Flight Review: KLM A330 Business Class – Short And Sweet

A few weeks ago I had the chance to fly one of KLM’s shortest fifth-freedom routes: Kuwait to Bahrain. A frequent economy class traveler, I decided to splurge a little and treat myself to a business class flight despite the short time and distance of the journey. After all, with my travel plans being far away from Europe, this would be a great opportunity to experience KLM’s A330 business class without having to travel to or from Amsterdam.

This service is usually operated by an Airbus A330. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Booking

In my experience, this route is one of the cheapest international widebody flights out there (although I recently discovered that airlines flying between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore have quite a few widebody jets serving the route).

Nonetheless, in this part of the world, at US$69 in economy and $400 in business round-trip, it’s a great opportunity to sample KLM’s A330 service and experience Kuwait and/or Bahrain at the same time.

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Pre-flight

The pre-flight experience wasn’t too bad. Kuwait Airport’s main terminal has a first and business class-only security checkpoint. I was able to take advantage of this before heading over to the contract lounge KLM uses at the terminal.

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Once past security and immigration, I headed up to the airport’s Pearl Lounge. Made available for KLM’s business class and SkyTeam Elite travelers, this lounge was recently renovated and it simply looks so much better than it used to.

KLM has a contract with the Pearl Lounge at Kuwait Airport’s Main Terminal. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Boarding

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems most times of the year this route is very undersold. On both the outbound and inbound flights, there were many empty seats available. In my previous experiences flying the Amsterdam-Kuwait portion, it’s often the same. This would explain why KLM would want to offer an additional city as a fifth-freedom service.

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Having pre-selected my seat about a week in advance, I took my place up front in 1J. Before the aircraft pushed back from the terminal, the flight attendant offered us something to drink. I had water but it was served in a crystal glass anyways. The passenger behind me asked for alcohol and was denied as we were still in Kuwait. I believe once the aircraft is in the air, alcohol can be served.

Some pre-flight water. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Space and seating

This cabin is configured in a 2-2-2 layout. Without direct-aisle access for window-seat passengers, they would have to step over the stretched-out legs of a sleeping passenger if they needed to get out.

Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

With the A330 meant for long-haul operations, the seat is capable of converting to a lie-flat bed. In its upright position, there is more than enough leg space – even to place a small bag below the footrest shelf. Just beside your rib/elbow, there’s a space for the storage of smaller items such as your phone.

Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
The control panel for the seat. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
Loads of legroom is to be expected in business class. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
Taking off towards the north, I had a nice momentary view of the city as we flew out of Kuwait. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Inflight entertainment

Wired into the aircraft are premium noise-canceling headphones. They were comfortable and did a great job of blocking out ambient cabin noise.

Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

As far as I understand, all KLM A330s have been refurbished within the last 2-3 years. The screen is a nice 18.5 inches, which helps with all the leg room between you and the system. The system itself is fast and responsive and controlled by a remote which comes complete with a high definition touchscreen.

A side, USB charging port is located in the armrest. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

The content selection seemed decent – although, with only around 45 minutes in the air, you’ll have to rule out watching any full movies!

Food and beverage

As mentioned earlier, once in the air alcohol is available. Aside from that, there is the standard selection of juices as well as tea and coffee. Interestingly, I had asked for a simple apple juice and it was noticeably higher quality than the kind you would be served in economy class.

For this short flight, the only food comes in packaged-snack-form. I had a choice between a Dutch stroopwafel and cheese biscuits. The flight attendant sensing my indecisiveness, offered me both – which works well for a flight review anyways.

A snack and a beverage is served on this short flight. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Conclusion

Finally, in what I believe is a standard move for KLM business class passengers, my flight concluded with the offer of a ceramic Delft miniature house. Presented in a large group on a tray, I had a selection of designs to choose from. These are clearly meant to be collector’s items.

Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

There’s not too much to critique on such a short flight. There isn’t enough time for full meal service and interaction with flight attendants is limited when compared to a long-haul flight. However, during this quick service, I found the KLM crew to be polite and hospitable.

Have you flown on this or any of KLM’s other fifth-freedom routes? Let us know how your experience was by leaving a comment!

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Muhammad

I flew the A330 in business last week, Amsterdam to Dammam, Saudi Arabia and will return in two weeks on the same flight. It was my first time in business on KLM. While more room is a definite plus, it still feels a bit too close to your ‘neighbor’. Service is typically excellent on KLM and in the entire plane. One thing I’ve never liked on KLM is the coffee. This was my first flight in business but seems Iike the same coffee I’ve had for the past several years in economy. Food is OK but my choice was not… Read more »

Joe

I like KLM in general. I have not flown on their A330s, but they managed to make both my regional E-190 flight and my long-haul 777 flight pleasant.

Robert osei antoh

Nice dinner

Vincent

Flying frequently with KLM due to location and routes, the houses will quickly turn form a ‘oh fun’ to a ‘ah, I’m still looking for nr….’ hobby. The stroopwafel should be a warm, ask for that on a longer flight, the extra effort is no issue as only those really appreciating this will ask (Dutch thing) As for the alcohol, technically when you step aboard you’re on Dutch grounds… Airports are local before passport checks, then you enter the international waters area, but once on board, alcohol is allowed. Can only guess this is out of respect (and most likely… Read more »