Amsterdam Schiphol has introduced a security time slot system to try to do something about the horrendous queues at security.
Passengers heading for the Schengen Zone can book a specific time slot to go through security. They can make the booking from 72 hours before their departure time. The latest booking is one hour before departure.
The service only applies to the security check. Passengers still need to allow enough time to check in and drop bags before going to security. Time slots for bag drop is probably on the way.
For now, it’s just Schengen flights but the airport says other destinations will follow shortly.
How it works?
- Passengers make the booking on the airport website. They enter their flight details, party size and email address and choose a time slot from those suggested.
- The time slots are valid for 15 minutes after the specified time.
- Passengers receive an email with a QR code with their slot details.
- They go to a special security lane – called Timeslot – where a Schiphol employee will scan the QR code.
This last bit is a bit backward – why not scan the boarding pass or QR code at an egate just for the special lane?
Why is Schiphol introducing security time slots?
Security at Schiphol is a national embarrassment for the Dutch. Starting in April 2022, passengers have had to endure endless lines – often outside the terminals – and many missed flights.
Schiphol, grudgingly, eventually offered limited compensation for passengers who missed flights.
I was flying with BA to Gatwick at that time and missed my flight (first time ever) because of the fiasco at security. I eventually got some compensation from Schiphol.
Schiphol says that using time slots means passengers know exactly when they are expected at the security check. That’s true and good.
BUT, they then go on to blame passengers:
As a result, we can avoid a situation in which travellers arrive at the airport too early, causing unnecessarily long queues.Extract from Schiphol press release.
Note that passengers only know when to arrive at security, not how long it will take to go through security and then passport control.
I tried the system for a KLM flight to Barcelona. I made the booking 26 hours before departure and was given a choice of just two slots – 3 hours before departure or 1 hour before.
Experience at AMS totally rules our anything under 1.5 to 2 hours. So, really just one slot three hours before departure.
The booking on screen looks like this:
On my mobile I got the an email with a lot of spiel but the time slot is on bold in the text.
The QR code is an attachment with no text – just the QR code.
Other airports with time slots
Schiphol is the 4th large European airport to introduce time slots at security.
A number of airports worldwide have introduced or trialled security time slots.
- Cologne Airport introduces security time slots
- Passengers at Canadian airports can book security time slots
- Changi Airport trials security slot time bookings
- Munich Airport trials security time slots
- Passengers at Berlin Airport can book security time slots
- Aruba Airport introduces timed entrance to terminal
- MIA trials booked TSA screening times
Schiphol trialled time slots in 2017
One of the most annoying things about Schiphol is that it has previously tried to be ahead of the curve in some aspects.
It trialled a security slot system in 2017. Long before the rest of the EU.
The Personal Security Pass trial lasted two weeks. Like the current scheme, it applied to Schengen destinations. It was restricted to passengers traveling between 10:00 and 13:30. Passengers got a 15 minute slot to go through the security check.