The travel chaos at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is so bad that local companies associated with the airport, including IT giant Microsoft, are sending employees into the airport as volunteers to help passengers.
More than 100 employees from several companies including the likes of fellow IT and consulting firm Cognizant and Vanderlande which makes and maintains baggage belts for airports around the world have helped out in Schiphol’s bustling terminals over the last few weeks.
The volunteers are bolstering a workforce of Schiphol office staff who have been sent into the airport to manage queues that on occasions have stretched for more than a kilometre and answer questions from frantic passengers.
The volunteers and office staff have been dubbed the ‘flamingos’ because of the bright pink hi-visibility tabards that they have to wear.
Schiphol has been one of the worst affected European airports for long queues and delayed baggage this summer after the airport failed to keep up with the sudden and overwhelming return in travel demand when pandemic restrictions were eventually lifted earlier this year.
In a last-ditch attempt to bring the chaos inside the airport under control, Schiphol’s managers imposed a draconian cap on the number of passengers allowed to fly from the airport each day.
That cap, which currently stands at just 67,500 local departing passengers per day, is set to be extended through to the end of October at the earliest as the airport struggles to recruit enough security officers to meet the demand for travel.
Schiphol says it hopes to have 200 new security officers starting in August but the airport will have to wait until October for an additional 80 new security officers to have finished an extensive training programme.
Like other airports, Schiphol has also blamed passengers for some of its woes, saying after two years of pandemic travel restrictions, passengers are failing to comply with the security rules which then causes delays at security checkpoints as additional checks are required.
Unfortunately, the airport believes the end of the hot summer won’t also be the end of lengthy waits to get through security checks. In fact, Schiphol says delays could get worse because passengers will be using more bins at security for their winter coats, hiking boots and vests.
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.