We arrived three hours early for our flight from Amsterdam to Cork

It was like a nightmare.

My wife, children and I had arrived three hours early for our return flight from Amsterdam to Cork, as I had seen a few things on Twitter about chaos at the airport due to understaffing.

The woman at baggage check told us to head straight to security, so we left. The queue stretched halfway to Belgium. However, we had more than two and a half hours to take off, that should be more than enough.

An hour later, we still hadn’t reached the bottom of the stairs that would take us to the security area. My wife decided to play our “will anyone be thinking of the kids” card and slipped through the crowd to ask the security guard if we could skip the line. I didn’t say anything, but there must have been 1,000 people ahead of us, and there was no way it would work.

It worked. I hate when that happens, but at least she didn’t gloat.

We were allowed to skip the first piece of the queue.

Thirty minutes later, with an hour to take off, we finally turned down the hallway through security. There must have been another 1,000 people in that hallway. This new queue didn’t go anywhere for 30 minutes – we weren’t going to make the flight.

A door appeared to our right, with a woman guarding it. I asked him if we could pass and get out of the queue. She said go ahead and check if the KLM office at the bottom of the stairs could book us the next flight to Cork.

Great.

No.

Two hours later I got to the top of the queue for the KLM office, where a woman gave me a ticket and told me I would be seen two hours later. She had no idea what they were going to do for me.

That’s when it started to look like a nightmare. Not a scary monster – more a boring one where you’re trapped in a weird airport and no one seems able to help you.

The Dutch passengers in the queue just shrugged. They are obviously not upset or mortified. If it was in Ireland we would have looked for foreigners, apologizing for the state of our airport.

Our kids didn’t seem to care either. They had spent most of the three hours in a melee, with taller people all around, chatting in foreign languages. But they also shrugged and continued talking about Minecraft. At some point, an airport employee appeared and started handing out cookies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my son so happy – he was living his best life at Departures 3 at Amsterdam Airport.

We weren’t living our best life. We had no idea where we were sleeping that night so decided to cut our losses and book a late night flight home with Aer Lingus.

Our bags were presumably out of the missed flight and in the bowels of the building, so I joined another two-hour queue to retrieve them, while the kids played video games.

Amsterdam Airport’s mission statement should read: “No queuing less than two hours – we guarantee it!”

In the end, things got easier. The queue for Burger King was only ten minutes. We collected most of our luggage and made the Aer Lingus flight 20 minutes early.

Our children were still living their best life. My daughter talked to the woman next to her all the way to Cork. My son was feeling a bit left out, so he turned around and spoke to her with the other ear. They both collapsed in the car on the way home.

It wasn’t really a nightmare. But it taught me a few things. Kids are great as long as someone tops them with cookies. The Dutch are very tall and they keep things in perspective – I should be more like them. But more than anything, I’ll listen to my wife the next time she suggests we use our kids to skip the lines.

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