As one of just seven airlines to receive an APEX World Class Award for 2022, KLM’s commitment to excellence in safety, service, and sustainability has been rightfully acknowledged by industry professionals. For passengers, though, there’s no better way to experience the scope of KLM performance than to fly business class.
Long-haul flights are where KLM’s business class service really shines. On board, travelers can look forward to lie-flat seats, excellent meals created by top Dutch chefs, a generous drink selection, and a signature Delft Blue house—arguably the best souvenir of the skies.
What to know about KLM business class
KLM has two business class designations: Europe Business Class and World Business Class. As the names suggest, Europe Business is what you’ll find on flights operating within Europe—usually aboard a KLM Cityhopper flight serviced with Embraer aircraft—while World Business is offered on longer-haul, intercontinental flights.
Regardless of your status with KLM/Air France’s Flying Blue loyalty program, a business class ticket includes SkyPriority privileges that grant access to priority lanes at check-in, security, and boarding. You’ll also, of course, enjoy lounge access.
Examples of business class deals we've found on KLM
- $2,490 roundtrip to Istanbul
- $2,111 roundtrip to Dubai
- $1,726 roundtrip to Kenya
The KLM business class experience at the airport
The KLM business class lounge
While no two lounges are identical, you can generally expect comfortable seating, plentiful power outlets, work stations, a selection of hot and cold buffet items, and complimentary alcohol—sometimes self-serve, sometimes poured by bartenders. Some lounges have a selection of top-shelf spirits or custom cocktails that may carry an additional charge.
KLM Crown Lounges are—no surprise—KLM’s own lounges. They are consistently clean, well-staffed, and offer very good food and beverages. I enjoy these lounges so much that I sometimes intentionally book flights with a longer transfer time so that I can hang out in a Crown Lounge before continuing on my way.
Two KLM Crown Lounges can be found at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS): the Schengen Crown Lounge located at concourse D, and the Non-Schengen Crown Lounge located between E and F concourses.
The Schengen lounge has both a hot and cold buffet, self-serve alcohol, and available showers. The non-Schengen lounge—which spans two floors and is accessed via an ascending elevator along a mirrored wall dotted with Delft Blue KLM houses—also has hot and cold buffets, though alcohol is poured behind bars (there is one on each floor). Premium drinks are further available for purchase. In addition to showers, a sleep cabin can be booked with a fee.
Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) and Houston’s George Bush Airport (IAH) also offer KLM Crown Lounges—in Terminal 3 opposite gate C32, and in Terminal D near gate D8, respectively.
In the absence of a Crown Lounge, KLM business class passengers can enjoy access to SkyTeam member lounges, or a designated third-party lounge as is often found in smaller airports.
KLM business class check-in
As with other SkyTeam airlines, KLM’s check-in and boarding process grants first access to SkyPriority passengers. KLM business class passengers can proceed to the priority check-in lane, and then make use of the fast-track lane at security if one is available. Business class and SkyPriority passengers are invited to board the aircraft first, or shortly following those who may need additional assistance.
KLM business class passengers may bring two pieces of checked baggage, each weighing up to 70 pounds (32 kilos). Flying Blue members with Silver, Gold, or Platinum status can check one additional bag for a total of three. Business class and SkyPriority checked bags are tagged with a priority label for faster retrieval.
In the cabin, business class passengers are permitted two pieces of hand luggage and one personal item. Regulations state that carry-on baggage cannot exceed a combined weight of 40 pounds (18 kilos), but I’ve never known KLM to weigh these items.
The KLM business class experience in the air
Seats in KLM business class
KLM Europe Business and World Business cabins differ depending on the route and aircraft.
KLM Europe Business Class
Standard perks of Europe Business seating include up to three inches (7.5 centimeters) of additional legroom, and always having a window or aisle seat (the middle seat remains empty in business class, if there is one). These seats do not lie flat. Instead, they are similar to economy seats but with more legroom.
- Boeing 737-700: It’s Europe Business Class aboard the 737-700, so you’ll find a 3-3 layout with a blocked middle seat and no lie-flats. There are 20 business class seats on this aircraft.
- Boeing 737-800: The 737-800 again has a 3-3 layout with a blocked middle seat and no lie-flat seats. The seat pitch in Europe Business aboard this aircraft is the same as that found in Economy Comfort, so the number of seats allocated to business class may vary.
- Boeing 737-900: The 737-900 Europe Business Class cabin is like that of the 737-800: a 3-3 layout, blocked middle seat, no lie-flats, and a potentially varying number of business class seats.
- Embraer 175: KLM’s short-haul workhorses known as Cityhoppers, the Embraer 175 maintains a 2-2 layout throughout the entire aircraft, has no lie-flat seats, and business class seat allocation may vary (or not exist at all).
- Embraer 190: Another Cityhopper aircraft, these models also have a 2-2 layout, no lie-flats, and variable business class seating.
- Embraer 195-E2: As KLM’s newest addition to their Cityhopper lineup, the Embraer 195-E2 is the most sustainable of the three and, honestly, the cabin is pretty slick. The 2-2 layout remains and business class seating allocation may vary, but every seat has a power supply and a lingering hint of that new-plane smell.
KLM World Business Class
As mentioned earlier, World Business is really where the concept of “business class” comes to life. World Business cabins feature full-flat seats with an accommodating length of 81 inches (206 centimeters) and a width of 20 inches (51 centimeters), a 16- to 18-inch entertainment system with noise-reducing headphones, in-seat storage space, and certainly a window or aisle seat.
