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First Impressions: KLM’s Delightful 787 Premium Comfort Class

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Last weekend I flew KLM’s premium economy from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. I’m trying to focus on more premium economy travel, as it’s an increasingly popular market with a knowledge gap in the blogosphere. I’m on a family trip in Thailand, and wanted to make the most out of my journey there to write up valuable reviews of a variety of airlines.

I’ll write a full review of this flight, where I’ll more extensively detail each of the below experiences, and you’ll be able to follow along with the flight from start to end – I’ll just summarise them in brief here. However, I wanted to pull out a few reasons why I was particularly impressed by my KLM premium economy flight, and would consider it one of the best in Europe.

KLM’s Impressive Premium Economy Ground Service

I flew from Stockholm to Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on one ticket, and both in Stockholm and Amsterdam I received SkyPriority service, which included a dedicated check-in desk, priority baggage (if I bought check-in baggage, which I didn’t), priority security, and priority boarding. Most airlines only offer priority boarding out of the above, so this was a nice touch. This is the exact same set of perks that you’d get as a top tier SkyTeam frequent flyer member. Unfortunately this didn’t extend to priority immigration in Kuala Lumpur, where immigration queues were an absolute mess.

All premium economy passengers board with Zone 2, along with all elite members. This means that regardless of your elite status, you’ll always be the “first” group to board out of premium economy/economy – Zone 1 is purely reserved for business class passengers.

a group of people in an airport
Premium economy passengers board with Zone 2, along with SkyPriority passengers flying economy – the screen changes when it’s time for premium economy passengers to board

The experience isn’t perfect – my main gripe is that seat selection isn’t free. However, it’s not fair to call KLM out on that, given that most European airlines charge for seat selection in premium economy.

KLM’s most basic premium economy fare also doesn’t come with a free check-in bag, though you can purchase a check-in bag for under £100 (HK$1,000). You’re allowed to bring two pieces of carry-on baggage onboard, on top of an accessory.

A Very Comfortable and High-Tech Premium Economy Seat

KLM offers a dedicated cabin for premium economy passengers. My flight was operated by a 787-9, which featured 21 premium economy class seats in a 2-3-2 configuration.

an airplane with seats and a sign
KLM 787 Premium Comfort Class

This is the Collins Aerospace MiQ seat, the same as what Cathay Pacific uses in premium economy on their A350 (though Cathay Pacific modified their version a bit). These are wide seats that feature a good amount of recline (though not excellent – actually think Lufthansa excelled more on this front), and a separate legrest and footrest.

a seat in a plane
KLM 787 Premium Comfort Class Recline

The seat itself is good, though I was more than impressed by the amount of thoughtfulness and tech integrated into each seat, including the netted storage pouch on the seat in front, as well as USB-C charging. There were a few more storage options located around the seat.

a close up of a screen
KLM 787 Premium Comfort Class Netted Storage Pouch

a close up of a seat
KLM 787 Premium Comfort Class USB-C Charging

Strong Amenities in KLM Premium Economy

KLM offers a pillow and duvet for their premium economy class passengers. The pillow is okay (I found it to be a tad on the small side), though the blanket is plush and comfortable.

a white pillow on a blue and black pillow
KLM Premium Comfort Class Pillow and Blanket

I wasn’t a fan of the drawstring bag that the amenity kit came in, though it featured all the basics, including a dental kit (with toothpaste tablets), earplugs, a pen, and eyeshades. Perhaps a pair of socks or slippers would’ve come in handy, though I wasn’t particularly fussed.

a sleeping mask and other items on a table
KLM Premium Comfort Class Amenity Kit

There was also a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

a pair of black headphones on a grey surface
KLM Premium Comfort Class Headphones

The amenities in KLM’s premium economy really reminded me of British Airways premium economy, an airline I consider to be strong on the amenities front (though I prefer British Airways’ amenity kit). This is miles ahead of the amenities offered by Lufthansa and Swiss.

