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Schiphol: 'Don't come (too) early!'


One consequence of Europe's cascading airport woes has been airlines warning passengers to show up early at the airport to face long baggage and security delays, but Amsterdam's Schiphol, one of the hardest-hit, is now telling passengers to hold off arrival, at least until four hours before flight.

That's to limit the number of people crowding landside halls and shops as well as airside gates and corridors, crowds that have developed at Schiphol and elsewhere because of staff shortages and flight cancellations.

The staff shortages, which originally reflected a rapid return to business while staff who had left or been laid off during the height of the pandemic had not been replaced, have now also been affected by rising numbers of Covid cases among airline staff. Some airlines, including Aer Lingus, have now canceled numbers of flights they can't crew because of illness.

Schiphol authorities are now also begging passengers to limit their luggage: one bag if carrying on, please, and if you can please skip the carry-on and stuff everything in your checked bag. Other measures have affected flights; American Airlines, for instance, is selling tickets to AMS, but is not selling outbound for the month of July except as the return on an inbound from U.S.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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I believe the situation at London's Heathrow is even worse. We were unfortunate enough to have had to use it some 5 weeks ago and I have never ever seen such chaotic scenes at any airport in the world. Even the few staff who were supposed to be directing people through the mayhem did not have a clue what was going on.

We made our flight, but I suspect many others missed theirs. In a couple of weeks we are facing the same challenge again. Turning up early is no help at all - because the check-in desks and baggage drops do not open any earlier than they always did. In fact, because of the staff shortages they actually appear to open much later.

Last edited by Professorabe

I have to say I've been lucky so far this year of airport crisis.

In February, I flew into and out of Schiphol with no difficulty other than long lines for a hotel shuttle. In May, Gatwick was fine, even though there were too few UK Border agents to really move things along, and going home from CDG later that month was smooth. Barcelona in June was fine, both directions.

I am now starting to seriously worry about August, when I fly to Berlin, then Hamburg to Munich and home. There must be an end to my charmed life...

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

The chaos at Heathrow shows no signs of abating. We had another terrible experience there the week before last - I am also sure that their 'policy' of herding people together in what are effectively closely-packed holding pens was what gave us Covid three days later. And, yes, we were wearing face masks.

As to your German trip, there are strikes affecting several of the airports. Lufthansa have just announced that they are cancelling virtually all fights in and out of Frankfurt and Munich tomorrow, for instance. My advice would be to follow the news closely - the situation changes quite quickly. Frankfurt was very busy when we went through, but a model of tranquillity compared to Heathrow! Good luck.

I am indeed watching closely, and have already resolved not to take advantage of my checked bag allowance for this trip (which is easy, because I normally travel with a carry-on size bag anyway, and an underseat backpack.

The outbound is on United, and straight to Berlin, but the return is Munich to JFK; I'm hoping by August 31 that will be more normal. In between, I have a Hamburg to Munich flight, which at least is replaceable by train without too much loss of time!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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