Last summer, my family and I decided to go to Bali for a short weekend getaway; my sister had already booked the accommodation, so it was up to us to find our ways there ourselves (yep, I know, we’re a very autonomous, non-sticky bunch).
After scouring the web for options, I realised that I only needed to pay about S$100 more than an Economy Class ticket on Singapore Airlines to score myself a Business Class seat on KLM! And the story went that I was on my way to Denpasar, Bali, via KLM 835 on its Boeing 773 aircraft.
Here’s a vlog summary of my flight on KLM835!
Relax at the Lounge
With the JCL seat came an invitation to the Dnata Lounge at Changi Airport Terminal 1. My previous experience at Dnata lounge was a rather pleasant one, so I was really looking forward to enjoying its facilities again.
For the famished, one can find a wide variety of food, from savoury to sweet, from light to heavy, at the buffet counter. They also served beverages ranging from coffee to alcohol.
If you’re tired (perhaps from having to transfer from a long flight), they have a lot of comfortable sofa to rest; it’s OK to bring your food to the sofa area, so there’s no worry that you have to lug your belongings from the dining area to the lounging area.
Feel like a shower? I must say Dnata has decent shower facilities (if you don’t mind that they looked tired). All you have to do is to bring your toiletries to the shower room to have a good wash up. Don’t worry about towels, because they are provided!
Changi Airport still practises security screening at the gate hold room in T1/T2/T3, so it is recommended for one to try to arrive at the security early (since there is no priority for JCL passengers for security screening). After passing through the screening, there is a holding area, albeit a small one, for JCL passengers. If you’re there early, you can find a seat there!
It was over there that I managed to see the aircraft bringing me to Bali being towed in.
And boy can I say that I was in luck! Because I got the aircraft painted with the Orange Pride Livery, which was definitely a good splash of colour from its usual all-blue one!
Onto the Plane!
Perhaps it was because everyone was going to Bali for holiday, the boarding was chaotic even in the JCL cabin. As my seat was at “F”, I had to use the port side aisle to reach my seat as there was a “jam” at the galley leading to the starboard aisle.
The seats were in 2-2-2 arrangement, decked out in their old World Business Class seats, which is something similar to what Cathay Pacific has for its long haul Business Class. Despite being squeezed 2-2-2, there was still ample space within the seat. Width wise, I could definitely lie flat in the bed without even lowering the armrest (meant to provide more space) and pitch wise, I must say my short stature spared me from having to stick my feet fully into the small cubby underneath the front seat.
There was AC power supply and USB power supply, located with the noise-cancelling earphone’s jack. They were conveniently located beside the seat, so that one can use their devices comfortably while charging it, or leave it in the side cubby when not in use.
The privacy divider was more decorative than effectively providing privacy from your stranger-neighbour (if you are travelling alone, that is). It was perhaps more useful for avoiding that awkward moment when both of your gazes meet. Below the divider was the seat pocket; with all the inflight magazines already in there, there was barely space for other stuff, so one might as well ignore that.
The tray was well-hidden underneath the drinks holder in between the seats. Like most trays, it first opened out to a half-tray, good for when you just need a surface to fill out the arrival cards or to place your drinks. Such a configuration is good that you still have space to move out of your seat. Opening the tray fully allows one to work on his laptops, have meals, or perhaps play a card game with his neighbour… alright, I was stretching it a bit!
Inflight entertainment was up-to-date with the latest movies and TV series. The screen still looked good despite the glare from the afternoon sun. My only gripe was that the touch-screen was not that responsive. However, there’s still the remote situated beside the seat pocket, good for controlling your IFE when you are in full lie-flat mode.
Speaking of lie-flat, the seat does recline to a flat bed. Although that was not the widest JCL seat plying the route, I felt there was ample space for me to lie comfortably and perhaps roll a bit (I’m not a roller, so I can’t really attest to that). Most importantly though, I was not afraid that I would accidentally be in physical contact with my neighbour! (not so good news for traveling couples, though).
Food wise, there was one lunch served during the short 3-and-a-half-hour flight. The food was presentable and worthy of a Business Class. The food was served pre-set in a tray, which was common for regional flights, so there was no fancy serving of different courses of meals one at a time. But then again, most passengers would be on the flight to go for a holiday, so we weren’t that particular about whether our food was served in courses…
Service overall was above average. The crew were friendly, and all passengers were given a small porcelain replica of the Dutch Delft House containing Dutch gin!
My neighbour tried to ask for blankets but were told the flight was not stocked with blankets, which was quite a surprise for a Business Class service.
All in all, I landed in Denpasar on time, and was glad that I could alight before the Economy passengers! The immigration hall looked empty when I first stepped foot in it, but the moment I was in the queue to “chop my passport” (I was after all not the fastest-walking JCL passenger), I found a long snaking queue forming behind me!
KLM as an established carrier has been touted as the better half of the KLM-Air France service. Their Business Class do provide products and services better than if I were to fly Economy, but nope, unless I am able to score a Business Class ticket at such a bargain again, I would not want to spend my moolah on KLM Business Class – the Asian carriers still win KLM many times over.
The pictures of this post were taken using Google Pixel XL and Olympus TG870. The video, also posted on Youtube, was edited using Flimora.