Review: KLM B737-800 Business Class (ZRH-AMS)

To start off our journey home we were flying KLM’s B737-800 Business Class from Zurich to Amsterdam, connecting to our flight to Austin.


We booked this flight, and our connection onward to Austin, using Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles. We spent 80k miles per person, plus roughly $250 in taxes and fees. While this was higher than some of the other transatlantic routings, Mrs. ATX was adamant that she wanted to get back to Austin with as few connections as possible.


Our flight was scheduled to depart at 9:20a which meant an early, 6:00a wakeup to finish packing and check out. We took the train from Zurich Hauptbahnhof to the airport, arriving just after 7:00a. It was a bit of a maze getting from the airport train station to the check-in counters but we found them eventually in Row 2 of the check-in hall.

a building with a large entrance and an escalator
a staircase with signs and a handrail
a man walking with luggage in a hallway
a group of people walking up an escalator

There were roughly 5 people in front of us in the SkyPriority lane but we managed to get through in ten minutes. After a quick check of our Passports, our bags were tagged through to Austin and we received our boarding passes.

a group of people standing in a line at an airport
a group of people standing in a line at an airport

We headed for security and, thanks to the fast track lane, we were airside less than 30 minutes after arriving at the airport.

a group of people in a terminal
people walking in a building with signs and people walking

On the other side of security, we navigated through the Duty Free maze and out into the concourse in search of the lounge.

people in a store
a large glass building with people sitting at tables and a plane in the background


KLM utilizes the Marhaba Lounge as their contract lounge for Business Class and elite passengers in Zurich. The lounge is located near the B Gates, one level up from the main terminal. The lounge was on the small side and packed full of people, but it still beat being stuck in the terminal. You can find the full lounge review here.

a reception desk in a building
a room with tables and chairs
a room with red couches and tables and chairs
a room with tables and chairs and a large window


Our flight was boarding from gate B3, which was a bus gate. We had been notified via the KLM app that our departure was delayed and didn’t head down towards the gate until 9:15a, only 5 minutes before our regularly scheduled departure time.

a sign in a building
a large screen in a building

Our new boarding time came and went and the Captain came up to the podium to make an announcement, which is never a good sign. He informed us that, due to fog in Amsterdam, our departure was delayed and the best chance we had to get out was if we boarded the flight as he hoped that may improve our slot position. Boarding started around 9:45a with SkyPriority (Groups 1 and 2) being invited to board first. Boarding was strictly enforced and the gate agents were turning people away who attempted to board with the wrong group.

Gate B03 at Zurich Airport

KL 1954
ZRH-AMS (Zurich – Amsterdam Schiphol)
Seat: 1F (Business)
B737-800 (PH-BXC)
Scheduled: 9:20a-11:00a
Actual: 11:31a-1:04p

There were two buses, one for SkyPriority passengers and another for Economy passengers. We boarded our waiting bus and made the short trip out to our waiting aircraft on the tarmac.

Transfer Bus at Zurich Airport

Our ride for today was PH-BXC, an 24 year old 737-800 that has spent its whole life with KLM. Though bus gates are inconvenient, I do love the view you get of the plane when boarding. nWe boarded the plane via airstairs and quickly found our seats in the bulkhead row.

a blue and white airplane with stairs
a blue and white airplane

KLM B737-800 Business Class Seat

Our seats were located in the first row of the plane and were in European Business Class standard of Economy seats with a blocked middle. The bulkhead row are the best seats in the Business Class within Europe as they typically have the most legroom. At first glance you could tell that the seats were older as they were thicker than the slimline seats that are becoming more and more common. They were also covered with fabric instead of leather.

KLM Boeing 737-800 Business Class Seats

Unlike most other seats on the plane, the tray tables in the bulkhead row are located inside the armrest. This means that the armrests are fixed and can’t be raised and lowered. Literature pockets were located in the bulkhead along with coat hooks that didn’t really seem practical to use. Legroom in the bulkhead wasn’t great, but it was better than the rest of the plane.

KLM B737-800 Business Class Coat Hooks
KLM B737-800 Business Class Legroom

Also, the window shade in Row 1 was missing entirely. While it wasn’t an issue for me as I like to look out during flight, it could have been annoying for passengers trying to sleep on this early morning flight.

