Diary of a Cabin Attendant: Flight KL611 to Chicago

After an 11 year gap, I once again flew to the ‘windy city’ on 6 September: Chicago. To give you an idea of how a short 24-hour stopover goes, I kept an Instagram photo diary.

7.45 hours: Getting up. (Sunday, September 6)

My alarm goes off. I’m picked up by the car service at 10:00 hours. No trains are running to Schiphol from Amsterdam this weekend, so this service for KLM flight personnel is fantastic. I always pack my suitcase the day before, so I jump into the shower, get dressed, have breakfast and head off!


10.10 hours: En route to the airport

Head off to Schiphol using the car service. The sky is blue, the sun is shining and one of many KLM aircraft ‘waves’ at me along the way. It’s brilliant weather to fly.


11.00 hours: Report for duty

The time to report for duty is 1 hour and 40 minutes for an intercontinental flight. I’m well on time. This gives me plenty of space to prepare for my flight: put away my suitcase, check my pigeonhole and arrange my daily allowance.

There’s also a place at the Crew Centre for the pursers to prepare, where the managers for each flight meet. Recognisable from the flight number on the tables. You always introduce yourself briefly for an intercontinental flight.

Today I’ll be flying with Senior Purser Rianne, who isn’t a stranger to me because I’ve flown with her often before. Purser Trudy tells me that I’ll be subjected to an assessment on this flight. She plans to assess how I do my job and how I interact with passengers, as well as assessing my professional attitude. Assessments like this take place two or three times a year. I don’t get worked up about them. Just being myself works best for me.

If I have time to spare, I usually call my parents or friends, have a cup of tea and then head off to the briefing rooms. I have to be there by 11:10 hours.

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11.10 hours: The briefing for flight KL611

Everyone introduces themselves during the briefing and different topics are addressed. Attention is always paid to flight safety. For example, we recap the safety procedures for this type of aircraft. We discuss specific passenger information, including special meals and passengers who require extra attention for whatever reason. Finally, we address the flight specifications such as which crew member will be sitting at which flight door, along with which tasks will have to be done there.

11.30 hours: To Gate F4

The Boeing 747 PH-BFF ‘Freetown’ stands at the gate ready to fly us to Chicago within a flight time of 8.5 hours. During the baggage check we meet our cockpit colleagues and at 11:45 hours we board the aircraft to prepare the flight.

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12.00 hours: Boarding Time

12.50 hours: Back to work

I got to meet a number of passengers during boarding. They’re a diverse group; some passengers are heading home and some are off on holiday. We always start by serving drinks. On various routes including those to Japan, Suriname and America, a number of extra choices are offered in Economy Class. On flights to the US, the extra choice of Ginger Ale is a cool favourite!

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It’s a ‘smooth’ flight and I have the honour of issuing junior pilot diplomas to two tough kids in my zone called Malik and Jonah! Kids are awarded a diploma if they order a special Bluey children’s meal.

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After the service round, we get a chance to grab a bite ourselves and I always try to visit the cockpit. Captain Klaas Kuin joined KLM 33 years ago and has been flying as a captain on the Boeing 747 for 14 years. Chicago and Hong Kong are his favourite destinations. So that’s perfect! On board, Klaas gives me a few tips about Chicago.


21.00 hours: Ready for touchdown

Just before touchdown at O’Hare Airport, we are treated to an amazing view of the city with downtown Chicago on the left! The sun is shining and we gain seven hours on the clock. Touchdown at Chicago O’Hare Airport 14:10 hours local time.


15.00 hours: Off to the hotel in the crew bus

This is the view from the bus.


15.30 hours: Arrive at the hotel

A quick shower and a change of clothes. At 16:15 hours I head into town with Rianne and Trudy. I can’t believe that it’s been 11 years since I last visited this jazzy city. The buildings are amazing, the parks are beautiful and the people are friendly. We order a hamburger – my staple diet when visiting America – and then head back to the hotel.


19.37 hours: Time for bed


05.35 hours: A new day (Monday, September 7)

Nice and early, but that’s to be expected with a seven-hour time difference. Luckily, we can already have breakfast at this hotel at 06:00 hours. Oatmeal with red fruit and cinnamon. I make plans with a few colleagues for our last hours in Chicago.


8.15 hours: Millennium Park

I take a stroll with Rianne to the Millennium Park. We visited here yesterday, but there was a jazz festival on the go. Loads of fun, but less suitable for taking photographs. Cloud Gate (the giant bean) by designer Anish Kapoor is a justifiable crowd-pulling magnet. Until 11:15 hours I saunter around Magnificent Mile, picking up a cool Chicago vest as a souvenir and a few healthy snacks for lunch on board just now.