KLM’s Delicious and Beautifully Presented Meals

Once airborne, KLM’s inflight meals also impressed. There were three options to choose from for a main course, as well as a separate appetiser and side dish (just cheese and grapes in this case), and an ice cream dessert to follow. The appetiser in particularly was presented in an elevated way, and tasted very good – the main course tasted delicious, despite not being as elaborately presented. I also appreciated that each meal was served with a warm bread roll with a perfect-temperature pat of butter (i.e. not the ice-cold, rock-hard pat that you typically get with a meal).

food in a tray on a table
KLM Premium Comfort Class Meal

I also wanted to call out the above-average drinks selection – highlights included Bols espresso martini (which I didn’t try, but looked really good, Royal Club ginger ale, decaffeinated coffee, and alcohol-free beer.

a menu on a table
KLM Premium Comfort Class Drinks Menu

While there are only galley snacks (shared with economy) between meal services, at least the snack selection is interesting, including Dutch apple pie.

a tray of food and drinks
KLM Premium Comfort Class Galley Snacks

There was a drawback or two – for example, there was no choice of breakfast, and it felt quite simple, even though it tasted good – there was a rolled omelette with mushroom, Dutch semolina porridge, and sliced chicken with egg, cheese and avocado mousse.

a tray with food and drinks on it
KLM Premium Comfort Class Meal

I won’t talk about service on this “first impressions” post, though the crew serving the food were a delight. There were a couple of premium touches I noticed – for example, the crew would come round to offer awake passengers snacks (the same ones available in the galley), and I was addressed by name when having my order taken during the first meal service. I have a couple of feedback points with service structure, which I’ll save for the full review.

KLM’s Speedy Longhaul WiFi

Before we took off, we were told that unfortunately WiFi wouldn’t be working on this flight. Well, they were wrong – this was some of the fastest WiFi I’d ever experienced on a flight, measuring 30.3 Mbps down and 6.10 Mbps up.

Not only that, but KLM now charges for WiFi by time, and you can get a full flight pass without data caps for only 18 EUR (£15.32/HK$151) – that’s an incredible deal if you ask me. I had trouble switching my code between devices (which I wrote off as part of the problematic WiFi onboard the flight, as it did take a while initially to load), though theoretically you should be allowed to do that.

KLM’s IT Team Can Really Do Better

Let me address the main fallback of this otherwise great product, which falls onto KLM’s not-great website and IT. Where do I start?

  • KLM makes a new booking (with a reference) every time you select a flight, even if you never reach the payment page; I reached the payment page twice before KLM was unable to process my payment, and ended up not being able to select the seat I wanted until the previous bookings were “cancelled” (this wasn’t a big deal, though I wanted the last window seat on the plane available at the time); KLM was only able to take my payment on the third go
  • I initially booked an Amsterdam to Singapore flight on the 777 (as I had to get to Singapore eventually), though the 777 was swapped to one that didn’t feature premium economy two weeks before departure; I was automatically rebooked into economy class, and wasn’t sent any communications letting me know of this
  • After noticing this, I wasn’t able to change to another flight on the website

Thankfully KLM has a very competent WhatsApp live chat system, and an agent was able to rebook me onto this flight (I wouldn’t have flown KLM if not specifically to seek out their premium economy product). Since I’d already paid for seat selection, I let the agent know that I’d done so and asked if I could select a seat on my new flight for free; while he obliged (and I had no further issues), it would’ve cost me the same price as a “new” seat selection if I were to switch to a different seat, due to the incapabilities of the system.

Conclusion: KLM’s 787 Premium Comfort

KLM’s premium economy class was a joy to fly, and easily one of the best European premium economy class products I’ve flown so far. From a great ground experience, to a good seat with great storage and tech, to good elevated food options, to WiFi without data caps, to good amenities, this sets the bar for a good premium economy product, in my opinion. There are a couple of suggestions that would’ve made this experience better, though I really enjoyed my flight.

I’ve got plans to fly Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy class this year for the first time in a while, and want to fly Air France’s premium economy soon. I’d be hard-pressed to think any other airline offers an experience this good, however.

I’ll write a full review soon, where I’ll also have reviews of KLM’s 737, Norwegian’s 737, Batik Air’s 737 business class, Singapore Airlines’ 737 MAX business class, and more.

Am I being too enthusiastic about KLM’s premium economy product?

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