Amsterdam Travel Guide
The least expensive airfares to the Netherlands originate from the United Kingdom and other European countries, are priced for round-trip travel, and must usually be purchased in advance online. Airlines generally allow you to change your return date for a fee; most low-fare tickets, however, are nonrefundable.
EasyJet has low fares to Amsterdam flying in from Belfast, Edinburgh, Geneva, Glasgow, Liverpool, London (Gatwick and Luton), and Nice. Transavia flies to Amsterdam and Rotterdam from Barcelona, Nice, and numerous other cities. Ryanair flies to the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven from London, Stansted, and a dozen other cities around Europe. BMIBaby flies to Amsterdam from its hub in Nottingham (East Midlands Airport).
Consolidators and Low-Cost Airlines
Transavia (0900/0737 in the Netherlands. www.transavia.com.)
Air Pass Info
oneworld Visit Europe Pass (www.oneworld.com.)
SkyTeam Go Europe Pass (www.skyteam.com.)
Star Alliance Europe Airpass (www.staralliance.com.)
Flying time to Amsterdam is 7 hours from New York, 8 hours from Chicago, 10½ hours from Los Angeles, 9 hours from Dallas, 6½ hours from Montreal, 9½ hours from Vancouver, and 20 hours from Sydney.
Always ask your carrier about its check-in policy. Plan to arrive at the airport about two hours before your scheduled departure time—and don't forget your passport. If you are flying within Europe, check with the airline to find out whether food is served on the flight. If you have dietary concerns, request special meals when booking. Low-cost airlines don't provide a complimentary in-flight service, but snacks and drinks can be purchased on board. For help picking the most comfortable seats, check out SeatGuru.com, which has information about specific seat configurations for different types of aircraft.
Smoking is prohibited on flights to and from Amsterdam. You are not required to reconfirm flights, but you should confirm the departure time by telephone if you made your reservation considerably in advance, as flight schedules are subject to change without notice.
Airlines and Airports
Airline and Airport Links.com. This helpful website has links to many of the world's airlines and airports. www.airlineandairportlinks.com.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. This agency has answers for almost every question that might come up. www.tsa.gov.
A 2004 European Union (EU) regulation standardized the rights of passengers to compensation in the event of flight cancellations or long delays. The law covers all passengers departing from an airport within the EU, and all passengers traveling into the EU on an EU carrier, unless they received assistance in the country of departure. Full details are available from the airlines, and are posted prominently in all EU airports.
Located 17 km (11 miles) southeast of Amsterdam, Schiphol (pronounced "Shh-kip-hole") is the main passenger airport for Holland. With the annual number of passengers using Schiphol exceeding 45 million, it is ranked among the world's top five best-connected airports. Several hotels, a service to aid passengers with disabilities, parking lots, and a main office of the Netherlands tourist board (in Schiphol Plaza and known as "HTi"—Holland Tourist Information) can all prove most useful. The comprehensive Schiphol telephone service, charged at €0.40 per minute, provides information about flight arrivals and departures as well as all transport and parking facilities.
Rotterdam is the biggest of the regional airport options and provides daily service to many European cities; another regional airport is Eindhoven. An increasing number of international charter flights and some budget carriers choose these airports, as benefits include shorter check-in times and ample parking. However, there are no rail links that connect such regional airports with their respective nearby cities, so passengers must resort to taking buses or taxis.
Airport Information Holland
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (17 km [11 mi] southwest of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 1118 AP. 0900/0566 [€0.40 per min]; 31/207940800 Calls from outside the Netherlands only. www.schiphol.nl.)
Eindhoven Airport (8 km [5 mi] west of Eindhoven, Eindhoven, 5657 EA. 0900/9505 [€1.30 per call]; +35–22/700–0767 Calls from outside the Netherlands only. www.eindhovenairport.nl.)
Rotterdam The Hague Airport (17 km [11 mi] northwest of Rotterdam, Rotterdam, 3045 AP. 010/446–3444. www.rotterdam-airport.nl.)
The Schiphol Rail Link operates between the airport and the city 24 hours a day, with service to Amsterdam Centraal Station (usually abbreviated to Amsterdam CS), and to stations in the south of the city. From 6:30 am to 12:30 am, there are up to eight trains each hour to Centraal; at other times, there is one train every hour. The trip takes about 15–20 minutes and costs €3.80. Schiphol Station is beneath Schiphol Plaza. From Centraal Station, Trams 1, 2, and 5 go to Leidseplein and the Museum Quarter. Keep in mind that Schiphol Station is one of Holland's busiest—make sure you catch the shuttle to Amsterdam and not a train heading to The Hague! As always, when arriving at Amsterdam's Centraal Station, keep an eye out for pickpockets. You may wish to hop aboard a tram or bus to get to your hotel, so go to one of the Gemeentevervoerbedrijf (GVB) Amsterdam Municipal Transport booths found in front of the Centraal Station. Here you can find directions, fare information, and schedules.
