SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Travellers faced long queues and missed flights at Schiphol airport on Monday, even though some 200 new security staff had reportedly started work.
Schiphol, which had increased passenger numbers because of the increase in staff from August 1, warned on its website that the airport would be extremely busy. Passengers have been told not to come to the airport more than four hours before their flight.
Even four hours was not enough for Saskia from Waddinxveen, who was heading to Vienna. ‘And we were not the only ones to miss our flight,’ she told the Telegraaf.
Others, such as the De Vries family who were heading for Corfu, only made the flight because the plane was delayed.
A spokeswoman for the airport told the paper that Monday’s staffing levels were ‘not as good as expected’ but she again urged people not to come any earlier, as it only meant longer queues would build up.
On Tuesday too, the website said the airport was ‘busy’ for both departures and arrivals. Schiphol has asked airlines and travel firms to slash flights to and from the airport because of the shortage of staff.
Last month, passenger numbers were cut by some 13,500 a day.
The problem is not confined to Schiphol, and passengers all over Europe have been facing chaos. That, in turn, has boosted companies set up to help passengers claim compensation for delays and missed flights in return for a percentage of the cash.
As Schiphol cancels hundreds of flights, what are your rights? One company, Vlucht-vertraagd.nl, says it has submitted almost 70,000 claims so far, totalling around €23 million.
That is twice the number of claims submitted in the same months in 2019. It, together with EUclaim, and Aviclaim have submitted claims totalling €38 million, current affairs show Nieuwsuur reported.
Under EU legislation, passengers have the right to refunds and compensation because of delays and cancellations. Airlines are required by law to pay up, unless they can prove the problem was beyond their control.
Paul Vaneker of EUclaim told Nieuwsuur that airlines cannot always claim that they are not responsible for airport problems. ‘They themselves have personnel shortages,’ he said.
‘And if you don’t have your own staffing in order… then you cannot claim the situation was beyond your control.’ Airport officials said on Tuesday afternoon that reduced services will continue in the autumn.