Does anyone use Privium?

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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

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.

registered-traveller

Picture from Airport Business

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
I'm a keen fan of “try before you buy” and only wished Privium could offer some short term membership or even free trials for people to try it out. If someone from Privium is reading this, please get in contact with me as I'd be very interested to give it a review.
So I turn to my readers once again. Do you use Privium? If so what is your experience, and why did you get it in the first place?

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Comments

  1. In early mornings (around 5:30-6), in the Schengen section, Privium is very handy, beats the priority queue hands-down. This is the only benefit I see, especially if you tend to push it (i like to have breakfast in the lounge, so I’m usually at the airport at 5:45 for 7am departure…)

    The bridge is not so special, FB has started offering it for their Elite+ passengers too recently.

  2. I use Privium and the time it has saved me on several trips through AMS has been the difference of making my flight vs. not. I’m a US citizen so can’t use the faster EU lines. I always have connecting flights, often with only a 25-45 minute connection time so Privium has been my savior!

    • Hi Carol,

      I’d forgotten that US Citizens can use it because of the FLUX scheme. I guess your situation makes it very worthwhile if you fly Delta/KLM a lot.

  3. I would agree with Michal and say for those early morning flights its great and you simply never know how busy things are at schiphol atleast with privium you have a guaranteed shortcut. ( as so far I have not been able to use any of the biometrical passport machines)

  4. I think it’s horribly overpriced… only an option if you can get somebody else to pay for it.

    And the real shame is that by making this mandatory when wanting Global Entry that makes it a €350 a year service.

    And the lines at Schiphol are almost never that long.

    • Even priority lanes can take up to 15-20 min at Schiphol during the early morning rush hours on weekdays. If you’re one of those who come to the airport at 6:30 for 7am departure, those 15 min can make a difference…

  5. I use Privium plus. Apart from the super fast departure check, early long haul arrivals can have very long passport queues which you can basically skip. The club lounge is the best lounge at AMS (In many ways better than the KLM lounges). I travel from, to and through Schiphol about 30 times a year. So for under €7 per passage I get pretty decent value for money!

  6. I have been using Privium to gain access to their pre-departure lounge (which located before any security or passport check points) and for access to the priority passport control and /or security check lines.

    Primarily I’m flying withing the Schengen area so the passport control /Iris scan feature (which it is actually marketed for) is pretty useless to me.

    I didn’t fly often enough for frequent flyer ‘elite’ status and in that case it’s justifiable (for me personally) when I fly at least 15 times a year out of Schiphol. In that case the lounge access + priority queues average out to about 14 euros per flight out which is a decent price to pay for a (good) lounge and priority security queues.

    However, if you have any FFQ card that gives you priority access and lounge access, then the price to pay for a Privium card is a bit steep.

    So all in all, for a non-status FFQ member this can actually be a good deal, depending on the frequency of flying out of Amsterdam…

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  8. I travel to Schiphol from the UK every week for several months of the year, and return to the UK from Amsterdam — with KLM or Easyjet. The basic Privium card has been my saviour, and has certainly saved me from missing any number of flights when departing, or from having to hang around for ages at immigration when arriving. Over the past few months the queues at immigration at Schiphol have been ENORMOUS (probably due to the fact that one of the immigration halls is under renovation; according to Privium, the other one will also be renovated just as soon work on the first is finished). Leaving Schiphol last week to fly to the UK with Easyjet, the queue for the manned immigration booths and the self-service passport machines together contained easily two thousand people. If you don’t have a Privium card and your flight is leaving soon, this scenario is going to give you a heart attack and make you miss your flight. With my Privium card I breezed through in half a minute via the special Privium barrier. Similarly, when arriving into the Netherlands from the UK (with any airline), waits of up to 40 minutes for immigration are regularly announced. Again, with Privium I can skip straight through and be at work in central Amsterdam while folks who were on my flight are still in the queue for passport control.

    As for security, there is a dedicated Privium lane in each part of the airport (Schengen and non-Schengen, and all halls). I don’t need to use this if flying with KLM as I have a Flying Blue card, but when travelling with Easyjet the Privium access to security controls also saves me a huge amount of time — again, last week, there were literally thousands of travellers waiting to get through security. (The Easjet Plus card doesn’t allow for priority access to security in Schiphol.)

    All in all, for 10 euros a month (120 euros annual fee), I avoid a potential waiting time of 40 minutes for immigration on arrival at Schiphol, a potential waiting time of 40 minutes for immigration on departure, plus a further 40 minutes for security FOR EVERY SINGLE TRIP I MAKE FROM THE UK AND BACK AGAIN.

    Breezing through Privium also reduces my stress to zero; no stressing and sweating that I will miss my flight because there are 2,000 people in the queue in front of me to have their passport checked, plus another 2,000 in the queue to have their bags security checked.

    If you travel regularly through Schiphol, particularly at times of peak traveller flow such as the commuter times of day, Privium saves you time, stress, and panic. Well worth 10 euros a month, IMHO.

  9. I fully agree with Liverpool Lou: I live in Norwich, UK, and KLM is the only airline that gets me to the continent, without travelling to London, Luton or Stanstead… so I go through Amsterdam twice a month… Privium saves me a lot of time, unables me to book shorter connecting flights… zero stress (I just have the Basic, as I usually use KLM lounges)… great idea, and will rfenew for sure …

  10. It’s unclear to me where the Privium advantage comes into play. I get the part about breezing through passport control. But what about the first part of the journey, when you get to Schiphol and get on that long queue where you remove your belt and laptop and sometimes your shoes and then pass through the metal detector – is that part also skippable using the Privium card? At Schiphol I think it’s the most dreary and soul-crushing part of the journey, much more so than the passport control. If Privium allows me to avoid that then I’m sold.

    • It’s not exactly breezing past, but ‘premium’ members have their separate lines. Privium members also get to use it so if you only ever fly low cost carriers with no hope of getting status anywhere then it could be a way to save yourself 5-10 mins per journey and get lounge access.

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