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I'm going to Amsterdam in April, my flight will land on Schiphol and the hotel is near Amsterdam Centraal station.

I'm planning to take the train from the airport to the hotel. I've checked the NS website and saw that I have to choose tickets for a specific time.

My flight will land in a Sunday, at 14:20 (2:20 PM), Amsterdam local time. It takes some time to leave the airplane, pass through security checks, baggage claim, etc, and from my experience it's not that predictable (in other aiports, sometimes it takes 1 hour, sometimes it takes 3). I'm thinking that at least 2 hours is reasonable.

Let's say I book the tickets for 16:30 (4:30 PM), but what if the flight delays or it takes more time to get to the platform? Would I be able to travel in a later time with the same ticket, or I'll have to buy another one?


I've done some research, but...

I've already checked the FAQ in NS website: "Can I travel at a time that is different from what I have planned?". It covers the following situations:

  • Train travel within the Netherlands to or from the boarding station of an international train
    • For a train journey within the Netherlands to or from a boarding station of an international train, you are not bound to the time stated on your ticket or in the confirmation email of your booking.
      • Example: You have booked a trip from Utrecht Central to Berlin Hbf. and you will board the Intercity Berlin from Amersfoort. For the domestic section Utrecht - Amersfoort, you can always travel at an earlier time than stated on your ticket or in the confirmation email of your booking.
  • Tickets from the Netherlands to Belgium or Luxembourg on Intercity or local trains (not Eurostar) or vice versa:
    • For tickets with a Flex fare: these are open tickets. You do not have to travel at a specific time. You do have to travel on the day on which your ticket is valid and via the route and border crossing shown on the ticket.
    • For tickets with an Early Bird fare with restricted validity: You can only travel at the specific time as indicated on your ticket and in the email booking confirmation. If you miss your train, you need to buy a new ticket. If your train is cancelled, take a later Intercity or local train on the same date. You have to travel via the same route and border crossing.
  • Tickets for Eurostar, ÖBB Nightjet and high-speed trains with compulsory reservation:
    • These tickets are valid only for the booked train, date and class. You will have to exchange the ticket if you want to travel at a different time. Whether that is possible, depends on the chosen fare and the availability.
  • Tickets from the Netherlands to or via Germany and vice versa:
    • A Flexpreis fare means you are not obliged to travel at a particular time. You do have to travel on the day on which your ticket is valid and via the route and on the type of train shown on the ticket.
    • With a Sparpreis Europa and Super Sparpreis Europa fare you can only depart at the time indicated on your ticket. In addition, you have to travel on the day and with the train connection shown on your ticket. The departure time and the trains can be found on your ticket, on the line starting with VIA.

The first item is closest to my situation, but it's not the same if I understood correctly. I'm traveling within the Netherlands, but I'm not coming from a "boarding station of an international train" - or is the airport considered to be such a station?

Even if that's the case, the FAQ only mentions that I can travel at an earlier time, but nothing about a later time (it doesn't say I can, but it also doesn't say I can't, hence my question).

Well, maybe the third case applies to me, if the Intercity is a "high-speed train with compulsory reservation", but I'm not sure about it.

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    You may want to check this page to see if there is maintenance work on the day of your arrival
    – Berend
    Jan 10 at 14:11
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    First bullet is not really your case either. Probably they will print a time for the local train that connects to the international train. But you're free to travel any earlier time. As for trains from Schiphol to Amsterdam CS. There are many trains an hour and there are ticket machines and a ticket shop at Schiphol Plaza (indoor area) near the escalators down to the train platforms. The machines are easy to understand and will have English. They will show you Amsterdam CS as a preferred destination. Don't forget about the special child ticket mentioned in the comments in the answer below. Jan 10 at 14:54
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    Note that the FAQ you linked to is on the NS International website, not the regular NS website, which probably explains why the answers only cover more-or-less-international situations.
    – jcaron
    Jan 10 at 17:37
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    Also note that depending on your plans, it may be worth it to buy a travel card which covers the Schiphol - Amsterdam CS section and the rest of the Amsterdam bus/tram/metro network as well, like the Amsterdam Travel Ticket for instance.
    – jcaron
    Jan 10 at 17:42
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    In case the trains have trouble running because of work on the tracks (not expected but possible), there are buses or bus and tram options, taxi is possible but very much more expensive.
    – Willeke
    Jan 10 at 17:45

1 Answer 1

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In general, you can assume that you can board any train that runs on the day your ticket is valid. The only exceptions are, as you already mentioned, international trains. These include trains to Germany, and Eurostar to Brussels and beyond. For these, you will probably always need a reservation for a specific train.

While Eurostar runs between Schiphol and Amsterdam Central, I'm not sure you can even buy a ticket for that section, or board that specific train at Schiphol (to Amsterdam). Anyway, Eurostar trains have a logo that is clearly distinct from national trains, and you shouldn't use it.

All other trains are possible with a normal ticket, including Intercity Direct. For the latter, a supplement is required, but only when traveling between Schiphol and Rotterdam, which is in the opposite direction.

That said, you don't even need to buy tickets in advance. You can either buy tickets online (e.g. while waiting for you luggage), or check in using your credit card, see here, although if you're traveling with a group, everyone should have their own card.

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  • I'm traveling with a child, so I guess credit card check-in is not an option. Thanks for the answer, though!
    – hkotsubo
    Jan 10 at 14:13
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    Yeah, unless you have two cards. BTW, children between 4 and 11 can use a so-called Railrunner ticket, which is only € 2.50 per day. Children under 4 travel for free.
    – Berend
    Jan 10 at 14:18
  • Children over 11 pay full price in the Netherlands. Search for ns dot nl or ov9292 for regional/national public transport planners.
    – Willeke
    Jan 11 at 8:23

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