Two Reasons Why This Flight is One of the Better Flights I Have Ever Had in Economy Class

T here are two reasons why the flight I just experienced is what I believe was one of the better flights I have ever had as a passenger in a seat in the economy class cabin on a Boeing 747-400 Combi airplane operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from Amsterdam to Seoul:

The food was delicious and plentiful. Although I did not care for the small packet of smoked almonds which were given with the initial first beverage, there was a choice of meals: either tortellini pasta filled with ricotta cheese and spinach in a tomato and pesto sauce; or a bibimbap — a traditional Korean dish which in this case consisted of mixed rice with beef and vegetables.

I ordered the bibimbap — which was a great choice, as it was quite tasty. Along with it came a mixed salad, a warm roll, a tube of chili paste, butter, cheese, crackers, a cup of spring water, and a doughnut-like dessert.

The portions were generous for a meal served in the economy class cabin, in my opinion. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The portions were generous for a meal served in the economy class cabin, in my opinion. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The woman who sat next to me was Korean; and she ordered the pasta dish, which I must admit had a nice aroma. No one laughed or poked fun at either of us as apparently happened in this incident on Qantas Airways when a passenger of Asian ethnicity ordered a “western” meal instead of an “asian” meal.

Prior to dinner, a warm — not quite hot — moist towel scented with lavender was given to each passenger, which I thought was a nice touch.

During the middle of the flight, every passenger was given a cup of ice cream. Although it probably exceeded a diamond on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, the ice cream was good; and there was more in the back of the aircraft for anyone else who wanted a second helping.

Also available in the back of the aircraft in what was called the “grazing” service was assorted Mentos candies; a sugar cookie type of hard biscuit individually wrapped; a strawberry cereal bar with real bits of strawberry in it; bags of potato flakes with barbecue flavor; and Mars chocolate bars which are typically not available in the United States.

I find that bizarre, considering that Mars is based in the United States and yet they do not sell one of the namesake candy bars in the United States.

In addition to a choice of water, orange juice and apple juice, you could also request a cup of traditional Korean noodles. They are steeped with hot water by the flight attendant and then given to you with a pair of chopsticks. I enjoyed that, too.

Breakfast was served 90 minutes prior to the conclusion of the flight. It included a tomato eggplant omelette with potatoes, a warm roll, butter, fresh cut fruit, and a cake topped with peaches and slivered almonds.

Except for the tomato eggplant omelette itself, I ate the entire breakfast. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Except for the tomato eggplant omelette itself, I ate the entire breakfast. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I must say that the fruit was quite fresh and cold. The green apple slices were crisp and not brown. In my experience, the fruit already starts to turn by the time it reaches the passenger.

There was plenty of food and goodies to eat. I was full and happy. It really does not take much more money to accomplish feeding passengers where they can actually be satisfied and not feeling hungry.

Plenty of entertainment options. I did not even go through all of the options available on the in-flight entertainment system, as there were so many from which to choose. However, there were television programs, movies, literally hundreds of “compact discs” of music — and you could also learn up to 25 different languages.

Of course, there was the flight path which was displayed on the screen as well.

The route of the flight from Amsterdam to Seoul. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The route of the flight from Amsterdam to Seoul. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

This one is for you, George. Notice how the airplane on which I was a passenger had to go around the air space of North Korea, whose name of the capital city appears on the map. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

This one is for you, George. Notice how the airplane on which I was a passenger had to go around the air space of North Korea, whose name of the capital city appears on the map. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

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Sometimes the premium class cabin on an international flight can almost be an embarrassment of riches, as there is so much to experience that you usually cannot possibly do it all: sleep in the lie-flat bed? Eat meals and snacks while drinking as many beverages as you like? Exhaust all of the options of the in-flight entertainment system?

I almost feel — well — cheated, for lack of a better word, because I did not get chance to experience everything which the premium class cabin had to offer…

…even if the flight was 14 hours long — such as when I was a passenger in the business class cabin in the upper deck of a Boeing 747-400 aircraft operated by Qantas Airways years ago. There was just too much to see and do!

Meanwhile, there are times where I feel like economy class passengers just do not get enough to eat or enough entertainment options to keep them happy and satisfied on a flight lasting approximately eleven hours — which, by the way, was on the same itinerary.

Airlines are not going to get the extra bucks from many economy class passengers to pay for a premium class experience — so why not improve the economy class experience to a point where passengers will gladly pay for it instead of feel like they have no choice? As I said before, it really does not have to require that much more capital…

…although as I mentioned in this article on November 1, 2013 pertaining to whether you would rather have a wider seat or more amenities, the reason why I enjoy being a passenger in a premium class seat is because of the wealth of “distractions” which are offered.

