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New Security at AMS – Schiphol

November 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

As a Delta Skymiles collector, when traveling to Europe my preferred airport for connecting is Amsterdam – Schiphol (AMS).  Most of the Delta flights leave late afternoon or early evening with a 7 – 10 am arrival in Amsterdam.  AMS is the main hub of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines which has been able to get me every destination desired, but once.  Sometimes when returning there is a long layover time.  My last journey home had an 18 hour layover in Amsterdam so I decided to book a room for the night.

Depending on your purpose and preferences, there are basically three options for hotels when staying overnight from AMS.  There are hotels that you walk to within a matter of minutes from the arrivals area.  These tend to be the most expensive, but offer great amenities and convince. Second option is to choose a hotel close to the airport available by shuttle.  A number of affordable to nicer-brand hotels are located within a few miles of the airport and most of them have a free shuttle service.  Simply email the hotel and ask for the location and schedule of the shuttles.  The stops for hotel shuttles is immediately to the right as you exit from the luggage claim area.  The third option for hotels is to stay in the city center, a 15 minute train ride from AMS.  There is a train station just outside the luggage claim area.  The train routes are easy to understand and most people are nice to offer assistance if you’re confused.  Staying in Amsterdam’s city center could be an entire post of its own.  Needless to say, there is about everything you can imagine in Amsterdam.

Entry into the Netherlands is like any international arrival.  You clear passport control, collect your checked luggage, then through customs.  The queue for passport control seemed crazy long and disorganized at first glance.  Depending on your passport, there are two options for queuing.  A number of people were shuffling between lines, confused.  As a non-flight crew U.S. passport holder I knew the line was the one labeled “Non EU Passports”.  The line moves steady but this trip took about 25 minutes.  Previous trips have had literally no waiting.  The baggage claim area is well labeled by arriving flight listed by carrier and departure-city.  After the wait for passport control, there was no waiting for baggage as it was already circling the belt.  Customs is as simple as walking through and possibly submitting to a bag scan.  Don’t think that because the Netherlands allow recreational drug use that they are easy on smugglers.  The Netherlands also have strict laws regarding guns and ammunition.  If you’re traveling with a gun or ammo be sure to check with the airline and the government’s website, the rules are not the same as in the U.S.

If you stay off-site be sure to leave plenty of time for your return flight.  Returning the next morning via hotel shuttle bus can be a challenge.  Many of the international flights depart late morning/early afternoon so the shuttles from the hotels can be full or even require a booking the night before.  Once you’re dropped off, it’s a hike through the zocalo/bazaar area and up some steep moving walkways to ticketing/check in.  If you have bad knees or ankles, you should consider the lift rather than the walkways.  Check-in and passport control are the standard process.

What impressed me was AMS’s recent update to their security checkpoint process.  It is different than what we’re used to in the U.S. so pay attention to this


I know, right?  In the U.S. bags and shoes go directly on the belt with laptops, jackets, and liquids, sprays, & gels going into the bin.  The reason that AMS puts everything into a bin is what is cool.  As the bins go through the scanner the operator can direct the bin out to the waiting passenger or to a waiting bag screener. If all your stuff is delivered to you, you’re good to go.  The bins are stacked on the end of the belt with no lifting required.  When your bag is ready to be screened the personnel scan the bin’s bar code and an image of the bag’s scan appears.  This allows the screener to go directly to the area of interest without rummaging through everything.  In my case the attendant looked at the image, looked inside the bag, and sent me on the way.  Following directions and removing the items they ask you to remove can speed up your time getting through AMS security checkpoint.  Even for people that require extra attention, the process moves smoothly.

For U.S. bound flights there is an extra questioning procedure that passengers must go through before proceeding to their departure gate.  Answer their questions truthfully and there is little to worry about.  Do not mess with these people or make “joke” answers, they can seriously mess up your day!

Between the walking, check in lines, passport control, security checkpoint, and questioning; it can take an hour or more to get through.  Most flights to the U.S. begin boarding about 60-90 minutes before the scheduled departure to ensure that everyone is on-board 30 minutes prior to take off.  When they say arrive 2.5-3 hours before your flight, it’s best to be safe and do so.

Previous trips through AMS have taken less than 15 minutes, leaving plenty of time to shop, observe the exhibits, or dine.  Some uniquely Dutch items you should pick up to share with friends back home include stroopwafel and drop for the sweet-tooth or some Jenever to warm your insides.  Avoid the fresh meats unless you plan to eat them on the plane.  Fresh meat, fruits, or vegetables cannot be brought into the U.S. as well as any thujone-containing Absinthe.

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Category: Travel

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