If you’re planning a trip to Europe, there’s a decent chance you’ll connect in Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s Airport Schiphol (AMS) is Europe’s third-largest airport in terms of passengers served and the world’s fifth busiest airport in terms of international passengers
There are over 100 airlines at Schiphol carrying passengers to over 300 destinations.
As a luxury travel advisor, part of my job is to ensure my clients have all the details about their trip, from start to finish. This can include assuring my clients that they have the necessary time – often more than enough – to connect during a layover. Bob recently emailed me to ask about the logistics of AMS and if the layover he has is sufficient.
Question — Is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Easy to Navigate With A Short Layover?
My wife and I booked tickets to Vienna with Delta Air Lines and KLM. We have a 75 minute layover in Schiphol Airport coming in from Detroit. Is the airport easy to navigate? I know that’s a legal connection, but are we going to be running through the airport?
Answer — Yes, You Will Make Your Flight
Hi Bob, thanks for writing in! In one word, yes, you should have ample time to make your connection. You may not have enough time to sit and enjoy a coffee or a Heineken, but – barring a late arrival from Detroit – you won’t have to sprint through the airport.
Schiphol is an easy airport to navigate. There is plenty of signage to point you to the plane and immigration is well staffed.
For an international to Schengen connection, 75 minutes is more than adequate. For a “domestic” Schengen to Schengen connection, or a straight international passage, 75 minutes is enough time to take a shower in the Crown Club.
Arriving Into Schiphol On An International Flight
I have arrived in Schiphol on international flights from only two places: the U.S. and the U.K. Both times, I landed at an international gate and had to clear Schengen zone customs. As I noted already, there are signs everywhere directing passengers.
While Schengen isn’t as efficient as record holders like Zürich Kloten, Vienna, Austria or Munich, Germany (where it’s possible to clear immigration without even waiting in a line), the lines here move efficiently, much more so than in Paris or London’s major airports.
KLM has about 100 kiosks across the airport where passengers can check their updated flight information. All you do is scan your passport, boarding pass, or frequent flyer card. The kiosks also print new boarding passes for those who might have missed their flight, since KLM automatically re-books those passengers.
If you come from a non-Schengen country and connect to a Schengen zone flight, you do need to clear customs and immigration into the Schengen zone. I’ve always had plenty of time, but I’ve seen others with less time get into a different line. Regardless, the line moves quickly.
Arriving Into Schiphol On A Schengen Flight
When you arrive into Schiphol on a Schengen area flight and connect to another Schengen area flight, you don’t need to do anything except find your way to your next gate. However, when you fly into Schiphol and connect to a non-Schengen flight (to go back to the US, say), you must once again clear customs and immigration at a transfer point on your way into the international departures hall.
Navigating Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Personally, I’ve always found Schiphol very easy to navigate. It’s a large, single-terminal airport with three main departure halls. The central hall inside security is a vast open space with dining and drinking establishments as well as some shops.
Departure Hall 1 and Departure Hall 2 are the two biggest departure halls, and handle the majority of the flights through Piers B, C, D and E. Departure Hall 3 has Piers F, G and H/M. Pier G is the only pier with gates large enough for the Airbus 380, which arrives daily from Dubai and seasonally from Beijing. Piers H and M operate independently of each other but handle budget airlines.
Departing From Schiphol Airport
Schiphol has numerous screens with arrival and departure information. These are found across all departure halls and piers. As with most other European airports, the gate “opens” (and is subsequently displayed on the monitor) 90 minutes prior to an intercontinental flight and 55 minutes prior to a European (Schengen and non-Schengen) flight. Boarding begins 45 minutes prior to departure for intercontinental flights and 30 minutes for all others.
If you’re flying KLM or a Skyteam alliance member, you should be able to check the status of your flight at one of the aforementioned kiosks in the departures hall.
Bob, I hope this answered your question of laying over at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. 75 minutes ought to be plenty of time to disembark your flight from Detroit, clear Schengen zone immigration, and find your connecting flight information. Enjoy Vienna!
Sarah is a luxury travel advisor and avid traveller. When she isn’t writing for Point Me To The Plane you can find her crafting custom itineraries for clients or exploring the far reaches of our wonderful planet. Read more about her adventures at The Girl With the Map Tattoo.
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