Passenger process: From Schiphol Plaza to gate, an alternative view

Trolley case? Check. Rucksack? Check. Raincoat on, door locked – you’re on your way to Schiphol. You place your case on the belt, drink up the rest of your water and head through Customs. A quick look through duty-free and before you know it you’re boarding. Then it’s time for take-off! But while all this is happening, what’s going on behind the scenes?

Finding your way from home to the aircraft is probably not much of a problem. But the way in which Schiphol guides you and thousands of other passengers in the right direction every day is slightly more complicated. Three key insights into the passengers’ route:

1. Most of the staff who help you do not work for Schiphol

Schiphol is a coordinating organisation. This means that we entrust many of our services and commercial activities to external companies and organisations. Retailers and restaurateurs may be our tenants, but they run their own businesses. It is the airlines’ job to ensure that their check-in desks and gates are properly staffed. The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee and Customs help to keep us safe at Schiphol. You could see us as the composer and the external parties as the symphony orchestra: it’s our responsibility to ensure that the individual specialists perform harmoniously together, enabling travellers to relax as they’re guided across the airport.

2. Your face as your travel document

As you can see, Schiphol delegates many of its airport activities to others. But we are always looking for ways of enhancing and speeding up our processes. Take the bagage drop-off in Departure Hall 3 or the drive check-in at the P3 car park, for example: two systems for making it easy to relieve passengers of their baggage. The seamless-flow system is another new development. We are joining forces with other parties, including the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, to investigate the possibility of using a facial scan to enable passengers to cross the border seamlessly. It will reduce the time you wait in line.

3. On busy days, we keep an especially close eye on passenger flows

150,000 passengers in 24 hours? Although we used to call that busy, it’s totally normal now. In the summer of 2016, we even reached the 222,000 mark. On peak days like that, Schiphol deploys crowd observers to guide holidaymakers safely from Schiphol Plaza to the gate. These 80 specially-trained officers do what their name suggests: they observe the crowds. But unlike shepherds watching over their sheep, they keep the lowest possible profile. They only take action when absolutely necessary, for example by diverting groups to an alternative arrival hall.