KLM Boeing 737-800 Missing Window Shade


After boarding, we sat on the plane for quite a while. The Captain came over the radio on multiple occasions and his best guess was that we would receive our departure clearance in “an hour or two”. As the time ticked by and our connection in Amsterdam slowly fizzled away, I passed the time plane spotting out the window. After the first hour, the flight attendants came around and did a water service.

Swiss A330 Departing Zurich Airport

Finally, at 11:30a, more than two hours after our scheduled departure time, the door shut and we started our taxi out to the runway. Our connection was beyond blown but unfortunately the app hadn’t updated and was still showing a 10 minute layover in Amsterdam. Because of this I wasn’t able to look for an alternate routing and, with no working Wi-Fi on the plane, I’d have to figure that out once we got to Amsterdam.

a screenshot of a phone
an airplane parked on a runway

We taxied over to runway 28 and queued for takeoff. We were third in line and soon we rocketed off towards Amsterdam to see what options awaited us.

airplanes on a runway
an airplane on the runway
an airplane on the runway
an airplane wing on a runway

There were a few bumps on departure but once we got up in the air, it was a great day to fly.

View departing Zurich onboard a KLM Boeing 737-800


As we climbed out of Zurich, the cabin crew started the in-flight service. The first order of business, close the curtain to the galley. This is something I rarely, if ever, see US airlines do but the European carriers seem to do this almost every flight.

KLM Boeing 737-800 Galley Curtain

Menus were distributed by the cabin crew prior to departure and read as follows.

KLM Business Class Breakfast Menu on the Boeing 737-800 (ZRH-AMS)

The cabin crew came around taking orders just as we were overflying Bern. The meal was set, but I decided to accompany it with a mimosa. This was served in a DIY fashion with the small bottle and a separate glass of orange juice, allowing me to mix it myself.

aerial view of a city from an airplane
a bottle of champagne next to a glass of orange juice

Our meals were served in the same box as our KLM Cityhopper flight a few weeks prior, featuring a delft blue design which I think looks pretty good.

KLM Inter-Europe Business Class Meal Box

Inside, our breakfast consisted of some mixed fruit, yoghurt, granola, and chocolate chip pancakes with strawberry jam, all of which was served cold. This was accompanied by a warm bread roll and some butter along with a bottle of juice. The granola, fruit, and the roll were all quite good however, the pancakes were downright terrible and almost tasted powdery. Since we hadn’t eaten in the lounge earlier and, due to our 2+ hour delay, I ate more of the meal than I wanted to.

KLM Intra-Europe Business Class Breakfast

Thirty minutes after the meal was served, we began our descent into Amsterdam. We approached from the South and headed out over the North Sea to land from the North.

View approaching Amsterdam from a KLM 737-800


As we descended into Amsterdam, the cabin crew read out an update on our connecting flights. They announced all of the flights that had been missed, with instructions to visit the desk for rebooking, and the connections that were still valid. Surprisingly, Austin wasn’t on either list.

We landed on the Polderbaan, the furthest out runway at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and started the long taxi to our gate. I fired up my phone and opened the KLM app to look at rebooking options. Unfortunately nothing was available so I resigned myself to the fact that we were likely spending a night in Amsterdam.

a screenshot of a phone

As we taxied around to our gate, I kept refreshing the app and kept getting numerous errors. Ultimately, I refreshed it one final time and the mystery was solved. The aviation gods must have been working in our favor as our onward flight to Austin took a three hour mechanical delay. The app was still showing our tickets intact and we both breathed a huge sigh of relief as the plane pulled into the gate.

a screenshot of a phone
airplanes parked on a runway

We deplaned into an absolute madhouse in the concourse. Days of delays and cancelled flights due to a major storm had brought KLM’s operation to its knees and it was still trying to recover. We managed to find a customer service podium that confirmed our flight was delayed and our tickets still intact. From there, we headed off to the lounge to try and decompress after our stressful morning.

a group of people in an airport terminal
a group of people in an airport

KLM B737-800 Business Class Summary

The delay aside, as that was out of KLM’s control, this was a very pleasant flight. The old KLM B737-800 Business Class seats are comfortable and the flight crew was as attentive and informative as possible given the circumstances. The food on the flight was decent, but not great, and the lack of Wi-Fi was a real issue, especially as we had no way to try and rebook or find any information in-flight. Ultimately, with Amsterdam being one of the four (soon to be three) direct flights to Europe from our home in Austin, I’m sure we’ll take many more KLM flights in the future.

In This Trip Report

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