Monday, July 4, 2005

Holland, Here I Come

Other than the trials and tribulations mentioned in my last entry, the rest of the flight was fine. KLM has a good business class service, albeit a bit dated. The lack of power plugs frustrates me to no end. My seatmate slept, but tossed and turned with his limbs and elbows flying everywhere.

Something must have distracted the crew as our breakfast came out only 35 minutes from arrival. This made everything rushed and hurried as we tried to eat fast and they tried to serve and clean-up quickly. The food was okay, but nothing outstanding.

We arrived in Amsterdam near our scheduled time and touched down about 10 minutes early. Then we taxied for almost 30 minutes to get to the terminal. If I didn't know better, I'd think we landed in Rotterdam and drove to Schipol!

It was an interesting trek though. I noticed that several major roads go under taxiways or runways at the airport and, although the airport seems smaller than Dulles, the actual acreage seems significantly vaster. As for Amsterdam itself, it was chilly, about 50 degrees F, and raining. I almost thought we had landed in London by mistake.

Despite being 6:15 in the morning, the airport was pretty busy. I was surprised how many children were around. I would estimate that at least 1/3 of the people were under the age of 16. The casino was pretty busy too, as were the duty free stores. My connecting flight was 5 hours away and had not yet been assigned a gate. So, I located the most central KLM lounge and headed for it. My route took me past several of the "resting" or "sleeping" lounges which were packed full and most of the people seemed to be Asian. I assume flights from there arrive late at night and they have to await morning connections.

The lounge wasn't too busy with about 40 people already there. It was a big lounge though. There were a few families with kids sprawled out on the soft chairs and sofas. I checked in with the staff. This is about my 10th time in Amsterdam KLM lounges and I have to say that they have the least warmth and personality of any lounge or KLM employee I have ever met. They give you the impression that you are a bother and their life would be better if you had never shown up. And, god forbid you have a question! I asked about my connecting flight, which I thought was reasonable since it wasn't on any of the monitors. You'd have thought I asked the woman about her underwear or something else equally insulting. I keep meaning to write to KLM about that but I always forget by the end of my travel.

The snacks and drinks in the lounge are okay and kept me awake and alert. Within two hours, the lounge was packed with businessmen (yes, men as there were very few women not already there). These were rude self-important people determined to do whatever they needed without regard to anyone else present. And yes, this included many Americans as well. The constant electronic noise from phones ringing and the incessant yelling into their phones got on my nerves pretty quickly. I noticed one girl around 12 years old start crying because the guy who had sat next to her was literally yelling into his phone.

My next post will cover the flight from Amsterdam.

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