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Long AF/KL/DL report

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Just recently returned from a trip that included business class flights on Air France, KLM & Delta, redeemed using 120,000 Delta Skymiles each. Our destinations were Paris and Kenya. All of our flights departed and arrived either on time or slightly ahead of schedule.

AF65 LAX-CDG: This AF flight departs from terminal 5 at LAX and business class passengers have access to the Delta CRC in that terminal. No real food here, just drinks and some snack mix. We had 63A/B upstairs on the 747 and were a little concerned that 63B would not recline fully as there is an FA seat located directly behind it. Turned out it didn’t interfere as the old AF seats don’t recline that much anyway. Service was polite and professional but not overly attentive. Seat pitch was tight and it was difficult to get out of the window seat when the seats in front were reclined. Seat pitch should improve once they finish retrofitting all of their aircraft with the new seats. Meal service was OK. I had heard good comments about the food on AF but considering what I had I think they should be ashamed to be the French national airline ;) They must reserve all the good stuff for the FC cabin. The seafood appetizer started out very promising, but then it just went downhill from there. My entrée was some sort of processed chicken product and DH’s steak was very tough. Perhaps the catering ex-CDG is better. I watched A Very Long Engagement and fell slept for a few hours. Breakfast was served prior to arrival. I had french toast, fruit, and pastry and found it almost indistinguishable from economy class food. Business class was only about half full. The reason we chose Air France for this leg was because of their nonstop service from LAX. We stayed 4 nights in Paris at the Park Hyatt and then…

AF1240 CDG-AMS: Our flight departed CDG 2F at 7:30am. We ordered a taxi the night before which arrived promptly just before 5:30am. This being Saturday, it took only 30 minutes to get to CDG. Took about 15 minutes to get checked in, through security, and in the AF lounge (good pain au chocolat here). Flight was just over an hour and is intra-European business class with economy seats and the middle seat blocked off. A light breakfast was served en route. After arrival at AMS, we proceeded through passport control to enter the non-Schengen side, stopped in the crowded and smoky KLM Crown Lounge 41 for a quick beverage before boarding our next flight at E2…

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    KL565 AMS-NBO: Our seats were 2A/B in the front WBC cabin of the MD11. There are 2 WBC cabins on this aircraft. The front one consisting of 2 rows of 6 seats each. WBC looked close to being completely full. Lunch service began shortly after takeoff. Overall the food was a step above AF business class. Had an appetizer of smoked duck breast with marinated mushrooms and fig chutney, salad, and a pasta dish with chicken and asparagus for my entrée, good cheese plate. The seats while not flat had more recline than the AF seats and were comfortable to sleep in. I caught two-thirds of a very good French(?) movie called Chaos. A pre-arrival snack of mushroom and celery salad, quiche, and fruit was served. Service was excellent which surprised me as I had heard negative comments about KL crew. The lead FA passed out some surveys at the beginning of the flight so I originally attributed some of that excellent service to it being ‘survey day’ but the service on our return flight was just as good. Each WBC pax received a miniature Delft house just before arrival. At NBO we were first in line for the visa which took about 5 minutes but we waited a good half hour for all of our luggage to show up. After exiting customs, we were met by our guide from Eastern & Southern Safaris and taken to the Nairobi Hilton to start our 9 day adventure in Kenya. If anyone is interested in that part of our trip, I’ll be posting a separate report on the Africa board later. After our stay in Kenya, we flew straight home. It took exactly 31 hours from the time our first flight departed NBO to the time our last flight arrived at LAX.

    KL566 NBO-AMS: We arrived almost 3 hours prior to our flight departure as we were told to be prepared for extensive security at NBO and also because the Hilton wanted us to check out at 7:00pm (OK so they were really generous with the late checkout but others had reported they were able to stay until 8:00 or 9:00pm). Luggage screening, check-in, and passport control took about half an hour and we headed for the newly opened Simba Lounge. The lounge is small but well appointed with good quality snacks and 2 free but slow internet terminals. It was fairly empty when we arrived but got pretty crowded later with only barstool seating left. No priority lines for WBC pax at the gate security check even though we received a printed flight information letter at check-in that said there would be. Pointing this out proved to be of no use. Our seats were the same 2A/B and again very full flight in WBC. Dinner was a choice of a quick cold seafood plate for those that wanted to sleep or a full hot meal service. I skipped both and went straight to sleep for about 6 hours. Breakfast order was taken after boarding and served and hour and a half prior to arrival. Had the scramble eggs and sausage with sautéed mushrooms (there’s definitely a mushroom theme here on KL), muesli and yogurt. On board service was excellent again. We received 2 more Delft houses. If anyone is collecting all 85 and is missing numbers 3, 14 or 85, let me know :D

    We had 6.5 hours in AMS before our next flight. We spent 4 of those hours at the KLM Crown Lounge 52 which was the closest one to our G7 boarding gate. The coffee here was awful. Very little food and what was there looked unappetizing. We thought about wandering over to the Menzies Lounge which is also open to DL BE pax to check it out but got lazy. Visited the small branch of the Rijksmuseum inside AMS between piers E and F and did some shopping before proceeding to the gate. Extra security procedure at the gate where they had podiums set up to interview all passengers followed by xray and metal detector screening. I don’t know if this is just for US bound flights as there was no such security procedure at the gate when we flew from AMS to NBO.

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    DL45 AMS-CVG: It looked like there were only about 50-60 pax total which made me sad for my favorite US carrier. We had seats 3A/B on the 767. More recline that the AF seats and I didn’t have a problem with the narrower seat width but I’m pretty small. I would rate the KL WBC and DL BE seats about equal but DH preferred the WBC seats because they were wider. Great meal service, not only was the food quality very good but everything was well presented. I had a prosciutto, parmesan, and sun dried tomato antipasto, potato and leek soup, and tortellini with grilled chicken and artichoke for my entrée. They also offered a salad, cheese plate, fruit plate, and sundaes, all of which I skipped except for the fruit plate. A selection of excellent wines. One small example of the attention to detail in meal service was when I asked for hot tea, instead of pouring a cup of whatever Lipton brew accompanied by prepackaged creamer, they brought me a pot of hot water, a small carafe of milk, and a choice of Tazo teas. I don’t know if it has always been this way or if this is part of the new BE enhancement as I haven’t flown BE transatlantic in a long time. Excellent service, the FA’s knew when to be chatty and when to leave you alone. I tried watching Motorcycle Diaries but couldn’t get into it for some reason so instead napped for a few hours. A pre-arrival snack of chicken salad, fruit, and cookies was served. Immigration at CVG took longer than expected (see my other post) so we only had time for a quick beverage at the nearly empty BE lounge (the hors d’ouerves looked yummy, not that I could eat anymore after all of the food on the previous flight) before catching our final leg to LAX.

    DL49 CVG-LAX: This flight uses the same 767 aircraft equipped with BE seats but with domestic FC service, what a difference! We had 3A/B again and this time the BE cabin was completely full. I believe they were selling upgrades at the gate for $75. I don’t know if you can buy the paid upgrade from all fare classes though. Very little to report on this flight as I was still on Kenyan time and passed out immediately after takeoff and didn’t wake up until 15 minutes prior to landing :D

    Overall I thought DL and KL were a step above AF in all areas and this may be due to the fact that AF has 3 class service versus only 2 class service on DL and KL.

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