Cranky on the Web: More on the Amsterdam Situation

Cranky on the Web

Crowds at This Airport Are So Bad, Travelers Have Been Paying Up to $1,250 to Jump the Lines at Security – Conde Nast Traveler
The author of this story reached out to me not knowing I had just written about Schiphol myself. I was happy to talk about some of the issues at the airport, including the flight reductions due to environmental concerns, not just due to the security employee shortages.

7 comments on “Cranky on the Web: More on the Amsterdam Situation

  1. I thought it would be good to balance the reporting a bit (I thought I posted this earlier but it may have failed?). I used Google Translate to share this article from Dutch news website Nu.NL (https://www.nu.nl/economie/6233302/schiphol-zag-wachttijd-in-herfstvakantie-fors-dalen-stap-naar-verbetering.html):

    Schiphol has had a good autumn break. On almost all days, the airport managed to keep the waiting time for security well within the hour. Only on one very busy day it took an hour and a half to get through security. Schiphol describes the holiday as “a modest step towards improvement”.
    The airport has been struggling with (hours) long queues for months. Airlines also had to cancel flights because of the crowds. This is partly because Schiphol has a shortage of security guards. There is also an acute shortage of personnel in baggage handling.

    In the context of these problems, the autumn holidays can be called a bright spot. For example, the average waiting time at the security check was only fourteen minutes.

    The airport served a total of more than 2.6 million travelers from 14 to 30 October. That was more than last year (two million), but fewer than in 2019, the last year before the corona pandemic. At that time, more than three million travelers flew through the airport in the same period.

    Schiphol announced steps during the autumn holidays to prevent problems in the future. For example, the airport is investing approximately 100 million euros in measures to combat the staff shortage. Agreements were recently made that the hourly wages of security guards at Schiphol will increase by 2.50 euros extra per hour, on top of the labor market allowance.

    In another area too, Schiphol is working on ways to prevent flight delays, for example. With a new procedure, Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) says it can safely depart and land more aircraft per hour during fog.

    Such a situation with limited or poor visibility occurs on average ten times per year. From now on, five extra landings and three to seven extra take-offs can take place per hour. That should cause significantly less disruption.

    1. Sorry about that CLT Flyer. Something about the first post got it caught in the moderation queue, so that’s why it didn’t post. I have no idea why this version went straight through.

      But I would not call this a victory. They better have done well during the autumn break, because the passenger cap is absurdly low. August was at 73,000 pax per day. September was set and then lowered down to only 54,500 with October at 57,000. If they can’t run a good operation at that level, then all hope is lost.

  2. But that cap seems to have evaporated. If they handled 2.6 million people between Oct 14 through 30 it seems they handled 162,500 pax daily. That is likely a combination of originating pax as well as transferring pax. Sooo… (I don’t have any stake in this discussion other than that my Dutch pride was severely wounded by this mess).

    1. CLT Flyer – Interesting. Now, these are both ways that you’re citing, so it’s really half that since the cap is on departing passengers. But that’s still well above the stated cap. I can’t say I know what’s going on there. Anyone else have insight?

      1. Maybe this is an interesting page: alle passenger numbers in September, compared to last year. https://www.schiphol.nl/nl/schiphol-group/pagina/verkeer-en-vervoer-cijfers/ (also from other months.

        Vliegtuigbewegingen: airplane movements. Passagiers: passengers. Vracht: freight. Post: mail. Nachtvlucht: night flight. Vroege ochtendvlucht: flights early in the morning. I think these are the most important translations.

        September showed about 5.2 million passengers, or 173.000 per day. Transfers are counted double: one incoming, one outgoing.

        According to this article https://www.luchtvaartnieuws.nl/nieuws/categorie/3/airports/schiphol-herfstvakantie-verliep-soepeltjes-gemiddeld-kwartiertje-wachttijd in the last 2 weeks of October they had 2.6 million passengers. So the total number in the month won’t be that different from September. In 2019 it was 3 million in the same weeks.

        And this article https://www.metronieuws.nl/in-het-nieuws/binnenland/2022/10/drukte-schiphol-herfstvakantie-lijkt-mee-te-vallen/ states 69.500 passengers per day were allowed to enter the airport. That seems to indicate that it’s only about people starting their trip at Schiphol, not transfer passengers.

        The airport itself has a nice graph on the waiting times https://nieuws.schiphol.nl/herfstvakantie-2022-stabiel-verlopen-op-schiphol/ This is only Terminal 1, but that’s the busiest. Used by SkyTeam and Transavia.

        To add a bit to the story: this is not related to the maximum number of flights as set by the government. If they would have been able to run normally, they would not exceed the current number.

        In my opinion, the most important issues are:
        – Covid. The airport has fired a lot of people during the heights of the pandemic
        – Staff shortage. Not just at the airport: almost everywhere in the Netherlands shortages are visible. Public transportation (since today less trains are running), healthcare, but also security. At aiports, but also at events.
        – During summer, the airport paid 5.25 an hour extra to all security staff, baggage handlers, cleaners and bus drivers. They canceled that after summer, while private security companies (like the ones for the events) are paying more, while having better work hours –> a lot of people left, while there still was a shortage
        – Now they’ve decided to pay 3.90 per hour more (of which 1.40 was already agreed on before), 35% extra for night work, meaning about 20% increase in salary

        In short: the Schiphol management fired a lot of people when they didn’t need them, couldn’t get them back when the airport was booming again. After that they temporarily offered extra pay and had no plans what to do after that. One big clusterf…

        I’m Dutch and I loved to use Schiphol: it was a clean, friendly, relaxed airport. The management there really screwed up, having this horrible result.

        1. Jorg – thanks for sharing. Dank je wel. Agree with everything you said in your assessment. ClusterF!!

  3. Flew through Amsterdam yesterday. First time since pandemic. Huge line ups just to access the two arrival passport control areas.
    Signs advising that if you were not flying within two hours, not to join the Non-EU to Schengen border control line.
    Only McDonalds open in the upstairs food court.

    Had to be bussed to a wide-body.

    All food and retail outlets had constant line ups.

    I’ve been traveling through Amsterdam for close to 30 years and what used to be a joy has now become a chore over the last 8 years.

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Cranky Flier