Flying to Amsterdam Airport with a small dog

Why should I write about flying to Amsterdam Airport with a small dog? Well, you know you’re a serious traveller when you follow the votes for the best airports every year. It’s like the Oscars, only without the fanfare. And I get totally excited when I can say, “Wow, I made it to three of those!” This year’s winners? Take a look. (PS – How #10 even got on the list is a mystery to me.)


  1. Singapore Changi Airport
  2. Incheon International Airport
  3. Munich Airport
  4. Hong Kong International Airport
  5. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
  6. Tokyo International Airport Haneda
  7. Beijing Capital Airport
  8. Zurich Airport
  9. Vancouver International Airport
  10. London Heathrow Airport

I have reviewed Munich Airport for you and Zurich airport is coming up, but today … today, I want to talk to you about #5 – Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. It was #3 in 2013 but slipped this year to 5th, likely due to the extensive renovations currently going on in the international flight area.


It is glass madness!


I love Amsterdam Airport. On my list, it’s #1. Granted, I’ve not been to Singapore so it could be good, but on my list, it’s Amsterdam.

Why am I such a big fan of Amsterdam Airport? Because they get travellers.

Where else can you happily go outside, run around on AstroTurf – OFF leash – and get some air? Oh, and without having to leave the airport or go through customs, either! Enter the Airport Park (it is located above Pier D in lounge 1) concept!


Our stuff on the bench!


Getting some air after a long flight!


It is good to be free. Love this space!


You can bring a drink out and enjoy the sun!


Green wall? Waterfall? Log bench? Check!


Bumps on a log (Airport web pic)


And where else can you enjoy bean bags?


See the lady in the bean bag?



Or a massage chair?


Help get that blood flow going!


And what other airport has brought the outdoors in? Including the sounds of birds in a forest to help you relax?


Are those birds I hear?


And there is an “office” area with free wi-fi too!


Sweet deal!


And where can you have a snack inside a GIANT TEACUP?!


Hahahaha I am a teacup Chihuahua!!


I can’t tell you how much I love this airport. The staff are helpful; the security guards zoom about on Segways; and did I mention the museum?

The Rijksmuseum Schiphol Airport (opened in 2002) is a small, fun museum that exhibits original art, normally about ten to twelve masterpiece paintings at a time. The art is rotated to keep the exhibits fresh. The themes usually link to travel in some way and always connect with the Dutch masters or Dutch art in general. So far, the themes have been:

  • Sunny Skies in the Golden Age
  • Brueghel in Business
  • The Art of Flying: Bird Pieces by Melchior d’Hondecoeter
  • Holland & Japan: 400 Years of Trade
  • Vincent van Gogh: Nature Close-Up, with eight original paintings by the world’s most popular artist
  • Dutch Cows: Symbol of Prosperity – cattle pieces from the Rijksmuseum.

The museum is open from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Admission is free but you need your passport. A pooch may enter if in a bag. You can find the museum at the Holland Boulevard, between E and F. (Yes, all the branches of the airport have street names.)


Classiest Airport EVER!


And if all of that is still not enough, there’s a casino, a grand piano available for travellers to play, good shopping, a meditation room for all religions, two spas (one offers massages), and a wide variety of bars and restaurants. If you feel the need, you may also take a shower at the Hotel Mercure. It’s open 24 hours a day and the cost is €15. Or, for a free shower, go to the top floor and use the showers near the meditation room. Bring your own towels.

Yes, this airport is AWESOME! Although water … yuck.

And there’s still more! If you want to sleep but do not want the hassle of going through customs, book a room at the Hotel Mercury or the Yotel Amsterdam Schiphol. The Yotel has pod-type rooms available for a minimum of four hours. Great if you want some privacy, a nap, and a shower. The Yotel also has two shower rooms, which you can book by the hour. The fee here is also €15.


Handy map for you!


In the summer of 2010, Amsterdam airport opened the world’s first permanent airport library. The library offers a collection of 1200 books by Dutch writers, translated into 29 languages. The 300-square foot library also offers e-books and music by Dutch artists, which can be downloaded to a laptop or mobile device at no fee.


Free Library!


My personal favourite, and the coolest offering of any airport anywhere: a wedding chapel for those wishing to take off in newly-wedded bliss! I kept hinting to the bipeds but no dice. Oh well, maybe next time!


Photo at the Sofitel Wedding Chamber (Sofitel)


All that to say, Dear Reader, even with the ongoing renovations, this airport is the absolute best place to have a layover.

In review: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is Europe’s fifth largest airport in terms of passengers and third largest in terms of cargo. And yet the airport continuously manages to be listed in the top 5 best airports in the world. The airport has everything you could want, even a little mystery around its name! You can read about that here.


Pet friendly!


