, then there is something seriously wrong with your film selection.

klm ife in-flight entertainment boeing 787
The contents of the IFE system on my KLM flight were rather disappointing. ©Paliparan


In my opinion, the in-flight service with KLM is always hit-or-miss. I have written before that KLM can offer some of the industry’s best and worst when it comes to service.

I had KLM flights where the entire crew could not have been better and showed dedication and levels of service I could possibly only imagine flying Asian carriers like Singapore Airlines.

But then there are also flights with a hugely disappointing service by the crew, such as this flight to Amsterdam.

After departure I had dozed off and only woke up only seconds after the flight attendant in my aisle was done serving our row and was dealing with the row behind us.

I politely asked her if I could still get my dinner as well, only to get a highly arrogant and rude shrug, reluctantly giving me a meal tray. She looked visibly annoyed how I could dare to ask her such a thing.

The arrogant service would continue like this the entire flight, be it an arrogant reply back when asking for both an orange juice and coffee for breakfast, or going to the galley after dinner service to ask for a cup of water before going to sleep.

The flight attendants (all females in their late 40s) seemed to be more interested in chatting with each other than helping out and were again clearly bothered by a simple request which wouldn’t be any problem whatsoever with most other airlines.

And while the crew on my Air France flight to South America regularly patrolled the aisles to check on the passengers if they might want some more water or need anything else, this crew completely disappeared between dinner service and breakfast the following morning.

In general I always tend to find the mastodon flight attendants of KLM to be highly arrogant, airing some sort of sheer disgust of every single passenger they have to serve.

On the contrary, the younger KLM crews are generally much better and eager to serve as well as more happy to engage in a normal conversation.

Overall thoughts

However, I don’t want to end this review on a negative note.

Although the crew on this flight was certainly not good and the food could have been better, I still had quite a good flight all things combined.

I managed to sleep for a solid 4-5 hours, while dozing off for much of the rest of the journey.

For a packed flight in economy class, that’s about as good as it gets – and it tells a lot about the general seat comfort and amount of legroom.

At not a single point in the journey I felt uncomfortable or otherwise bothered by the seat.

We landed in Amsterdam on time, although landing at the infamous Polderbaan Runway (located halfway to Paris) meant taxiing through the Dutch polders for about another decade until we finally reached the terminal.

klm economy class review boeing 787
The KLM Boeing 787 economy class cabin shortly before landing in Amsterdam. ©Paliparan


When purely looking at the actual hard product, KLM has a good product on its Boeing 787.

If you manage to snag an economy comfort seat (either for free or a discount if holding status, or paying full buck for it) you will have a lot of legroom and certainly more space than your average economy class seat.

If you hold status and can get such a seat for free or with a discount, KLM certainly offers a better hard product than the best of Air France’s economy class seats, although I’m not sure it it is worth paying the full price for it (I certainly would never do so).

When looking at the meals, in-flight entertainment and overall service, I’d say that KLM ranks just above your average long-haul economy class product. It certainly isn’t bad, but it isn’t world class either.

Personally, I have a huge preference for the soft product of Air France. Not only are the food and drinks miles better, the service is more sophisticated and elaborate as well (as far as it goes for economy).

There is also much more choice when it comes to the in-seat entertainment systems, and crews are generally easier to deal with than those at KLM, which really is hit or miss.

I would certainly not hesitate flying KLM again (especially on overnight flights when I can grab those economy comfort seats for free as a platinum member) but all combined I do prefer the Air France Boeing 787 economy class product over the one of KLM.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘A Piece of Panama With a Bit of Bogota and a Slice of San Jose‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Air France Economy Class Bucharest to Paris (Airbus A320)
2. Review: Air France Business Lounge Paris CDG Airport Terminal 2E – Hall K
3. Review: Air France Economy Class Paris to Bogota (Boeing 787)
4. Review: Hotel Morrison 114, Bogota, Colombia
5. A Short One-Day Stopover in Bogota, Colombia
6. Review: Copa Club Bogota Airport, Colombia
7. Review: Copa Airlines Economy Class Panama to Bogota (Embraer RJ-190)
8. Review: Tryp by Wyndham Panama Centro
9. How to Visit the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal
10. Into the Casco Viejo – Exploring Panama City’s Old Town Centre
11. Isla Taboga: A Day Trip to the Island of Flowers
12. A Panama Day Trip to the Portobelo Forts and Tropical Isla Mamay
13. Review: Copa Club Panama Tocumen International Airport
14. Review: Copa Airlines Economy Class Panama to San Jose (Boeing 737-800)
15. Destination San Jose: A Day in the Capital of Costa Rica
16. Review: VIP Lounge Costa Rica, San Jose Airport (SJO)
17. Review: KLM Economy Class (Boeing 787) San Jose to Amsterdam (current chapter)
18. Review: KLM Crown Lounge (Non-Schengen) Amsterdam Airport
19. Review: KLM Economy Class Amsterdam to Bucharest (Boeing 737-800)

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

4 thoughts on “Review: KLM Economy Class San Jose to Amsterdam (Boeing 787)

  • November 28, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Koen, don’t you know that it’s illegal to begin a meal in France without an aperitif? 😉

    No wonder Air France always serve them.

    I think Air France still have some of the best F&B offerings world wide and they do even the very simple things so well. Like any meal you get in France, you might not like what’s on offer but it will be well executed and presented with care. I always look forward to flying with them particularly if the budget can stretch to F! But then don’t we all.

    • Avatar photo
      November 30, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      I feel the same about Air France, lhrpete! My own budget is economy mostly (only when there is a good sale/good miles redemption I can splurge for J) but even in Y I always look forward to flying Air France.

      I still have to do La Premiere once, it’s high on my bucket list. I made a ‘deal’ with one of my mates who is also an AFKL platinum member that we should definitely make a fun F trip once to somewhere when this whole pandemic is over (as I don’t want to do it now with the real F lounge being closed / temporarily moved to the mezzanine level of the K gates lounge).

    • October 2, 2021 at 11:30 pm

      Thank you for the review. We’re flying YVR to AMS soon with KLM. I imagine it will be similar but hopefully we’ll have some nice flight attendants! Never flown Air France as it always seems more expensive. I suppose you do get what you pay for.
      Thank you again.
      Vancouver, Canada

  • March 3, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    Can’t agree more on the arrogant behavior of a large part of KLM cabin crew, but they are just copying their CEO’s. The comment about the Polderbaan is funny and so true. As l live in Amsterdam l fly with KLM a lot, their destination map is ofcourse a big plus, but a more humble and respectful approach of their passengers is needed. It should be more about the passengers than about themselves.


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