The regular travellers to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol will be familiar with the gate security concept. Your carry on bags are X-rayed and you walk through a nude-o-scope or metal detector at a your boarding gate rather than at some general entrance near the check in counters. I personally never liked this idea as I could never see the need to have so much expensive machinery sitting around working only a fraction of the day.
But not any more!
As of 3rd June 2015, Schiphol changed to a completely centrally managed security infrastructure. This had previously been implemented last year in the Departures 1 area for all Schengen flights with reasonable success, but last week's change implemented it for non-Schengen flights too. Schiphol released a video at the end of May 2015 to describe the changes.
They were so confident of their upcoming success that the Safety Director Ron Louwerse preemptively claimed:
We hopen dat mensen de nieuwe controle zó leuk vinden, dat ze na afloop vragen of ze nog een keer mogen
(We hope that people will find the new control so good, that they ask to use it again)
In that same article, he proclaimed a target of 10 minutes for normal passengers, and 5 minutes for premium passengers.
So what changes?
- If you are a Privium member who uses the lounge, you will now find that the dedicated passport check passageway inside the lounge has now closed. Therefore you will need to leave the lounge much earlier to catch your flight. See this publication for the new route.
- While Privium, SkyPriority, Business Class or other forms of priority access retains a ‘priority' entrance to the security check area, there is no special lane during the security scanning procedure like there was with gate security, and you will end up being mixed with all other departing passengers.
- Following from above, since there is no separation during security check, there is no separation during passport control with the exception of Privium customers who still use the iris scanners and turnstyles.
- The arrival of “Pre-Departure Clearance” centres for US-registered carriers flying to the US. These secondary checks for all US-bound passengers existed before. These are located beside gates D1 and E4, which you need to clear before you head to your actual gate. This is NOT THE SAME AS PRE-CLEARANCE!
Well if they were to learn something from previous big infrastructural changes in the industry, they only needed to look to Heathrow Terminal 5's disastrous first day of operations. The key lesson learned was to do a soft launch and to get staff working slowly at first. Indeed Heathrow did learn and the opening of their refurbished Terminal 2 was done in stages, with an inauguration taking place after staff had adapted to the new way.
So… how did the first week of Schiphol central security go?
Thankfully I arrived there 2 days ago from another Schengen country otherwise I may have fainted. I'll be back again in Schiphol next week see if things have improved. Something tells me not to hold my breath though.