Thunderbirds are go!

I’m writing this from the Privium lounge at Amsterdam Airport.

For those of you (probably most) who have never heard of it, Privium is a program – open to all EEA nationals (the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland), which allows high-tech border passage, bypassing the Koninklijke Marechausee‘s passport control checkpoints on entering or leaving the Netherlands to/from a non-Schengen state.

You have a card, which you have to pay for, on which is stored your biometrics (not in any database).

You use an iris recognition device which opens a turnstile which lets you bypass the passport checks.

The look on the faces of US and other visitors to Europe as you use the device and sail past the massive queues is priceless. 

It’s actually open to US citizens too so long as they are Global Entry vetted (There’s a reciprocal deal with Global Entry, although at the moment, European can’t get Global Entry privileges unless they are Dutch citizens).

Privium also has its own dedicated lounge, for which there is an extra fee (this is called Privium Plus). But if you only use it once or twice a year, it costs in with the quality of the food and the ambience, compared with the cavernous KLM Crown Lounge.

The Privium lounge is intimate and cosy,. It’s decorated in a 1960s UFO chic and even better the uniforms worn by the staff seem to have been designed by Gerry Anderson!

Naturally the lounge has its own Privium turnstile, giving instant access to airside, so you have the benefits of being either landside or airside right up until the last moment. (Security checks are at the gates for non-Schengen flights, so you need to add a few mins extra for that).

The only disadvantage is that it’s not open at weekends. But if you transit between Schengen and non-Schengen at Schiphol more than twice a year, its cheap insurance against a missed connection.

(And the lounge is the height of cool!)

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