The logic of Schiphol’s gates



According to Wikipedia, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, aka Schiphol, shifted some 63,625,664 passengers in 2016 and is a major European hub. The question is, have you ever wondered why the gates are lettered B, C, D, E, F, G, H and M?

Now I’ll call the gates ‘piers’. According to Wikipedia, a pier design uses a small, narrow building with aircraft parked on both sides: one end connects to a ticketing and baggage claim area.

There’s a simple explanation for why Schiphol has no Pier A. In English, the pronunciation of A sounds too much like the pronunciation of E in Dutch, which could confuse communication between Schiphol staff and passengers. ‘Access’ and ‘excess’ are both pronounced like ‘excess’ by many Dutch speakers. To avoid any confusion, Schiphol decided a long time ago to forego a Pier A.

And then it goes from H to M, so no I, J, K or L.The I and the J sounds the same in Dutch, but they also look too similar from far away to many people around the world. The sound of ‘I’ in Dutch sounds too much like ‘E’ in English and that could easily go wrong as well. K and L are being saved, but for now, if you fly EasyJet, you’ll have to take a nice, long constitutional to gate M.

In 2019 Schiphol will have a new pier next to Pier B, but what are they going to call it? Stay tuned.


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