Looking for a reliable economy flight between London and Amsterdam? So was Director. In our latest flight review, discover how we got on aboard Dutch flag-carrier KLM from Heathrow to Schiphol
The Netherlands is the UK’s fourth biggest bilateral trading partner, with the country importing £24bn in British products and services in 2013 alone.
And, with domestic growth for the country expected to accelerate in 2015 due to rising household consumption, the flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam’s Schiphol looks set to become even more frequently taken by UK entrepreneurs.
It’s an important journey to make. While the Netherlands is a welcoming market for British firms – nearby, similar and devoid of language barriers – it is also a very open economy, meaning competition is fierce. The need for local representatives and personal acquaintances with customers and clients is highly recommended by UKTI.
The rewards for making the trip, however, seem potentially vast. The Dutch population is high in early adopters of new technology, meaning opportunities abound for those developing products in the smart phone and tablet markets.
The food and drinks sector and offshore wind industry are also high-potential areas – adding to the traditional markets including the horticulture, life-sciences, chemicals and logistics.
High time indeed, then, to make the short hop over to the country’s bustling capital. Director boarded KLM’s daily 8.40am service (flight 1002) from London Heathrow to Schiphol, with the aim of making a lunchtime business appointment in downtown Amsterdam. Here’s how the experience went…
KLM check in
At 6.40am on a Thursday morning, the KLM bag drop – at check in zone F of Heathrow’s Terminal 4 – had a swiftly-moving queue of five passengers being served by two members of staff. Self check-in machines were queue-free. Director, however, breezed past the lot having checked in online, had boarding pass emailed to smartphone and only packed hand-luggage. Had we wished to check-in one bag (max weight on this route 23kg), this would have cost an extra £14.70 when checking in online or £22.10 at the airport. One personal item can be carried in addition to a cabin bag weighing up to 12kg. Heathrow’s security staff then did their bit efficiently, with plenty of security lanes open – allowing us to breeze through the formalities and into departures in under five minutes. 10/10
A right turn out of security and brisk three-minute walk down to gate 14 found us at the boarding point for this KLM flight. Economy passengers are not called to board on a seat-row basis, and are instead summoned with a single ‘general boarding’ announcement. Savvier regulars on this route were therefore already queued up well ahead of the boarding call. While passport checks were made swiftly, there was a fair bit of waiting in the aisle of the KLM plane for fellow travellers to stow luggage and get settled – a seemingly longer shuffle to seat than is experienced when passengers are boarded row-by-row from the rear of the plane forwards. While twiddling thumbs in the aisle, Director enviously eyed the savvier boarders already tapping away on their laptops and tablets. Next time we’ll be ready. The KLM flight took off right on time at 8.40am. 6/10
Our perch – aisle seat 18C – offered ample short-haul legroom for a six-footer and the seat furnishing was soft, comfortable and in good condition. Should we have wished to stretch out, upgrading to the emergency exit row seat with its extra legroom would have cost us an extra £18.40 at the point of online check-in. The tray table was slender but, with no impending airborne banquet on such a short flight, it was sufficient for the journey. 8/10
The KLM cabin crew, in their sharp, light blue suits, were friendly and efficient throughout. A complimentary breakfast of tasty scrambled egg sandwich and a drink was served quick-sharp after the take-off seat belt signs went out (this is a very brisk flight, after all). Tea-loving Director was, however, slightly disappointed by powdered creamer instead of milk for the hot drinks. 9/10
Shortly after the prompt take-off, the pilot informed passengers that favourable air traffic would see us arrive early. Sure enough, we touched down and found ourselves on the stand at Schiphol’s arrival gate D3 some 25 minutes earlier than advertised – at 10.35am local time. The total KLM flight duration was a mere 55mins. And, following a three-minute walk to and though a queueless immigration area, we were in our car for the 25 minute ride into town and unfashionably early for our appointment. 10/10
A boarding free-for-all was quickly forgotten thanks to an efficient KLM in flight service and early arrival 43/50
For fares and further information visit KLM.com
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