Where is Pier A?

Schiphol has eight piers, lettered B, C, D, E, F, G, H and M. The piers contain the corridors along which airplanes park and from which passengers board their flights. As you may have noticed, our alphabetisation is a little patchy, skipping over A and then jumping from H to M. Why?

A or E?

Actually, 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. ‘E? Do you mean A or E?’. To avoid any risk of confusion, Schiphol decided a long time ago to forego a Pier A.

A after all?

As Schiphol gears up for the future in the coming years, a new pier will rise next to Pier B. Slated to become operational in late 2019, this new pier will add another eight gates. Based on its location, logic would dictate naming this new pier Pier A. So will Schiphol be getting a Pier A after all? Maybe, maybe not. Discussions about the name are still ongoing. What do you think?

Pier M

The reason for jumping from Pier H to Pier M is a bit more complicated. In writing, the letters I and J look too similar. From a distance (or with poor eyesight) it could be difficult to distinguish between the two. Also, the Dutch pronunciation of I sounds too much like the English pronunciation of E. Similar confusion could arise with the English pronunciation of the letters J and G. The letters K and L, meanwhile, have long been reserved for piers that may one day be built between Piers H and M. But until that day comes, we will be skipping straight to M!