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My wife and I are planning a trip to France with my family in September, and we're looking at flight options. My wife will need to return before I do, flying from Toulouse (TLS) to Boston (BOS). She is not the best at dealing with travel hassle, so we are trying to minimize the hassle of her connection.

The cheapest options seem to be to connect via LHR or AMS. We found this question describing procedures at Heathrow, but we wanted to ask the same question about AMS. Specifically:

  • Will she have to clear immigration in AMS? (I assume not, since both France and the Netherlands are Schengen, but I haven't been able to find anything that specifically confirms this.)
  • Will she have to claim & re-check baggage?
  • Will she have to change terminals? (The airlines in question are KLM CityHopper for TLS-AMS & Delta for AMS–BOS.)
  • Will she have to pass security again?
  • Is there anything else unusual about the transfer procedure that we should know about in advance?

If it matters, she is a US citizen, and speaks fluent English along with small amounts of French and (Brazilian) Portuguese. The flights would be booked on one ticket.

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    Is this on one ticket, or two different tickets? If two different tickets she will have to clear both immigration and customs. – user 56513 Feb 8 '17 at 18:40
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    @PaultheSheik: This would be a single ticket. I've edited the question to reflect this. – Michael Seifert Feb 8 '17 at 18:44
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Will she have to clear immigration in AMS?

Yes, it will be done in Amsterdam and NOT in Toulouse, as Toulouse-Amsterdam effectively counts as a domestic route.

Will she have to claim & re-check baggage?

Since it's in one booking, no.

Will she have to change terminals? (The airlines in question are KLM CityHopper for TLS-AMS & Delta for AMS–BOS.)

There's only one terminal, but with different piers.

Will she have to pass security again?

No, she's arriving from a "safe" country, which includes but is not limited to all EU/EFTA states

Is there anything else unusual about the transfer procedure that we should know about in advance?

No, AMS doesn't have any peculiarities really.

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I've been on a similar itinerary last year with KLM Cityhopper transferring in AMS to a Delta flight to the US. While the other answers are correct, they fail to point out one detail that I found surprising even though I consider myself a frequent traveller:

After clearing immigration but prior to arriving at the gate there is an additional security interview, at gate D1 or E4. Apparently this happens for all U.S. bound flights or at least those on U.S. carriers.

In the interview I was asked about what I was doing for a living, my intentions in the U.S., whether my luggage had been out of my sight at any instant of time and similar stuff. The interviewer then briefly went off with my passport and boarding pass and it came back with a sticker on it and I was allowed to proceed to the actual gate.
I am not a U.S. citizen so the process might be shorter for you. The interview was friendly and nothing to worry about, I was only initially startled about its existence, but it was well in place for everyone.

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    You can skip this one and run toward your gate; there will be a dedicated employee at the gate to check your documents. – George Y. Feb 12 '17 at 23:11
  • @GeorgeY. are we talking about the same check? Skip how? The check is a sort of entry to a special set of gates and bypassing it seemed as bad an idea as trying to bypass security to me. Do you speak of personal experience (in AMS) or have any sources at hand? – mts Feb 13 '17 at 6:28
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    Yes. When you have the document check before D1, they put a sticker on your passport cover. At gate they check it, and if you don't have one, they'll send you to a different line where they'd do the same check for you (which for US citizens consist of asking questions about your luggage and scanning your passport). Personal experience. – George Y. Feb 13 '17 at 15:57
  • @GeorgeY. very interesting, do you want to edit my answer to reflect that? Though I still don't understand how you arrive at the final gate (e.g. D6) without passing through the interview at D1. Or do you mean one may have this check before D1 and then at D1 passes through a sort of fast lane directly to the gates? – mts Feb 13 '17 at 18:32
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    If you have Delta mobile app, it tells you which gate the flight departs. Thus you can go directly to the gate. Unless something changed at Schiphol in last three months, the "interview" area is on the left side, it does not prevent you from going directly to D6 or anything. – George Y. Feb 13 '17 at 23:31
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AMS has only one big(gish) building, even though they call it two or even 4 terminals. You can walk within the building from one terminal to the other both before and behind security.

If the flights are bought on one ticket, the luggage will be booked through and she will not need to collect it and re-check.

From the arrivals area she will be directed to the transfer option and not pass through customs.

In the transfer lane she will pass through exit passport control, and there is a Global Blue VAT reclaim desk at next to gate F-3 to claim back sales taxes which is open from 7:00 AM till 8:30 PM daily.

(If she does go out of the building she will pass through customs but that is not much, just the green and red lanes. On the way in she would then pass through exit passport control.)
The exit passport control is a part of immigration, as a departing USA citizen she should get a stamp as matter of fact. Only if she has been in Schengen more than 90 days or when the entry stamp is not clear she is likely to be asked questions.

Going to the USA she may need to go through security but it has been a while since I last done that and Schiphol has changed the security set-up a few times over the last years. (In a now deleted answer @Henning Makholm mentioned that there is no additional security check for travelers from France.)
In the answer by @mts you can see he had an extra interview before boarding and his passport and boarding card did get an extra inspection.
The USA seems to require extra procedures which other countries do not deem needed. So expect an extra inspection, either an interview or an extra security check, but as USA citizen it should not be difficult.

In AMS English is the first language, Dutch the second and you will find many employees who will have a third and fourth language. All signs are in English first and public anouncements, including gate information, will be in English, Dutch and often a third language.
AMS has the tradition of anouncing gate information early, for USA flights that will be hours or even days before the flight. So no waiting in lounge staring at the screens, the gate is printed on the boarding pass or at least already on the screens when you first look.
Your wife will not have to worry, she will likely feel at home in that airport.

  • From my experience she will definitely have to go through immigration at Amsterdam. That is where she will be stamped with the stamp of the last country from which she exits the SCHENGEN zone. She will not have to go through customs again though. – user 56513 Feb 8 '17 at 18:48
  • I was unaware that Schengen had exit controls; that's what you get for travelling back & forth between Canada & the US all the time... – Michael Seifert Feb 8 '17 at 18:49
  • I was edting the answer while you wrote your comments. Customs is the red and green lanes and a transfer passenger will not go through that. Immigration will be 'exit passport control' and she will go through that. I did write about it in my edit. – Willeke Feb 8 '17 at 18:50
  • @MichaelSeifert Most countries have exit controls, in fact, Canada, US, Mexico (by the US land border, anyway) and some Caribbean island states being the main exceptions. – Michael Hampton Feb 8 '17 at 21:44
  • @MichaelHampton Goes for Mexico by air as well, the FMM is handed in to ground staff at the airport – Crazydre Feb 11 '17 at 12:43

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