Passengers Are Paying $1,238 to Skip Security Lines at This Airport

Schiphol's VIP program got so popular, so fast, they didn't have enough staff to handle it

Silhouette of group of travelers at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam

It’s been a trying year for Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. It’s the most connected airport in Europe, and one of the busiest, but more recently, it’s being called “the worst airport ever.” Labor shortages and poor management have resulted in astronomically long queues, lost luggage and subsequently, lots of unhappy travelers.

And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, either. In fact, it was recently announced that the hub would continue to cap passenger departures through early 2023. Now, Schiphol has announced that it will be putting an end to its VIP Service, too.

For the uninitiated, the program, per a report from Condé Nast Traveler, provides a dedicated security line as well as handful of other amenities — a private lounge and limousine service, chief among them — not altogether dissimilar from TSA PreCheck (minus the lounge and limo). The kicker? Where TSA PreCheck is just $78 for five years, the cost of entry for the VIP Service starts at €617 (around $611) and goes all the way up to €1,250 Euros ($1,238)…and that’s for just one passenger.

It sounds crazy (who would actually pay that?), save for the fact that demand for the program is so high, there isn’t enough staff to manage it.

“We are working on expanding the number of staff, [yet] at the same time it has always been an exclusive service,” Madelon van der Hof, a spokesperson for Schiphol, said. “At this moment we can’t give a date when the service will open again for all new members.”

All of that said, I can’t think of a better indicator of just how bleak things are at Schiphol than too many people wanting to pay $1,200 to skip security lines, and it does stand to reason that most Schiphol VIP Service users are in it predominately for the benefit of line jumping. Further, Privium — another offering that allows travelers to bypass both immigration and security lines — is also reportedly on hold until the end of 2022, at least.

Fortunately, last month, Schiphol announced its intent to raise wages for security staff, provide better schedules as well as to hire more personnel — specifically, to hire security guards “involved in the passenger process,” which, in theory, should help with the queues and, by extension, the VIP Service outlook. In the meantime, however, it looks like travelers will be forced to hang on to their $1,200 and wait in line.


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