KLM Business Class Review - Boeing 747-400 Combi

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After a crazy busy few weeks (months?) of flying all over Europe, I decided to splurge on a business class award ticket for my trip from Amsterdam to New York. I came to this conclusion for two reasons:

  • The flight is usually during the day so if you choose to sleep on the flight to pass time, you'll mess up your entire sleep schedule when you're back in the States. So I always try to stay awake, so I place more weight on a pleasant flying experience.
  • On flights from Europe to the U.S., the flight is always longer (by about an hour) than the reverse leg due to jet stream direction. I don't mind flying economy from the east coast U.S. to Europe because the flight is usually overnight and I can sleep on planes without issue.

Booking Process

Using Search Engines

Whenever I decide to book an award ticket, I first check what revenue tickets cost (on Skyscanner, Skiplagged, Kiwi or Kayak). Just in case the flight is ridiculously cheap for whatever reason, I'd rather book it as a revenue ticket through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (and earn elite status qualifying miles) than redeem miles outright and earn nothing. Flights found on the above-mentioned search engines usually show up in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (unless the carrier is excluded by Chase). Prices can vary, but if they don't, using Chase to book can be a good way to use miles while saving money. This is especially true if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which provides 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

A quick search on Skyscanner revealed nonstop flights with Lufthansa, KLM, and Delta. The cost of business-class tickets was in the thousands, so paying for the plane ticket wasn't an option.

Airline Award Search

Dutch carrier KLM (SkyTeam) is the main airline servicing the Netherlands. Using that information, Air France KLM and Delta were the carriers I checked first. On KLM, a nonstop business class award was 57,500 miles + $265. Although the taxes weren't super low, mileage-wise, it was a great value. Many other carriers have higher mileage requirements for a transatlantic business-class award. Other programs that have low award requirements for business class include American Airlines (57,500 miles) and Aeroplan (55,000 miles).

KLM certainly does have some sweet spots, and if this flight were a Promo Reward, it could have definitely been one of them.

Delta's dynamic award chart was showing economy award tickets for 130,000 SkyMiles. #nothankyou

Although a nonstop business-class award on United could be as low as 60,000 miles + $45, there were no low-level awards the week I needed to fly. When flying during peak summer season in and out of Europe, award tickets are hit or miss. I would have loved to spend as little as possible, but I was limited with my dates.

Verdict

After searching on KLM, Delta and United, I decided to book with KLM. I put my award on hold for a few days (KLM allows a 48-hour hold), hoping that something would pop up with United. Unfortunately, United was still a no-go, so I transferred 58,000 points from Chase and was ready to book the ticket I had on hold. When I tried to book online, the KLM site wasn't showing my reservation so I had to call customer service and annoyingly pay a $15 fee.

Note: The rest of the post is a quick recap of the flying experience followed by a video of the trip from lounge to landing. If you want to skip the description and just watch the video, scroll to the bottom.

Business Class Experience

Airport Check-In

As expected, the experience was great. I arrived at the airport and went straight to the KLM SkyPriority check-in counters. The counters were in a separate area that was sectioned off with rope. It was very obvious that KLM took a lot of care in creating an exclusive vibe for the SkyPriority area. After I dropped my bag, the agent gave me directions to the lounge. Despite having flown in first and business class many times, after a really quick and smooth check-in, I was giddy all over again and excited for what was to come!

KLM Non-Schengen Crown Lounge

I was pretty pumped to visit a non-Priority Pass lounge for once. The KLM non-Schengen Crown Lounge is a beautiful two-floor lounge with outside seating and all sorts of comfortable spaces to hang out in. I had a quick meal with a glass of wine, and after about 30 minutes, it was time to board the flight.

Flying Experience


The aircraft was a 747-400 Combi with a two-floor business-class cabin. The seats opened up into standard flat beds and were pretty spacious. I was frustrated that there was no WiFi onboard. I wanted to work and was hoping to do so during the seven-hour flight. I'm still amazed that in 2019 not all planes are equipped with WiFi.

Food, Wine & Meeting the Pilots

I spent the flight watching movies, listening to music and eating. The food was great, but not excellent. I've definitely had better on flights. There was plenty of wine and champagne to pass the time, and the wine was very good.

My favorite part of the flight was when I went to meet the pilots in the cockpit. During the flight, I asked the flight attendant if meeting pilots was an option. I've seen people on Instagram do it so I figured I would ask. She said I was good to go, as long as it was after landing. I was so excited and giddy about it! It's the first time I've ever been in a cockpit and I asked all sorts of questions. The pilots were nice and friendly and I really enjoyed my 10 minutes hanging out with them.

Flight Recap Video

Takeaways

Flying business class is always great, and this experience with KLM did not disappoint. Meeting the pilots was the best conclusion to my flight and one I will remember for a long time!

Have you ever flown business class with KLM? What did you think? Have you ever visited the cockpit and met the pilots after a flight? Tell me below in the comments!

KLM Business Class Review – Boeing 747-400 Combi
4.3 (85.23%) 130 votes
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Comments

  • Great review!!! I love me some KLM business flights!!

  • Always good to hear other reviews!

  • KLM is my next potential flight in January, thanks for the motivation to look into award space.

