Delays reported at Dublin Airport check-in desks over busy weekend

Queues at check-in desks due to ‘staffing challenges’ facing airlines, DAA says

The operator of Dublin Airport has said passengers were facing delays at check-in desks and bag drop areas on Sunday, which it said was due to “staffing challenges” facing airlines.

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said security queues at departures were moving well during a “very busy” Sunday, in what was expected to be the busiest weekend of the year so far for the airport.

While security queues were not lengthy the airport operator said passengers had faced delays queuing at check-in desks and when dropping off bags.

“Some airlines have experienced delays at their check-in desks and bag drop areas due to resourcing issues of their own,” said Kevin Cullinane, DAA group head of communications.

“Staffing challenges facing airlines, ground handling companies, and third-party contractors across check-in, baggage handling, retail and cleaning services, are impacting customer experience, something DAA is working hard to address in collaboration with our aviation partners,” he said. Mr Cullinane said the airport was working “very closely” with airlines to minimise waiting times.

On Saturday Dublin Airport said passenger queues moved through security channels without incident. “We haven’t asked for any help,” said spokesman Graeme McQueen. “I think what we have learned over the last few weeks is that we need contingencies in our system which we have given ourselves.”

Mr McQueen was speaking a day after Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan conceded the drafting of army personnel was among various options being considered to help a depleted airport staff cope with any future crises. In late May, a surge in travel combined with low staff numbers led to lengthy pre-departure queues and large numbers of missed flights.

On Saturday morning, however, there seemed little immediate prospect of that. Processing times through security gates were, in the main, kept below 30 minutes since the busy early morning wave of departures.

The successful contingency plans referenced by Mr McQueen include the recent segregation of people queuing up for security and bag-drop respectively.

Marquees erected in the event of serious pressure have remained largely unused, save for a handful of half-hour periods, the authority has said.

With staffing problems still at the heart of everything, management said another 100 people are currently in training to add further backup. Efforts are focused on avoiding a necessity to cancel flights as has happened in other European airports.

While things appeared to be running smoothly at the start of the weekend, experiences gauged via social media were mixed. DAA continued to field questions and complaints from passengers.

“Dublin Airport chaotic today,” one person tweeted on Friday. “Massive queues earlier — about 1.5 hours — to check in (i wasn’t able to do it online). 40 mins at security which isn’t the worse — then huge queue in T2 eating area.”

“Never again will I go through @DublinAirport,” posted another, appearing to reflect ongoing general staffing problems. “No customer services, unorganised hell, no help, horrendous waiting times at check in and security, lost luggage staff no idea what to do.”

Another, posting a picture from the sky, said that despite “a lot of negativity about @DublinAirport, must say I had a quick and pleasant experience flying out and arriving back”.

Much of the online complaints have moved from queue times to luggage issues. These problems have been put down to individual airlines, also believed to be coping with staff shortages, and not DAA staff.

“The airport may be running better upstairs but the baggage carnage remains,” one person tweeted. “For tourists and visitors to our country a little notice stuck to the wall saying you have access to missing bags between 2-4pm is misleading.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times