- Airbus A330-200: World Business Class seating aboard the A330-200 is in a 2-2-2 layout with 18 lie-flat seats.
- Airbus A330-300: This aircraft also has a 2-2-2 layout in the World Business Class cabin, though the A330-300 offers 30 lie-flat seats.
- Boeing 777-200ER: This spacious aircraft’s World Business cabin adheres to KLM’s favored 2-2-2 layout, with 34 lie-flat seats.
- Boeing 777-300ER: Though this plane is longer than the 777-200ER, business class remains the same: a 2-2-2 layout with 34 lie-flats.
- Boeing 787-9: More widely known as the Dreamliner, KLM shakes up this World Business cabin layout with a 1-2-1 arrangement, offering 30 lie-flat seats.
- Boeing 787-10: An extended version of the above, this Dreamliner follows the 1-2-1 business class layout but bumps the lie-flat seat count up to 38.
Benefits of flying KLM business class
Entertainment and WiFi
In KLM World Business Class cabins, every seat has a power supply and a 16- to 18-inch entertainment system. WiFi access is increasingly available on intercontinental flights, but this depends on the route and the particular aircraft. When WiFi is an option, you’ll have a free hour of messaging—think WhatsApp, WeChat, Messenger, and so on—and can choose from either a Surf or Streaming package thereafter. WiFi access throughout the duration of the flight with the Surf packages costs 18 euros; to step up to the Streaming package is 30 euros.
When flying KLM World Business, you’ll find an amenity kit waiting at your seat—and it's a rather nice takeaway. The bags—attractive enough to be repurposed—are thoughtfully designed by Dutch designer Jan Taminiau, and inside you’ll find items like a pair of socks, toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as special edition lip balm and hand cream by Rituals.
Toward the end of the flight, cabin attendants will pass through the World Business cabin with a tray of Delft Blue houses. These miniature houses—which are filled with Dutch gin, by the way—are modeled after actual Dutch buildings and have been part of KLM’s signature experience since the 1950s. There are 102 different houses, and enthusiasts (myself included) keep track of their collection through the KLM Houses app, available through Google Play or the App Store.
Meals in KLM business class
When flying KLM Europe Business Class under two hours, you’ll receive a light meal—a main course salad or a fresh sandwich, perhaps—and standard choice of refreshments. On longer flights in Europe Business, a three-course meal will usually be served. This includes a starter, a choice of warm main course, and a dessert. Business class passengers are welcome to ask for additional drinks at any time.
Aboard KLM World Business Class, you can expect a welcome glass of Champagne, a variety of snacks throughout the flight, regular drink service, and a proper menu—which is refreshed every three months—for mealtimes. Dinners are designed by renowned Dutch chefs and typically include your choice of starter, main course, and dessert. At the time of this writing, the menu by Jonnie Boer, chef of the three Michelin-starred restaurant De Librije, offers an apple, potato, and asparagus tartelette, chicken thigh in star anise sauce, or a vegetarian stew with braised onion and tomato compote—among other options.
Breakfast is also served on flights with a morning arrival, and there’s usually a choice between savory and sweet. All drinks and meals are served with actual glasses and servingware, using exclusive pieces by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders.
KLM deploys the expertise of a sommelier to create an interesting selection of wines that are available throughout flight service. (I once had a lovely Dutch Rivaner from De Kleine Schorre that I still think about two-and-a-half years later.) Beer—Heineken—is also an option, as well as a variety of spirits and liqueurs.
KLM business class vs first class
KLM does not offer a first class cabin. KLM World Business Class aboard an intercontinental flight is the highest class you’ll find with this airline.
How to book KLM business class
How much does it cost for a business class ticket on KLM?
Business class tickets aboard KLM are usually several times the price of economy class tickets. Pricing between $500 and $1500 is not an uncommon range for tickets in KLM Europe Business Class.
For a transatlantic flight in KLM World Business Class, prices may range from $3,000 to over $7,000. However, Going found our Elite members flight for up to $2,000 less.
How to upgrade to business class on KLM for free
Your best chance for a business class upgrade aboard KLM is to be an elite member of their Flying Blue loyalty program—but even then, don’t count on it for World Business. As a Flying Blue Gold member, I have occasionally been bumped to business class, but this has only ever happened on short-haul Cityhopper flights.
A more viable option for a “free” business class upgrade is to collect miles via Flying Blue and later redeem them for an upgrade after you’ve booked an economy class ticket.
How much does it cost to upgrade to business class on KLM?
If you have booked an economy class ticket and wish to pay to upgrade to business class, this is usually an option as long as seats are still available. You’ll pay the fare difference, which varies widely, so do keep an eye on business class fares after booking an economy ticket if this is your game plan.
Alternatively, you can check the price of a last-minute business class upgrade during check-in. If an upgrade is available, you’ll see it as an option when checking in either via the KLM app or website. Again, prices vary, but there’s usually an option to pay with a combination of miles and cash.
How many miles to upgrade to KLM business class?
The amount of miles necessary to upgrade to business class will also vary depending on route and availability. For reference, my one-way upgrade to KLM World Business Class on a flight between Amsterdam and Zanzibar in late December cost me 37,800 miles.
KLM’s business class product is most worth the price—whether paid in cash, miles, or a combination thereof—when it’s aboard an intercontinental flight. KLM World Business Class is a true business class experience with lie-flat seats, upscale dining, attentive service, and priority privileges.
Passengers connecting through Amsterdam will enjoy KLM Crown Lounge access with hot and cold buffet, a full bar, workstations, comfortable seating, and available showers.