Amsterdam Schiphol is one of Europe’s biggest and busiest airports, and a major hub for both KLM and Delta Air Lines.
Living in the UK, I have travelled through Schiphol many times in order to connect onto European or long-haul flights around the world, and as such I’ve developed a good understanding of where to spot whilst in transit in order to make the most of my time there and cover most aircraft movements.
Schiphol is essentially a single-terminal airport, with piers B-H protruding from the main building. Piers B and C are for Schengen flights, and pier H is for low-cost airlines. Both require going through passport control, and therefore remove you from the rest of the building.
As a first stop, head for pier D. This one actually splits in two, so head for the end of each in turn, starting with the right-hand one. Along here you will have views of some aircraft parked on the C pier, and importantly you can see the cargo ramp on the far side of runway 06/24, as well as the remote Schiphol Ooste area, where biz jets and unusual types can often be seen.
After covering pier D, head back towards the main building and walk along the base of piers E and F. There’s no real need to go along these piers as you can see everything from the windows you pass. These piers are mainly home to KLM and Delta long haul airliners.
When reaching pier G, you’ll walk along an external passageway with windows overlooking part of the pier. You can take pictures here usually.
Upon entering pier G, walk straight ahead, behind the cafe/bar. From here you can see and photograph aircraft parked at pier H. Next, walk the length of pier G, noting aircraft parked either side – these will include other airliners from North America, Asia and Turkey. You can also see across to long-haul airliners parked up away from the terminal (usually KLM and Surinam Airlines examples).
At the end of pier G is a nice large window overlooking a runway and taxiway, and is good for photography as plenty of aircraft will pass by you.
Performing this route a number of times, depending on how long you’re in transit, will help you keep on top of movements at Schiphol.
If you want to sit for a drink or bite to eat, one of the better places is the combined seating area in the upstairs food court between piers E and D (McDonalds etc.). You’ll see the distant taxiways and runway, where many aircraft will pass.
Once inside pier C, you still have good views, particularly from the end of the pier, of aircraft on runway 06/24, pier D and the cargo ramps. You’ll also see many of the commuter aircraft which park on the remote ramp.
A great website for finding out what you saw at Schiphol is http://www.scramble.nl/splmovs.htm
Do you have a top tip for spotting airside at Amsterdam Schiphol? Leave a comment below!