Following a spectacular start to my first post-pandemic trip on the KLM 787-10 and a relaxing stay at Amsterdam’s recently renovated lounge, Crown52, I was ready to board my next flight to Cape Town on the 787-9. Unlike my earlier flight, this was an entirely daytime flight and with just a little over 11 hour flight time, it seemed ample time to do a lot of research and work.
My outbound Amsterdam to Cape Town and inbound Cape Town to Amsterdam flights were on the same aircraft, so I’ll try to summarize the two experiences in one. Generally speaking, the only standout on both flights were probably the crew as the aircraft itself had a great deal of similarities to the 787-10 so I’ll try to mention the distinct features between the two aircrafts.
I took this flight back in May and although I wasn’t travelling in the peak of the summer which saw 3+ hour lines through security, it was immediately obvious that there are a lot of passengers passing through Amsterdam if the crowd in the Crown52 Lounge was anything to go by. I landed at 6:05AM, booked a shower at the lounge shower facility for 6:45AM and when I came out after freshening up (at around 7:30 or so), the crowd size had almost doubled. By the time I left the lounge, I was… glad to leave. It seemed like the lounge was filled to around 80% of its capacity.
In This Post
Background on the KLM 787-9
The KLM 787-9 aircrafts are slightly older than 787-10 and joined the KLM fleet in 2015. This aircraft flies to select destinations and operates seasonally as well. Similar to the 787-10, each aircraft is named after a sunflower (the first aircraft was actually named “sunflower”) and you might find yourself on Carnation, Lavender, Bougainvillea, Dahlia, Mimosa, Jasmine, Lily, Marguerite, 芙蓉 (hibiscus), Morning Star, Tulip, and Orchid.
I did note which equipment I was on this time around, and it was the Orchid (which you can see in the feature image above if you zoom in!) The 787-9 comes with 8 rows of seats in the business class instead of 10 therefore, having 8 less seats overall in its business class (capacity for 30 business class passengers instead of 38).
Flight Details🗓️ Trip Date: May 2022
✈️ Flight Number: KL597
🛣️ Route: Amsterdam (AMS) – Cape Town (CPT)
🛫 Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
💺 Cabin/Seat: Business (8A)
⏰ Departure: 10:10AM / Arrival: 9:25AM (11h15)
The 787-9 aircraft features the same 1-2-1 reverse herringbone seat arrangement as the 787-10 and identical blue-theme. The seat layout itself differs slightly but nothing that will make or break your experience. Having flown on the newer aircraft though, I did notice right away that the 787-9 feels more tired and sees a bit more wear all around.
KLM 787-9 World Business Class – Boarding
Boarding was an interesting affair in that both my outbound and inbound flights, passengers didn’t adhere to the “Boarding-by-Zone” system. It was a combination of flight being filled to capacity and size of the gates used for boarding. I remembered having a much more pleasant experience in Amsterdam before but 2022 was a weird time for travelling so it may just be one of those odd times.
Unlike the boarding process in Toronto, the walkway to the airplane has two bridges for passengers to board from. There’s a bridge marked for passengers in rows 1-8, and 8-45 for other passengers which made the boarding process go by faster.
As the business class cabin completed boarding, a flight attendant came around with a selection of champagne, orange juice, water, and cans of Heineken. I opted for both champagne and water (I am a thirsty traveller!) This service was also followed by a wet towel service. The glasses are collected before takeoff.
The post-takeoff drink of choice is the Bols negroni and this time, without the orange juice! Other options are available (you can peruse the availabilities in the booklet at your seat) and of course, the packed nuts. The negroni is still delicious but a little too much alcohol for me for this early in the morning (after a glass of champagne too) so I nursed that negroni until the meal service wrapped up.
KLM 787-9 World Business Class – Seat / Cabin Review
I switched my 7K seat at the last minute to 8A on my outbound flight which is the last row in the business class before the curtains. I was a little apprehensive about the potential noise from the galley or washroom but was pleasantly surprised that there was no issues at all. I seated myself in 7A on the return inbound flight, and similarly, had no complaints about noise or foot traffic by other passengers.
With spacious reverse herringbone seats in 1-2-1 configuration, solo travellers can enjoy complete privacy in booking one of the window seats and couples and enjoy a cosy and private set up in the centre section. If you are a solo traveller seated in the centre section, there is a partition that you can pull to provide some privacy.
The seat map is almost identical to the 787-10 and I echo my earlier recommendation of skipping the window seats in Row 5 which doesn’t have any windows. It seemed like an unintentional design error or something, but if you don’t care too much about the windows, there’s really no “bad” seat to be found.
The seats in the last rows also comes with a little extra storage space which you can use to put your jacket/coat or bag away. I didn’t end up using this as I didn’t want anything falling on me whilst I slept but to each their own!
It probably goes without saying that the seats are entirely lie-flat and pillow/blanket are comfortable. The window seats come with the added bonus that it’s angled away from the aisle; combined with the pod-style seating, you get a very personal and private pod during your entire flight.
I noted earlier that the 787-9 felt a little more tired than the newer 787-10 and this really stood out. The first issue I had was related to the power plug and USB which weren’t functioning. The flight attendant was very kind about it – when the reset didn’t work, she offered a cable from their stash to see if it would resolve the issue. When it didn’t, she offered to have it charged in the galley. I wasn’t keen on being parted from my phone so opted to skip this – she was very apologetic about the situation which I understood was beyond her control.
