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Amsterdam Airport Question

Flying from Seattle to Amsterdam, then on to Madrid on a separately booked flight/airline. Assuming we arrive on time, we could catch a flight to Madrid two hours later. The next alternative would be five hours after arrival. Given we will need to clear customs, collect bags and re-check in, do you think two hours would be adequate---without too much stress or danger of missing our flight? Thanks!!

Posted by
4535 posts

On a separate ticket? You are playing with fire. If your original flight is delayed and you miss your connection, the connecting airline may not honor your ticket. Yes two hours is enough, but not if there is more than a minor delay. Why not book a flight and connections through with one airline/codeshare? It would significantly reduce your risk.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks for the comforting news regarding the two hours. While five hours would be much safer I'm sure, that's three more hours sitting/three less to explore Madrid.

Posted by
9702 posts

Wow, I've just barely made a connection there in 1.5 hours with bags checked thru...arrived out of breath at the gate as the plane was boarding. I won't allow less than 2 hours for a connection on one ticket thru there any more.

Posted by
3620 posts

On several trips to Europe we've encountered delays departing the U.S. -- some as long as two and a half hours. On one connection in Amsterdam flying back to the U.S. we barely made it due to heavy security screening. Better to have the five hours and not need it than need it and not have it.

Posted by
5784 posts

Out of curiosity, why would you book seperate ticketed flights when you could book a single ticket code share flight SEA to MAD?

Posted by
436 posts

I think two hours is not sufficient, especially with checked bags. Amsterdam is a very big airport, I recall a long walk to baggage claim. And if several flights arrive near the same time, a long slow line to show your passport. Not worth the stress to catch your second flight and that ticket is void if you miss the leg from Amsterdam.

Spend the night, it is a lovely city.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks all--most helpful. We have no choice regarding booking our Amsterdam-Spain-Amsterdam flights separately, having used airline miles to get from Seattle with challenging limitations.

Posted by
1937 posts

See if there is any way the airline can link your two record locators together (for the preAmsterdam and then postAmsterdam trip. May not be possible, but would not hurt to ask.

The other option is to have them make a note that you have a very tight connection upon arrival. Then, when you board, tell the flight attendant(s), especially the most senior one, that you have a very tight connection. See if you can be expedited for clearing customs (that is done for tight connections), and see if you can arrange for one of those people mover drivers to get you to your gate. The walks between gates in the (I think it is still happening) construction zones of the airport can be really long. Wear very comfortable shoes and be ready for a fast trek.

I assume you are traveling with JUST carry on? If not, there is absolutely no way I would even attempt a 2-hour connection. And, it would be super tight with just carry-on To be safe, I'd suggest booking the later flight and then see if you could switch to the earlier one, if you are through customs more quickly than you anticipate.

We've had longer connections in Amsterdam and barely made them, and each of us most always travels with just the one carry on.

Posted by
1775 posts

This sounds like a Delta flight from Seattle to Amsterdam. Is there any chance you're flying one of their partner airlines like KLM to Madrid? If they are in the same alliance, try calling and them sync the two reservations. Then your bags will go all the way to Madrid and you won't have to collect them in Amsterdam.

Posted by
544 posts

You should stay your first night in Amsterdam.

It will take over an hour to get out of the plane and through passport control, let alone getting your bags and making your way back to check in before the checked baggage cut off time.

With a transatlantic flight it's very possible to have any number of delays.

If you miss your flight you will have to buy a new ticket at last-minute fully flexible fare plus you will be totally out the cost of your old ticket. This can easily cost hundreds of dollars more.

When booking your intra-European flight note what the baggage restrictions are as well. Both carry-on and checked rules and fees are more consistently enforced in my European experience.