Among the offerings from both sides of the pond, KLM business class is one of the best ways to cross the Atlantic – thanks to its great hard product, friendly service, high-quality food, and the unique KLM touch.
In this guide, let’s take a look at the KLM business class experience, aircraft, and routes, as well as the best ways to book the cabin using a Miles & Points strategy.
The KLM Business Class Experience
KLM’s global network is based out of its hub in Amsterdam. To Canada and the US, the carrier offers two distinct hard products: the newer reverse-herringbone seats, and the older seats arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration.
Prior to boarding, passengers flying KLM business class out of Amsterdam gain access to the KLM Crown Lounge, also known as “Lounge 52”. Right as you enter the lounge, you’ll be greeted with a display of KLM’s icon, the Dutch Delft blue houses.
Once inside, the lounge has plenty of seating separated into sections. There’s a good selection of food on offer from the main buffet area, as well as the “Blue Restaurant”, which offers a chargeable menu.
Other amenities include shower suites. and dedicated sleeping quarters, which may be reserved at a surcharge.
Outside of the Netherlands, KLM operates lounges in Toronto and Houston. In other cities, you’ll have access to lounges operated by KLM’s SkyTeam partners or by a third party.
Frankly, the seats on KLM business class aren’t the most cutting-edge, especially when compared to Qatar Airways’s Qsuites, for example. Nevertheless, when you factor in the entirety of the experience, KLM business class is still one of the best trans-Atlantic options available.
Currently, there are two types of long-haul business class cabins on KLM’s fleet. Featured on Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, the newer business class cabins come equipped with pod-style seats in a 1-2-1 reverse-herringbone configuration.
On the other hand, fitted on Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft are older business class seats, which still retain the traditional 2-2-2 configuration.
However, KLM’s Boeing 777 aircraft are being already retrofitted with new business class seats similar to those in the Boeing 787, but with a sliding door.
KLM’s business class seats are decked in an appealing blue and white colour scheme, consistent with the airline’s branding. Waiting on each seat is an amenity kit by cosmetics company Rituals.
Food and Drink
Upon boarding, passengers are offered a choice of welcome beverage — a choice between Champagne or orange juice.
Changed every three months, the meals on KLM are above average compared to what you’d find on other carriers. Examples of dishes being served are seared albacore tuna tataki, and braised beef in mustard sauce with skordalia mash, broccoli, and carrots.
To accompany your meal, you can expect a decent selection of wines, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages on offer.
KLM Business Class Aircraft Cabins
Based on the composition of KLM’s fleet, there’s a good chance that you’ll be flying the new business class cabin on long-haul flights. Nonetheless, you should be familiar with the still-existing old business class seats, as well as intra-Europe business class.
New Business Class (Boeing 787)
Found on Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, the newer version of the KLM business class cabin is outfitted with reverse-herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each seat features a 16-inch entertainment screen and a decent amount of storage space.
Four buttons control the positioning of the seat, which can be turned into a lie-flat bed – a must for any long-haul business class product these days.
Solo travellers should pick any of the “A” or “K” seats to be closer to the window and separated from the aisle by the console.
For those travelling with a companion, meanwhile, the pair of seats in the centre are preferable. However, the mini storage locker protrudes quite a bit, so you wouldn’t easily see and talk to your companion.
Retrofitted Business Class (Boeing 777)
KLM is currently in the process of retrofitting the business class cabin of its Boeing 777 aircraft. The new business class seats on the Boeing 777 are similar to the Jamco Venture seats installed on Boeing 787 aircraft, but they possess a defining feature: a sliding door.
The entire Boeing 777 fleet will undergo the retrofit, and KLM expects the process to be completed by 2024.
Old Business Class (Airbus A330 and Boeing 777)
Seats on the old business class cabin are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. Hence, if you’re sitting near the window, you’re deprived of direct aisle access. Regardless, you’ll have a large entertainment screen, as well as arguably more legroom than the new pod-style business class seats.
Clearly, no matter where you sit, there’s likely going to be someone beside you. Therefore, for solo travellers, you might as well pick any of the “A” or “J” seats to be seated next to the window and enjoy some privacy.
Intra-Europe Business Class (Boeing 737 and Embraer Aircraft)
For short hops within Europe, KLM deploys its narrowbody Boeing 737, as well as Embraer E170, E190, and E195 aircraft.
