The strike by KLM ground staff is apparently over, but delays will cascade.
“We are very sorry to have to do this, but it is necessary to guarantee safety”, an airport spokesperson told Reuters.
Police closed down highway exits to the airport on Saturday afternoon as lines at departure gates stretched out of the airport buildings.
Travellers were advised to stay away until at least 1300 GMT, while airport staff work to get as many as possible of the thousands of frustrated passengers aboard their often-delayed flights.
Baggage handlers for KLM, the Dutch arm of airline Air France-KLM, had early on Saturday gone on a previously unannounced strike in demand for higher pay and better working conditions.
KLM ground staff handle about half of all luggage coming through Schiphol, Europe’s third-busiest airport after Paris Charles de Gaulle and London Heathrow.
Labour union FNV said the strike had ended around noon.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Writing by Bart Meijer; Editing by David Holmes)