It’s Monday, 27 March 2017, and we’re making our approach to land at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport, which I can see from the window. There’s a rather unusual collection of vehicles waiting at a gate. I wonder if they’re there to welcome us. After landing, it soon become apparent that the two fire engines and many other waiting vehicles are indeed waiting to meet us. When the captain announces this, all the passengers and crew also start rubbernecking to witness this special moment.
An honour to experience this
We’re getting closer and closer to the fire brigade’s cordon of honour: an elegant arc of water, more than 30 metres high, for us to pass under. This is a tradition on such occasions, of course, but it’s something you might only see once or twice in your career as a crewmember. It’s an honour to experience this and I’m sure the waiting airport staff feel much the same. I see them taking photos from their vehicles, out on the platform and from the gate. The local television channel also has a crew reporting on the event. And just when everyone thinks the ceremony is over, the pilots open the cockpit windows to fly the flags of the Netherlands and the State of Minnesota. And again the cameras come out in force. Everyone is beaming with pride. A wonderful way to resume KLM service, reconnecting Amsterdam with the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St Paul.
Day of pride and sparkling eyes
The feeling of pride remains as I stand at the gate with the rest of the crew listening to the inauguration speeches. The airport’s CEO, the Dutch honorary consul to Minnesota and the VP of KLM North America are all there to welcome this special flight. They all mention their Dutch roots, although the CEO admits he hasn’t seen much of the Lowlands. With glistening eyes, the consul, who has lived in the city for more than 25 years, expresses his joy at the beautiful blue connection with his homeland, while the VP stresses the economic importance of the Twin Cities for KLM, and vice versa.
Dutch waffles and good coffee
Together the crew holds up a gigantic ribbon that is cut with a big pair of scissors. Passengers waiting to board the flight enthusiastically accept cupcakes decorated with the bright-blue KLM logo, as well as Dutch syrup waffles. I explain to them that the waffles are tastiest when you warm them on top of a cup of coffee. I also tell them we brew fresh coffee on board. They are preparing to board for their trip to the Netherlands, while we head off to a special reception that will be attended by airport staff, key customers and dignitaries, where the feeling of pride is as strong as ever as we listen to the warm words of welcome expressed by our hosts.
See here the fire brigade’s cordon of honour: an elegant arc of water.
Wilbert van Haneghem, cabin attendant (purser from 7 April 2017)