We’re becoming accustomed to seeing huge lines of passengers struggling to make their flights on time because of massive delays at check-in and security at airports across Europe, the United States and Australia. But Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport may have set a new record on Monday morning for the number of passengers lining up to get to the security checkpoint.
Arvin George, an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Urology Department, was trying to travel home after attending a conference in Amsterdam when he took a video of the long queue of passengers snaking for what seems like more than a mile outside the airport terminal.
The line of passengers stretches far beyond a set of temporary tents designed to accommodate the queues with hundreds left to battle the outside elements as they wait in the slow-moving procession of weary people.
George said the video that he shot from the back of his taxi driving past the lineup was just 60 per cent of the total queue. Security staff told him the average wait to make it to the security checkpoint was three hours on Monday morning.
Similar scenes were shaping up on Tuesday to cause more passenger misery with EasyJet customer Lizzie calling the queues “the worst experience of her life”.
Schiphol has probably more than any other airport in Europe with the sudden and massive return in demand for air travel. After laying off security staff during the pandemic, the airport has struggled to recruit new staff fast enough. The process is inherently slow because security staff must pass tough vetting checks.
In an attempt to reduce the delays and disruptions that have plagued the airport over the last few months, Schiphol has artificially capped passenger load factors, telling airlines that the airport could only cope with 67,500 passengers per day throughout the whole of July.
Dutch flag carrier KLM, whose hub is at Schiphol, was amongst airlines told that passenger numbers would have to be reduced by 13,500 seats per day due to a security staff shortage.
Despite the chaotic scenes on Monday and Tuesday, Schiphol says it is confident that it can increase its capacity cap to 73,000 passengers per day from August 1.
“All efforts are focused on keeping the consequences for travellers to a minimum,” commented Patricia Vitalis, director of Airport Operations at Schiphol airport.
“For July, most airlines and travel organisations have indicated that, after making some adjustments, the large majority of passengers will be able to go on holiday. We are grateful for the tremendous effort, by partners, passengers and our colleagues, that was needed to make this happen,” Vitalis continued.
Schiphol continues to urge passengers not to turn up at the airport more than four hours before their scheduled departure and to bring as little luggage with them as possible.
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.