How I avoided 6-hour lines at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport – and you can too

Jun 8, 2022

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Last week, I traveled out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS) — one of the major hotspots of aviation chaos. I arrived at the airport by taxi and witnessed giant lines of passengers snaking around the terminal. The overcrowding issues mainly stem from staffing shortages at security, and they have become so severe that last week, KLM halted bookings for flights over the weekend.

Some passengers were reporting waits as long as six hours to clear security.

Social media shows just how long the lines are with images of wall-to-wall crowds inside the airport and snaking lines outdoors.

 

I did see the lines, but my experience was a little different. I hope by sharing it, I can save some of you some precious time and give you a better chance of actually catching your flights.

How to skip the wait

I utilized two methods to skip the wait. Either method in isolation would have worked. First, I have Gold status with Virgin Atlantic. I was flying with KLM from Amsterdam to London‘s Heathrow Airport (LHR), and due to the partnership between Virgin and KLM/Air France, I received “Sky Priority.” This allowed me to use the Sky Priority check-in area as well as priority security lanes in the airport. There was no line whatsoever for check-in, and the security was almost as clear — there were only about 10 people ahead of me.

Before flying, I also checked on the KLM app for upgrade offers. I was offered the option to upgrade to business class for just $62.97.  I wouldn’t normally consider this for such a short flight, but I was in desperate need of additional Virgin tier points to re-achieve Gold status. Plus, I hoped my cabin status would aid my airport experience. So, I took the plunge.

Overall, there are three ways tot give you a smoother journey in these chaotic times.

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Status

If you already have status, now, more than ever is the time to use it. Even if the cost is a little higher, you might find your airport experience revolutionized. For example, flying out of Heathrow with British Airways silver status (or above) would give you dedicated check-in desks and priority security lines. On the other hand, flying the same route on Ryanair with a regular ticket would be a much less enjoyable experience. Access to the lounges will also be helpful when it comes to waiting out the inevitable delays.

Upgrade

If you’re on a flight with premium cabins, check how much it costs to upgrade. British Airways and other short-haul legacy carriers sometimes offer very cheap upgrades in the days before flying. My $63 upgrade to business class with KLM was a great example of this.

seats on airplane
(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

Pay your way

Many airports offer priority security lane usage in return for a small fee. Some airports charge as little as $6.30 for this privilege. This is a handy method if you’re flying on a low-cost carrier that doesn’t offer a premium cabin. I recently paid a small fee to use this lane at Naples airport thus avoiding what looked like an hour-long wait. Instead, I cleared security in a couple of minutes.

Related: Why you should get TSA PreCheck and Clear—and how you can save on both

gate at airport
(Photo by olaser/Getty Images)

Bottom line

Travel will continue to be tough for many thanks to long lines, and numerous delays and cancellations. You would be wise to employ some of the tactics outlined above to try and make your trip a little less stressful.

Featured photo by EVERT ELZINGA/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

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