11.15 hours: Postcard

I pop another postcard to my parents into the post box and relax for an hour in my hotel room.


12.15 hours: Calling time

Always exactly one hour before leaving for the airport, we get a call from hotel reception: calling time. You know: uniform on, hair in a bun and prepare for the home journey to Amsterdam. The crew meet in the hotel lobby. We report present in the hotel lobby for flight KL612 to Amsterdam.

07.00 hours: Arrival in Amsterdam (Tuesday)

It was a seven-hour night flight so lots of passengers tried to sleep. We provide the routine service according to plan. An hour and a half before landing, I wake the passengers with a cheerful breakfast box for immediate consumption or to take away for later. I discuss my assessment on board with Trudy and I’m pleasantly surprised.

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We say goodbye to our passengers and can only say that 24 hours in Chicago is way too short.

7.20 hours: Home again

Back at the Crew Centre I shake all my colleagues’ hands. Who know, perhaps we’ll see each other next time, although given the number of cabin crew members working for KLM, that could take a while. I’m pleased to have worked on two nice flights with amazing colleagues. It’s time to head home again.


PS: For more travel photos, follow @dareshegoes on Instagram.

Posted by:   DareSheGoes  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

Peter Hoefs

Was a interessant fight have travelt to New York several times with KLM now living in Norway using KLM yo Amsterdam.


Peter, thank you for flying KLM and reading my blog :)


Frido Ogier

Wat een leuk verhaal Valerie! Zeer beeldend en met goeie foto’s. Je blijft lezen. Jammer dat je er niet langer kon zijn, want Chicago is erg leuk.




Hi Frido,

Dank je wel voor je leuke berichtje als mede-KLMblogger is dit extra leuk om te lezen! Thanks!

groet, Valerie


I personally make sure that I read each onehell of the KLM blog entries (all the authors have their own unique areas of interests to talk about and are quite passionate about sharing their experiences) before I hit the delete button on that mail in my mail box.
Reason: This is one such blog which makes one want to be in the jobs you folks are doing. not for money, name or glory but for the simple reason of doing what you are most passionate about and being passionate about what you are doing. Isn’t that what drives one’s happiness and satisfaction.
Keep writing. Keep doing the good work.. passionately.


Guarav! Wow your message made me smile and gave me goosebumps! Thank you for reading us on KLMBlog and the lovely comments. I really appreciate this! Kind regards, Valerie (DareSheGoes)

Scott Z

Thank you for a wonderful insight on your job and how you enjoyed Chicago. I was born and raised there but moved away 20 years ago. I’ve travelled to many places in the US and Worldwide, but there’s not quite another city in the US like Chicago. Just like there are a lot of other nice airlines, but none that can match KLM. :)


Your welcome Scott glad you liked it! Thank you for your nice comment!

kind regards,

Valerie (DareSheGoes)


Thank you very much for your blog of a flight to our favorite city in the US. I lived there for a year in 1991 and we have been there for at least 20 trips. LOVE CHICAGO AND LOVE TO FLY KLM TO THE WINDY CITY!


It was a pleasure to write it and I’m glad you liked it! Thanks for flying the Blue Bird! :)

kind regards, Valerie (DareSheGoes)

Frank van der Voet

I am very impressed by the rigor and attention to detail that KLM puts into preparations for each of their intercontinental flights. On the few occasions I had to fly to the Netherlands from Canada, the cabin crew’s warm welcome and looking after the comfort was obvious. Thank you and your colleagues for those early starts to your work day – it pays off!


Thanks for your sweet Message Frank!

Bert Bandel

Wat een mooi verhaal,en foto’s! Heb er van genoten.


Fijn om te lezen Bert! Dank je wel, groet Valerie


It is always a pleasure to fly KLM I do the trip from Johannesburg to Amsterdam and back at least once every 3 months and it is always a pleasant trip and even when I had the occasional emergency connection to make when time was short between flights KLM and their staff always gave 110%.



Thanks for your comment and thanks for flying with KLM! Kind regards, Valerie


Schitterende foto’s met een prachtif verhaal. Elke keer weer een genit om jouw levenswandel te volgen.
Till we meet again on board!


Lijkt mij leuk Philip! Dank je wel voor je lieve bericht!

Ian Morris

I was one of your passengers on KL612 on 7/9, Great flight and great crew as always, interesting to read what the crew do before the flight :)


Thank you Nice to read Ian! :) sorry for this late reply!