If you have to spend some time in an airport, I recommend this one. Flying to Amsterdam airport with a small dog never makes you feel overwhelmed. You can relax, eat, shop, sleep … you name it. We had and one-hour layover on our way to Nice from Montreal and a four-hour layover on the way back. And Mom was super sick. Yet we were fine. We felt comfortable and we didn’t feel hassled. If you have a little bit more time (say, 8 hours), then you can take the speed train into Amsterdam proper. In fact there are even bus tours that leave from the airport! That’s classy, Amsterdam.  That is classy.

30 Comments on “Flying to Amsterdam Airport with a small dog

  1. Hi!! Aren’t we thrilled to have found your blog!! We are seeking an airport that we can transit Madrid to Japan less hassle as possible with our small dog. I see the outdoor relief area with cafe above posted blog at Schiphol airport but I can’t seem to find it on their website. Is this Park Cafe? If we can take our dog out for potty walk without hassling out through customs and stuff…this will be our choice!! We are going through Amsterdam for transit. This is very serious for us…since our pup is a part of our family…Thank you for your blog!! Very helpful 🙂 -Yoko

    • Hello Yoko! The outdoor area is not a “pet relief” area per say… it’s an observation deck. By the time we found it – the pup-head had already been used. It is in the area for European flights and not in the area for international flights. So you would have been able to use it in reverse – but not on your way to japan. Having said that, I have found that to date every single airport in Europe we have been to has had no issue with a dog on leash walk-in about. Is your dog indoor potty trained at all? Also things are really different for big dogs flying cargo versus small dogs flying in cabin. Is your dog small? or big? Let me know!

      • Hi there,
        Just wanted to let you know I fly regularly through AMS with my in-cabin pet. We have been told maybe about 7 of the last 10 times to put our dog away. They are not allowed (any longer) to walk on a leash in the airport. Honestly though, before/after a 10 hour flight I do it anyways and wait for someone to tell me to stop. We did have a scary incident with a security/sniffer German Shepard that tried to attack our dog and was pulling at his leash. His handler started yelling at us that passenger pets were not allowed outside of their containers as he was fighting to control his working dog.

        • I did not know this. Thank you for the heads up. We will stay in the carrier until we get to the outdoor area … better safe than sorry!

      • Hi Montecristo,

        Your blog is extremely helpful, thanks so much! I’m flying with my emotional support dog to New York via Amsterdam and was wondering if he’d be allowed to relieve himself in the Airport Park without the use of pee pads?

        Also, do you know if the Airport Park would be accessible for departures to the US?

        • I do not know… the airport was undergoing massive renovations last time we were there. Sorry. You could contact them. As for the park – my understanding is that as long as it is grass rather than turf you should be ok!

  2. Thank you so much for replying so fast!! We are trying to take him in a cabin with us. He only weighs 5kg and I think maximum weight including carrier would be 8 kg for the most of airlines in europe. We’re looking for a way to take him out for potty before a long international flight to Japan 🙂 Yes and No…on potty pad training. He uses his potty pads at our home but he won’t use it when we are outside somewhere like at the hotel or the airport…would come in handy if he could 🙁 Thanks again for this website!!!! Very helpful!!

    • Walking him will likely trigger a need “to go”. Have the pee pad with you (did you go see what we use? the pup head – I linked to it in my previous comment) or wet wipes to clean up if he makes a mess. It happened once to us an “accident” at Frankfurt airport. Pooped right there in the middle of the terminal. A quick clean up and poop bags solved the problem and no one cared. Also – In flight, every 2 hours or so take the dog – INSIDE the carrier – to the bathroom, lock the door. Once safe in there, put down the pee pad on the floor and see if he needs to go.
      Worse case – make sure you have a BIG ziplock to put any “peed on” carrier blanket/pillow and a change. Only happened once a few years back but were glad for the clean switch. We keep a few baby facecloths handy for this. Hope this helps!

      Always wanted to go to Japan … 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for your advise!!! Yes I saw a pup-head page and in fact we tried a similar product when he was younger but it didn’t work out 🙁 I was just told by my friend that she was told we shouldn’t go outside of airport if we are flying to Japan. I’m checking with the office in Tokyo but no answer yet.

    My other option would be going through the states, stayed there for a month or so then fly to Japan. I know its a lot of paperworks to go to Japan but their quarantine office has been so helpful! I hope you can visit Japan someday with your pup!! If we are still around, we’ll show you around for sure!

    • WE would love that! There are airports with indoor potty facilities in the US. such as Washington and Chicago … if that helps at all. Let me know what you end up doing! AS soon as the quarantine is dropped in Japan we are visiting! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Taking KLM flights with your Dog! - Montecristo Travels - The Blog

  5. This is such an informative website! We are traveling for the first time ever with our guy, a 5kg silky terrier. We’re leaving Malaysia to move back to the US. We’re flying KLM and have a 4 hour layover in Amsterdam. I’m wondering, though, where can I find this pet relief area once we land in Amsterdam? Will staff at the airport be able to direct us to it if we ask them?

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    • Just ask for the Airport Park above Pier D – Lounge 1!
      You can learn more about the space here (the outdoor space is on the furthest to the right “hot spot” button!). There is a map on the left – click on it to see it bigger.

