Schiphol chaos: Passengers slam ‘disgraceful’ queues

Queues are building again at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport after more than 80 flights were cancelled on Monday.

Lines stretched hundreds of metres outside the terminal doors yesterday, as the beleaguered airport asked multiple airlines to cancel flights from 4pm onwards.

In addition to the cancellations – intended to ease stress on the terminal – around 650 flights were delayed.

Schiphol Airport blamed the chaos on a lack of security staff in the airport. The airport expects a “more manageable day” today, a spokesperson told NL Times.

What is going on at Schiphol Airport?

The airport is less busy today than it was yesterday, though the queues are currently building.

On Monday, Schiphol attributed the long queues to security staffing issues.

“Staffing levels at security today are lower than what Schiphol had requested of the security companies,” an airport spokesperson said.

“As a result, there is a shortage of security personnel and the number of waiting travellers is increasing, especially in Departures 3.”

“Unfortunately there is a chance that travellers will miss their flight due to long waiting times,” they added.

The shortages come as security staff look elsewhere for jobs. During July and August, employees received an extra of €5.25 allowance per hour.

Now that the bonus period is over, staff are quitting in droves, claimed union Joost van Doesburg, a representative for the Netherlands Trade Union confederation.

“Many staff came especially for this allowance. The summer allowance has thus helped to cope with the summer problems but has not helped make the problems at Schiphol disappear in a sustainable way,” he said.

The airport apologised for the situation and the “disappointment” it would cause.

It was cold comfort to thousands of frustrated travellers, many of whom took to social media to vent their anger at the long delays.

“Huge shout out to Schiphol for the 4 and a half hour wait in these queues, only to find out our flight has been cancelled due to the chaos,” wrote one user.

“Schiphol chaos is the worst I’ve seen in more than 40 years flying,” claimed another.

Others described waiting on the tarmac for up to five hours to allow stranded passengers time to board.

“Dozens of missed connections on the other end. Disgrace is the right word,” one woman said.

Many airlines urge their passengers not to arrive more than four hours before their flights, to avoid putting undue pressure on the airport.

However, some passengers who followed this advice described missing their flights – and advised others to arrive at least five hours before scheduled take-off.

Will Schiphol passengers get compensation?

Schiphol has invited passengers with cancelled or missed flights to apply for compensation.

Usually, airlines, not airports, are responsible for compensation. However, the Dutch airport introduced the policy earlier this year after passengers faced mammoth delays.

The latest debacle follows a difficult summer for Schiphol. Airlines and airports slashed jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult to quickly ramp back up to serve the new burst of travellers. At the same time, airport and airline staff conducted strikes over pay and working conditions.

As air travel rebounds from two years of restrictions, the entire industry is struggling to cope.

In late August, British Airways cancelled more than 10,000 upcoming flights to and from London Heathrow.

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