June 2022. Although I have been in Mexico before, the last time was in 1994-1995. Twenty-seven years later, Oriol and I are doing a classic tour of the United Mexican States, featuring Mexico City (CDMX); Palenque in Chiapas; Villahermosa in Tabasco; Uxmal, Mérida, Chichen Itza, Ek’ Balam, Valladolid, and a few cenotes (waterholes) in Yucatán and Tulum in Quintana Roo. We returned via Cancún to CDMX and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
We flew to Mexico with KLM on KL 0685 using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Yes, sometimes we fly economy. Booking business class in December 2022 was too expensive. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with economy or coach.
Chaos at Schiphol?
Since the May school holidays in the Netherlands, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has struggled. The problem? Too many travellers, not enough staff. The COVID-19 pandemic has chased away skilled staff and they have not returned. Why would they? The sector doesn’t pay too well, the flexibility required is nowadays too much of an ask. People found nicer, less stressful or better paid jobs elsewhere. There’s a point the charm of working aviation and tourism isn’t enough anymore to lure people (back).
And that point has been reached. There are staff shortages in many sectors and in many countries. The same applies to Belgium. But this blogpost’s topic is our departure to Mexico from Schiphol.
We left Antwerp earlier than originally planned. We took the 8.44 AM Benelux train service from Antwerp-Central Railway Station and arrived at Schiphol Railway Station some four hours before departure.
Was it chaos? No, not really. But lack of staff is palpable. Long lines and understaffed restaurants. We paid 22 euros for a untasty, uninspired burger at Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails. It was a long wait, it was not good and it was overpriced. Meh.
Boarding was really swift. It started on time and it was all very disciplined. First the passengers with special needs, then the priority passengers then the cattle, I mean the other passengers, by group.
The welcoming was friendly. We easily found our seat and got installed.
Interior design and seat
On KLM you can expect shades of bleu. The KLM blue is sky blue, which is quite in your face. Especially on uniforms. But the cabin stays mostly away of that shade of blue. Other azules and greys dominate the colour palette.
The cabin is laid out in a 3-3-3 configuration, with the central seats slightly unaligned. We sat in seats A and B.
The padding of the seats is average. Not uncomfortable. The table is sturdy and is decently sized. The legroom and the recline are perfectly acceptable for economy. Although Oriol prefers some more padding and yes, at the end of the flight I didn’t know on which butt cheek to sit anymore.
The window has no physical blinds but this novel shading button. It’s a nice little toy to play with but it’s very slow to to from fully ‘open’ to fully ‘close’.
There is an USB port near the screen and and an international power outlet.
The tv screen is large and works with touch screen. The touch screen is slightly frustratingly slow, but perhaps it was just me. Oriol seemed to cope better with the menu.
The offering on the in-flight entertainment is generous and generic. KLM struck deals with DC and Marvel, but also offers comedy, family films and ‘world’ films.
There are heaps of films, tv shows and concerts.
We got fed a main meal quickly. There is no menu and we got a choice of chicken massala or pasta with vegetables and cheese. Oriol thinks there was a slightly spicy tomato sauce. It was accompanied by a tabouleh salad and Beemster cheese.
It tasted okay.
At first, I feared we would not get dessert. But some twenty minutes later, we got tea or coffee and a lemon tartlet.
Not that long after the main we got a vegetarian sandwich with an egg curry spread.
The crew is also very generous with water.
About an hour and a half before landing we got a third meal: margarita panini, pasta salad and a tiramisu-like dessert.
KL 0685 in economy was an honest 11+ hour flight.