KLM’s A La Carte Experience: Splurge or Save?

The wing of an airplane.

Recently, I flew from Amsterdam to Montreal with KLM. It was my first time flying with the airline on a long-haul service.

KLM generally has a good reputation for their inflight service. I’ve read some fantastic premium economy class reviews, and the food looks sensational.

How many airlines can boast about serving lobster in premium economy?

Fellow Aussie traveler @ben__smithson travelled with KLM, and all I can say is that I’m quite impressed with the food offered in premium economy.

Now, while premium economy serves up a taste of the high life, let’s pivot to the main cabin – economy class. Here, the vibe is straightforward, the aircraft might be older, and the tv screens may not be the latest, but the seats are more than adequate for a comfortable 7 hour journey.

A row of seats in an airplane with tv screens.
A row of seats in an airplane.

Service in economy class kicks off with bottled water and refreshing towels for all.

A bottle of water and a snack on a plane.

Meal Upgrade Decision

Prior to the flight, I opted to upgrade my economy meal for €22. This was a decision well made. KLM’s upgrade options for economy class include five meals, priced from €19 to €30.

My choice? The Indonesian meal, and it did not disappoint.

A tray full of food and drinks on a plane.

The Culinary Experience

Included:

Bami goreng with sticky tempeh and beef pedas, accompanied by rice for the main.

A rujak salad garnished with sambal and fried onions.

Bread roll.

Desserts: A delightful coconut bavarois and a beautifully layered Dutch/Indonesian cake.

Heineken beer.

A tray full of food and drinks on an airplane.

Unboxing the meal was quite fun; there was a lot to explore and open, and for me, it was part of the inflight entertainment. The meal was served on a large single tray that took up the entire tray table, as compared to the smaller standard economy class meal tray.

The meal presentation was impressive, with branded packaging and a printed menu that made it feel like a personalised dining experience crafted just for me.

A set of forks and spoons on a plane.

Tasting the World from Above

The tempeh starter, my first foray into this ingredient, was a pleasant surprise, debunking any cardboard-like expectations. Although I may have been a little excessive with the sambal on the rujak salad—it was quite spicy—the freshness shone through though and I managed.

The main course held its authenticity and flavor; the beef was tender, and despite the vegetables being slightly overdone, it’s forgivable considering the context of airline dining.

Out of the dessert duo, the Indonesian layer cake totally won me over. It came looking like a little gift, all nicely wrapped up, and had this lush, velvety texture. This cake, known as spekkoek – you might hear it called spekuk, spiku, or lapis legit – is a mix of Dutch and Indonesian baking magic.

A sandwich in a box next to a can of soda.

Attention to Detail

I absolutely loved KLM’s à la carte meal and was delighted to see it back on the menu after a temporary hiatus. Finishing every bite, I was left wholly satisfied and eager for my next flight, where I plan to dive into more of their a la carte culinary treats. The attention to detail really made dining in economy feel like a luxury experience.

Economy Dining

The standard economy meal, though less extravagant, still seemed appetising—featuring a choice of chicken or vegetarian hot dishes, Beemster Cheese, and a generous serving of feta cheese, dip and olives.

Following the meal tray collection, hot drinks and a spicy, delicious apple cake were offered, rounding off the dining experience nicely. After the crew finished their collection rounds and everything was tucked away, they finally got a break. But not without making sure we had some Dutch treats to choose from in the galley.

Galley Snacks

On offer Koetjes reep – that’s ‘Cow Bar’ if you’re translating, a creamy Dutch milk chocolate bar. Then there’s Punselie’s stroopkoekje, a cookie that’s been flying with KLM for 40 years, oozing with caramel goodness. Considering we were only up in the air for seven hours, I was impressed to see KLM didn’t skimp on the snack front.

A tray of snacks on a plane.
A box of snacks is sitting on a table.

Second Meal Service

About an hour out from landing, the crew came by with a second meal offering. This time it was pizza, no frills, no choices, but honestly, it did the job for a quick bite. For a frozen pizza on a plane, it wasn’t half bad. It had a decent amount of toppings and was pretty flavorful.

We landed not long after.

A bag of food and a glass of orange juice on a plane.
A pizza is sitting on a tray in an airplane.

Final Verdict: The Value of KLM’s À La Carte Meals

The à la carte meal service is not merely about sustenance, but about offering passengers a taste of global cuisine at cruising altitude. Their meticulous attention to detail, from the presentation to the selection of food, demonstrates their dedication to a decent dining experience in economy, even if you’re paying it.

It’s this approach that transforms the flight into an integral part of the journey itself, not just a means to reach a destination.

On my next flight with KLM, I will undoubtedly explore another of their a la carte meal options.

 

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