Explainer: Why is there chaos at Dublin Airport and will it improve by the June bank holiday?

Dublin Airport is carrying out an analysis of the long delays on Sunday

What happened at Dublin Airport on Sunday, May 29th?

Passengers were forced to spend hours queuing outside Dublin Airport terminals on Sunday due to security staff shortages and more than 1,000 missed their flights due to the delays.

Kevin Cullinane, Head of DAA Communications said “sufficient” staff were rostered to deal but some staff called in sick and that fewer security lanes were open meaning there was a substantial queue build up early on Sunday.

Asked if extra security checks on hand luggage were causing additional delays, Mr Cullinane said Dublin Airport “does not comment on security matters, security audits or speculation around any changes to security processes for obvious reasons”.


“We knew 50,000 passengers would be departing over the course of the full day. We know the breakdown by hour and we man desks accordingly. We processed comparable numbers on Saturday without any issues. But yesterday we were very tight on numbers,” he said.

DAA is currently carrying out a full analysis of why delays were so severe on Sunday and why sufficient staff were not available, he said.

“Yesterday was a bad day and we apologise unreservedly. That’s not how we want people to perceive Dublin Airport and we don’t want to see yesterday repeated.”

Did the delays continue on Monday?

Passengers who arrived at the airport between 4.30am-5.30am on Monday, May 30th had to queue “for a short period” outside the terminal building to ensure access to the building was “controlled”, said Mr Cullinane. These external queues were largely gone by 5.30am, he said.

How many people missed their flights on Sunday?

At least 1,000 passengers missed flights. DAA has promised those who missed their flights will receive a refund.

How many people are working in Dublin Airport security roles and how many are needed?

There are currently 600 security officers working in Dublin Airport who cover a mix of 40-hour full time roles, 30-hour flexible positions and 20 hour part-time roles. DAA is currently recruiting 370 additional officers and 300 of these are currently undergoing the necessary 5-6 week training or have completed training and are due to begin work shortly.

An additional 450 staff members who usually hold non-security roles across the DAA have been trained to temporarily “augment security teams” until these roles are filled, said Mr Cullinane. Once the 370 new recruits are fully trained, “we’re confident the system will run seamlessly,” he said.

Are staff from other airports being deployed to Dublin Airport to help?

A small number of staff have been travelling from Cork airport to Dublin each weekend for the past few months to help cover security roles.

Why is there an issue with staff levels at the airport?

DAA reduced its staff numbers by a third during the height of the pandemic and 1,000 employees left under a voluntary severance scheme. “People still needed to put food on the table and pay their mortgages so they took up different roles in different sectors,” said Mr Cullinane. “Now that aviation has reopened, many don’t want to return. Other people may have repatriated during the pandemic to be at home with friends and family. It’s also an extremely competitive labour market at the moment.”

‘I missed my flight on Sunday because of the delays and hear I’m entitled to a refund. What can I claim?’

DAA says it will be dealing with claims on a “case-by-case basis” but that anyone who missed a flight on Sunday is entitled to compensation and should contact customerexperience@dublinairport.com with details. They will be sent a claim form and will need to provide receipts on any additional costs incurred such as last minute hotel bookings, taxis and food.

Asked how long it would take for claims to be processed, Mr Cullinane said the airport aimed to process claims as quickly as possible but that it would depend on how quickly people send in their details. Airlines are also accommodating passengers to rebook on the next available flight without any additional charge, he added.

How many passengers pass through Dublin Airport at the moment?

Some 4.5 million passengers passed through Dublin Airport during April and May.

Almost 6.6 million passengers travelled through Dublin Airport during the first four months of 2022, an increase of 1,043 per cent compared to the same time last year and around 70 per cent of 2019 levels, before the travel and hospitality sectors were effectively frozen during to the pandemic.

When did delays at the airport begin?

The first delays at Dublin airport were reported during the final weekend of March 2022 as people queued for up to an hour to pass through security. Since then, according to DAA, delays had improved with 98 per cent of passengers passing through security within 45 minutes.

Is this an Irish problem?

No. Similar delays and queues have been reported in Britain and the Netherlands over recent weeks. Passengers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport queued into the street last Thursday while Dutch airline KLM suspended sales of tickets for flights leaving the airport because of the overcrowding. Trade unions representing staff at Schiphol are threatening to strike on June 1st if working conditions do not improve.

Long security queues have also been reported over recent weeks at Manchester Airport, Stansted Airport and Heathrow Airport while Eastjet cancelled 200 flights last Thursday because of a software glitch.

How prepared is Dublin Airport for the June bank holiday weekend?

DAA said it will try to avoid a repeat of Sunday’s delays over the coming bank holiday weekend. Mr Cullinane said a “company-wide taskforce” will be deployed to fill gaps and overtime will be offered to “ensure optimum levels of staffing”, he said.

How much time should I allow before my flight?

DAA is continuing to advise passengers to allow at least 2.5 hours for check-in and security for short-haul flights and 3.5 hours for long-haul flights, while large families or groups should allow more time. The live information on queue wait times that is available on the Dublin Airport website does not take into account queues outside the terminal building.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast