I am planning to check in for my flight online. How do I find out what the deadline is for arriving/going through customs etc?

The only information I can find is that you should 'try and be there 2 hours before your flight is scheduled', but what is the actual deadline and does this time change when you check in online?

I have always learned it is better to arrive 3 hours before on international flights, is this true?

Obviously I'm planning on arriving there at least 2 hours before but I feel more comfortable knowing the exact deadline in case something happens. Security on the road to Schiphol has been tight and who knows what else can cause a sudden delay these days.

  • I don't know how soon you are travelling, but be aware that it's a school holiday in the Netherlands until Sunday 23rd Oct 2016, so it might be busier than normal at security. That said, most people will have left already by now!
    – yatima2975
    Oct 20, 2016 at 10:05
  • @yatima2975 Yes I know, leaving the 27th luckily! Thanks.
    – Summer
    Oct 20, 2016 at 11:01
  • 1
    The answer to your question are is no truly exact, specified deadline. (For OCD people like myself this is infuriating!) Note that, for example, for the very rich amongst us, 1st class travelers can in general arrive amazingly late (and fair enough since paying for it).
    – Fattie
    Oct 20, 2016 at 12:44
  • 1
    @yatima2975: not all of the country has the same week off! It will be school holiday next week as well, for the south of the country. But on a Thursday that shouldn't be very relevant. Oct 20, 2016 at 12:48
  • I have never needed more than 1 hour to get through check-in, luggage drop, passport control and security at Schiphol, and I still plan to be at Schiphol at least 2 hours before the flight, with 30 minutes extra for train or bus delays.
    – Willeke
    Oct 20, 2016 at 17:43

4 Answers 4


Assuming the flight is on time, the boarding gate usually closes 20 minutes before the scheduled take-off time. So you need to be at the gate 20 minutes early. In order to calculate the time when you need to leave for the airport, add the following variables:

  1. How long it takes to reach the airport from your location. For Amsterdam Airport you need around 30 minutes by train or 25 minutes by taxi, if leaving from the city center.
  2. Luggage check-in deadline. This is around 45 minutes for most flights. Skip if you're flying with hand luggage.
  3. Whether there's a mandatory visa check. Ryanair and Wizzair force non-EU/EEA citizens to report to their check-in desk for a visa stamp, even on Schengen flights.
  4. Time it takes to go through security. This can be as little as 5 minutes and as much as 30 minutes, depending on the time of the day.
  5. Time it takes to go through immigration. Can be very quick for EU/EEA citizens with a biometric passport (using the automated gates) or up to 30 minutes for foreign nationals. Skip if you're flying within the Schengen.
  6. How big is your hand luggage. Being the last to board on a full plane might force you to gate-check your bag if there's no space left in the overhead bins. This is free, but could be annoying.

Personally I try to be 2 hours early at an unknown airport and as little as 30 minutes early at an airport where I fly often.

  • Thanks for the very detailed answer. Flying with luggage as a EU citizen with a biometric passport.
    – Summer
    Oct 20, 2016 at 9:54
  • (+1) Don't think either Ryanair or Wizzair flight out of AMS.
    – Relaxed
    Oct 20, 2016 at 10:15
  • @Relaxed Ryanair flies to Dublin from there.
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 20, 2016 at 10:26

The deadline depends on where you are flying to. If you fly within Schengen area, you won't need to go through immigration control so you'll save this time. Immigration control can take anywhere between 5 minutes and 1 hour depending on the time of the day and day of the week. So if you are flying within Schengen area, if you don't have luggage to check in, I would advise you to arrive at least 1 hour before the flight. If you have luggage to check in, add 30-40 minutes to that.

Then, if you are flying outside of Schengen area, you can probably add 20-30 minutes so this leads us to 1h30 to 2h00 before the flight to be on the safe side.

Arriving 3 hours before the time is the "official" recommendation delivered by many companies. This is a way for them to shape the timing of arrivals of passengers and avoid situation where all the passengers would arrive 1h before the flight for an A380...


I flew out of Schipol a couple of weeks ago and the security lines were over 40 minutes at one point. That said, if your flight is departing soon, normally you talk to a member of staff and get ushered to the front of the line.


Hard deadline for luggage drop-off is 40-45 min for European destinations (technically depends on the airline), 60 min or more for intercontinental destinations and then you obviously need to make it to your gate in time.

Even if there might be some queues 2 hours is therefore perfectly fine for European destinations, 3 hours is not necessary in my opinion but it can give you some additional buffer/peace of mind. KLM does not recommend more than that for most flights and other airlines/terminal are usually just as quick in my experience.

There are a few exceptions however, for KLM for example:

Moscow: 2.5 hours before scheduled departure

Guayaquil: 70 minutes before scheduled departure

Delhi, Paramaribo and Lagos: 4 hours before scheduled departure

Mexico-City: 4.5 hours before scheduled departure

So do check with your airline if they have specific recommendations (Google "AMS + check-in time + airline name").

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .