Review: KLM Economy Class 787-10 (ORD-AMS)

Over the past few weeks, my girlfriend, Tamar, and I have been zigzagging across the country visiting universities she’s considering for her Ph.D. After a short visit to Chicago last week for a prospective student day, my girlfriend suggested that, since Northwestern was covering her flight back to Europe in economy class, I join her in the back of the plane and we could make an adventure of it.

After assuring her that there’s nothing particularly adventurous about sitting upright for eight hours and dining on overcooked pasta, I realized, begrudgingly, that I’ve become jaded. Long-haul transatlantic Delta and KLM flights spent sandwiched between my three siblings are what sparked my love of flying, so it feels wrong to let my passion for miles and points–which are typically best redeemed for business and first class tickets–blind me to the fun of what got me into this hobby in the first place. 

I decided to make the trip and I had a great time. Admittedly, the seat was narrow and too hard, but the food was good and the service was superb, better than I’ve had on many Delta or United international business class flights. Better still, I got to relive with Tamar some of the excitement of family trips in years past. Let’s jump into the review.

How I booked my KLM economy class ticket

My Economy Light ticket cost a total of $678.90. I could have booked this flight with KLM’s frequent flyer program, Flying Blue, for 17,000 miles and $86 but, while that’s not terrible value, I can get much more out of my miles by redeeming them for a business class ticket, which costs 56,500 miles and $220 for a ticket that frequently retails for around $7,000.

My flight details were as follows:

  • KLM 612
  • Chicago (ORD)  – Amsterdam (AMS)
  • Departure: 4:10 PM, March 30
  • Arrival: 6:55 AM, March 31
  • Flight Time: 7h 45m
  • Economy Class, Seat 38C

KLM economy class check-in & boarding

We arrived at O’Hare’s Terminal 5 at 2 PM on Thursday afternoon. Tamar, being Dutch, insisted on posing next to the curbside digital sign displaying her country’s flag carrier and our host for the next eight hours, KLM.

a woman smiling at the camera

We were checking a bag, so we lined up for about three minutes before loading our luggage onto the belt and walking through security. Because, as a kind reader pointed out, the only Priority Pass lounge at O’Hare is pretty crappy, we opted instead to visit one of my favorite airport restaurants of all time, Tortas Frontera, which also has locations in Terminals 1 and 3.

After a cauliflower torta, corn soup, and large guacamole platter, we made our way to gate M20, where I caught my first glimpse of the gorgeous cerulean 787-10 that would be carrying us nearly 4,500 miles to Amsterdam.

a blue and white airplane on a tarmac

I took a few minutes to take more pictures of the plane before boarding.

a group of people walking in an airport

We walked down the jetbridge where Tamar got a cameo up close to our plane’s beautiful livery.

a woman standing in front of a blue train

As we stepped onto the plane, I took a wistful look left at the business class cabin before turning right towards our seats near the rear of the plane.

a person standing in a plane

KLM economy cabin & seats

KLM’s 787-10 economy class cabin is laid out in a 3-3-3 configuration. There are a total of 270 economy seats across 31 rows and an additional 36 economy comfort seats across five rows. The seat offers 31 inches of pitch and is a relatively narrow 17.5 inches wide.

a group of people sitting in an airplane with a screen on the back

The seats are upholstered in dark blue fabric with white dots. The headrests are light blue leather and have flexible sides that can be folded up, which allowed me to sleep without my head falling uncomfortably at my side.

a blue head rest on a seat

On the seat back are a tray table, an expandable fabric pocket, a literature slot, and an IFE monitor with a USB charging port and auxiliary port just below it.

a bottle of water on a table
a screen on a plane

The tray table was pretty small. To give you some perspective, my 16-inch MacBook Pro covered it entirely and protruded the edges by about an inch in the front and back.

a laptop on an airplane

I found the seat pretty underwhelming for a few reasons:

  • The seats were very firm and relatively narrow
  • The seats didn’t have individual air vents and the cabin was kept hot
  • The seats didn’t have 110V outlets

KLM economy class amenities

At my seat when I sat down was a small pillow and blue fleece blanket, which felt slightly more substantial than the average economy class blanket. Before takeoff, we were also offered complimentary silicon-tipped earbuds in KLM’s trademark cerulean. I only used them briefly since I brought my own, but they were comfortable and had decent sound quality.

a blue earbuds on a white surface

KLM economy class entertainment & wi-fi

The 12-inch IFE monitor looked crisp and bright. The system includes an inflight map, as well as an expansive selection of movies, TV shows, music, and games. One cool feature is that a few of the games can be played with other passengers, which allowed Tamar and I to play competitive Tetris for entirely too long.

a screen on a plane

There was wi-fi on this plane and I was impressed by its speed and reliability. I purchased access for the entire flight, which cost me about $20.

KLM economy class dinner service

About 90 minutes after departure, our flight attendants came around with the dinner trolley and offered us either chicken and rice or cheese tortellini. We both got the tortellini, which was better–and much less overcooked–than I had expected. Our meals also came on a tray with a tasty slice of gouda, corn salad, which was average, and cheesecake, which was excellent. To drink, I ordered a Heineken and Tamar ordered red wine.

food in a tray on a tray

KLM economy class lavatories

There are five lavatories in economy class, and another two in premium economy, which meant there was never a line to use them. They were kept very clean throughout the flight, as flight attendants routinely came by to clean them.

a toilet and sink in a bathroom
a bathroom with a sink and mirror

KLM economy class pre-arrival meal

About 90 minutes outside of Amsterdam, flight attendants came through the cabin offering coffee and tea, as well as an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. I couldn’t stomach one, but Tamar took a few bite and told it was pretty bad.

a brown bag with a green label on it
a sandwich with a bite taken out of it

KLM economy class arrival in Amsterdam

In what felt like no time at all, the lights slowly came back on and the pilot announced that we were descending into Amsterdam. We touched down at 6:45 AM local time and taxied for about 15 minutes before pulling up to gate D2.

I waited in line at passport control for about 40 minutes–why oh why doesn’t Schipol have electronic gates for foreign passport holders?–before finally getting through to baggage claim.

KLM economy class service

From takeoff to landing, our flight attendants were warm and attentive. They made service the highlight of the journey.  When I asked whether there were outlets at my seat, for example, the flight attendant informed me that there weren’t and then immediately offered to plug my laptop in at the front of the plane. Later on, when another flight attendant saw that I hadn’t eaten all my food, she asked whether I didn’t enjoy it and if I’d like to try the chicken and rice instead.

Simply put, the flight attendants in our cabin were far more proactive and kind than many I’ve interacted with while flying United or Delta business class, and their service was easily on par with what I’ve experienced aboard Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. 


Even without considering the nostalgia kick I got from this flight, it was a positive experience. The hard product left a bit to be desired, specifically the hard seat and lack of outlets or individual air vents, but the service from our cabin crew was stellar. By European or American standards, it was a top 10% economy class experience from a service perspective, and about average compared to the Asian carriers. If the price was right, I’d certainly fly it again.

  1. You did better than me at Schipol passport control. I waited 50 minutes after a 80 minute flight from Edinburgh.

    Schipol really is trying hard to win the stupidest EU airport award right now. I would recommend avoiding their incompetence like the plague.

  2. there is no amex centurion club at ORD? you can still guest people on amex priority pass – you would have been able to guest your GF into a (crappy) priority pass lounge in terminal 5… although the bayless option is probably better.

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