The least expensive airfares to the Netherlands originate from the United Kingdom and other European countries, are priced for round-trip travel, and must usually be purchased in advance online. Airlines generally allow you to change your return date for a fee; most low-fare tickets, however, are nonrefundable.
EasyJet has low fares to Amsterdam from Belfast, Berlin, Edinburgh, Geneva, Glasgow, Liverpool, London (Gatwick, Luton, and Stansted), Manchester, Milan, Nice, Rome, Vienna, and numerous other cities. Transavia flies to Amsterdam, Groningen, and Rotterdam from Barcelona, Nice, and other cities. Ryanair flies to the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven from London (Stansted), and a dozen other cities around Europe.
Consolidators and Low-Cost Airlines
Transavia. 0900/0737; www.transavia.com.
Flying time to Amsterdam is 7 hours from New York, 8 hours from Chicago, 10½ hours from Los Angeles, 9 hours from Dallas, 6½ hours from Montreal, 9½ hours from Vancouver, and 20 hours from Sydney.
Always ask your carrier about its check-in policy. Plan to arrive at the airport about two hours before your scheduled departure time—and don't forget your passport. If you are flying within Europe, check with the airline to find out whether food is served on the flight. If you have dietary concerns, request special meals when booking. Low-cost airlines don't provide complimentary in-flight service but snacks and drinks can be purchased on board. For help picking the most comfortable seats, check out SeatGuru.com, which has information about specific seat configurations for different types of aircraft.
You are not required to reconfirm flights, but you should confirm the departure time if you made your reservation considerably in advance as flight schedules are subject to change without notice.
Airlines and Airports
Airline and Airport Links.com. This helpful website has links to many of the world's airlines and airports. www.airlineandairportlinks.com.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. This agency has answers for almost every question that might come up. www.tsa.gov.
A 2004 European Union (EU) regulation standardized the rights of passengers to compensation in the event of flight cancellations or long delays. The law covers all passengers departing from an airport within the EU, and all passengers traveling into the EU on an EU carrier, unless they received assistance in the country of departure. Full details are available from the airlines, and are posted prominently in all EU airports.
Located 17 km (11 miles) southeast of Amsterdam, Schiphol (pronounced "Shh-kip-hole") is the main passenger airport for Holland. With an annual number of passengers using Schiphol at around 55 million, it's ranked among the world's best-connected airports. Several hotels, parking lots, and a main office of the Netherlands tourist board (in Schiphol Plaza and known as Holland Tourist Information) are all useful.
Rotterdam is the largest of the regional airport options and provides daily service to many European cities. Another regional airport is Eindhoven. An increasing number of international charter flights and some budget carriers choose these airports, due to benefits that include shorter check-in times and ample parking. However, there are no rail links that connect such regional airports with their respective nearby cities, so passengers must resort to taking buses or taxis.
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. 17 km (11 miles) southwest of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 1118 AP. 0900/0141; 31/207940800; www.schiphol.nl.
Eindhoven Airport. 8 km (5 miles) west of Eindhoven, Eindhoven, 5657 EA. 0900/9505; 22/700–0767; www.eindhovenairport.nl.
Groningen Airport. 15 km (9 miles) south of Groningen, 9761 TK. 050/308--0850; www.groningenairport.nl.
Rotterdam The Hague Airport. 17 km (11 miles) northwest of Rotterdam, Rotterdam, 3045 AP. 010/446–3444; www.rotterdam-airport.nl.
The Schiphol Rail Link operates between the airport and the city 24 hours a day, with service to Amsterdam Centraal Station (usually abbreviated to Amsterdam CS), and to stations in the south of the city. At peak times, there are up to eight trains each hour to Centraal; later in the evening there are four; after 1 am, there is one train every hour. The trip takes about 15–20 minutes and costs €4.10. Schiphol Station is beneath Schiphol Plaza. From Centraal Station, Tram Nos. 1, 2, and 5 go to Leidseplein and the Museum Quarter. Keep in mind that Schiphol Station is one of Holland's busiest—make sure you catch the shuttle to Amsterdam and not a train heading to The Hague! As always, when arriving at Amsterdam's Centraal Station, keep an eye out for pickpockets. You may wish to hop aboard a tram or bus to get to your hotel, so go to one of the Gemeentevervoerbedrijf (GVB) Amsterdam Municipal Transport booths found in front of the Centraal Station. Here you can find directions, fare information, and schedules.
Connexxion Schiphol Hotel Shuttle operates a shuttle bus service between Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and all of the city's major hotels. The trip takes about a half hour and costs €17 one-way, or €27 round-trip. It runs 6 am–9 pm, with shuttles every half hour.
There is also a taxi stand directly in front of the arrival hall at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Taxi fares are fixed from Schiphol to Amsterdam; depending on the neighborhood, a trip will cost around €40 or more (a service charge is included, but small additional tips are not unwelcome). The Schiphol Travel Taxi is a good option for budget travelers: the taxi needs to be booked at least 24 hours in advance and rides are shared, so the trip will take a bit longer as the taxi stops to pick up and drop off passengers. Make bookings via the Schiphol website. A shared taxi ride costs around €23.
Connexxion Schiphol Hotel Shuttle. 088/339–4741; www.schipholhotelshuttle.nl.
Schiphol Rail Link. 0900/9292; www.9292.nl.
Schiphol Travel Taxi. www.schiphol.nl.
When flying internationally to the Netherlands, you usually choose between a domestic carrier, the national flag carrier of the country, and a foreign carrier from a third country. You may, for example, choose to fly KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to the Netherlands for the basic reason that, as the national flag carrier, it has the greatest number of nonstop flights. Domestic carriers offer connections to smaller destinations. Third-party carriers may have a price advantage.
KLM and its global alliance partner Delta Air Lines—together with their regional partner airlines—fly from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport to more than 600 destinations in more than 80 countries. Nearly 100 of those are European destinations, with three to four daily flights to most airports and up to 17 flights a day to London alone. Delta now handles all reservations and ticket office activities on behalf of KLM in the United States and Canada. KLM's direct flights connect Amsterdam to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and numerous others. Including connections via KLM's hubs, the airline flies to more than 120 destinations in the United States from Amsterdam. In Canada, KLM serves Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. For further information about schedules and fare promotions, go to KLM's website.
Other international carriers include American Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways. The Dutch charter airline Martinair has direct flights to Amsterdam from Orlando and Miami. None of these carriers makes a transatlantic flight to any of the Netherlands' regional airports. If your carrier offers Rotterdam as a final destination, for example, you fly into Amsterdam, then transfer. KLM Cityhopper offers flights connecting Amsterdam with the smaller regional airports. Transavia Airlines flies from Amsterdam and Rotterdam to a number of European destinations, and many other carriers link European capitals with Amsterdam. EasyJet has budget flights to Amsterdam from numerous European destinations; Ryanair offers a similar service out of Eindhoven Airport. Check online or with your travel agent for details.
American Airlines. 800/433–7300; 0900/040–1666 ; 070/300–300; 0844/369–9899; www.aa.com.
British Airways. 800/247–9297; 0844/493–0787; 02/717–3217; 020/346–9559; www.britishairways.com.
Delta Air Lines. 800/221–1212; 02/620–01–83; 020/766–007–67; 020/721–9128; www.delta.com.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. 026/20–0220; 0130/039–2192; 020/474–7747; 09/921–6040; 020/766–002–93; 866/434–0320; 866/434–0321; www.klm.com.
United Airlines. 800/864–8331; 02/200–8868; 020/346–9381; 0845/6076–7660; www.united.com.