Several years ago, I had lunch with a couple of employees of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program of Delta Air Lines — and during lunch, I expressed to them that I do not need to be in a first class seat if I simply received a few of the amenities as an elite status level member which I could enjoy in the economy class cabin. I cited a better snack or more frequency of snacks; perhaps several servings of a non-alcoholic beverage instead of one; or free in-flight entertainment. That is when they told me in confidence that I would be pleasantly surprised by a new concept that they planned on rolling out in the months ahead, which eventually became known as the enhanced Have One On Us coupon where a complimentary snack is offered as one of the options for which you can redeem the coupon while seated as a passenger in the economy class cabin.

I thought the Have One On Us program was a great idea. Unfortunately, it did not last. Perhaps cost was an issue?

Sure, there were aspects of the flight with which I was less than pleased: it was full. I had a wall where a window should have been located. From the window almost behind me, I had yet another view of a wing:

The view outside of the window which was almost behind me as the aircraft approached Seoul. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The view outside of the window which was almost behind me as the aircraft approached Seoul. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I am sure that there are many examples of flights operated by airlines where the experience in the economy class cabin would probably exceed mine — but for the flight from Amsterdam to Seoul, I had no real time to think about any of the negative aspects of the flight. I was kept fed and entertained; and afterwards, I dozed off in a good sleep even though I was seated in a regular economy class cabin seat.

The economy class cabin just as passengers were boarding the aircraft in Amsterdam. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The economy class cabin just as passengers were boarding the aircraft in Amsterdam. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

My seat by the “window” — before the other two seats were also eventually occupied. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

My seat by the “window” — before the other two seats were also eventually occupied. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Business class? Who needs business class? Not I — at least, not on that particular flight.

What was your best experience with a flight where you were seated in the economy class cabin — and why?

7 thoughts on “Two Reasons Why This Flight is One of the Better Flights I Have Ever Had in Economy Class”

  1. Matteo says:

    I flew KLM Premium Economy and it was dreadful. NEVER again. Seats are the same size as normal economy and no major plus factors. 4 inches more of legroom.
    Dreadfully long flight from Asia to AMS and return.
    CX or AF, BA has true Premium and KLM was simple enhanced economy.

  2. enthusiast says:

    I’ve flown on KLM in economy a few times now. Back during my first flight with them, they were rated Skytrax 3 star. I was very impressed. The IFE has tons of selection, they are very hospitable and nice, the fun box of snacks is great, the ice cream is fun, there’s a good number of drink services, and the food is tasty and plentiful. The seat pitch isn’t the best, but I’m ok with that.

    Sometimes, they decide to play a game with the entire crowd. We submit guesses to questions like their average age, their average number of siblings, etc. They give a prize out to the winner. Good fun!

    Sure enough, they are now Skytrax 4 star. They aren’t often hyped to the extent of Emirates, Singapore, etc, but I’ve enjoyed flying KLM in economy very much.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      The seat pitch may not be the best, enthusiast — but I was all right with it as well.

      I suppose that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is underrated on international long-haul flights?

  3. var1ant says:

    I too just recently flew KLM in regular economy IAH-AMS and back. I can concur that they feed you well and the food are tasty and the service was really good too. My only complaint is also the seats, after flying SQ A380 Y just couple weeks ago, it was a quite a difference in pitch and legroom. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again in the future if the price is right.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I am surprised that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines does not seem to get more recognition for its economy class service, var1ant. Thank you for posting your comment.

  4. baccarat_guy says:

    I really like the “mini” Economy Comfort Cabin on the KLM 747s (3-2 configuration, in the front). Especially, if you are two people, as the “2 side” has extra storage next to the seat. You do not get a window with these seats, since the “other side” of this “mini-cabin” is galley space. I’ve been finding that on both Delta and KLM Economy Class the overall “service,” including meal options and passes (drinks etc.) by the flight attendants has improved. It’s like they have been (more clearly) defining the Economy Class service standard. With regard to Delta, transatlantic, they are now offering three meal options in Economy Class; one of which is usually a salad, and one that is vegetarian (pasta-dairy).

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      …and I was on that exact configuration of Boeing 747-400 which you showed to me just hours before my flight, baccarat_guy, which is the Combi model with the extra cargo areas.

      My seat was located behind that unusual cabin, though…

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