Connecting flights at Amsterdam Schiphol airport: useful tips
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (Iata code: AMS) is the third busiest airport in Europe, serving over 70 million passengers a year. Schiphol airport is a hub for KLM airlines (Part of Air France - KLM group), their subsidiary Transavia and easyJet. Schiphol is important for connecting flights linking Europe and USA as the US Delta airlines links Amsterdam with 11 major destinations in USA.
Despite the huge capacity, the airport is built in a unique way, applying the single terminal concept. This allows the minimum connection times to be shorter compared to hubs of similar size, going down to 40 minutes for certain connections.
The shape is somewhat semi-circular, divided into 4 areas. There are no internal trains, buses or other means of transiting from one area to the other. All gates are situated under one roof. A lot of walking is needed, but the ground escalators help a lot in the transit process. Area 1 is dedicated to flights to and from Shengen (within the EU), which included gate zones B, C and partly D. Areas 2,3 and 4 are dedicated to non-Schengen flights and include gate zones G, F and E. All gates are situated at the sides of piers, which provide plenty of space for airbridges. Airbridges are very connection-friendly, as they allow for the accomodation of late comers at the gate.
The signage is excellent, with abundance of signs directing the transfer passengers. Unlike many other airports, at Schiphol all ways leading towards the exit of the airport (arrivals hall) are marked with signs, as shown on the picture below:
Picture: Exit to arrivals hall
Picture: Exit for transfer passengers only
On the official website of Schiphol airport you can find a very detailed interactive terminal map.
KLM has created a great video instructing their passengers on how to make a smooth connection at Schiphol airport. You can watch that video here.
There is plenty of choice around Schiphol airport with hotels offering free transfer to the terminal. All the big names are present, from five star chains to budget 3 star: Sheration, Hayatt, Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Ibis Styles and others. The complete list of hotels in the vicinity of Amsterdam Schiphol airport you can find here.
But Schiphol airport also offers accommodation within the terminal, which is suitable for short term sleep or for passenger without transit visa. YotelAir Schiphol transit hotel offers an airside access. It is designed in an innovative way with cabins, resembling the interior of a passenger ship.
Picture: Entrance to YotelAir from the airside non-shengen area
For transit passengers who decide to spend the night airside, there are plenty of armrest chairs, where they can sit and relax. Schiphol is a silent airport, so it doesn't get very noisy in the main areas. There are altogether five designated relaxation rooms airside with reclining chairs.
Eeach of the airside areas of the airport is equiped with bars, restaurants, duty free and other shops. Prices are quite high, but comparable to other big hubs around the world. Among the amenities you can find children playgrounds, casinos and even a museum. The access to the gym costs EUR 20, but on the other hand there are free water fountains across the terminal. Airside drugstore and a medical center is also available.
There is free wifi across the terminal with fairly good speed. There are few workstations with desks, suitable for travellers wanting to do some work.
Irrespective of all the available facilities in the transit area, we need to acknowledge the fact that the interior is rather worn out. It's an old, heavily used airport, which is subject to partial innovation and good maintenance. Nevertheless, it cannot be compared to state of art facilities such as Doha Hamad Airport.
Picture: KLM airlplane children playground in the airside non-shengen area
Schiphol airport is really rich in shops, offering plenty of optioins. It is useful to note that many of the shops are located in the Plaza, which is the common area before the security zone. That area is not accessible from the airside, therefore not good for connecting flight passengers with short layovers. In the plaza you can find the Albert Heijn supermarket, Florists, telecom shop, Etos (drug store), G - star (jeans), Victoria's Secret (underwear), H&M (clothes), Hema (home accessories) and many others. The plaza resembles a mini mall.
There are plenty of opportunities for transit passengers too. On Schiphol's website, you can browse all the available shops in the different departure areas. Among the big names are Burberry, Bvlugari, Dutch Discoveries, Victoria's Secrer, Dutch Food Gifts, Gassan Watches, Swatch, Gucci, Mac, Rolex, Swarowski, Say Cheese, News & Books (many outlets), WHSmith and many others.
Self connecting at Schiphol airport
Self connecting is an option at Schiphol airport, mainly due to the fact that the low fare airlines Easyjet and Transavia operate from it. Both airlines offer low fares to 50+ short range destinations in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. A lot of summer destinations to popular sea resorts are served seasonally too. Due to the size of Schiphol, self-connecting with checked luggage may take long, especially if you arrive from a non-schengen destination. In essence, you need to exit from arrivals and re-enter again. In order to make use of the airside connection facilities, you need to make sure you travel with hand baggage only and that you have a boarding pass ready for your next flight. In that case you can just follow the transfer signs in order to locate the gate of your next flight.
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Written by Connectionreview.com team