Though overall a relatively short journey, this one could so easily have gone wrong. Flying from Durham Tees Valley to Cologne via Amsterdam Schipol, allowed me only forty minutes’ transit between the two flights. And yes, I was a bit concerned about my luggage.
It’s incredibly sad to watch the continual downward spiral of Durham Tees Valley, a spiffy little airport that deserves so much better. It has sensational ease of access, and is truly human in scale. I arrived at four in the morning and, for a long time, my only company was the tumbleweed flitting through the lounge. And, while check in and processing was friendly and efficient, I was still charged the infamous, £6 fee to depart from the airport-something I’ve never encountered anywhere before. Really? I mean, I know Middlesbrough is no photogenic beauty, but charging people to leave it is not an ultimate winner, guys.
The flights; both of these were on the seventy seat, Fokker 70 planes that KLM use on their city hopper routes. At DTV, we simply walked out onto the tarmac and up the short, retractable flight of steps. It really was as easy as that.
Inside, the Fokker 70 has two abreast seating on the left hand side, and three abreast on the right. Seating in trim KLM blue had plenty of room, was spotlessly clean, and featured tables in the armrest, with magazines and flight info in a pocket built into the back of the seat in front. We received a welcome greeting from our pilot, pushed back on time, and were airborne within minutes.
I had seat 5F on the way out, an aisle seat that gave me more than enough leg room (disclaimer- I am 5′ 6″ height) and, though I did not use the recline, the short flight out to Schipol was supremely comfortable. Smart and efficient cabin staff brought around cold drinks and a snack that consisted of a small oatmeal bar. But after all, this was a one hour, forty minute flight and, all things considered, it passed quickly and pleasantly.
We arrived on our stand at Schipol ten minutes early- a bit of a relief, if I’m honest- and debarked onto a bus for the short ride to the terminal. The transit for my onward flight to Cologne was painless- I was actually at the gate twenty minutes early.
Part of this is down to simple, intelligent design and execution. Though Schipol is a huge airport, it is far and away the most user friendly of any major airline hub on the continent. There were no problems whatsoever here; this airport is almost a joy to use.
The second flight- also on a similarly configured Fokker 70-also embarked via a short bus ride and a set of in built, exterior steps. Other than that, it was a repeat of the short flight that preceded it- even down to the cranberry oatmeal bar and water service. Again- and as always with KLM- the staff were smart, crisp and efficient, and the plane was spotlessly clean. For my money, the Fokker 70 is unbeatable as a short haul product.
Touchdown was smooth and on time, and our bus transfer to the terminal at Cologne was flawless. Customs and immigration was a breeze and- typical German efficiency- luggage was on the belt by the time I came through. Total time from landing to exit? A gratifying ten minutes. The baggage arrival was a huge plus, too.
Recommended? Absolutely. Well done, KLM. A pleasure, as per usual. Thank you for your service.