You would think it would be easy – two major cities, all inside the EU. Airport, check-in, security, gate, plane -> Amsterdam….. not exactly.
With two bags (one full of stuff to leave in the Netherlands) I was not about to do walk-off. And, since I had onboard credit I would not otherwise use, it seemed logical to use it on an airport transfer. Even after running into a couple of my early morning coffee buddies who offered to include me on their booked Uber, I decided to stick with what I had.
With a flight at 1300, the ship seemed to think that a “late departure” meaning 0830 would be fine. About 0745 I got antsy and used my loyalty program status to escape the ship. Unlike a decade ago where it was wander off the ship and leave, Barcelona is the actual Port of Entry for everyone on this ship. Not the ports along the way, but the final destination. This is the first time landing in Europe that I have ever experienced an Immigration/Customs line. There were actually two lines – EU straight ahead and the rest of us to the right. It took about 25 minutes to navigate all the way to the front of the line. The actual screening was about 15 seconds. But then, I had my documents out….
Found my luggage and stood around waiting for the bus. We left shortly after 0915. It makes me wonder if everyone actually made the bus… the near ship is MSC, the more distant one is the Symphony.
Drop off at Terminal 1 because I was on KLM and didn’t want to change planes for such a short run. And then the fun began. Like many other places, airports haven’t exactly been overwhelmed with people wanting to return to work, Baggage drop off? It took me 85 minutes to get my bags dropped off. And that was with already having baggage tags. The problem? Only one poor woman working economy and 2-3 working “status.” One of them seemed to be reasonable and took an occasional other passenger from our line but the other? No clue what she was starting at on her computer. And then we are at 1030. There is a KLM flight to Amsterdam at 1110. So those people obviously need to go to the front of the line.
Finally it is my turn. Bags checked in about 30 seconds to include passport check and I am on my to security. Of note – there are going to be a minimum of 150 passengers and usually in the 180-235 range. Even if half of them check bags… and the poor woman at the counter was handling both Air France and KLM….
Just after security (with lovely screening personnel who almost off-set the passengers unable to empty pockets, take off belts, forget battery items, etc. Finding the first flight information board – delayed. OK. And, in an imitation of Heathrow – gate numbers are posted till 45 minutes before the flight. And a good ½ of the pedestrian by-pass belts (what do you call them anyway?) aren’t working, Instead of at 1300, we take off a few minutes before 1400. The nice couple next to me is worried – they have.a connecting flight to Glasgow. There is only 35 minutes between the flights…
Did I mention the plane was absolutely packed full? And, unlike SW, United and a few other airlines, which the cabin attendants provided gate numbers for connecting flights – they did not make what I consider the standard announcement – “We have x many passengers on very tight connections. If this is your final destination, please remain seating and let those passengers off first.” Almost all of those connecting flights were once a day opportunities…
Given that I was toward the back of the plane, I was almost the last passenger off. By the time I had walked from the far end of the terminal to the other end of Schipol, I collected my baggage and caught the 1653 Sprinter to Zaadam. From there it was across the platform to an ICE for just a few stops. Ina, a Dutch cross-stitcher I know, met me at the train station. After dropping off my luggage at the hotel, we went to her house for a lovely evening. It wasn’t all that late when I got back to my room But I was pretty tired….
Oh, and Ina has cats. Three of the funniest critters….especially Oskar Wilde, who is.