Dutch Crunch

I’ve been pretty excited to fly SFO to Amsterdam on KLM’s new business class, which looks fantastic. The seats actually look pretty similar to United’s trans-con BusinessFirst, but the whole aesthetic is taken up a notch, and they’re in a dedicated mini-cabin on the upper floor of the 747 (or in the nose, if you prefer that). They’re not as good as reverse-herringbone seats if you’re traveling alone (since you’ll need to climb over your seatmate to use the bathroom), although since Justine and I will be traveling together, it’s not as much of a concern.

The plan was to use FlyingBlue miles, since I easily earned 100,000 Citi Thank You points from sign-up bonuses earlier this year, and those transfer 1:1 to FlyingBlue. Then I learned that you can often book the same seats using Delta SkyCents, and since partner awards haven’t been sent through the wood-chipper yet, you can get a whole lot of value out of them. Plus, with Delta you avoid fuel surcharges on the outbound route, which saves around $500 for two tickets.

Nothing’s ever permanent, though, which makes planning for trips over a year away pretty difficult. To wit: I just noticed that while AMS-SFO has traditionally been served by the 747, KLM also uses an A330 around half the time. While that normally wouldn’t matter, it turns out that the floor of the A330 can’t support the weight of the new business class seats, which means that they still sport the old seats (affectionately dubbed “slip n’ slide” seats on FlyerTalk because they don’t recline all the way, and you end up sliding down toward the foot rest).

Now, nothing is inherently wrong with these seats… and to be honest, flying in this cabin would still be the nicest trans-atlantic flight I ever took. The problem is that it costs the same 62,500 miles to fly the A330 as the 747, meaning I’d be paying the same amount for an inferior product. Looking out into the future, it looks like the A330 is mostly used in the winter when (I’d guess) demand to go to cold and rainy cities in Europe isn’t at its peak. Still, given the frequency of aircraft swaps, it now gives me pause to build my strategy around KLM now that I know that I could pay for a flat bed seat on a 747 and get downgraded to a slip n’ slide on an A330.

Requisite question designed to spur a flurry of responses in the comments section: How did YOU handle the rage the last time an airline swapped planes and downgraded your seat?

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