A couple of weeks ago I wrote all about our brief but wonderful 36 hours in one of our favourite cities Amsterdam. The reason we were there is that we were working alongside KLM to show the ease of flying to Amsterdam and also the unique things that Amsterdam’s main airport Schiphol has to offer. We have worked with KLM before, in fact they are one of our favourite airlines, so we were more than happy to accept the challenge and head off on an adventure.
KLM flies to Schiphol from 17 regional airports in the UK- Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Belfast, Cardiff, Dublin, Durham Tees Valley, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Humberside, Inverness, Leeds, London Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Southampton, meaning that there is no doubt an airport near you. Our nearest is London Heathrow, although we have flown from Norwich before as it is such a small airport it is incredibly quick to get through check in and immigration on your return date. Did you know that Schiphol actually has more passengers arriving per year for connecting flights to other destinations than it does people flying to visit The Netherlands itself? Even though I knew that Schiphol was a real transport hub, I still found that fascinating. As of summer 2016 KLM now offers 145 worldwide services, 68 long-haul destinations and 77 medium-haul destinations, and you can reach the majority of them from Schiphol. I am yet to try KLM’s long haul service, but it is on my list, and having tried their short haul flights four times now I can already tell that it won’t disappoint.
I know it sounds silly but I still find it crazy that you can be in a foreign city by 9am. The flight time obviously varies depending on which airport you fly from, but it took us 40 minutes from London Heathrow. We were in Amsterdam by 9am, ready to eat breakfast and head off exploring. Plus you get the most beautiful sunsets from up in the air if you travel early in the morning.
I have flown with KLM four times now and considering the flight is so short, I am still so impressed by the service and attention to detail you receive. With other short haul carriers, often you have to pay an arm and a leg for drinks and snacks, and you even have to pay for a children’s pack for the children, so much so that we often don’t bother buying anything on board unless the flight is longer than a few hours.
Not with KLM. Each child receives a little activity pack to do on board, the girls really enjoyed doing the activity book with puzzles and colouring. I especially thought the little passport covers were a nice touch and the team on board were really kind and gave me an extra one so now all three of the children can have a snazzy blue KLM cover on their passports. Even with a flight time of 40 minutes, we all got a drink of our choice and a snack, with it varying, in the past we have had Stroopwaffel’s (a Dutch delicacy!) and this time we got a cheese sandwich and some biscuits. Now of course the flight crew had no idea we were technically ‘reviewing’ the service, to them we were just any other passenger, but both there and the return journey they couldn’t have been politer. On the way there we were the only family on board and on the way back there was only one other, and as a result they spent a few minutes chatting to the children and cooing over our baby boy. It’s nothing out of the ordinary but it certainly makes you feel special when they take a few minutes to make conversation.
On arrival into Schiphol we headed out to start our adventures, but all too soon it was the next day and time to come home again. As the rain was so bad on our trip (typical!) we actually decided to head to the airport really early. And I am so glad we did. It was actually really nice to spend some time mooching about in Schiphol, rather than normally rushing around in a mad flap as we have only just managed to get through security to check into our flight, which is usually the case with us.
Schiphol airport is without a doubt the nicest airport we have ever been in. Now before you say, surely an airport can’t be ‘nice’, they are a necessity to get you from A to B- think again. Schiphol genuinely is such a lovely airport, in fact the only one that I have seen that even comes close to it is Dubai. We actually really enjoyed spending a few hours there. We checked in, had a quick photo opportunity at the iAmsterdam sign (The Iamsterdam signs are quite a cool iconic portrait of Amsterdam- there are three, one in front of the Rijksmuseum, one at Schiphol airport and one that travels around to different places), before checking in and going to explore what the airport had to offer.
The main highlight of the airport when travelling with children most definitely has to be the KLM kids play zone. This truly was fantastic and if you ask Mads what her favourite part of her trip to Amsterdam was she says the play area! It is made into an airplane, with working controllers, pilot voices and all sorts meaning kids can ‘fly’ the plane, but then the back is made up of this big climbing zone (see below!), slides, fireman’s poles and all sorts of other fun. We literally couldn’t get the girls out of there and we ended up still having to walk briskly to get our flight, even though we were there hours before it was due to depart!
But Schiphol has loads of other things to offer other than just the play area. I have made a little video below about ten cool things about Schiphol airport, but it really does have such a stylish design and lots to do.
I made a little video for KLM to share on their social media all about the cool stuff to do at Schiphol, but I thought I would share it here too…
Finally it was time to head back on the last flight back to London. We were stood in the queue waiting to board the plane and one of the ground staff came up to us to say that we could board the flight first as we had a baby with us. Again I thought this was a really fantastic touch, we aren’t the type of people to go up and attempt to get on a plane first, so it was really nice that she sought out the people with babies to let them on first.
Amsterdam is just one of the best cities we have ever been to. When people think of it, they often think of the red light district, or the notorious coffee shops, or drunken stag and hen parties. But that is just a very small part of Amsterdam. In the twice we have been with our children, we haven’t even slightly encountered any of those things. Not one glimpse. What we have encountered is a city full of culture, colour, life and which is incredibly family friendly. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what it has to offer. I don’t normally particularly care about going back somewhere more than once, after all there is so much more of the world to explore. But I want to go back when the tulips are in bloom and take photos of our children between the colourful rows, I want to go in the summer when people actually swim in Amsterdam’s many canals, I want to live like a local and explore even more.
What makes it even better is that it is just so quick and easy to fly there with KLM. You can be slightly crazy like us and go for one night or just go for the weekend. Or make a few day break out of it. Be warned just be sure to leave plenty of time at Schiphol airport when you go to fly home. You will not be able to get your children out of the KLM play zone.
If you haven’t seen it, check out our video on what we got up to in our 36 hours in Amsterdam.
NB: Thanks to KLM and Schiphol airport for supporting our trip to Amsterdam, we had the best time. All words, photos, videos and opinions are entirely my own. You can follow @klm_uk on twitter, they are really engaged and lots of fun on there!