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Your experiences with KLM flights and Amsterdam Airport?

Hello folks,

I'm considering taking a flight from Chicago to Rome that is run by KLM and connects in Amsterdam. The second leg is KLM operated by Italia. I'll have two hours to find the new gate. Do you think this will be difficult for an American who speaks no Dutch? Has anyone been to this airport? What's it like?

For the return trip, again connecting in Amsterdam, I have Northwest Airlines, operated by KLM-- and only 85 minutes to make my second gate. Same questions.

I've done google searches and it seems like people either despise it or love it- no middle ground. I have no idea what to think!

Thanks!

Posted by
1312 posts

If your first flight is on time, you should have no problem making the connection. The signage in European airports is good and there are always information stations to get help.

Posted by
1589 posts

" Do you think this will be difficult for an American who speaks no Dutch?

Aaron, in general you will find that the English spoken to you in Europe will be better then what you hear around you here in the USA. The A'dam airport is as international as it gets!

Have a great trip!

Posted by
1358 posts

Don't be concerned about finding someone who speaks English in ANY country in Europe. I have traveled in over 50 countries in 20 years; I am still amazed at the high percentage of foreigners who like to speak our language.

Several have told me that they benefit from speaking to us because it permits them to practice our language. All you have to do wherever you are is to ask if there is anyone who speaks English. You will find one easily!

Posted by
8293 posts

Aaron: All the signage at Schipol Airport is in English. Have no fear.

Posted by
264 posts

I live in England and honestly Schipol feels more like America that anyplace in England :)

Schipol is great airport to transfer through. Be happy you are there and not Heathrow

If your flying with KLM you should have no problem with the transfer short of a delay on your original flight.

Posted by
290 posts

I travel every year to Europe and have connected out of most of the major hubs there. My experience is Amsterdam is better time wise for connections than Frankfurt or London Heathrow. It can be a long walk from one end of the airport to the other for connections though. Let your airline attendent on board your flight from Chigaco know about the 85 minute connection time & ask how to get through customs/immigration fast enough to catch your flight. There were some folks with the same issue on my flight last Oct and they were given instructions on where to go. It seems there is a "fast lane" through for these tight flights. But truthfully, it was no big deal for me going through normal channels - about 20 mins wait time. Way better than the 2 hrs it took me to go through Frankfurt customs/immigration or the 50 mins it took for me to get through it at London Heathrow. I missed my connecting flight to Berlin at Frankfurt - even though I had 2 hrs and 25 mins connection time. KLM is an OK airline. Comfort depends on what type of plane you are on, since there are many old planes in their fleet. Don't expect your own movie viewing screen....most cases you'll only get the old time TV's mounted on the aisle ceiling. But the food has improved a bit. Don't worry about only speaking English. Most Dutch speak a minimum of 2 languages...English always being one of them.

Posted by
711 posts

Hi Aaron... Some of the best flights I have taken have been on KLM. The airport is wonderful... have no fears.

Posted by
10 posts

Well if the Rick Steves community is unanimous, I have my answer :)

Thanks everyone!

Posted by
359 posts

Aaron I'll just chime in here a bit late. IMO you won't find an easier large airport to transit than Schiphol. When living in Holland for a few years 5/6 years ago was in and out of there 2/3 times per week. Everyone at the airport (the whole country, really) speaks perfect English, they have lots of 'people movers' to get you from gate to gate, area to area, and it is very well signed in Dutch and English. You will not need to speak Dutch and two hours one way and 85 minutes the other will give you lots of time to make your connection.

Chicago to Schiphol should pose no problems; the other leg, to/from Rome should be OK so long as weather (read, fog) doesn't interfere. Spring and fall on inter-Europe flights are often delayed because of fog/bad weather. I've spent a few extra nites in Zurich, Vienna, Munich, Paris, Rome, Sarajevo, etc., because of the weather (spring/fall) and flights not being able to go anywhere. They can almost always get into/out of Schiphol because of the airport's avionics, not the same for the cities where the flight are headed to/returning from. If you get stuck in Holland, doesnt' get better than that. BTW, was stuck at O'Hare one night because of weather -better off at Schiphol.

Posted by
10 posts

Oh absolutely- as a Chicago native Im all too aware of the infamous delays at O'Hare :)

Posted by
264 posts

I'd be fascinated to know how many hours of my life have been lost waiting for delayed flights at O'Hare

Posted by
11798 posts

It should work fine. KLM is a decent airline.

My biggest issue with a similar flight (Rome-Adam-Minneapolis-Spokane) was they kept canceling flights and rebooking. First they wanted me to overnight in Minneapolis then changed to an overnight layover in A'dam and finally back to nearly the original itinerary.

They contacted me, were polite and reasonably helpful through the process and it all worked out fine so I don't have any complaints. Canceled flights seem to be a sign of the times (or at least were until gas prices dropped again).

Posted by
168 posts

Hi Aaron,

You'll be fine. We have stopped through Amsterdam many times and finding the gates was very easy. We also had only about a 90 min layover and were fine.

Plus you are taking great airlines. I flew NWA and KLM my last trip and now will only fly these airlines. They have individual TV's on each seat and about 30 different options of movies to watch. Plus there is FREE Wine & Beer the entire trip on these airlines which is hard to find these days. Plus they give you 1 meal and 2 snacks at least.

Have a great time!

Posted by
131 posts

If not too late, here is my experience- as far as KLM, I have used them in conjunction with Northwest several times and it's been fine. My last connection was similar to yur return leg- although Nice, France-Amsterdam and then Amsterdam nonstop to Seattle. I had an hour between. I made it, barely, and here are my tips:
-You have only your carry-on, no checked bags
-You tell the flight attendant and start apologizing to people and get off the plane (I was lucky it was right on time)ASAP
-I walk-ran all the way to the customs area, that took about 10-15 minutes. It's well signed, that part is easy- it's just BIG! Without much trouble, I started to get teary eyed and stressed out looking and begging people to let me go in front of them because my flight was leaving. 50-50 results- some people were really nice, some said theirs was leaving, too! But that saved a few more minutes.
-More walk-running. The customs interview in the gate area took 15 minutes, but by then I relaxed because I was at the gate and they knew I was there!
So you should be fine, with almost half an hour more time than I did. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
8927 posts

As mentioned before there is no reason to cut people in line at the immigration area. There is an express lane for those travelers with flights boarding soon; there will be a monitor above it, showing which flights qualify. Also, the interview at the gate is part of security check. At Schipol they use the Israeli style security screening by asking you questions about your luggage. Be 100% honest because the security folks are trained to detect deception, and are very good at it.

Posted by
242 posts

Michael,

When did you fly out of Schipol that used these security measures? I have flown in and out of there a dozen times in the last few months and have never experienced this - neither the questioning or the express line?

Posted by
8927 posts

I usually fly Continental, and they always have the questioning- on transatlantic flights only. The express lane is at the immigration post that separates the schengen and non-schengen halves of the terminal. Thus it's only available to those who are switching planes for intercontinental flights. If you're starting your journey out of Amsterdam, no express lane is available- you would use a different immigration post.