Chaos again at Schiphol: ‘We’re just standing here like cattle’ | Inland

If you drive into the airport grounds around noon on Monday, you will already see people queuing up at the entrance to the ‘short-term parking’. The travelers are moving there step by step. Many have been queuing for at least an hour.

The frustration is therefore great among the waiting passengers. “We’re just standing here like cattle,” Armand van Veen says. He goes on holiday to Crete with his children Max, Mignon and Isabel. “If we make it,” he sighs. “We’ve been queuing here for over an hour and we’re really not there yet. It is now almost 1 o’clock and our plane leaves just after 3 o’clock. We arrived here 3.5 hours in advance. That should be enough, you think.”

He shrugs. “That’s just the way it is. Now we just have to queue up slavishly and obediently hope it’s not too bad. You can do no more.”

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In the outdoor area just in front of the entrance to the departure hall, white tents have been erected under which travelers can stand. But at the peak of the crowds, these are far from adequate and people are standing hundreds of meters outside the tent. An eyewitness on the spot, who often visits Schiphol, is stunned. “Normally people can easily arrive here two hours before the flight, now you have to be there at least three or four hours earlier, otherwise you will just miss your flight. I’ve never seen such queues here. And it’s not even peak season yet.”

Paulien Hageman, who is going to Iceland with her husband, has only one and a half hours left to catch the flight. “This is really outrageous,” she snaps. “We got here almost five hours before, just to be safe! We had to wait for almost an hour and a half for the suitcases and that’s how long we are already standing in line here. And we are not there yet.”

She hopes it will be okay. “I hear more people here who have to catch the same flight and if the plane is half empty, the airline is of no use either?! So I hope the plane is waiting.”

Hageman now regrets her choice to fly from Schiphol. “We also had the opportunity to first drive to Düsseldorf and board the plane there. We should have just done that, because I can’t imagine it being as badly organized there as it is here.”

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‘It’s crazy anyway’

Once inside the departure hall, a regular message sounds through the intercom, asking travelers to ‘understand’ for the longer waiting times due to a shortage of staff.

Martijn van Winkel does not have that. “No chance”, he answers firmly, when asked what he thinks of the situation at the largest airport in our country. He too is going to Iceland and has been queuing for over an hour. “I was there four hours in advance, but then I couldn’t have the suitcases checked in. The counter did not open until an hour later and we had already been waiting there for an hour and a half. I find that so weird too. Don’t they know there are already a lot of problems?!”

Martijn van Winkel: 'No chance'

Martijn van Winkel: ‘No chance’

Van Winkel says he does not know what he can do now. “Yes, I can file a complaint with the airport, but I wonder if that makes sense. And of course I could go to another airport next time, but if I have to drive much further, that is not a solution for me either. Isn’t it crazy that you can’t just be helped here in a reasonable time?!”

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Van Veen understands that it is a difficult situation for Schiphol. “Of course I understand that you can’t just conjure staff from everywhere. But then you as an airport can just as well arrange things much better for the travelers. I mean: we’re standing outside here now, raining wet! They just have to put up a lot more tents, so that we are at least dry in the queue. I still think it’s bizarre, but at least it’s a little less bad. I notice that everyone here is very cynical and grumpy.”

The lines extend far out. Armand van Veen (R), Max van Veen, Mignon and Isabel try to make the best of it. “I notice that everyone here is very cynical and grumpy.”

He is also less and less interested in flying from Schiphol. “It doesn’t get any fun this way. Parking is expensive, you have to walk more at the airport to get to your gate and then you’re also waiting there endlessly.”

Van Veen does see a positive point. “When we arrive on a wonderfully sunny Crete, the contrast could not be greater! That will be extra fun.”


Last Wednesday there was a consultation between Schiphol and the trade unions about solving the workload. The FNV union previously announced that it would take action if there is no agreement between the airport and the unions before 1 June. Schiphol CEO Dick Benschop was not personally present at the talks on Wednesday. Due to the staff shortage at the airport among security officers and baggage handlers, long lines of waiting passengers are expected again, just as in recent times.

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After the talks with the unions, Schiphol announced that they had been constructive and that there is a common goal to reach an agreement before 1 June. Another meeting is scheduled for Monday.

It has been busy at the airport since the beginning of the May holiday. During the first weekend of the May holiday, on Saturday 23 April, chaos ensued due to a wild strike at baggage handlers. In the meantime, there is also a major shortage of security guards, as a result of which people have recently had to queue for hours and sometimes even missed their flight.

Groningen Airport Eelde can take over up to twenty flights a day from Schiphol in the coming period. That is what director Meitje de Groot of the airport says. It states that it is discussing this with Schiphol and the airlines. Due to the large crowds at the airport, Schiphol wants to move flights to regional airports, among other things.

“We can easily scale up for the summer season if we know in time,” says De Groot. “We must jointly look at how we can solve this,” she also says as chair of the Dutch Association of Airports (NVL). De Groot believes that the role of Schiphol for the longer term should also be considered. “Freight flights or holiday flights can be handled perfectly in the region.”

The personnel problems that Schiphol faces are of less importance at Groningen Airport Eelde. De Groot still receives plenty of responses to vacancies.

View the images of the chaos at the airport here.



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