Severe staff shortages at Schiphol mean that anyone travelling via the Netherlands’ largest airport risks long queues, delays, and even cancellations. With the summer holidays fast approaching, an increasing number of people across the country are concerned about what the issues at Schiphol might mean for their travel plans. Got a trip planned in the not too distant future? Here’s what you need to know about consumer rights and some top tips to make sure your journey goes as smoothly as possible. 

Large crowds expected at Schiphol throughout the summer

It’s been impossible to ignore the chaotic scenes seen at Schiphol over the past few weeks. A variety of factors, including the coronavirus pandemic and disputes over workers’ contracts, have left the airport short of staff across various positions. This, in turn, has meant many travellers face long check-in and security queues when heading off on holiday. 

Schiphol management has finally reached an agreement with trade unions over salaries and working hours, and the airport has also unveiled a four-step plan which should relieve staff of some pressure over the busy summer months. While these steps will help, Schiphol CEO Dick Benschop emphasises that they will not immediately solve all the problems the airport currently faces. 

“The staff shortages will not disappear like snow in the sun,” Benschop has said, adding that the queues will probably remain throughout the summer. Mark Harbers, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, has also warned travellers that it is possible flights will have to be cancelled during the busiest summer periods. 

Schiphol Airport’s top tips for travellers

Have you booked flights to or from Schiphol for over the summer holidays? Here are some tips from the airport about planning your journey:

  • Follow your airline’s advice to determine when you should aim to get to the airport. Schiphol emphasises that it’s important not to arrive too early. 
  • Check-in online, and if possible try to avoid booking any hold luggage.
  • Wear comfortable clothing – and comfortable shoes! – so you’re prepared for the queues, and bring a jacket in case you are required to queue outside.
  • Bring a bottle of water (max. 500 millilitres) – you’ll be allowed to keep your empty bottle when you go through security.
  • Make sure you know where to go and where to queue; download the Schiphol app for up-to-date information about your flight, or check Schiphol.nl for information about expected crowds on the day of your trip.

If you’re yet to book any trips for the summer, then you might want to rethink whether or not you want to (or have to) fly. Consider taking public transport – there are plenty of trains travelling to destinations across Europe – or driving instead. 

Refunds and compensation for delayed and cancelled flights

As a traveller, your rights will likely differ slightly depending on which airline you’re travelling with. According to the KLM website, travellers with tickets for flights departing between May 23 and June 5 are able to reschedule their holiday and book new flights free of charge. They’re also able to request a travel voucher, valid for use on all KLM, Air France and Delta flights for one year from the date of issue. 

If your KLM flight has been cancelled or suffered a delay of more than three hours, you’re able to rebook free of charge, or request a travel voucher or a full refund. You might also be eligible for compensation if you’re flying to a country within the EU, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, or the UK.  

Similar rules apply to Transavia flights. The airline’s website explains that any flights scheduled before June 30 can be rebooked free of charge, allowing you to fly from Rotterdam or Eindhoven on the same day as your scheduled departure.

For specific information about your travel plans, get in touch with your airline / tour operator, or check their website.

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