Mayhem at Amsterdam Airport as airlines asked to cancel flights

Passengers traveling in and out of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) this week are once again facing a slew of delays and hourslong lines at the problem-plagued airport.

Officials at the Netherlands airport blamed the disruption on labor shortages, particularly affecting security checkpoints. They were forced to ask airlines to cancel more than 80 flights between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m.

“Staffing levels at security today are lower than what Schiphol had requested of the security companies,” a representative of Schiphol told Euronews on Monday.

While the request for airlines to cancel flights was intended to ease the burden on the airport staff, it resulted in a disastrous travel day for many with lines of frustrated passengers seen stretching outside the airport.

Many of the passengers had already spent several hours at the airport after Schiphol reportedly advised passengers to arrive early due to the expected backlog at security.

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Travelers wait at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Sept. 13. SEM VAN DER WAL/ANP/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Compounding the chaos, more than 600 flights due to depart from the airport were delayed Monday, causing an onslaught of passengers to vent their frustration on social media.

An absolute nightmare at @Schiphol airport today. Arriving 4 hrs before the flight wasn’t enough to get through the security. The situation has been like this for some months and management haven’t done anything. I saw families with small children crying and it’s heartbreaking.

— Hitomi Hamaba (@hitomihamaba) September 12, 2022

#Schiphol Airport security lines super bad today, recommend getting to your flights about 6 years prior to departure.

— Gus (@notdutchgus) September 12, 2022

Some passengers, however, took the travel disruption in their stride and made the best of the situation.

Solution for the long wait at Schiphol Airport… #Schiphol

— Let’s Meet Abroad (@LetsMeetAbroad) September 13, 2022

what delayed flight ? @Schiphol @KLM #youllneverbeattheirish

— CIARA CONWAY she /her (@ciaramconway) September 13, 2022

The lack of workers is being blamed on an ongoing pay dispute with security staffers.

Over the summer, security employees received a temporary increase in their hourly wages but the bonus was suspended following the end of the summer season — workers are reportedly resigning as a result of the pay cuts.

The airport apologized for the situation and the “disappointment” it would cause. Schiphol says it intends to hire 80 new security staffers who will be ready to work by October.

One of the busiest airports in Europe, Schiphol has struggled for months with a variety of problems that have caused chaos for passengers passing through its terminals, seeing on-and-off disruption since April and hundreds of flights canceled this year.

Related: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport extending passenger cap through October

In August, a malfunction with the airport’s baggage system affected thousands of passengers on connecting flights operated by Dutch flagship carrier KLM.

This latest incident is not the first time airport officials have asked airlines to take one for the team to help Schiphol out of a bind.

Back in May, authorities asked airlines to trim their flight schedules to ease delays blamed on higher air traffic and a strike by baggage handlers. Much like London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), Schiphol implemented a cap on passengers who leave its terminals during the summer. It intends to extend the cap through October.

The passenger cap at Schiphol is currently set at 67,500 and expected to increase to 69,500 in October before being reduced by the Dutch government in 2023 to just 60,000 in order to curb air pollution.

Featured photo by Ramon Van Flymen/Getty Images.