Level 1 – The Check-In Debacle
After checking in my suitcase, I begin to recognize the faint signs of impending doom as the line to gate B31 begins to move AWAY from customs in a curious twist.
And then swings outside into a large festical marquee. Without music by the way, so just a big tent, I guess. And then around the corner into a second tent. And a third tent. And a fourth (for balance I think). And then to an area without a tent.
Here we encounter the first emergency toilets, an international signal that things are NOT looking positive.
Minutes pass and the stream of people is now walking so far away from the terminal building that I can see my hometown of Zaandam (North of Amsterdam) again, so to speak. Just as we are about to touch the border with Austria (I swear I’m starting to smell strudel) the crowd turns and we walk in the right direction again, step-by-step, like a funeral procession.
From here – with Schiphol’s iconic radio tower set against the blue sky high above the dark crowd – we can suddenly take in a bit of the damage.
Impressive photos are sent to loved ones and the harsh reality is clearly starting to hit everyone, given the many sighs and headshakes around me. As we shuffle back to the terminal building, more and more people are clearly starting to get restless and some are already climbing over the concrete barricades to get further forward in line.
The Dutch Royal Marechaussee soon arrives and given the amount of weapons they carry, I personally would rather miss my flight than argue with them, but a few people are already so hysterical that they try anyway. Without success.
The slight despair is now turning into heavy outrage for some and people are starting to turn to each other for support. “Did you leave home so early too?”. “You got right.” “What time does your flight leave?” “In ten minutes.” “Oh dear.” “You got that right.”.
My personal emotional support animal becomes this American lady who is on her way to Romania for a conference and actually tried to do that yesterday already. Due to a cancellation of her original flight, she now suddenly has a stopover in Amsterdam. But with the time between her check-in opening time, this line and her flight time, which is so tight that even Usain Bolt couldn’t make it on a free track, there’s not a chance that she’ll make it to her gate in time.
I hear dozens of the same stories around me.
The main problem seems to be the fact that you can’t get to the airport more than four hours before your flight, that the check-in and bag-drop desks only open about two hours before departure… and oh yeah… that the QUEUE TO GET THROUGH CUSTOMS ALONE TAKES MORE THAN 3 HOURS!
I’m bad at math, but even I see you’re seven feet and two triangles short here.