KLM 737-900 (PH-BXT) at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, ready to take us to Prague, with a 737-700 (PH-BGW) taxiing behind
Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij is not exactly a household name in most of the world, but its initials “KLM” and sky blue branding and livery are easily recognizable. I had a quick visit to Amsterdam before moving on to Prague this past spring, so flying on the national carrier of The Netherlands out of its homebase was the most obvious choice.
As I’ve pointed out numerous times, the European concept of business class (some better service, but the same seat as in economy, just with the middle seat blocked) is never worth it on personal trips, especially for a short flight blocked for 90 minutes gate-to-gate. Addtionally, flying KLM (being a member of SkyTeam) meant flying outside my alliance, so no priority anything nor lounge access.
What could possibly go wrong?!
OK-YBA basking in the spring sun after arrival in Ostrava – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Czech Airlines (CSA) has one Airbus A330 (with a special interior) and it wanted to show it off. At the end of February, the airline announced a series of three promotional flights on-board their A330-300. The idea of these flights was to showcase the aircraft in Ostrava and Bratislava, which are both key destinations in the Czech Airlines network and provide a substantial amount of connecting traffic for the A330 Seoul service.
The flights were scheduled to take place on the 1st of April. Obviously, the date in question made many think it was a joke, but true to their word the flights did take place as planned. I was fortunate enough to experience all three flights, as well as a media event in Ostrava showcasing the aircraft and network to numerous travel agents and key figures in the region. The routing of the flights was Prague (PRG) – Ostrava (OSR) – Bratislava (BTS) -Prague. All in, the flight time was less than two hours.
The one and only Czech Airlines A330 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
In May of last year Czech Airlines (CSA) took delivery of their first (leased) Airbus A330-300 aircraft from Korean Airlines. The sole purpose of this aircraft delivery was for Czech Airlines to re-enter the long-haul market on the Prague-Seoul route. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be booked on this aircraft from Prague to Seoul in Business Class and wanted to share my flight experience.
CZECH AIRLINES PRE-DEPARTURE
Being a non-schengen flight, the departure was from Terminal 1 at Prague Airport. I arrived about three hours early; it was interesting to see that Czech Airlines had dedicated check-in for the Seoul flight, with two dedicated business counters. My bag was priority-tagged and I was on my way to passport control within five minutes of arriving at the airport. The security check takes place at the gate for all flights originating from Terminal 1.
After clearing immigration, I made my way to the lounge. The lounge itself was quite modern and well planned out, with numerous phone/device charging stations. It would be nice to see the addition of some hot meals/refreshments, as only cold sandwiches and salads were offered.
Boarding commenced 30 minutes prior to departure. The load today was completely full in economy (majority of travellers were Korean tourists returning home) and only 3/18 in business class. There were two jetways available for boarding.
The empty Business Class cabin on my flight to Seoul. Photo – Jacob Pfleger.
ONBOARD THE CZECH A330-300
Once onboard the aircraft, I was greeted by the purser and escorted to my seat. As the aircraft is an ex-Korean Air bird, the interior and layout is identical to their A330-300’s; the only difference with this one being the paint scheme on the outside is that of Czech Airlines.