Tag Archives: KLM

A flight fit for a King.

Have you flown KLM recently?  Chances are the co-pilot might have been the King of Holland.

That’s right.  He is a commercial pilot and from time to time (in between his kingly duties) he likes to fly as a co-pilot on KLM flights.  He says that people don’t really recognize him in his uniform but some people recognize his voice.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39946532

King of Holland

Seems like a lot of royalty like to fly – Prince Charles does / did.   He learned to fly on a Chipmunk basic pilot trainer, a BAC Jet Provost jet trainer, and a Beagle Basset multi-engine trainer; he then regularly flew the Hawker Siddeley Andover, Westland Wessex and BAe 146 aircraft of The Queen’s Flight until he gave up flying after crashing the BAe 146 in the Hebrides in 1994.

Oops!
pilots

Prince William is a helicopter pilot – which for some reason sounds strangely more sexy than being a commercial pilot.  And he looks very cute in his uniform.
prince-william-1t-435

Love the name badge – Will Wales.  His younger brother Prince Harry followed in his footsteps and chose helicopters rather than planes.  Also looks pretty good in uniform.  Other Royals have taken to the air too –  Though George V, king from 1910 to 1936, was photographed in Royal Air Force uniform with only honorary wings, three of his heirs earned pilot ratings. His second son, Prince Albert, saw combat in the Royal Navy, then entered the fledgling RAF in 1918 as a non-flying officer. Shortly after World War I, he trained to fly. WW2 - King George VI disembarking from a plane at an R.A.F station.

World leaders too like to get their wings.
George Bush

It is George H.W. Bush, president from 1988 to 1992 and one of the youngest naval aviators of World War II, who has the most impressive record of America’s pilot-presidents. Not quite 19 upon receiving his wings, he flew TBM Avenger torpedo bombers from the carrier USS San Jacinto in 1944. It was said that Bush was “one of Grumman’s best customers,” having ditched one Avenger with engine trouble and parachuted from another. On a mission over the Bonin Islands, Japanese flak set Bush’s Avenger afire. He remained airborne long enough to reach open water. Though his two crewmen perished after bailing out with Bush, the future president was rescued by submarine. After the war, told that the Japanese army routinely cannibalized captured fliers, Bush quipped that he was so thin he would have made a poor meal. For his 58 combat missions, Lieutenant Junior Grade Bush was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals.  –  Pretty impressive!

Which world leader would you NOT like to see as the co-pilot of your next flight?

Ummm –

  • Sorry – not going to go there –

don't go there

What would we do without the airlines?

We have had commercial flights for 100 years now  with the first paying passenger on a flight on 1st January 1914.  KLM is the oldest airline starting back in 1919.  In its first year of operations it carried 345 … in a whole year!  That’s as much as one plane carries today.  And don’t we know about it?  We love to complain about air travel but it really is amazing how it has opened up the world for us.
How is this old beauty?

Flying in those days was very different.  First of all you get dressed up in your Sunday best.  My first flight was back in 1967 when I left England with my parents to go and live in South Africa and although it was a 14 hour flight (in those days) we dressed up to the nines.  My brother (who was 8) and my father both wore suits with collar and tie.  Big difference from today when flight attendants sometimes have to enforce dress code just to protect other passengers.

In those days being a flight attendant was a dream job.  Today you have to wonder how some of these flight attendants get through the week.  It only takes one difficult passenger to create a major headache for the staff and the other passengers.  That’s not to mention pushing those heavy food and drink carts down the aisle (they can weigh up to 400 lbs) and then there is always someone who decides to use the bathroom in the middle of the service.

Further grumbles from passengers surround the whole paying for baggage issue, the size of your carry on, inflight entertainment, meals on board…. and on, and on, and on.    But let me not go on…. the comedian Louis CK … sums it up best at how much we take things for granted in this great little clip from the Conan O’Brien show

Bums in seats

It’s the airline mantra – just get bums in those seats and at least we are not flying at a loss.  But how do the bums feel about this?  Are they comfortable, squashed, numb, fidgety?  It’s all about the seats and that thing they call “pitch”.
(Distance between the back end of a seat and the front end of the seat behind it. Also called leg room. – courtesy of The Business Dictionary).seat-pitch-300x223

You won’t easily find this information on airline websites – and if you do please let me know because I looked in vain.  That’s why I think Seat Guru is the neatest web site out there and I always consult it when I fly.  www.seatguru.com has a list of just about every airline with all of their aircraft and display full seat maps with comments on each seat as to whether it is good, bad or horrible.  They have even made it easy by colour coding the seat map.  You can also read up some more about seat pitch in this excellent article by David Parker Brown at http://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/04/comparing-airline-seat-pitches-who-has-the-worst/

So it is no surprise that when airlines “cram ’em in” people get cranky, flight attendants get frustrated and bums get just plain fed up.  Would it really make such a difference in the bottom line or the profit margin to airlines if they gave just a couple of inches more leg room?

More airlines are offering Economy Premium or Economy Plus options which are available for an additional cost.  And you know what?  People are prepared to pay.  Well not all people.  On a recent KLM flight I had paid the additional fee to upgrade to Premium Economy – $200 per segment for a couple of inches but worth it on a long flight.  After take off some cheeky fellow sauntered up to the Premium Economy area and made himself comfortable in one of the unoccupied seats.  I could feel every paying passenger around me literally bristle at this audacity.  But never fear – the Dutch were on it!

“Excuse me, sir.  Can I see your boarding pass?  I am sorry sir.  Your boarding pass is for the economy seats.  This is premium economy.  Please return to your allocated seat.”

“Well there’s no-one sitting in this seat.  I can’t see why I can’t just sit here.  It’s really crowded back there.”

“I am sorry sir.  These seats are reserved for passengers who have paid an additional fee for them.  Please would you return to your allocated seat.”

“Well it’s very cramped there and I don’t see why I should spend the whole flight in discomfort when there is a perfectly good seat here.”

“You are most welcome to pay the additional fee for the economy premium seat sir.  I can process that to your credit card.”  (YES!!!)

“No thanks.  I have never had such bad service in my life.  I will NEVER fly KLM again.”  (Good riddance).

 

 

How to select your seat on KLM

KLM has come up with a doozie …. when you select your seat you can do it online with Facebook so that you can check out your fellow passengers and see who you might like to sit next to.  What?  Are you kidding me?  If I am travelling alone the only person I want to speak to is the flight attendant.  I don’t want to become BFF with the person sitting  next to me – yes that very same person who stole the arm rest and snored all night.  I also don’t want to exchange chit chat with someone who has been creeping through my facebook page and laughing at all those really really stupid moments of my tagged life.

But hang on – there is an upside to this too.  I guess it would help to know in advance who to avoid on a flight.  You could probably tell this by their facebook profile, the films they like, the books they read, the music they listen to, their friends, their political views, their “status”.  Actually this gets worse and worse the more you think about it.  Do we really want or need all this excess and often stupid information.  Facebook started off as a good idea and made Zuckerberg a lot of money  but I dunno.  It’s starting to give me the creeps.