New amenities for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: Wi-Fi and golf!

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has been considered one of the best airports in the world for as long as I can remember – even when I flew in and out of it every week back in early 80’s, Schiphol had some of the best airport shopping of any airport.

In recent years, the airport added a casino, loads of new restaurants, a spa, shower facilities, 2 hotels and a museum.

And now two more amenities can be added to that long list; free Wi-Fi and a golf course. Wi-Fi arrived at Schiphol almost ten years ago, but was always a paid service. Now, users can connect to the “KPN” Wi-Fi network located througout the entire airport, landside and airside. The only downside? Access is only free for one hour. After that, you’ll need to purchase more airtime. When on paid access, you can also print for free, and collect your documents at one of the KPN Internet Centers at the airport.

The golf course is located away from the main terminal, towards the north. When completed in 2012, it’ll be a full 18 hole course with a driving range and club house. No word yet whether you’ll be able to use the course during a layover at Schiphol, but knowing how smart the airport operator is, it wouldn’t surprise me if shuttles are provided.

If only U.S. airports paid attention to their international cousins to see how a real airport should look. Schiphol gets a golf course – and we need to settle for a Sbarro. Sigh.

[Photo from Flickr/on1site]

Check out this list of five airline amentities making a comeback

The Netherlands to start full body scans of all US bound passengers

The Dutch government held a press conference this morning announcing their plans to beef up security at Amsterdam Schiphol airport.

Within three weeks, fifteen bodyscan machines will be in place (sources say the machines are the Rapiscan Secure 1000 scanners), and a 100% screening of all US bound passengers may help prevent a repeat of the Northwest Airlines incident.

See – THIS is how you tackle security. Something happens, and within 3 weeks, you implement the technology required to prevent it from happening again. I’m not a big fan of the bodyscanners, but given how the terrorists are operating, I don’t see any other solution, short of asking people to fly naked.

Government officials made it clear that only one person will be able to view the scanner screen at a time, and that images can not be stored. The initial implementation requires border protection police staff to view the screens, but the next version will be fully automated, and a computer will determine whether any items are on your body that require closer scrutiny.

Of course, the Dutch privacy groups are very much against the scanners. My biggest concern is that images of naked children leak out, and make their way into the hands of pedophile groups. If governments are indeed going to start an accelerated roll out of these scanners, they’d better be 100% sure they protect our privacy – if they screw this up (and chances are, they will), the backlash will be fierce.

Dutch airport hotel for goldfish the newest victim of the recession

Seriously, is nothing safe from the grasps of the crappy economy?

Even the goldfish hotel we wrote about back in June barely lasted 4 weeks before closing the lid of its tank.

Closing the “hotel” wasn’t too hard, because when its end came, there were no guests checked in, and no reservations lined up.

Of course, because the whole concept was sponsored by a travel agency, it is perfectly possible that the opening and subsequent closing were all one big PR stunt, but sources confirm that the hotel was real, and that several people actually arrived at Schiphol airport with a goldfish ready to be checked in for a week.

Still, I think 4 weeks is a record for the launch and failure of a hotel, even if it was only open to fish. Then again, in an era where pets get their own airline or hotel and dogs have sex toys, not much surprises me.

Amsterdam airport opens the world’s first hotel – for goldfish…

We’ll file this one under “wacky PR news” – Amsterdam airport just opened the world’s first hotel specifically designed for goldfish.

The hotel is operated by “D-Travel”, a major player in the Dutch travel booking market, and passengers who booked their trip through them can use the facility for free.

Upon arrival at Schiphol airport, passengers can hand over their fish at the goldfish check-in desk (seriously!) and each fish will be placed in its own little fish tank.

Having arrived home after a 2 week vacation to discover that my aquarium had gone through a catastrophic meltdown, I have to say that the idea sounds cool, though I’m not entirely sure I’d feel comfortable loading fish into a bag to transport to the airport.

Imagine arriving at the airport, only to discover that the goldfish hotel is closed, or overbooked! You’d be stuck at the airport with a flight departing in 2 hours and a bag full of fish on your luggage cart. Obviously a bad way to start your vacation.

Click the images below to learn about other weird hotels:

Cause for Turkish Airlines flight known: Dutch Safety Board issues warning

Last Wednesday, a Turkish Airlines flight crashed in a field just 1 kilometer short of the runway at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The report as to what caused the accident has been released. After reading through it myself, and thanks to the paired down version of Gadling’s own Kent Wien, pilot and writer of Cockpit Chronicles, here are the details.

According to the report, there was a malfunction of one of the radio altimeters, the device that displays the distance of the airplane from the ground. The left altimeter, instead of reading the Boeing 737’s actual height at 1950 feet when the plane was descending, it read 8 feet.

At the point of the glitch, the auto-throttles went to idle because the reading said the plane was just above the runway thus about to land. This caused the plane to slow down more than it should have. The pilots didn’t have enough time to recover the speed needed to pull the plane out of a stall to a higher altitude in order to achieve a safe landing.

Along with determining the malfunction in the radio altimeter, the investigation also found out what happened to the plane upon impact. The tail of the plane hit first, then the undercarriage. When the plane hit the ground it was going at 150 kph. A normal landing speed is 260. Because the ground was soft, the plane had a “rapid halt” within 150 meters.

During landing, the tail broke off and the plane ruptured at the business class section which is where most of the fatalities and injuries occurred. Eighty passengers in all were injured and nine people died (4 crew, including the pilots and five passengers). The area of the plane around the wings was the most intact.

There are still investigations being made surrounding the altimeter’s malfunction and the Dutch Safety Board has issued a warning to Boeing.

For the report, click here. Prior to these findings, one theory about the cause of the crash was wake turbulence caused by a larger plane landing right before this plane’s attempt. (See article.)