Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has told passengers to bring as little luggage as possible with them this weekend if they are to have any hope of getting through security checkpoints in time to make their flights.
The major European hub has faltered in recent weeks after the airport failed to keep up with the return in demand for air travel. Passengers have faced delays and disruption and Schiphol fears a meltdown during the busy Whitsun holiday weekend.
Most of the problems are concentrated at Schiphol’s security checkpoints where staff shortages are leading to excruciatingly long wait times. By reducing the amount of hand luggage, airport managers are hoping to make the screening process much quicker.
The problems have gotten so bad that Dutch flag carrier KLM has been forced to cap the number of ticket sales on its departures from Amsterdam so that passengers who miss their flights due to security holdups can be easily rebooked on the next service.
Clearly annoyed that its sales are being hit by ongoing problems outside of its control, KLM “emphatically” called on other airlines to also cap passenger numbers to relieve some pressure at the airport.
“In order to contribute to a manageable situation at the airport and in its own operations, KLM is forced to initiate a number of actions,” the airline said in a statement on Friday.
The airline has proactively cancelled 50 flights per day over the holiday weekend and is running a trial to load baggage onto flights at the last minute. The idea is that it will make it easier to find and offload luggage of passengers who miss their flights because they are still stuck in the security line.
A spokesperson for KLM said it understood that passengers might face some “unexpected turns” and said the airline “appeals to their understanding in these exceptional circumstances”.
Schiphol airport says it is desperately trying to recruit more security staff and has just signed an agreement with two major unions to make pay and working conditions more attractive.
Disruption is expected to affect travellers throughout the summer but problems are likely to be sporadic and unpredictable. Some airlines and airports that have so far fared well have warned that they are not immune to the current issues and that problems could still crop up over the next few months.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
My carry-on luggage contains things like computers, phones, fragile items, items with lithium ion batteries and things that could get stolen by airline personnel. Airlines have only themselves to blame for a lot of that since they roughly handle luggage and allow pilfering to go on. On many trips, going without those things would make the trip useless to go on. I didn’t see anything about KLM and the other airlines offering refunds for only providing part of the service. Maybe higher fees need to be implemented to pay for sufficient personnel to do the job quickly. On the other hand, maybe some of the increased ticket prices that are now common could be used to pay for temporary personnel.