Skyteam Alliance from Europe to USA – Airways Magazine
DALLAS – Flying with KLM (KL) and Delta Air Lines (DL) from Europe to the United States in economy class is now possible as the airline industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
When traveling from a secondary European airport to the United States, there are usually no direct routes, which means you must connect at a major European hub. Flying from Basel-Mulhouse (BSL) in France and Switzerland to Boston (BOS) I had a choice of Lufthansa (LH) and United Airlines (UA) stopping in Frankfurt (FRA), British Airways (BA) and American Airlines (AA) with a connection to London Heathrow (LHR), or KL and DL via Amsterdam (AMS).
The last option is the one I chose because of price and schedule. Thus, I booked flights KL1986 from BSL to AMS, operated by an Embraer 190, and flight DL257 from AMS to BOS, with an Airbus A330-300. If you buy the tickets well in advance, you can easily get great deals on these transatlantic journeys.
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The journey started from BSL, Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport, also known as EuroAirport. It is very special because it is the only airport in the world that serves three cities located in three different countries. The airport is indeed located in France, near the Swiss and German borders. The terminal is even divided into a French part and a Swiss part, and there is a border inside the departure hall.
Despite the current understaffing at European airports, I managed to get through security very quickly, as I arrived at the airport quite early. The EuroAirport is comfortable, it is operational and efficient. In addition, the airport has large bay windows allowing aviation enthusiasts to enjoy the view.
Flight KL1986 to AMS
The first flight to AMS was delayed, as the plane was not yet at BSL when I arrived at the gate. We were finally able to board the Embraer 190 about 20 minutes late. The plane, registered PH-EZX, sported the special Skyteam livery. Indeed, each airline that is part of a global alliance paints some of its aircraft in the colors of the alliance. The Skyteam one is pretty cool, with a gray plane and blue logos on it.
Once boarding was complete, we were able to take off fairly quickly from runway 33. The pilots told us that they expected to arrive in Holland on time. Indeed, the flight lasted only 55 minutes, which means that the cruising altitude was 24,000 feet.
The service was nice, as we had free drinks and a cheese sandwich, which is extremely rare in economy class on European flights. However, the descent started very quickly over Belgium, and during the approach we had a nice view of the Dutch coast.
The landing on runway 06 was quite firm, and the braking was very hard. The pilots wanted to go directly to the parking lot, and they managed to take the first taxiway. The taxi was therefore very short, and we arrived at the gate less than two minutes after landing.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Once the plane was parked at AMS, we had to take a bus to the Terminal. The ride was pretty cool, especially for planespotters who like to watch planes. Then I still had over two hours until my next flight to BOS, so I had lunch and toured the airport.
Amsterdam Schiphol has been in the news for the past few months for understaffing and flight cancellations, but I had no problems as my flight was on time. The airport was quite crowded, but that wasn’t very surprising as it was the start of summer vacation.
After enjoying the view for two hours, it was time to catch the flight to BOS. I was seated at the back of the plane, which means I was in the last boarding area. A few agents checked the travel documents before boarding. COVID entry restrictions are now much lighter, as fully vaccinated travelers do not need additional testing to travel to the United States.
Flight DL257 to BOS
After boarding the plane and pushing back, we still had to taxi a very long distance before taking off. Indeed, we had to take off from runway 36L, also known as Polderbaan. This runway is very far from the terminal and the taxiing distance can sometimes reach 6 miles.
Twenty minutes after crossing the gate, we take off from AMS and leave the Netherlands a few minutes later. We then flew over the UK and Ireland, with a great view of Manchester, and the flight continued over the Atlantic Ocean.
Delta Meal Service, IFE
The meal was then served to the passengers. I chose the three cheese tortellini, but there was also chicken curry with rice. The starter was a tomato and mozzarella salad, and there was ice cream for dessert. I was really surprised by this meal, because I really enjoyed it.
Although the food on the plane in economy class is not very good, this one was nice. The snack at the end of the flight, a cheddar cheese sandwich, was less good, but it was nice to have something to eat just before arriving in Boston.
For in-flight entertainment (IFE), there were decent-sized screens on every seat with music, games, and movies. However, I thought the movie selection was not very good. Also, my screen wasn’t very responsive and I had trouble getting it to work.
Land at BOS
After seven hours over the Atlantic Ocean and Canada, we began our descent to BOS. It was very sunny, which allowed us to enjoy the view during the approach. A few minutes later, we were on final for the 4R track, with a nice view of the city. We landed in Massachusetts 20 minutes early, but the ground crew wasn’t ready yet, so we had to wait on the taxiway.
Border controls were very quick and efficient, and BOS is well connected to the city, with many free bus routes.
This journey from BSL to BOS with the Skyteam was very efficient and pleasant. The seats were comfortable, the flights were on time and the meals were good.
The only downside is the movie selection on the transatlantic flight, but I’ll get to see on the return next month if KL’s offering is better.
Featured Image: N801NW, the A330-300 that served as the link between AMS and BOS. Photo: John Leivaditis/Airways. Photos from the trip report: Author