How much time should I allow to catch the train after our flight?

Our plane arrives (via London) in Amsterdam (Schiphol) at 14:05, and we need to catch the next train to Paris via Schiphol. (please don't ask why we don't just fly directly to Paris, the deal is done and we need to take the train).. :) I am assuming we should leave time in case of a delay, etc. Especially since once I buy the tickets from the Thaly's site, they are not refundable. I don't want to spend and extra 200E for refundable tickets. We are arriving the first week of April and tickets are available to buy in advance now. So, basically the question I need answered, is which train would we comfortably be able to catch after the 14:05 flight arrival? There are 4 of us - two adults and two teens, and we only have carry on bags. 15h34, 17h34 or 18h34 ? I do not know the layout of the airport, how long it takes to go from the plane to the train station (or where it is), if we have to get our passports checked again, etc.. I'd hate to buy 4 tickets today for the 15h34 train, only to miss it when we get there (because of a flight delay/getting lost/customs, etc)and not only be out all that $$, but then have to buy 4 more tickets at a higher price than the first batch. Also, which do you suggest for getting the tickets, once purchased?
Ticketless, Collection from an Automatic Ticket Machine, Delivery free by post or Collection from the station??

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6839 posts

The train station is directly underneath the terminal building, a very short walk from where you exit customs. If it were me I would take the 5:24pm train.
If you purchase via the Thalys.com site you should be able to print your tickets out at home.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2276 posts

How's this for a suggestion. Buy advance tickets for the 19:19 Amsterdam Centraal to Paris Nord. When you land and clear immigration, take the local train from Schipol to Amsterdam Centraal, store your bags in a locker. Then spend the next 2-4 hours exploring Amsterdam (take a canal boat cruise? visit the Rijksmuseum?) Buy tickets at NS.nl and print at home.

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

Sam, we want to arrive into Paris as soon as possible after our flight.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1972 posts

Trains in the Netherlands are very punctual, and you should be able to catch the first train out. And like Michael said, the airport train terminal is in the basement of the terminal. FYI: You have about a 315 mile trip into Paris, and then you've got to transfer to your accommodations when you hit town. You'll be somewhat tired from your plane flight before getting on the train. Next trip, you'll do better to fly directly to your destination. Amsterdam's just a 20 minute train ride into the center city, and it's a great place to spend the night, if just to rest.

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

>>The train station is directly underneath the terminal building, a very short walk from where you exit customs. If it were me I would take the 5:24pm train.
If you purchase via the Thalys.com site you should be able to print your tickets out at home. Thank you :)

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

>>>Next trip, you'll do better to fly directly to your destination. I know.. :/ Which is exactly why I wrote "please don't ask why we don't just fly directly to Paris, the deal is done and we need to take the train"
We made a few screw ups and I just need to focus on what can be done now to have a safe and comfortable trip.. I knew someone would chime in about it. Ugh. :(

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6839 posts

"...Trains in the Netherlands are very punctual..." The issue isn't how punctual the trains are (a late train would actually work to her advantage), it's how efficient the airport is. If your flight is late, there are long lines at immigration, and you have to wait to collect your checked baggage...you'll miss that first train and be out a lot of cash.

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

EXACTLY Michael.. We are only bringing carry on luggage, so hopefully that will help speed things up. I can't imagine missing the train, being out all that cash and then having to pay AGAIN for 4 full price, last minute tickets. We'd rather hang out at the airport and wait a couple hours if need be, as opposed to stressing out about potentially missing that first train.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Gina, you may be able to get the 15.34, but I would not book it myself, I would book the 17:34 I do not add stress to travel if I don't have to.. its not worth it.
As I said, sure you could make the 15.34 and its maybe even likely but what if your plane leaves late from London, late , it happens, trains do tend to be more punctual then flights for sure. i know , salt in the wound, but Gina, you could have skipped Amsterdam and just gone Eurostar to Paris for like 50 euros a head and only 1.5 hrs to city center,its is a shame you can't even enjoy a few hours in Amsterdam to make up for this mess up, not trying to berate, every traveller has had things go sideways and you are wise to just work ahead, and hope every goes smoothly, it would be nice if you come back later and let us know how is worked and what you decided to do , it will help others in your same or simlar boat, and there is always someone asking similar questions so your question is quite normal.

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

I'm actually with Sam's first suggestion on this one. There are just too many variables that could impact the time you reach the train station. Your flight from the US to London might be late causing you to miss the connection to Amsterdam and having to take a later one. You might get into London on time but the connecting flight might have a delay. Or both flights are on time but you get stuck in security and/or passport line-ups ... Sure, everyone would like to maximize their time in Paris. But look at it this way: "Worst" case scenario would be to arrive early in Amsterdam and end up spending a day walking through the city waiting for your late train. Upside of this scenario is that this time spent outdoors (don't do a dark musuem!) can help you with jet lag so that by the time you get to Paris you have more energy to explore the city.

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

>>i know , salt in the wound, but Gina, you could have skipped Amsterdam and just gone Eurostar to Paris for like 50 euros a head Yes, if you knew it was salt in the wound then why feel the need to post it? Seriously. BTW, we're actually going back to Amsterdam for a week, so we don't it's not a "shame". Sheesh, I knew I was going to get crap for my mess up, not sure why I even bothered to even ASK that it not be mentioned. Some people just can't resist, can they?