On the Boeing 737, KLM business class practically means economy seats with a blocked middle seat in the first few rows of the aircraft. Offered by almost all European carriers, a “European business class” product affords airlines the flexibility to add or reduce business class rows, as needed.
On smaller Embraer aircraft, meanwhile, getting the adjacent seat blocked isn’t a guarantee. Thus, if the flight is full, you’ll likely have someone next to you. The good thing is, Embraer aircraft are only used on short “Cityhopper” flights.
KLM Business Class Routes
KLM operates a wide-ranging network across the world, flying to more than 170 destinations globally. On long-haul flights, you can expect widebody aircraft with a true business class cabin, although you may also expect them on high-demand European routes.
In Canada, KLM flies to Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton, while in the US, the airline flies to 13 cities, including the usual gateway cities of New York, Miami, and Los Angeles.
Generally, KLM flies Boeing 787 aircraft with the new business class product to Calgary, Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Austin, Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, and Boston.
However, there might be times when these routes are served by Boeing 777 aircraft with the old business class product, so make sure to check before and after booking.
How to Redeem Points for KLM Business Class
Naturally, the easiest way to score KLM business class award seats is through its in-house program Flying Blue, which it shares with Air France, Transavia, Aircalin, and TAROM.
In Canada, you can easily rack up Flying Blue miles by transferring from American Express Membership Rewards at a rate of 1 MR point = 0.75 Flying Blue mile.
70,000 MR points
120,000 MR points
75,000 MR points
Up to 77,000 MR points
100,000 MR points
30,000 MR points
Alternatively, you can earn Flying Blue miles on your everyday spending with the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard issued by Brim Financial.
Meanwhile, in the US, you can transfer from American Express US Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards – all at a ratio of 1 point = 1 Flying Blue mile.
Flying Blue imposes dynamic pricing on redemptions involving KLM flights. For flights between North America and Europe, business class redemptions from the East Coast start at 55,000 miles, while from the West Coast, they start at 67,000 miles.
It’s important to note that Flying Blue passes on fuel surcharges or carrier-imposed surcharges. For a trans-Atlantic business class seat, you can expect to pay $300–350 (CAD) in taxes and fees per way.
Delta SkyMiles and Other Partners
As mentioned, you can book KLM business class with the loyalty programs of its partner airlines, especially those belonging to the SkyTeam alliance. One of them is Delta SkyMiles.
Like Delta-operated flights, there’s no published award chart for redeeming SkyMiles with partner airlines, so you’re also at the mercy of dynamic pricing.
Keep in mind that long-haul KLM business class awards are much harder to find with partners; thus, your default strategy should be to redeem with Flying Blue.
KLM Business Class Award Availability
When booking far in advance, KLM business class award availability is generally good – you can expect up to four business class seats to open up. Close-in awards, with departure dates up to one month out, may also be available.
As with other airlines, you’ll have better luck finding award seats when you book far ahead or close to the date of departure. It also goes without saying that you should be flexible with your dates, and the airport you fly out of.
Tips & Tricks for KLM Business Class
Without a doubt, Flying Blue is your best bet when redeeming KLM business class awards. Here are some tips and tricks on how to get better value with the program.
Flying Blue Promo Rewards
Flying Blue Promo Rewards offers reduced award pricing on specific routes each month. Routes between North America and Europe are often featured, with one-way business class redemptions going for as few as 27,500 miles.
Credit card programs periodically offer transfer bonuses to Flying Blue, and you should keep your eye out for these promotions to stretch the value of your points. Among the transfer bonuses we’ve recently seen are:
- 25% transfer bonus from American Express US Membership Rewards
- 20% transfer bonus from Capital One Miles
Flying Blue has a rather generous stopover policy. With the program, you may add a stopover of up to one year to your KLM business class ticket at no additional cost.
However, you may not add a stopover to a ticket redeemed through Promo Rewards.
While not the most aspirational, KLM still offers a solid business class product on long-haul flights. What’s more, KLM reliably releases award seats on its own Flying Blue program – sometimes at a discount, thanks to its Promo Rewards offers.
Be sure to keep the tips and tricks we’ve outlined above in mind, so you can experience KLM business class in no time.