I'm wondering whether I'm missing a trick when I consider the existence of Privium, the fast-track service at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Now entering its 13th year, advertising around Schiphol for this premium service is becoming ever more prominent. But the problem is I rarely see anyone using their services! For a scheme that's been running so long, either they are massively underselling themselves, or their products and services are far too expensive.
Privium comes in two levels, Privium Basic and Privium Plus. To be eligible to apply you need to be a citizen of the European Economic Area, the United States, or a Diplomatic card holder (types AD, AO, AC and BD, BO, BC) issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands.
Let's look a little closer at the advertised benefits.
Privium Basic – €121 per year
Where most people will see Privium in use is at their iris scanning gates at passport control. As your personal details and travel documents are pre-registered when you use the gates, you don't need to show your passport when you go through. The basic membership only lets you use the gates and nothing more.
While this sounds great in theory, most EEA passport holders will already have biometric chips installed in their passports and thus can use the electronic passport gates at Departures 3 (check-in desks 17-32) and Arrival Halls 3, effectively nullifying the benefit of subscribing. Even Schiphol's original announcement a couple of years back nicely avoids mentioning how this is in effect the same as Privium Basic.
Do note that non-Privium electronic gates are not installed at all departures and arrivals passport controls. Certainly the arrivals near Hall 1 does not have them, but I've never had to queue more than 2-3 mins to get through.
Privium Plus – €205 per year
In addition Iris scanning, the real benefits of Privium kick in with their higher membership. Let's take a look at the extra things you get:
- Dedicated Privium parking areas within short stay areas P1 & P2, and long stay area P3. The parking rates remain the same however.
- Use of the Premium passengers covered footbridge from car park P2 to terminal Piers B and C. The big catch here is that it's only one way (you cannot go from the terminal to the car park) and you need to:
- Have parked in P1 or P2.
- Be flying from Piers B or C. This means only intra-Schengen flights. All flights to UK and Ireland are excluded as they go from Pier D!
- Use it for departures only. Annoyingly you cannot use it for arriving into AMS and going to your car.
- Have checked in online and only taking hand luggage with you.
- Travelling on Monday to Friday between 6am -10pm.
- Valet parking with a €5 discount on the maximum day rate for the first three days. Given my experience with valet parking, I'll pass!
- Access to Privium ClubLounge, which annoyingly is closed on Saturdays.
- 10% discount on Schiphol Business Taxi. In practice you can use the code PRIV09112 when booking with at least 4 hours notice from www.schiphol.nl/businesstaxi. Whether they scan your profile to see whether you're eligible to use the code or not I do not know as I've never taken a taxi from Schiphol.
€84 extra seems quite a lot for the marginal benefit of parking 3 minutes walk closer to the terminal, if you have a car. Don't forget that you can't take a guest into the lounge unless they are registered as your Partner member (that'll be €75 extra please!) and are travelling with you.
As it happens I've never done an intra-Shengen flight out of AMS, though as a holder of Star Alliance Gold, Skyteam Elite Plus and Oneworld Sapphire, I've got most grounds covered for the “selected frequent flyers” category. I could in theory just park in P2 and walk through…on weekdays only though.
At present I can think of 2 justifications to join Privium. The first being much weaker than the second:
- The price of missing a flight when those precious few minutes getting through the airport could have saved you. How often would this happen? Perhaps for European business travellers this is justification enough.
- You are a Dutch citizen and want to apply for Global Entry. Joining Privium and its associated FLUX programme is one of your requirements. You can also do your Global Entry interview at Schiphol rather than having to fly to Qatar or the USA.