I also had issue with the remote control for the IFE not really sticking back to its designated slot – it felt like the cable doesn’t retract as well as it used to and while it seems like a minor detail, I ended up having to keep the remote on the side console for the entire flight.
Unlike the 787-10, I actually much prefer the storage compartment in the 787-9 – you can keep your glasses, face mask, phone, charger, or anything else you may need during the flight in the compartment. It’s also nice to have a mirror for small touch ups (or like me, if you need to check your hair as it’s drying off)
KLM 787-9 World Business Class – In Flight Entertainment System (IFE)
Not much to write here except that the 18.5-inch screens are excellent for watching anything. The images are sharp, and the noise-cancelling headphones was immensely useful at blocking out noise (I used it to sleep as I found the earplugs inadequate). The thing about being seated on the left-hand side on an angle, is the IFE system kind of pops out in your face. It’s a little odd but makes maneuvering out of your seat more challenging when you need to pop into the washroom.
KLM 787-9 World Business Class – Drinks and Meal Service
I really appreciate the different menu items available on each flight, and you’ll notice right away that the menu’s on these KLM flights are printed for the day of the flight. Similar to my earlier flight, our choice for dinner was asked during the drinks service after takeoff.
There is only once choice for the appetizer (which was surprisingly hearty) which was a mezze plate with grilled zuchini in tahini creme, chickpea salad, and feta / nut salad. To be honest, not only was the appetizer really hearty, it was very salty too from the combination of tahini and cheese!
The selections for the main were vegetarian stew, salmon or chicken. I picked the salmon and was pleasantly surprised that the salmon held its own taste and texture-wise which can often be a hit or miss at 35,000 feet. I opted to skip the dessert this time around (similar options, savoury/cheese plate or sweet options) as I was quite stuffed and ready to go to bed. I did opt for some tea and enjoyed the delft-shaped chocolates handed out after lunch.
Given the length of the flight (11 hours), there’s a “Skybeak” (a small snack served after lunch) if you wanted. Most people skipped over this but since I was still awake and was regretting skipping the dessert, I opted for the cheesecake ice cream to snack on. It wasn’t anything to write home about and I probably would have been fine skipping it altogether. The other (more hearty) options were a Dutch croquette roll with mustard and vegetarian club sandwich if you were feeling peckish.
During the flight, there’s also a snack basket set up near the front of the galley where you can pick up some snacks or chips during the flight. It was replenished throughout the flight and there was a good selection available.
My flight was arriving in Cape Town at around 9:25pm so we had a light meal before landing. The choices were either empanada or the burger. I opted for the burger. When it arrived, I thought it looked a little sad and somewhat unappetizing to look at. But the burger turned out quite… delicious? Similar taste and texture-wise to what you’d find on the ground. A little greasier than I liked (probably from the cheese).
The lemon meringue dessert was a massive skip for me however, it was cloyingly sweet and I nibbled on the crust before giving up altogether. Overall, the light meal was a less enjoyable meal I had during my entire trip.
On my inbound Cape Town to Amsterdam flight, the meals were slightly better. The appetizer included ginger coriander prawns with salad, chicken tikka breast slices and caprese salad. The choice of the main included kingclip fish in tamarind sauce, boboti-style lamb (South African speacialty), or roasted red pepper soup.
The dessert included a choice of cheese plate or small sweet plate (which had a bit more variety than my earlier flights). On this flight, they ran out of Delft-chocolates so we had shortbread cookies in the shape of the KLM logo instead.
The breakfast was massively disappointing – I had the croissant with bacon, and sundried tomato / pesto and sincerely wished I had gone with the gronola/yogurt combination instead. Upon unwrapping the croissant, I saw one of the most inedible sandwiches that absolutely had no place in business class (see above image). It was warm on the outside and stale/cold on the inside. I opted to snack on the fruit salad, cold plate and my warm roll for breakfast.
KLM 787-9 World Business Class Overall Service and Dutch Houses Gift
KLM is world-famous for their incredible in-flight service. I had a much more personal experience on these two flights with flight attendants that were very attentive and helpful. The purser took the time to speak to each passenger on a full business class cabin – he got our names, travel destination and had chatted about our holiday / return plans with every passenger.
The flight attendant went out of her way to help me with my power plug/USB snafu and they were more than happy to make drinks recommendation based on our meal choices which elevated the experience despite the subpar meals and more tired equipment.
Of course, part of the reason I fly with KLM is for these hand-painted Delft houses which are gifted to every long-haul business class passenger. I’ve collected a few of these and look forward to adding more to my collection.
I love the little touches of Delft-inspired decorative cups (if you get the coffee/tea) and serving bowls/plates, exquisitely-designed silverware (including the drinks stirrers) which takes the dining experience to a whole new level despite the subpar meals.
Final thoughts on the KLM 787-9 World Business Class
The crew and comfortable flight made up for a surprisingly negative meal experience and tired-looking cabin. Of course, KLM’s business class product is one of the more premium available and there aren’t that many options to choose from when flying to destinations as far away as South Africa. That being said, the little touches that KLM has incorporated into their business class do add up and it shows.
Have you flown the KLM 787-9 World Business Class before?