After a long, [annoying flight onboard KL0810](/2006/02/06/kuala-lumpur-to-amsterdam/) I finally arrived in Amsterdam. Local time: 5:30am. Thanks to my seat, I got out pretty quickly. At the gate, someone else was just asking the only KLM employee in sight where he’d get the boarding card for the connecting flight.
“At the transfer desk,” she answered. “Go this way and just follow the signs.”
Nice, that was my question too. I walked into the indicated direction. Peter, the German courier guy, wanted to smoke, but I was in no mood to torture my lungs with passive smoking, so I bade him farewell, and followed the signs. I located the first transfer desk pretty quickly. Unfortunately, it was deserted. No matter. Surely, I thought, they’d man the more central transfer desks first.
Half an hour of walking through a mostly dark and deserted airport later, I had found at least five of the nine transfer desks. None of them occupied by a single soul. I decided that instead of sitting around and waiting, I’d simply go to the arrival hall, grab a coke at McD’s, and then check in at the normal check in.
Easier said, than done. First, I had to leave the international transfer area. I did expect a passport control, and that was short and painless. I didn’t expect a security check immediately afterwards. What is the point of xraying passengers who just got out of a plane and want to actually **leave**? Beats me, but whatever, if that is what floats the Dutchemn’s boats…
After that little surprise I conitnued on, further down and in a bit of a curve, to the baggage claim area. My eyes focussed ahead, I walked through the dark halls. The baggage lanes were all quiet and empty. Unfortunately, so was the toll gates. “No exit” and “closed”. All of them. And again not a soul in sight. A janitor told me how to get out, and indeed, about a half dozen baggage lanes further there was an open door. Still no soul in sight. Had I wanted to smuggle precious diamonds or the plans for the archvillain’s lair, I’d have had no problems at all.
I proceeded first to the departure area. Trusting the screens to give me the right desks, I first lined up at the baggage drop-off for quick-checkins. A big, flat bag – kinda like a wide painting, wrapped – leaned against the first KLM chick’s desk. Of course, knowing how airports deal with lost luggage, I alerted her to it.
“Thank you, I didn’t see that,” she said.
“I know,” I replied. “That’s why I told you.”
“Of course I don’t know whose luggage this is. I am sorry, excuse me please, I’ll have to call security.”
The next KLM woman told me I was in the wrong line. So I walked over to the other line of counters, where the two KLM women on duty promptly took about 15 minutes for 3 people in front of me. Still, at last, I had my boarding pass. I grabbed a quick coke at Burger King and decided to wait at my gate instead when I began to freeze very seriously. (The arrival hall of Schiphol airport isn’t heated. And I was the only guy in a shirt.)
I found my gate pretty easily – no big walk. The longest delay was waiting in line for the security check. Morning rush I guess. The gate had one flight before ours, KLM Cityhopper to Copenhagen. The checkin was completed, one bus left for the aircraft, one was waiting. Schipol has very clear announcements – not like the very nice sugarcoated messages you’ll hear in Frankfurt.
“This is the last call for Mr. So-and-so travelling to Copenhagen. Please proceed immediately to gate B24. You are delaying the flight. We will proceed to offload your luggage.”
Only Mr. So-and-So arrived about 2 minutes after the second bus had left. He whined and begged. “I have an appointment, I cannot be late!” he cried desperately. The KLM staff told him that should then be more punctual. “We can not delay the aircraft,” they said. Mr. So-and-So thanked them by kicking a garbage bin on his way out. Meanwhile, someone in the men’s bathroom commenced to puke very audibly.
Our plane turned out to be delayed again – by 30 minutes. We finally began boarding – and had to enter a bus as well. This is where I began to seriously regret having my jacket in my checked in luggage. Having come from a place 35 Â°C warmer, I was shivering about 3cm in every direction. The busses doors were kept open for an unreasonably long time, it seemed to me. And thanks to my non-aggressive nature, I was almost the last to actually baord the plane. I must’ve looked really goofy, the only guy in a shirt among people wrapped in warm coats.
At least it was a long-sleeved shirt.
I was lucky with my seat – 14C, at the emergency exit. Despite the delay in departure, we miraculously arrived in Frankfurt on time. And on the approach to Frankfurt International, I saw what I least wanted to see: The area was covered in a thin layer of snow.