Since this summer, KLM has not only been flying with two travel classes (economy and business class) but a premium economy has now also been installed in some aircraft. It is called Premium Comfort Class at KLM and will gradually be added to the rest of the Boeing long-haul fleet by January 2024. We took a closer look at this brand-new product on a flight from Houston to Amsterdam.
Table of Contents
Here are the facts about the flight:
- Flight: KL662 from Houston to Amsterdam (
- Seat: 15C
- Plane: Boeing 787-10 (PH-BKC, delivered October 2019)
- Scheduled time of departure:
- Actual time of departure: 16:07
- Scheduled time of arrival:
- Actual time of arrival: 7:41
- Scheduled flight duration:
- Actual flight duration: 8:35
- Month: October 2022
At the end of September, I spontaneously decided to travel to the USA again in October. The prices were not exactly deal-worthy at such short notice, but one connection seemed interesting. From my hometown of Hamburg to Houston in KLM’s brand-new premium economy for €1,000. Not a bargain, but getting to know the new travel class appealed to me. I wasn’t averse to the warm Texan temperatures either and found about 15,000 miles to be an attractive yield.
Actually, not too much should go wrong with a booking when the flight takes place in less than 2 weeks. One would think so, but no, rarely things went more wrong. First, about a week before the flight, an e-mail came that the plane had been exchanged. Now there would no longer be a premium economy, so I would now be seated in economy class.
The hotline then also wanted me to believe that there was no other flight to the USA that still had premium economy seats available. After 2 days of phone calls and a lot of research, the Delta Platinum hotline finally rebooked me to Hamburg-Amsterdam-Detroit-Houston. Now again in (Delta’s) premium economy, departing one day earlier.
But that was not the end of the rebooking adventure. Because the evening before the flight, there was another email from KLM that my flight from Hamburg to Amsterdam had been cancelled. The other flights to Amsterdam were also fully booked. So, hotline again, and after 3 hours the final routing was in place, now again a day later, again via Detroit with Delta. Luckily I had the return flight to test KLM’s Premium Comfort and compared to the troubles on the outbound flight, the 45-minute delay on the return flight was a joke.
The point of this story is that I was only able to get these issues solved because I booked on Delta’s website and their hotline was extremely helpful. In the end, they even put me in business class on HAM-AMS to make it work. The KLM hotline was not helpful and basically only offered me a downgrade to economy class.
Check-in & Boarding
Premium Comfort passengers have access to all SkyPriority services:
- Priority check-in and baggage drop-off
- Fast lane at the security checkpoint
- Priority boarding
As a status member, I had these benefits anyway, plus lounge access. Nevertheless, this is a nice advantage that many other airlines (e.g. Lufthansa) do not offer in premium economy. The separate counter at check-in and the fast lane at the security check (caution, not at all airports) save you about an hour – and as we all know, time is money!
However, the priority boarding queue was correspondingly long. Nevertheless, boarding went so smoothly that I was on the plane within 3 minutes despite being almost at the end of the priority queue.
Let’s get to the supposedly most interesting part. What do the seats look like and what functionalities do they offer? It immediately catches the eye that the seats are very wide. Here they were installed in a 2-3-2 arrangement, and I was sitting in the last row on the aisle. The premium economy cabin is separated from the economy class by a partition wall, which I personally like very much.
The superbly padded seats each have a reading light, side storage compartment, footrest, universal power socket and USB and USB-C port. There is also a large screen on the backrest of the front seat, as well as two additional pockets for stowing a mobile phone, book or something similar. In addition, the (pleasantly large) table is located in an armrest.
The sitting comfort is very high. I didn’t find the angle of the backrest completely convincing for sleeping, but the seat was so wide that I could practically sleep sideways with my legs bent – I hadn’t been able to do that in other premium economy seats. Overall, I was very happy with the seat – slightly more so when sitting than when sleeping.
Food & Drinks
Printed menus were distributed even before departure (only in English). Shortly after departure, we got the first round of drinks and some nuts. Dinner was served a little later.
The starter was a crab salad with shrimp. The choice of main course was:
- Arancini balls with mozzarella
- Grilled chicken fillet with roasted potatoes
- Cold Thai beef salad with sliced scallions
I chose the chicken and was very happy with it, both in quantity, taste and presentation. For dessert, we got Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. It was delicious, but also hard as a rock.
At breakfast, the menu actually said French toast and custard (yummy yummy), but what I got was salmon, cheese, turkey, and half a boiled egg. It was all delicious and tasted better than most plane breakfasts I’ve ever had – but I still wonder where the French toast I’ve been waiting for has gone.
As we were only about 7 people in the entire premium economy, the service was both fast and very personal and friendly, e.g. the passengers were addressed by their last names. The stewardess also quickly noticed that I prefer to drink milk. That’s why I was offered milk again and again after the second round of drinks. There was also time for a short friendly chat occasionally, and at night the stewardess also came along with water a few times.
While dinner was luckily served (and cleared away) very soon after departure, I was very annoyed with the timing of breakfast, which was served a full 2 hours before landing. After all, on a flight under 9 hours, it’s hard enough to get enough hours of sleep after dinner.
To wake people up 2 hours before landing for a breakfast that could easily have been served to the 7 passengers an hour later makes no sense to me. It wasn’t even logical in terms of the time, since it was 5:40 Amsterdam time and 22:40 Houston time. Everyone ate their breakfast in about 15 minutes and then sat around for over an hour and a half with the cabin lights fully lit. And no one was able to sleep again. By the way, economy class was also almost empty, so that can’t have been the reason either.
As already mentioned, each seat has a touch screen, which is significantly larger than in economy class, but of course smaller than in business class. There are several films and series to choose from, but there are no live TV channels. The Wi-Fi was broken on my flight. But the large selection of films was more than enough entertainment for me, coupled with a few rounds of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? from the games collection.
In premium economy, you also get noise-cancelling headphones. The brand is not stated, but they seemed to be of reasonable quality. Only the right side worked on mine, but that’s definitely an isolated case and not generally the case, and I surely could have asked for another pair.
The amenities don’t come in a kit, as is usually the case, but in a (rather ugly) bag. This thin cloth sack contains a toothbrush and chewable toothpaste. There is also an eye mask and a tiny ballpoint pen. All in all, a rather below-average content.
- Check-in & Boarding
- Sitting comfort
- Sleeping comfort
- Food & Drinks
- Amenity Kit
In KLM’s Premium Comfort, you’ll sit fabulously in comfortable, wide seats. You can also sleep relatively well. At least until you are woken up unnecessarily 2 hours before landing. So while the seat is at the very highest level, the rest at KLM is often a bit disappointing. From the unmotivated hotline not helping to avoid a downgrade to the rather uninspired amenity kit, there is a lot of room for improvement here. Nevertheless, I really liked the KLM premium economy (at least more than KLM partner Air France’s). I will definitely book again.
Cover Picture: Ditmar Lange