Anger over long queues at Dublin Airport passport control

Passengers post photos of hour-long delays over the bank holiday weekend

Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Long delays at Dublin Airport’s passport control as the bank holiday weekend came to an end prompted furious travellers to take to social media to post pictures of queues and highlight wait times of in excess of an hour.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said it was aware of the social media commentary but pointed out that it is not responsible for the security zones which are manned by units working for the Irish Naturalisation Immigration Service (INIS) under the auspices of the Department of Justice.

For its part, the Department accepted that there had been significant wait times for some people coming through the airport and pressure points over the course of the weekend, but said it was not responsible for the scheduling of flight arrivals.

A Department of Justice spokesman said that more than 200,000 people had passed through immigration control at the airport over the four day bank holiday weekend.

“Dublin Airport is seeing unprecedented levels of activity and delays will inevitably arise from time to time,” he said.

He pointed out that according to information supplied by the Dublin Airport Authority, more than 90 per cent of all travellers are processed through immigration control in a matter of minutes.

He went on to say that the INIS was “taking a number of steps to ensure passengers can move through immigration control as quickly as possible, while at the same time ensuring all the necessary security checks are carried out”.

Following a pilot phase, upgraded eGates have just come on stream in Terminal 1 and will very shortly be operational in Terminal 2. The new eGates feature flatbed scanners which are more user friendly and allow passengers to pass through in seconds.

These new eGates also accept the Irish Passport Card for the first time. The Department will expand the Border Management Unit in the coming months to increase capacity as passenger numbers continue to rise.

The new eGates for passport control opened in Terminal 1 of Dublin Airport on Saturday. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
The new eGates for passport control opened in Terminal 1 of Dublin Airport on Saturday. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

“However, there are specific pressure points outside the control of the immigration authorities that can create some delay. Typically, this arises when a very high number of flights arrive within a specific time period with consequent increases to passenger numbers within these peak times,” the spokesman said.

He said the situation could be compounded when “in addition to scheduled arrivals, delayed flights also land during these peak periods. On those occasions where there are delays in queueing at passport control, this can be as a result of non EU queues backing up and preventing access to the EU lanes for passengers”.

To address the growth in numbers of passengers, the Department understands that the DAA will be starting development works very shortly to significantly expand the passport hall in Terminal 1. This is intended to improve the airport experience for incoming passengers.

“While the immigration authorities at Dublin Airport have no control over the number of flights, their scheduling or actual arrival times, they work in partnership with the DAA and air carriers. All parties work closely together across a number of fronts to address capacity and queue management where they arise to alleviate congestion, to maximise passenger throughput, and ensure waiting times are kept to a minimum,” he said.

He said the Department was “aware that some passengers experienced delays” on Bank Holiday Monday “during which time all immigration booths and eGates were in full operation. We wish to assure all intending passengers that every effort is made by INIS to enable people to move through immigration as quickly as possible.”