  6. Can anyone provide info on the dog hotel in this airport that is required for dogs that are travelling below ? What was it like ? Fees? Experience? Were you able to visit?

  7. Hi Guys.

    So glad I came across you! I am wanting to travel from Hurghada Egypt via taxi’s to Cairo, then a flight to Amsterdam, then another taxi to Rotterdam port, then the ferry to Hull, then another taxi to Manchester ugh. Does anyone have any advice on this route? I’ll hopefully use AirFrance rather than KLM as although they both seem to state most of the same details, flight prices, days, times etc), they seem to charge less for pets and allow a little more height! We will be 2 adults with 2 small dogs under 8kg and 4 suitcases. Any information will be appreciated. I’m wondering if I also have to book a special pet agency to ‘handle’ the dogs at both airports..? Many thanks in advance, Rebecca

    • Hey Rebecca! That is a long trip! Never been to Egypt although we do hope to do so one day. So I can’t speak to the Hurghada to Cairo part. There are no such thing as a pet agency to handle your dogs. you’ll have to do so yourself just like you would a child. If your dogs are not indoor potty trained you’ll need to leave the airport to go outside to let them go potty then come back in – so give yourself time to go through security again and do NOT forget your boarding ticket and passports! Air France and KLM are part of the same group so the difference will be minimal. Do what works for you. It’s a long trek for sure but do-able. THE most important thing will be making sure your pets papers, microchip etc are in order.

  8. Do they actually weigh the dogs that are going in the cabin? We have the correct softsided bag. I’m really nervous because our poor dog has been trying to lose weight for months and hasn’t lost a pound! He’s just over 8 kilos. The vet doesn’t think they’ll weigh him. We are flying to the US through Amsterdam from Berlin. Also, do we need to have a paper showing that he has had a rabies shot in the week before departure? I read that somewhere. We have an EU passport and all shots are up to date.
    Thank you!

    • The EU paper is enough but having your vet fill out the international health certificate isn’t a bad idea. But the pet passport is fine. Just know however that North America does not have a pet passport program. We do however recognize it. They are unlikely to weigh they are more concerned that your your pet can stand in the carrier. But I have seen them weigh dogs. It depends on the airline and how strict the staff are that day in implementing the rules. Rabies: as long as it’s up to date. Rabies shot need to be 30 days before departure. Not a week. The papers have be filled out the week before but the rabies shot is 30 days or more. Hope that helps.

  9. I flew with my chinese crested dog via Schiphol yesterday. I checked with the airport prior to flyind and was told I can walk with my dog on a leash in the terminal. The same information is on there website. There were no problems with that, walked with him everywhere even through the automatic passport gates.
    We also managed to find that small outdoor terrace in Pier D that is mentioned in the article. Exactly what you need for your dog to pee and have a breath of fresh air

    • Hi Lilly,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m traveling back home to the US via Schiphol with my dog and was wondering if pets are allowed to relieve themselves in the Airport Park with out the use of pee pads?

  10. Hi,

    First off, this blog is very useful for people traveling with pets! Thanks for posting!

    I’ll be flying with KLM from CGK to YUL via AMS and bringing my 8 year old maltipoo in the cabin. I got my special request confirmed Pet in Cabin, but my question is do they need a specific brand of soft carrier or we can just use anything that is under the maximum dimensions? My maltipoo is quite long but she fits fine in our current carrier and still under the weight limit for pet in cabin.
    I’m really anxious and nervous about this because I’m afraid she will be denied for flight while we check in.

    Also, I’ll be having 9h 20m layover in AMS, it would be nice if I can take my dog out. Can I access the outdoor park on Pier D from inside the international transit area. I can’t imagine my dog to stay inside a carrier, not stretching or peeing or walking for 33 hours flight including transit. I’ll be preparing disposable potty liners for my dog, but I doubt she will want to pee on it because we’ve trained her to pee on grass her whole life.

    • How did this go? i am anput to make a similiar trip and I need to know how to get my dog relirc withput exiting the airport/ my final destination is china and I can’t exit the airport and enter amsterdam

  11. Thank you for the great review on Amsterdam airport. We will be flying from Calgary to Amsterdam with an emotional support animal in the cabin of the airplane. When we land will some type of agency have to come check us into the country (check our dog’s paperwork) before we can leave the secure area? I ask because when we fly with our ESA into London or Manchester, UK we have to stay on the plane until the Pet agency comes on board. We have to arrange this check in with them well and in advance of landing in the airport and give a preapproval letter to the airlines. Please tell me Amsterdam does not make you jump through so many hoops!

  12. I’ve been messaging back and forth with both the Schiphol airport and KLM inquiring about a pet relief area and no one mentioned the area in your blog! I am flying with my small service dog. When we hit Amsterdam he will have flown 8 hrs from Minneapolis! We are flying in April 2019. Any updates available? Is this Park area still available for a potty break?

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