Dublin Airport Q&A: How early should I arrive for flights? How can I avoid security delays and queues?

Dublin Airport is scrambling to reassure passengers as busy peak season takes off

Pól Ó Conghaile

Holidaymakers are heading into peak season, and airports worldwide are struggling to cope.

The DAA now says it has “a robust plan” to deal with possible delays, with extra security officers on duty and a new “back-up triage mechanism” to deal with unanticipated issues.

Here’s the latest travel advice from Dublin Airport.

How early should I arrive for my flight?

Passengers should arrive two-and-a-half hours before short-haul flights and three-and-a-half before long-haul flights, the airport says.

If you are checking in a bag, however, it advises allowing “up to an hour” of additional time for bag-drop or check-in.

Note that airline check-in and bag-drop opening times vary, so check these before you travel. You can save time by checking in online and using carry-on luggage.

How will queues be managed after recent delays?

A new system is being trialled following long delays on Sunday, May 29, that caused “well over 1,000” people to miss their flights.

If things get “particularly busy”, the airport says it will triage access to terminals, restricting access to departures levels until within 2.5 hours of short-haul flights, or 3.5 hours of long-haul.

It plans to control entry in such scenarios based on flight times, as shown on booking confirmations or boarding cards.

A holding area for passengers includes weather cover, seating and toilets.

"Special consideration will be given to those passengers who require special assistance and Important Flyers travelling with autism,” it adds.

What are the busiest times at Dublin Airport? 

Rush-hour periods are currently 5am to 8am in Terminal 1 and 5am to noon in Terminal 2.

“Terminal 1 has a second peak time at security between 3pm and 7pm for evening flights,” the airport says.

Weekends (especially bank holidays) can be busy all day, including on Fridays and Mondays.

When does security open at Dublin Airport?

T1 security lines are open 24/7. Security in T2 opens from 4am.

How long does it take to go through security?

That varies. Dublin Airport said recently that security queues will be under 30 minutes for almost all passengers “by early June”, but clearly that is now being questioned.

“At peak times it could be up to an hour,” Dalton Philips, chief executive of DAA, has now said.

It is worth noting that staff shortfalls and operational issues are not the only things that delay lines. If you have not flown in some time, (remember the 100ml rule?), re-read Dublin Airport’s travel advice and security tips.

Is Fast-Track open?

Yes. You cannot buy Fast-Track access on Dublin Airport’s website (it is expected to return in June or July), but it is honouring previous bookings and Ryanair continues to sell it online.

Airport Club members and business-class passengers can also use the channel. “However, there may be longer queues than normal,” the airport said.

Can I drop bags or check-in the night before?

Aer Lingus has an ‘Evening Before’ facility that allows people on flights departing between 5.30 and 8am the following morning to check in and drop bags at Dublin Airport between 4pm and 7.45pm the evening before.

Ryanair does not have this service.

Can I get a refund if delays caused me to miss my flight?

Dublin Airport has said it will work to reimburse people who missed their flights as a result of delays on May 29.

These customers can download a claim form and email customerexperience@dublinairport.com.

They can submit receipts for reasonable, out-of-pocket expenses, including re-booked flights, extra accommodation and transport costs, and claims will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Will airlines refund missed flights?

If flights run to schedule, airlines are not obliged to refund passengers who miss them – but they can allow passengers to rebook (check the booking terms with your airline) and can work with passengers in exceptional cases.

For example, Aer Lingus waived change fees on flights departing on May 29 to allow customers to change their travel plans in response to the delays (though customers were liable for any fare differences).

Travellers can also make claims for travel disruption on their travel insurance, and remember that travel agents can be of huge help in a crisis… if you have booked with one.

What about parking?

Parking capacity is down by around 30pc, in part due to the ongoing closure of Quick Park and the loss of its 6,000 spaces.

Gate prices (pay on the day) were increased in March, but the DAA says passengers should prepare for parking to sell out from Thursday to Monday from June onwards.

If you are parking in one of the airport’s longer-term facilities, by sure to book in advance and leave an extra 30 minutes before your flight.

Will there be queues at food outlets?

Staffing shortages and supply issues have disrupted service, and The Slaney in T2 is closed for refurbishment (it will soon reopen as a new bar and restaurant concept, The Fallow).

Caterers said they are working through issues and service has improved, but queues can be long at busy times, so consider bringing your own snacks or check waiting times before ordering.

Are business lounges open?

Yes – with time limits. The T1 lounge opens from 4am to 6.30pm. The T2 lounge will reopen on June 9, from 8am to 3pm.

The Aer Lingus lounge opens from 4.15am to 9pm, while the 51st&Green lounge for transatlantic passengers is now open from 7.15am to 4pm.

Why are there queues at passport control?

Immigration and border controls at Dublin Airport are fully run by the Border Management Unit (BMU), under the directorship of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of the Department of Justice and Equality.

“Over 90pc of all travellers are processed through immigration control in a matter of minutes,” the Department of Justice said. “This percentage figure is significantly higher for EU passport holders.

“There are specific pressure points outside of the control of the immigration authorities that can create some delay, particularly if in addition to a large number of scheduled arrivals during peak periods, delayed flights also land.”

Dublin Airport has 25 eGates. On occasion, these “have to be closed for operational reasons”, the department added. “Opportunities to increase the use of eGates at Dublin Airport will be explored over time.”

Anything else to remember? 

Check that your family’s passports are up to date well ahead of travelling, have travel insurance and your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) in place and check the latest Covid-19 travel restrictions for your destination on reopen.europa.eu or dfa.ie/travel

NB: This story is being updated to reflect latest developments. 

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