This is our review of KLM’s non-Schengen Crown Lounge at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
Over the last six months, new Italian airline ITA Airways – which rose from the ashes of Alitalia – has run two status matches. You could have matched your British Airways Executive Club status to ITA’s Volare programme. Both Silver and Gold members of BA Executive Club were given status levels which got them top tier ‘Elite Plus’ status across the entire SkyTeam airline alliance.
ITA’s SkyTeam alignment has not gone well, with many airlines having not yet made the IT adjustments required to recognise ITA status.
One airline which has sorted it out is KLM, which means that you can use your ITA status to enter the new Crown Lounge in Amsterdam if heading to the UK. There is even an ITA logo by the entrance.
You can also use a Virgin Flying Club Gold card to enter the lounge if you are flying on KLM. This is something you might have forgotten, given that the launch of the Virgin / Air France / KLM partnership was just a couple of weeks before the first covid lockdown.
Above is a PR picture which allows me to get some faces into the article!
You can find out more on KLM’s website here.
A quick word about Schengen
Even when the UK was in the European Union, it was not part of the Schengen area. This meant that you always needed to go through passport control when entering and leaving mainland Europe.
One upside of this arrangement, to make up for the queuing, is that flyers to the UK from Schengen countries generally end up in airport lounges aimed at long-haul travellers. Long-haul lounges are, in the main, superior to those used for Schengen flights because premium passengers pay far more for their tickets.
One example of this is Helsinki. The gap between the Schengen lounge (used for flights to, say, France) and the non-Schengen lounge (used for flights to the UK and all long-haul departures) is huge.
I’ve not been to KLM’s Schengen lounge in Amsterdam so I can’t compare the two. You won’t be using the lounge I am reviewing here if you are flying from Amsterdam to a Schengen member.
When I was in Amsterdam recently I decided to fly back to London City with KLM in order to take a look at the non-Schengen Crown Lounge. This was very fortunate since it was one of the afternoons when the BA operation at Heathrow went into meltdown.
The Crown Lounge is huge, set over two levels. I could have written a detailed review of what’s in every corner, but there’s no point – it’s not as if you’re going to use it as a guide when you’re there.
Instead, I thought I’d put up a selection of images with some commentary. The lounge is tucked away between Concourses E and F and is called Lounge 52 on the terminal signage.
Inside the non-Schengen KLM Crown Lounge in Amsterdam Schiphol
The lounge is divided into four zones:
- Sea – ‘recharge, refresh, sleep’
- Polder – ‘eat and drink, work’
- Dutch Mountain – ‘entertainment’
- Sky (upstairs) – ‘blue bar, blue restaurant, terrace’
Here is part of the ‘Sea’ corner:
…. and the view from ‘Sky’ down towards the entrance, which itself is in the middle of the lounge and gives you an idea of the scale:
Stepping down into ‘Polder’, you get what appears to be a Heineken-sponsored bar:
…. and the main buffet area. When I was there, late afternoon, this was the only food available although there were various other closed food counters dotted around.
There is this very formal looking work area if you feel the need to look professional to passers-by:
Heading into the ‘Dutch Mountain’ zone, you get another sense of the sheer scale of this place:
If booths are more your thing, there are some by the back wall at the far end:
Let’s head upstairs to ‘Sky’. If you turn around as you head up the stairs you can see both levels at once:
The upstairs area was closed when I was there. This bar is open from 7am to 1pm. The KLM website implies that standard drinks are free but you need to pay for premium brands.
This second bar area at the back of the ‘Sky’ area is totally closed for now:
Here is the outdoor terrace on the upper level:
There is a general sense of fun in the design here. The British Airways Galleries lounges have an element of fun but they don’t go this far:
On a more practical level, there are a lot of lockers available if needed:
This is a great touch. If you fly KLM in business class long-haul, you will receive a little ceramic Delft house filled with Jenever. This tradition has been going on since 1952, incredibly, and the houses even have their own website at klmhouses.com.
A friend of mine has a decent sized collection in her house after years of business trips to Curacao but nothing on the scale of this – the photo below is only a tiny fraction:
According to the KLM website, there are also sleep pods and showers in the Crown Lounge. It was so huge that I failed to find them!
This wasn’t meant to be a detailed guide to KLM’s Crown Lounge in Amsterdam. I simply wanted to show you that it is a very attractive, and frankly enormous, facility.
If you did the ITA status match – or have Virgin Atlantic Gold status – you might want to swap your next Amsterdam trip to KLM to give it a try.
The Crown Lounge is open from 4.45am to 10pm.
You can find out more on the KLM website here.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (May 2022)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios, if you apply by 1st June 2022.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.
The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.
PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.