Thursday, August 27, 2015

KLM Royal Dutch-world's oldest airline still in operation

My flight with KLM
KLM Royal Dutch is world’s oldest airline which is still in operation. I.e. there were other airlines which were started earlier than KLM, but they all have shut shop (few merged with others). Australia's Quantas is next. KLM is 96 years old and heading towards a century. KLM is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands so they aren’t much known in India- they hardly fly to India on their own. KLM flies to several remote destinations and very challenging airports- do watch various videos available on YouTube.

I had a weekend to spare and I planned a quick trip to Amsterdam from Copenhagen.  Amsterdam being KLM’s hub, KLM was my preferred choice of an airline. Copenhagen to Amsterdam is like Chennai- Mumbai in terms of distance and time. But the trip cost me about INR 17000 in KLM (I had booked only 2 weeks in advance. If I had booked 2-3 months in advance, I would have got it for less than half that price).

Web Checkin only 30 hours prior. Some airlines like Ryan Air open web check in 30 days in advance. So I couldn’t do check-in for my return trip with KLM before leaving Copenhagen. (Web Check in for their flight to US opens only 24 hours in advance- not sure why, because US might expect a passenger manifest a day before flight takes off, to scan for dangerous people- may be they do it based on tickets booked not check in)

I thought KLM was a full service airline but my web check in said Hand Baggage + 1 accessory only. I had nothing to check-in, so this wasn’t a concern for me. I guess they have a different pricing for ticket with checkin bag.

KLM website was easy to use, after I cleared initial hurdle or figuring out which country specific version I wanted. Saturday early morning I rushed to CPH airport- didn't find any counters for KLM. That wasn't a problem because I had web checkin and I had no baggage to check in. But need to locate their counter because I need it to check in baggage next time. Most of European airports operate with bar code enabled boarding passes- no one asks for physical copy of tickets or ID proof for schengen flights. A scanning device scans the boarding pass and lets passengers in. Approx time needed to clear security is also displayed I cleared security and went to the gate. Boarding started on time but as I passed through, I got a slip that said my seat has been changed- from 18A to 30A. I don't know why.
Flight was normal. In flight magazine was fine. I feel legspace in a Boeing 737-800 that KLM operates is an inch or more compared to cramped economy seats in an A320 in other airlines. A cold sandwich was served, which I couldn't eat as it had egg. Through their twitter handle I had got confirmation that in short haul flights it is not possible to entertain food preference. On the return trip I got some nachos (chips). Flight lasted for about an hour. View of Amsterdam from top was nice. 

During return, I went to an open area inside Schiphol airport and clicked some pictures of KLM aircrafts. In the pic below a KLM Pilot is seen closing the window after waving at crowd (I missed clicking his hand outside the window)
Despite being oldest, KLM is not the largest airline in terms of number of planes, no of passengers flown etc. They haven't grown as rapidly as other carriers. To give an example, Airfrance that started 14 years after KLM has nearly twice the number of planes and flies twice the number of passengers every year. KLM still doesn't have an A380 in its fleet. But that is fine. Growth is not the only thing that measures success. KLM merged with Air France few years ago. With a dozen other partner airlines, they provide connectivity to almost all over the world. Best wishes to KLM on their upcoming 100th year. Fly more to India.

Similar: Tigerair Experience * Airfrance Premium Economy ExperienceAirCosta experience *


The wild said...

1)They do check id's regardless of whether its a schengen flight or not ,very surprised they didnt.

They will definetly check Non -EU passports to ensure you have the valid visa.

2)All flights across continents or non- common area flights (common area eg : EU) open only 24 hours in advance.If the load factor is less they will sometimes combine 2 flights in one to rationalize the flight,based on the booked demand ,they will change the type of aircraft to suit increased or decreased load ,that is why check in is only allowed 24 hours in advance.

2)Since this post is about history ,some history of boeing 737(first delivery in 1967) -total deliveries - 8636 vs Airbus A320(first delivery in 1988) total deliveries-6668.Even for comparison you can see how many airlines in India fly Boeing except for Jet ,Spice and perhaps Airindia(also flies Airbus) ,all the remaining private players fly Airbus.

3)KLM has not tied up with Airfrance but merged ,but they decided to keep both airlines as distinct brands as subsidiaries of the group ,regarding Airbus A380 ,has to do with fleet renewal cycle and the decisions made based on fleet rationalization

The wild said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for these valuable comments. Have corrected on the merger part.