My husband and I are going to Prague for 5 days this month. The flight times changed a few times and KLM have us booked on our return flight from Prague to Amsterdam to Atlanta. We have a one hour layover in Amsterdam before the flight to ATL at 5:15pm (on a Tuesday). Is this feasible? I'm concerned about us losing contact because I'm British with an EU passport and US green card, and my husband is American. I'm not finding it easy to see if we go through separate lines etc and if the ATL flight will leave from the same terminal that we arrive in etc. Any advice? Apparently the earlier flight is full. This is a single ticket.

  • You can go to the EU passport line together, because, as your husband, he is a "person enjoying freedom of movement under EU law." This is explicit in the Schengen Borders Code. Even if he were unable to use the EU line, you could still go with him to the "all passports" line, since it is, after all, for all passports. – phoog Aug 4 '17 at 14:17
  • I would say it is should be enough time. The terminal will be different but it is close by. And there will be no passport control or any security checks (just general conversation about you and your baggage). But it is tight. If the original flight gets delayed you might miss your connection. – Eugen Martynov Aug 4 '17 at 14:19
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    @EugenMartynov there will be passport control as the travelers will be leaving the Schengen area in Amsterdam. The last time I flew through Schiphol there was also separate security for flights to the US, but that was a long time ago and I don't know whether that's still the case. – phoog Aug 4 '17 at 15:28

This is a pretty tight connection, but I have done them this way many times, and you should make it unless your Prague flight delays. The main time consumers would be:

  1. Hurry up when arriving - walking from the arrival gate to passport control. If you're unlucky to land at the far end of B/C gates, it could easily be a 15 minute walk alone. Try to sit closer to the front of the plane if possible.

  2. Use the short connection line when passport control. Passing the (exit) EU passport control. You will likely to be able to use a short connection line, but it is not always empty. In AMS the exit passport control is efficient, but still takes around a minute per passenger; ten people in line in front of you add up to 10 minutes.Be ready to show your boarding pass and note that you depart to USA

  3. Go to the document check area, and use the short connection line there. This is relevant if you're flying on Delta, as even if you already checked in and have a boarding pass, at AMS you are supposed to go through a single "document check" area. There's a separate area in front of D or E gates (they keep moving it around) where you need to go to have your passport scanned, answer typical questions about who packed your baggage, have your visas/ESTA checked if you need ones, etc. Only then you'd know which gate your flight departs from.

  4. Walk to the departure gate. It will be closer walk, but still can take up to 10 minutes. Don't stop by for restroom until you reach the gate and see whether it is still being boarding or is about to close.

The airline claims to close the gate 20 minutes before departure time. This is not always the case and depending on how many passengers are missing, they are often willing to wait considerable time. 30+ minute waits are not unheard of, but I wouldn't rely on them. Once the gate is closed, it will not reopen even if you arrive a minute later.

An additional note: you have a higher chance that the airline would wait for you in this scenario if you check in the luggage. The reason is that your luggage will make it to the plane faster than you - it doesn't have to pass the hurdles above. Once this happens, the airline cannot fly without you being on board - they'd have to offload your luggage. It will take them some time to locate your bags in the plane, and if you come in during that time, you are fine.

  • Nice answer, especially the tip about the checked luggage. We know from the question, though, that neither traveler will have a visa or esta to check, since one is a US permanent resident and the other a US citizen. – phoog Aug 4 '17 at 21:42
  • @phoog it doesn't matter - everyone has to go through this "document check" process, including US citizens. Visa/ESTA check is only small part of it, seems to be mostly security related (i.e. questions about your baggage, who packed it, whether you had it in possession), and doc validation (they do scan your passport even for US citizens) – George Y. Aug 4 '17 at 23:39

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