Connexxion Schiphol Hotel Shuttle operates a shuttle bus service between Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and all of the city's major hotels. The trip takes about a half hour and costs €16 one-way, or €26 round-trip. Hours for this shuttle bus are 6:30 am to 9 pm, every half hour.
Finally, there is a taxi stand directly in front of the arrival hall at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. A service charge is included, but small additional tips are not unwelcome. New laws determine that taxi fares are now fixed from Schiphol to Amsterdam; depending on the neighborhood, a trip will cost around €40 or more. A new service that might be convenient for budget travelers who count every euro is the Schiphol Travel Taxi. The taxi needs to be booked at least 24 hours in advance and rides are shared, so the trip will take a bit longer as the taxi stops to pick up and drop off passengers. Make bookings via the Schiphol website. A shared taxi ride costs around €21.
Connexxion Schiphol Hotel Shuttle (038/339–4741. www.schipholhotelshuttle.nl.)
Schiphol Rail Link (0900/9292 [€0.70 per min]. 9292.nl.)
Schiphol Travel Taxi (www.schiphol.nl.)
Autocars l'Elan (www.voyages-lelan.be.)
When flying internationally to the Netherlands, you usually choose between a domestic carrier, the national flag carrier of the country, and a foreign carrier from a third country. You may, for example, choose to fly KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to the Netherlands for the basic reason that, as the national flag carrier, it has the greatest number of nonstop flights. Domestic carriers offer connections to smaller destinations. Third-party carriers may have a price advantage.
KLM and its global alliance partner Delta Air Lines—together with their regional partner airlines—fly from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport to more than 400 destinations in more than 80 countries. Nearly 100 of those are European destinations, with three to four daily flights to most airports and up to 17 flights a day to London alone. Delta now handles all reservations and ticket office activities on behalf of KLM in the United States and Canada, with KLM's biggest North American hubs in Detroit and Minneapolis, and Memphis, New York, and Washington, D.C., among its gateways. KLM's direct flights connect Amsterdam to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and numerous others. Including connections via KLM's hubs, the airline flies to more than 120 destinations in the United States from Amsterdam. In Canada, KLM serves Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. For more information, contact the airline at one of the reservation numbers listed. For further information about schedules and special fare promotions, go to KLM's website.
Other international carriers include American Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways. Dutch charter airline Martinair has direct flights to Amsterdam from Orlando and Miami. None of these carriers makes a transatlantic flight to any of the Netherlands' regional airports. If your carrier offers Rotterdam as a final destination, for example, you fly into Amsterdam, then transfer. KLM Cityhopper offers flights connecting Amsterdam with the smaller regional airports. Transavia Airlines flies from Amsterdam and Rotterdam to a number of European destinations, and many other carriers link European capitals with Amsterdam. EasyJet has budget flights to Amsterdam from several European destinations; Ryanair offers a similar service out of Eindhoven Airport. Check online or with your travel agent for details.
SN Brussels Airlines is Belgium's foremost carrier, with routes to the United States, Africa, and all over Europe. Low-cost carrier Ryanair operates an ever-expanding network of routes out of its hub at Brussels South Charleroi Airport. This can be a very economical way of getting around Europe, and you'll get the best deals if you book well ahead.
American Airlines (800/433–7300; 0900/555–7770 in the Netherlands; 070/27–27–00 in Belgium; 0844/499–7300 in U.K. www.aa.com.)
British Airways (800/247–9297 in U.S.; 0844/493–0787 in U.K.; 02/717–3217 in Belgium; 020/346–9559 in the Netherlands. www.britishairways.com.)
Brussels Airlines (516/296–9500 in U.S.; 0905/609–5609 in U.K.; 02/723–2345 in Belgium. www.brusselsairlines.com.)
Delta Airlines (800/221–1212 for U.S. reservations; 800/241–4141 for international reservations; 070/30–08–72 in Belgium; 0871/22–11–222 in U.K.; 020/721–9128 in the Netherlands. www.delta.com.)
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (070/225–335 in Belgium; 0130/039–2192 in Australia; 020/474–7747 in the Netherlands; 09/921–6040 in New Zealand; 0871/231–0000 in U.K. 800/618–0104 in U.S. and Canada. www.klm.com.)
United Airlines (800/864–8331 in U.S. and Canada; 02/200–8868 in Belgium; 020/346–9381 in the Netherlands. www.united.com.)