I fly this route all the time since I’m from Chicago. Glad you enjoyed your visit, I hope it’s worth going back for more! Not sure if you noticed, but in your eighth photo, there is a baseball stadium on the left. That is Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, one of Chicago’s two baseball teams. During events or baseball games, air traffic is not allowed to fly this close and is routed away from the stadium. The only way to tell where aircraft should be flying is to physically look into the stadium from the cockpit. Thanks for sharing!


Hi Jennifer!

I would love to see more of Chicago! And how cool about the stadium. It was a cherry on the cake this picture after a smooth flight! Thanks for your Message and maybe we’ll meet on board!

Kind regards, Valerie (dareshegoes)

Lolita M. Balboa



Thanks again for your kind words Lolita!


Very interesting to read your day schedule with KLM as a flight attendent! :-) Thank you!


You’re welcome Annemarie! ;-)


Nicely written …. “the Windy City” … 611/612 …. memories, I opened the station in 1970.


Cool en thank you for reading my blog Frits!

Michael G

I have travelled quite extensively, however, as a Californian, I have never visited Chicago so it was nice to read your travel itinerary! Furthermore, I finally had the opportunity to take my very first KLM flight last year from Atlanta – Amsterdam – Brussels – Amsterdam – Washington and I have never felt so welcome and so impressed by my first “impressions!” I was sure to write a note of compliments for both cabin crews as the Dutch really exude genuine warmth and service from the heart! I noted on the comment card the service consistently exceeded my inflight impressions of the highly-awarded Asian Carriers and promised to return my business to KLM when my travels take me across the Atlantic!

Of all the reading of numerous travel blogs, KLM has the most enjoyable to read because of the wonderful cabin crew like you!

Safe and pleasant travels onboard The Flying Dutchman!

Los Angeles, California


Hi Michael,

I just noticed the reply didn’t really worked out ;-) but There’s a Message for you in the comments listed here!

Kind regards,

Valerie (dareshegoes)


Hello Michael,

Thank you for taking a moment to write this kind comment regarding my Blog and your impressions on flying KLM. I am happy to read you felt the kindness of both crews heartwarming! Your comment gave me the same feeling. And that’s what I am trying to aim: that people enjoy my blogs. Thanks again and maybe I can welcome you on board of one of our flying dutchman! ;-)

Kind regards,

Valerie (dareshegoes)


I take KL611 and KL612 every year in early May. It is always a very nice flight and the crew are terrific. This past May, we had the opportunity to upgrage from Economy Comfort to Business Class through the bid system. What a great treat! It was very affordable and we loved sitting in the nose of the plane. We had such excellent service and food. Hopefully, we will have this opportunity next May. If not, Economy Comfort is still a great value. I have flight anxiety and the cabin crew is always so very kind to me. We are looking forward to booking with KLM next year.


Wonderful to read and thanks for your sweet comment and flying KLM ;-)!

Gerald McKenzie

Hi Valerie.

Hoewel ik Engels spreken, zal ik deze mail in uw taal te doen vanwege onze historische samenwerking met Nederland en mijn liefde voor alles wat Nederlands is.

De meeste van mijn reizen naar Europa is geweest met KLM naar Schiphol van Kaapstad.

Ik ben altijd onder de indruk van de toewijding, professionaliteit en vooral de warmte van het cabinepersoneel.

Uw blog is het meest interessant, vooral voor en na de vlucht details.

Hopelijk zal mijn volgende bestemming via KLM wees.

In de tussentijd vliegen goed, gaan goed en geniet.



Baie Dankie Gerald!
Fijn om te horen dat u de blogs interessant vind.
Bedankt voor de lieve wensen!

groet Valerie (DareSheGoes blogger)



I was very excited to read this article, because I was one of these passengers on your returning flight., and I must say that I enjoyed every minute of it; from Departure to the smooth landing.
While I was reading your article, I wished that I knew which crew member wrote it, and thank you for sharing about your experience in my city, Chicago.
Best of flights to you and your crew members. Next time I am planning to flight with you before New Years Eve.
Smooth landing to you!


Hello Sergey,

How nice? Do you still remember your seat number? :) I was working economy class at the rear of the aircraft. (last galley)

I love Chicago, great city! Thanks for your kind words and maybe till a next flight!

kind regards, Valerie

Jo Ann Alleman

Hi . I was checking the inbnd status of KL611/31Aug as I have friends kk’d on KL612 today. I discovered your blog and enjoyed it immensely. I worked for DL, KLM, and AF in the past. The best jobs ever!!! I had the pleasure of flying business RT ORD/AMS and service was impeccable. Wish I were flying with them today.
Thanks to the cabin crew that keep safety in mind first.

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