A few months ago, I wrote a post called Navigating BHX which gave my top tips on travelling through Birmingham Airport. We’re two weeks into the new year and I’ve already visited another frequent destination of mine – Amsterdam. Although, to be more precise, Schiphol Airport, so I thought I’d give my top tips and share my advice for this massive transport hub.
The company I work for is owned by a Dutch company and we also have Dutch customers and work in partnership with a Dutch charity. As such, I travel to the Netherlands fairly frequently (in the past 13 months, I’ve visited 7 times). Before my work obligations, I had only travelled through Schiphol Airport once – on a short stopover between the UK and New York. I hadn’t therefore spent much time at all at the airport and definitely hadn’t appreciated how huge it is.
In this post, I let you in on a few key things to note if you’re going to be at Schiphol which I hope will help you navigate the airport smoothly.
Convenience is a clear priority
More than in any other airport I’ve travelled through, so much at Schiphol has been designed and built with convenience in mind.
The free wifi allows you to log in for 4 hours at a time – more than enough for most people but you can re-connect straight away for another 4 hours should you need. I don’t understand how some airports still don’t offer free wifi or only give you 30 minutes free. The wifi at Schiphol is also pretty fast and works uninterrupted – I’ve sat at the airport for numerous hours, working on my laptop and have never experienced issues with the wifi. There are also lots of tables with power sockets to be found throughout Departures which is really useful.
The airport train station is directly below Schiphol Plaza (where you come through from Arrivals). There are huge screens with train times and bus times as well as plenty of ticket desks and machines. A single ticket into Amsterdam Centraal station costs €4,20 and the trains run very frequently and take 10-15 minutes.
A lot of the hotels in the airport area run free shuttle buses between the hotel and Schiphol Airport. Most run every 15 or 30 minutes and the timetables can be found on the hotel websites and on the bus stop at the airport. The hotel shuttles run from bus stops A9-13 which are found to the right as you walk out of Schiphol Plaza (or head out the main door near the car hire offices).
There are so many food and drink options
Both landside in Schiphol Plaza and airside, there are loads of restaurant, bar, fast-food and cafe options. This wasn’t always the case and there just used to be a lot of fast-food outlets. I really love breakfast or a light lunch from Bread (in Lounge 3) and the Harvest Market also does great, fresh, healthy food options and juices (just past gates D7 and D8). There’s also a small supermarket in the Plaza which is useful and I’ve often picked up snacks and fruit to take with me for my onwards journey.
The one place you’ll queue is for a toilet
I’ve travelled through Schiphol at various times of the day and week and the one thing you don’t see is big queues. I really like the conveyor belt set-up to go through security – each belt has 4 loading sections so even if one person is being slow, the other 3 sections might free up more quickly and this really helps to keeps the lines moving. I’ve never seen airport security like this and it makes a big difference. The queues at passport control always move quickly too and the longest I’ve waited is still under 10 minutes.
However, you nearly always have to queue to use the toilet (I can only confirm this for ladies’ facilities). For some reason, despite the bathrooms being spacious (they have big vanity areas with mirrors and low-level luggage shelving – I don’t understand the need for this), there are very few cubicles. I went into one near the D gates last week and it had 2 cubicles; another I’ve used before along a busy walkway had 4. In such a busy airport and especially when they’ve managed to minimise queuing in other areas, it doesn’t make sense to have so few toilets.
There’s so much construction taking place
Over the past year, I’ve seen the airport change a lot. Every time I’m there, there are different areas sectioned off for construction work. It can therefore be a bit confusing. When I came through last week however, it seems as though most of the main work in the departures lounge areas have been completed which was good to see. It means lots of new shops and restaurants.
I always felt that for such a big airport there wasn’t enough seating areas (other than those associated with food outlets or directly at the gates). This has changed though during the redevelopment and good seating areas can be found along a lot of the walkways.
You can walk for miles
Be prepared when you arrive and when you’re trying to get to your gate that you may be in for a long walk. There is signage advising how far gates are and definitely take notice of this. There are travelators along most of the long walkways but it can still take a good while to get to where you need to be.
I hope you find this post useful. There’s so much more I could tell you about Schiphol Airport so if you have any questions which I could perhaps help with, then please drop me a line. Safe travels!