  • Thank you for the information. I have flown KLM to Europe and their flights are good including meal service. I prefer flying to Europe business and returning in economy then the other way around.

  • Susan Teegardin says:

    Why did you book through KLM and transfer Chase miles to do so instead of going through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal?

  • It looks better than a whole lot of other business-class experiences.

  • The miles required for the flight looks reasonable, a reason to consider KLM.

  • Never had looked at redeeming flights on KLM. Good review and will take a look at KLM for next redemption to Europe.

  • Nice article, Elina. That Delta economy award flight sounds very poor value.

  • Wow I didn’t know 747 combis were still flying, great review!
    As a fan of 747s, I need to book and fly on the same flight now.

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    You can’t beat KLM for quality service. this is a very exciting offer for business travelers. Way to go KLM!

  • My last KLM transatlantic Business class flight was from LAX to Amsterdam. The two things that standout and are not mentioned above, the service and the Delft house. I agree the wine was good and the food so so. Next trip, I like the idea of meeting the pilots after the flight and touring the cockpit.

  • The_Bouncer says:

    I have a flight coming up from ORD to AMS, booked in Y. Annoyingly, the aircraft has been switched from a 747 to a 787, which is far less comfortable in Y, so I am seriously thinking of upgrading this flight. If I do I will report back on the experience.

  • Freida Ellison says:

    Have flown business class on Delta, British Air, United but KLM’s business class experience exceeded all of them. Highly recommended.

  • Johanna van Zaanen-Gougeon says:

    I have veen flying with KLM since 1964. Twice I was upgraded from economy to
    Business Class, and the experience wonderful.
    Relaxing, great food, and the service was out of this world!
    I am planning on booking an other trip to see all my Brothers, Sisters, and friends this week.
    Hartelijke groeten van een zeer tevreden passagier.

    Johanna van Zaanen-Gougeon

    • Now that’s some direct experience that I’ll pay attention to… over 5 decades of flying with them! That’s quite the endorsement.

  • interesting review. can’t wait to try it out

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    As a Dutch American, it gives me great pleasure to fly KLM. Meeting the pilots would be a tremendous benefit. Business class is great too.

  • Love the 744 aircraft. Such a classic! Hopefully this aircraft can stick around for longer.

  • Ross Hymel says:

    I took an international flight back to the US from my studies in Germany with KLM. Despite the long distance in economy, it was a great flight and definitely put them on my radar. I remember the booze was free in economy, which surprised me. Would fly with them again.

  • KLM service is better compared to the US airlines. I wish they reduce their taxes on award tickets.

  • Usually I like the 747 in business in the upper floor because it is really quiet.

  • I’ve never flown KLM, but it looks like it is well worth trying.

  • Thanks for the info on low miles required for KLM awards.

  • Thanks for the review, I prefer to rest taking an overnight flight.

  • Nice review! Thanks for sharing

  • I have had good experiences with KLM. This has such good connections throughout Europe.

  • I have flown KLM long haul twice, once in the early 1990’s when the still had First Class and more recently on the short hop from Singapore to Bali. They were very good. My concern about this review is that is is of a rather clapped out 747 and KLm like BA still use these aircraft to cross the pond.

    Now only yesterday i completed a round trip on TK new 787 between IST and DPS and wow, the new age of travel. Superb aircraft, stunning catering including candle light and a really very good business class seat. Not the best in the world but direct aide access, free wifi and a solid crew. QR still has best J seat but this is certainly a strong contender.

  • Stacy Y Liu says:

    Great review!! I like seeing how they were able to upgrade and all the details of the review for this. Thinking about taking KLM to Spain this Fall so this was super helpful to help me decide how to use my points.

  • Seeing more and more 748s on important intl routes. 744s are relatively rare these days.

  • Too many cheap promo fares on KLM/Air France to waste miles on them.

  • Interesting that this aircraft flies both passengers and large cargo. Thanks for the link to the KLM website that describes the aircraft.

  • I was just poking around the KLM website. I can understand the excitement! I would be too. Just reading through all the goodies you get when you fly business with them is very enticing.

    I just love the idea of the little houses! I really want to get one.

  • useful review!!

    compared to other airline award, taxs is more expansive

    but distance between seats seems distant,

    and meeting pilots is specal.

    so booking biseness class award is worth to experience.

  • Not too many 747 left. A dying breed. Flew in the upper deck of a Qantas 747-800 a few weeks ago – felt old but somehow special.

  • I share your surprise and frustration with no WiFi but the extra room is great for work or sleep. Thanks for sharing the details of your experience. One my gripes is that United never seems to have reasonable point deals when I’m looking for business class from Europe to USA.

  • I flew KLM business several times in the past. A previous employer had an Amsterdam office that was our European HQ and I had to visit. The experience was nice, but the best part was getting the delph houses that made for great gifts for my Dutch coworkers.

  • I like the service on KLM and I’d rather fly on a 747 than an A380.

  • Ryan Stotler says:

    In my opinion, the Boeing 747 is the greatest plane of all time. Nothing gets me more excited than reading a post like this!!

  • flew on biz class earlier this year, I liked it! didn’t miss wifi at all .)

  • Boeing 747 is the best plane ever. Thank you for the very good review!

  • Great review. I love the salt and pepper shaker!

  • Looking forward to fly 747 many more times!

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