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2276 posts

Sorry, Gina, but you did not seem to like any suggestions that were offered. So I think you should just bight the bullit and buy the changeable ticket. That way, you'll get to Paris ASAP and not have to worry about late planes, immigration delays, getting lost in Schipol (the signage at Schipol is good, so that should not happen). I understand that you need a PIN & chip card to buy rail tickets in the Netherlands now, so buy and print your ticket on line ahead of time. If you miss your first train, the ticket agent will get you a new reservation on the next train.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4875 posts

I think you're right to be concerned about getting too early a train. You need to prepare for a flight arriving late, as it does happen. I would choose the 17:34 train at the earliest.

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

>>Sorry, Gina, but you did not seem to like any suggestions that were offered Actually, I thanked Michael for his post on 1/9/13 @ 12:15 PM. Then I responded again saying "We'd rather hang out at the airport and wait a couple hours if need be, as opposed to stressing out about potentially missing that first train." Sam, you say "So I think you should just bight the bullit and buy the changeable ticket." For 4 RT tickets, that will be a cost of 616.00€ for the 4 of us as opposed to 240.00€ that we can make a reservation for NOW. That's a difference of 376.00€ MORE. ($497.00.) Do any of you really think it's worth an extra $497.00 to get changeable (flex) tickets?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

I'm reluctant to contribute because it seems that those who do get their head bitten off, but here I go. I have a thick neck. Gina, have you considered the semi-flex fares which run around €40 more than the cheapest ones? If you join the " The Card" loyalty card program you get free access to the train immediately prior and the train immediately after your booked one (no seat or food guarantees - I'd be surprised if that is a problem after Rotterdam, but who knows?). If you picked the 1734 you could take the first one available after you get downstairs. Also - I don't know the make up of your 4 people but there are parents discounts, kid discounts, senior discounts available. ((putting on tin hat and ducking))

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

Nigel, I don't bite, really. I just wish folks would stick to the question I asked as opposed to offering advice that's too late to use :( Especially since I asked, and that it's obvious I'm already upset by it :( Anyhow, For 4 RT FLEX tickets, it will be a cost of 616.00€ for the 4 of us - - as opposed to regular tickets 240.00€ that we can make a reservation for NOW. That's a difference of 376.00€ MORE. ($497.00.) There are two adults and two "youths". I'd like to know more about this loyalty card. Care to share?

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2276 posts

>>For 4 RT tickets, that will be a cost of 616.00€ for the 4 of us as opposed to 240.00€ that we can make a reservation for NOW. That's a difference of 376.00€ MORE. ($497.00.) You don't need to buy refundable RT tickets, you're only worried about the arrival date so you'd pay an extra 216 Euro for those, you can go ahead and buy nonrefundable return tickets since you know you can make that train if you are in Paris. And look into Nigel's suggestion.
Happy Travels.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Gina, wowsa, sorry I offended you , I genuiely wanted to hear how it worked out for you, and I freely admitted we have all done things like this, and that your question was quite a normal and reasonable one. You really snapped at me though and I don't think it was warranted, I really thought my tone was not berating you so I do apoligize if it made you so angry.
I tend to be converstational sometimes and really , guess with you it was just the facts you wanted. Hope you have a lovely trip and enjoy yourself in Europe and that you are able to handle any other little travel bumps with ease as there are always travel bumps.

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

Sorry for being such a snot, I'm just so stressed out over this. No reason to be a brat to any of you and for that, I apologize. Quite frankly, I would have preferred to just do Paris and Amsterdam this trip (since we are doing a UK trip next year), but our teens begged for London, and one even made plans to do some artwork there on a certain day, so I felt a bit pressed. :/ I made the flight arrangements in a hurry, thinking (foolishly) that I'd be able to change them since we made them 6 months in advance. I feel like an idiot, and I guess I didn't want to be made to feel even more foolish. The whole thing feels like an utter cock up, and I feel like I've ruined the trip by not planning well. The train part isn't the worst of it though. As a matter of fact, given my idiot planning, it was actually the BEST option. If you are so inclined to see how much of a mess it is, here is the thread: http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm/rurl/topic/94291/help-i-think-i-screwed-up-40london-paris-amsterdam41.html And, if you can offer any other advice, please do and I will not bite. However, we already have all of our accommodations booked, but the only one we have a deposit on is the one on Paris. Again, I'm really sorry :(

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Gina, you will end up having fun and looking back at all this stess and laugh ( ok, may not seem like it now, but its usually how it works,,it puts the "adventure" into travel for some of us) and it makes for good cocktail stories, and we have all made mistakes. I am sure it will all work out, hope your kids know how lucky they are that you included their wishes in this trip..

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

Thanks Pat, I appreciate your kind words. Nigel, I'll check that out :) Kay, ... What?

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

Kay, you must have a reading comprehension problem. I never said anything about flat-bed seats and / or gourmet dining. And I admitted I was foolish thinking I could change the tickets since we bought it 6 months in advance. Did I blame the airline or boo hoo that I was being treated with disrespect over it, like the "bonehead" you mention? No. Wow, and I thought I was being rude. Why are you calling people names? What help is your post to this thread? I see no advice at all like the other kind posters. At least they tried to offer solutions. Thank you Sam, Pat, Nigel, Andrea, Beatrix, Michael and David.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

Gina, I'd buy the 17.34 ticket. Schiphol is very big, but easy to navigate, it has just one big hub terminal where everything and everyone (including train station) converge/goes to/through.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1560 posts

Agree with Andre. If you book earlier train am sure you will be stressed out on whole flight over, are we going to make it? It is a lovely airport if you have to hang around for a little while. You are going to Europe with family, so what if you made a little mistake. We all have at one point. Now you can some day pass on your experience to others. Enjoy.