Dutch flag carrier KLM recently celebrated its 99th anniversary on October 7th 2018. The airline officially named Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V but commonly known as KLM was established on October 7th 1919. Since its inception, KLM has continued to operate under the same name, making it the oldest airline in the world to do so.
I have flown with KLM multiple times in the past, including on the MD-11 Farewell flight in Amsterdam on November 11th 2014. Every flight has been a memorable experience, with friendly but professional crew and outstanding inflight services. So when I recently discovered that I would be flying with them on their 99th anniversary, I thought of making it special for them – for all the wonderful experiences that I have had. Read on for more details on how we celebrated this milestone…
I was flying from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur on flight KL 810, that continues on to Amsterdam. KLM has fifth freedom traffic rights between KUL & CGK, allowing one to experience their famed hospitality and friendliness without visiting the Netherlands.
REACHING THE AIRPORT
I reached the brand new Terminal 3 at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport with plenty of time to spare. Terminal 3 at CGK is quite modern, spacious and bright. Although the older Terminal 2 has more character with its traditional Javanese architecture, it had become congested given the rapid growth in air traffic.
The KLM check-in counters are located at Row C, and as I walked towards them, I could see the 99th anniversary decorations all over. This was after all a one of a kind milestone!
KLM first introduced its service to Jakarta in the year 1924, so the airport management is obviously happy to celebrate this milestone with them.
I was flying in World Business Class today, and headed to the Sky Priority/Business Class check-in counter where I was greeted by a friendly check-in agent. As she was working on my boarding pass, I was approached by another KLM ground staff who asked me if I was willing to star in a short birthday video for them. Who wouldn’t? Haha…
After I had my five seconds of fame, I was given my boarding pass along with a special souvenir to commemorate the occasion. KLM always know how to make things special 🙂
Check-in done, I waved my goodbyes to the friendly staff who wished me a pleasant flight. The excitement was building up and I couldn’t wait to get on-board. I had another hour and a half to go. Time to head to the lounge.
KLM even has a customised lounge invite for Soekarno-Hatta airport. Most airlines print the lounge invitation on the boarding pass these days.
I cleared security and immigration – rather quickly due to the special Sky Priority access at CGK, and made my way to the lounge. KLM uses its Skyteam partner Garuda Indonesia’s signature lounge at CGK. This lounge is located at the mezzanine floor post immigration.
The entrance to the Garuda Indonesia lounge but where’s everybody?
A long empty passage to???
A look at Garuda Indonesia’s crew uniform through the years. From the 1940s to the 1990s…
And from the end of the 20th century to the present…
Children’s play area… but where are the people???
I was finally greeted at the reception desk by the lounge staff who ushered me in.
Ah! finally I see people… 🙂
The lounge itself was quite spacious with decent F&B options and a moderately sized seating area. They had these nice Garuda models on display!
And this very cool popcorn machine…
I settled down with a beer and some nice fresh popcorn to while away the next hour or so till boarding began.
While I was sipping my beer, I saw our aircraft arrive from KUL. It was going to be a Boeing 777-200ER today. A quick check on Flightradar24 told me that the aircraft was named Mount Kilimanjaro (maybe an inspiration for a future trip 😉 ) with the registration PH-BQK.
Soon it was time for boarding, and I made my way down to Gate 8 where our aircraft was docked.
The CGK ground staff had neatly divided the boarding queues by class of travel and boarding zone, and held up placards along with announcements over a loudspeaker.
There was long queue that had formed at the gate, giving me a good idea of the load tonight.
Soon it was time to board, and I made my way down the jazzy purple lit aerobridge towards the aircraft.
About to board…
As always, I was greeted at the door by friendly KLM cabin crew who ushered me to my seat – 4A in the forward Business Class cabin. KLM 777-200ER’s Business Class is divided into two parts – five rows in the forward section and a single row in the aft section.
A view of my seat.
The Business Class cabin on KLM’s B777s is in a staggered 2-2-2 layout, with the seats near the window angled away from the aisle.
The seats are full lie-flat, with plenty of legroom with a nice little storage area beneath the foot rest.
We had an approximately 50% occupancy in Business Class tonight and boarding was quickly completed.
The crew offered a choice of welcome drinks, and I chose the champagne of course – to celebrate this special day! 🙂
We pushed back a few minutes before schedule, and quickly began our taxi towards the runway. The take-off queue seemed shorter than normal for Jakarta and we were airborne in no time at all.
The crew began the dinner service as soon as the seatbelt signs were switched off, and menus were handed out.
There were two options for the main course
Plenty of beverage options – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic
No KLM flight is complete without the Flying Dutchman!
Noise cancellation headphones were handed out earlier
Nifty little IFE remote controller
Dinner was soon served. I had chosen the cheese and spinach cannelloni.
For drinks, I decided to go with Aberfeldy single malt whisky (one of my favourite single malts), along with the Flying Dutchman
With not enough time for a complete movie, i decided to watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S. instead. Always good fun on a flight!
After the meal, it was time to surprise the crew 🙂
As mentioned earlier, KLM has ensured that every flight with them was memorable for me, and today was a good opportunity to return the favour. I’ve clicked quite a few photos of KLM aircraft over the past decade, and I had printed out a couple of A4 sized photos of my favourite – the KLM Orange Pride Boeing 777-300ER during my stay in Jakarta. The intent was to gift one to the cabin crew and the other to the flight crew.
I introduced myself to the cabin crew in the galley and told them that I had a surprise for them to celebrate KLM’s 99th anniversary. Their eyes lit up and they said, “We love surprises”. The smiles became wider when I presented them with this little token of appreciation for all the fantastic experiences on KLM through the years.
I had clicked this photo at KUL a couple of years ago, and it was only apt that I presented this on a flight to KUL. The blue t-shirt was chosen on purpose to suit the occasion 🙂
And since this is KLM, the crew always had one up their sleeves. This was their gesture of appreciation for me – a nice little comfort bag exclusively made for KLM by the Dutch fashion designer Jan Taminiau
Soon we were close to starting our descent into KUL, and the captain announced an on-time arrival for us.
Crossing over the Malacca straits towards the Malaysian peninsula, a little under half an hour to go before landing. Love these 3D maps!
And now as per another KLM tradition – the crew handed out the signature little KLM Delft Blue houses to all the Business Class passengers. And as another gesture of appreciation, I was given the opportunity to pick two 🙂
I picked house numbers 43 & 49 to add to my nascent KLM house collection.
Could this flight get any better???
We touched down five minutes ahead of schedule and taxied towards the KLIA Satellite terminal.
As my fellow passengers got up to disembark, I remained seated, savouring the final moments of this memorable flight.
I had to get up eventually as I had one more thing left to do.
As I made my way to the forward galley, a smiling captain greeted me. The crew had obviously told him about me. Warm smiles and handshakes were exchanged as I presented him with my capture of the Orange Pride.
The captain thanked me for the little gift, and told me that he would keep it for display at the KLM crew centre in Amsterdam. WOW!!!
I bid farewell to the captain and the crew and made my way to the terminal. Thus ended one of my most memorable flights in recent times and that too on this momentous occasion for KLM.
Happy 99th birthday KLM, and look forward to celebrating the century with you next year!
Dank u wel en Tot ziens!