This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Schiphol Airport

My first international trip has taken me through five airports: RDU, Detroit, Gatwick (London), Heathrow (London) and Schiphol in Amsterdam. Let me tell you, Schiphol blows all away.

The minute we got off the airplane, there were little buggies to put luggage on. And I mean LITTLE. They are there, free for the taking – no coin machine/credit card thing to pay in order to get one...and one you have to really fight to get.

I grabbed two and was really trying to figure out how on earth we would get [our tremendously huge and in quantity] bags onto them.

I noticed when we traveled from our gate to the baggage hall that the gates had electronic boards with information. State-of-the-art which added a touch of sophistication to a usually 'hustle-and-bustle' environment. People around me were calm. So calm that Tim almost stepped on one as we moved off the people mover, as he was busy texting on his mobile.

When we got close to the escalator, I noticed barriers preventing users from bringing their carts with them. I searched for the lifts, thinking that would be the only way to get them down there when I noticed a sign that stated that the carts had to be left there but others would be available at the baggage area. A clear and concise message that didn't leave me wondering how I was going to get my bags out of there. I now knew why they offered small carts from where we deplaned: a courtesy for travelers to carry their carry on. Big points for providing a great user experience.

Before retrieving our bags, we had to pass through the passport inspection. Absolutely no lines. A vast difference from our arrival at Gatwick in London. We made it through with flying colors and found bigger carts for our luggage. Guess what? FREE.

A big sign that this airport has its shit together, we found our bags quickly and in tact. We swooped out of the baggage hall, to our arrival hall, where people wait right outside for their friends and loved ones. It was, again, a great way to provide a pleasurable experience – plenty of space for people to get out with their luggage, as well as plenty of space for the folks to wait – and see clearly – the people they are waiting for.

Information on the arrival boards was straightforward and easy to understand because the layout of the airport was clear and concise, so we knew exactly where we needed to go.

And the layout of this particular airport is quite like many others: a very mall-like environment. Stores everywhere as well as small cafes and restaurants. At one point, there is an aisle that has only stores and restaurants on both sides and it feels like you are walking through a mall.

Schiphol Airport has their crap together. The best experience I've ever had at an airport and as a consummate for good experiences, this airport has done more than what one would want for customers within an airport.

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