The Boeing 747 is KLM's biggest aircraft in their fleet. Known as the “Queen of the Skies” or the “Jumbo Jet”, the Boeing 747 has been part of KLM's fleet since 1971. Over the years, KLM has operated: B747-200 series, B747-300 Combi, B747-400, B747-400 Combi and B747-400 Cargo version.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, and its impact upon the aviation industry, airlines all over the world are retiring their older fleet sooner than planned. The much beloved KLM Boeing 747 is facing an early retirement, at the end of March this year.
Below is a unique flight I took on the KLM B747-400 Combi, from Amsterdam to Mexico. This is a photography report to highlight the special KLM B747 experience.
January 15th 2020, I flew KL685 from Amsterdam to Mexico City; a route I specially chosen to be able to fly on the KLM B747-400 Combi. The aircraft registration was PH-BFW, City of Shanghai, delivered to KLM in October 2000 (19.5 years old)
The B747-400 Combi has the ability to load cargo from its side cargo door. This type of Boeing transports all kinds of cargo, from small packages to large animals, like elephants or horses. Sadly, there aren't many Combi aircraft made nowadays.
The weather was a typical winter cold and rainy day, we took off from runway 24 around 15:00; with the B747 flying low over The Netherlands before turning towards UK, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the USA and finally towards Mexico. Flight time was 11 hours 33 minutes.
The KLM B747-400 Combi has a passenger cabin configuration of C35W36Y197, with a total capacity of 268 passengers and 7 cargo positions in the rear.
The nose and upper deck on the B747 is Business Class. The section behind the nose is Economy Comfort Class, with a longitudinal galley on the other side of the wall divider.
A full meal was served within 2 hours of takeoff. My main course was called 'Captain's Choice' which is Dutch pasta filled with garoupa fish.
It was almost an entirely daylight flight for the first 9 hours or so, as we flew Westwards chasing the sun.
A Tour Inside The KLM B747-400 Combi
After the completion of service, I went to the galley to introduce myself to the lovely KLM crew. I explained to them about my passion for aviation and that I had made this special trip just to fly on KLM B747. They were very happy to show me their work space and traded a lot of flying stories with me.
Video of my KLM B747-400 Combi Flight
Visit to The Cargo Deck
With the Captain's permission, the crew showed me the cargo deck behind the passenger cabin; accessible by a locked door during the flight. There are a total of 7 cargo positions on the main deck. It was my first time inside the B747-400 Combi cargo deck. This was truly a unique experience for me!
We had some special guests in the cargo hold; 13 horses in 4 separate special containers. There was also a horse groom looking after them. There was already enough hay inside the containers. The horse groom checked all the horses every 2 hours and to feed them water. The horses were all very calm; they're frequent travellers! The cargo deck was air conditioned of course.
Visit of Crew Rest
The KLM B747 tour continued with a tour of the crew rest, which is located in the rear just after the passenger cabin.
Finally the sun was setting over Texas near the Gulf of Mexico, as we entered the last phase of the long flight.
The 2nd meal was served, it was a rather simple KLM branded cheeseburger!
Before we landed, I took the opportunity to thank the entire crew on my flight. One last memory on the Queen! The wonderful KLM crew made me feel extra special!
Video of my KLM B747-400 Combi Flight
Farewell KLM B747
These pictures were taken by me all over the world in the last 20 years.
KLM B747 Model Giveaways
As we have heard KLM will retire their B747 earlier than planned; I am giving away 3 KLM B747 models by GeminiJets, click here to enter the giveaway.