Like many people, I recently embarked on my first post-pandemic holiday and while it’s great to get back to travelling abroad, airports are still quite tricky to navigate.
I decided to ease myself back into travel and flew to London for the weekend with a few friends.
We departed from Knock and arrived at London Stansted on Friday evening.
Thankfully, there were no major queues and we got through security with ease but unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for those travelling from Dublin Airport over the weekend.
On Sunday, passengers shared videos online of huge winding queues snaking through the departure lounges at both Terminal One and Terminal Two.
Some complained of waiting at least an hour to clear security while others even missed their flight as a result.
Gearóid Mannion of Travel Counsellors, Ennis, said passengers could opt to pay for fast track, which would see them get through security quicker.
However, the Dublin Airport Authority said on Tuesday morning that sales of the passes have been “paused for the time being” after the chaos at the airport in recent days.
“It gets you through security more quickly, it’s usually about €9. Now if somebody was travelling tomorrow and they went onto the Dublin Airport website to book fast track, they’d probably find that it’s sold out at busy times because they only sell so many,” he said.
“But if you were travelling in 10 days’ time and you were concerned about long queues, it would be well worth pre-booking fast track in advance.”
Mr Mannion said early morning flights are “extremely” busy as they are usually the most popular.
“Some people who are not regular flyers might underestimate early morning flights. Say your flight’s at 7am and you’re checking in at 5am and think there’ll be nobody there at that time, nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
“It is extremely busy very early in the morning at 5am, 6am or 7am.
"It’s particularly busy and it actually eases off a little bit as you go through the mid-morning because a significant number of very early flights depart.”
Mr Mannion said getting to the airport two hours before a short-haul flight and three hours before a long-haul flight is “normal advice”.
“So, when things are busy, you should be adding an hour each for those, so three hours for Europe and four hours for the United States if you want to be sure you don’t miss your flight,” he said.
In a statement issued online yesterday, Ryanair advised passengers to arrive “at least” three-and-a-half hours before their flight.
“Due to DAA staff shortages at Dublin Airport, passengers should arrive at least 3.5 hours before their scheduled departure time.
"Check-in desks, kiosks and baggage drop will be open 3.5 hours before departure,” the statement said.
Dublin Airport, meanwhile, has advised passengers to check in bags where they can and to carry “the minimum amount with them when presenting at security”.
Manager of Fahy Travel, in Galway, Caroline O’Toole, said it’s about being prepared, having your paperwork ready “because, we’ve all been guilty of it – arriving at the airport and going ‘oh God, have I got this done?’” she told the Irish Independent.
She said passengers should always check that their passport is valid before travelling, and arrive “at least” three hours before their flight is due to depart.
And she recommended an app called VeriFly, which passengers can download if they want to simplify the experience of travelling.
She said: “The VeriFly is really taking a lot of the pressure off, it’s like a digital passport of all of your documentation. It’s a fantastic system when it works.
“You upload your travel documents onto it, so you plan your trip and once you put in your flight details, you can upload your digital Covid cert and your passenger locator form,” she said.
“Because for Spain and Portugal, you still have to do a passenger locator form. Not everyone has gotten rid of those yet. You can download the QR codes onto the app and it’s great because when you get to the airport, then all you do is open the app and it says, ‘good to go’ but unfortunately not all airlines are affiliated.”
Ms O’Toole said she is concerned that reports of long queues and missed flights may result in people not booking holidays.
“It’s going to put people off again, it’s been hard enough for us for the last so many years to get back into business and then you’re back in business and then you’ve a war to deal with but now you have the element of the airports,” she said.
“But this is only in Ireland, I haven’t seen it anywhere else, everywhere else seems to be back into full swing, so I don’t know where the issue is lying.”
A spokesman for the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said a shortage of security staff – many left during the pandemic – is responsible for the delays and apologised to those affected.