Passengers have described queues at Dublin Airport as ‘quick and painless’ as the DAA security is taking less than 10 minutes, with more than 300 flights are scheduled as the bank holiday exodus begins.
The first flight took off just after 5am while the final flight – a FlyOne service to Chisinau – departs Terminal 1 at 10.50pm.
An analysis of the schedule by Independent.ie suggests the largest number of flights were departing between 6am and 7am.
This means queues for short-haul flights started to build up from around 3.30am. The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) advised travellers to arrive two-and-a-half hours early for European flights, although you should add another hour if you have check-in luggage.
After last Sunday’s debacle when around 1,000 people missed their flights there were concerns that this weekend’s bank holiday might put a similar strain on the system.
But after loud criticism of last weekend’s failures, DAA’s action plan appeared to be working today.
From the moment people arrived at the airport they were being shepherded to different queues, one for bag drop and one for passengers with hand luggage only.
Outside the departures area a large tent had been erected in case the queue for security became too long inside the terminal and would have to be guided outdoors.
For a brief period at around 4.30am the queue did back-up into the tent, but by 5am the flow to security was quick-paced once more.
There was similar efficiency at the bag-drop areas, with people saying it took half an hour to drop bags in Terminal One, and up to an hour at one point in Terminal 2.
In both terminals the time to get through security was around 30 minutes.
At 6.15am Maire and Brian O’Donnell were heading in the door of Terminal One to fly to Vancouver in Canada to see their son Jack.
“We haven’t seen him in two years, and we were worried when we saw they queues last weekend,” said Maire.
“Our flight is at 10.40am so we allowed four and a half hours because we have bags to drop,” she added.
The couple, from Sligo town, later reported that they had their bags dropped and had been through security just before 7am.
“It was quick and painless,” said Maire.
Another family heading on holidays were Amanda Murray and Richard Mitton with daughter Olivia (6).
"We’re heading to Portugal for our first holiday abroad since 2019. We booked the holiday last September and we were worried when we saw they queues last week, but gave ourselves three and a half hours as advised. Ryanair had sent us a text saying our bags could be dropped after 7am, so there was no point coming too early,” said Amanda, from Dun Laoghaire.
Upon getting across to the other side, Amanda said it was “seamless” getting through fast track security, taking 20 minutes end to end.
The group head of communications at the daa said most passengers got through security this morning in under an hour and queue times now stand at 10 mminutes.
Kevin Cullinane said there are now segregated lanes for passengers checking in and dropping off baggage and a separate lane for security.
“The first wave of departing flights has gone away very efficiently, people heeding the advice to arrive two and a half hours before their short-haul flight or three and a half hours before their long-haul flight,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
“Most passengers got through security today between 30 and 45 minutes, queue times now at this hour of the morning are less than ten minutes in both terminals.
“That’s a result of the increased staff we’ve deployed for this weekend and the extra security lanes at which we were at maximum this morning for those departing flights from 6am this morning.
“People were obviously here checking in from 3am and 4am and we’ll be making sure that we continue that right throughout this bank holiday weekend.”
Terminal 1 will prove the busiest over the day, with a total of 204 departures, compared to 124 flights leaving Terminal 2.
However, Terminal 2 will handle the bulk of long-haul departures involving bigger aircraft.
Construction work on a new holding area for passengers who arrive too early is underway at the airport this evening.
As a result, the Departures Road outside Terminal 1 is now closed to all vehicles and will be for the foreseeable future.
“This is to allow for the installation of covered passenger queuing areas outside of T1, for use if needed over the coming days and weeks. These covered areas will be in place and available to provide shelter for passengers from the early hours of tomorrow (Friday) morning,” the DAA said.
A total of 36 different flights – 18 each at Terminals 1 and 2 – will depart between 6am and 7am, marking the most congested period of the entire day at Dublin Airport for both terminals.
Just one hour later that number of total flights will drop to 27.
There will be a small lull as the overall number of departures drops to 11 between 8am and 9am, rising to 14 in the following hour. After that, there are at least 20 flights per hour scheduled to leave.
Jennifer Rafferty from Lusk and her friend Antoinette McGrath from Lucan were heading to Benidorm on a combined hen trip and 30th birthday party.
“We were panicked when we saw what happened last weekend, and we were afraid we might not get our flight today so we paid for Fast Track to speed things up. We arrived a half hour earlier than the two and a half hours as well just in case,” said Antoinette.
“I even made ham rolls and have a bag of crisps and sucky sweets in case we had to spend ages in a queue and didn’t get to eat,” said Jennifer with a laugh as they stood between the car park and the terminal about to enter the airport.
“It looks fine in there now. We were wondering what it would be like this morning. Even when we arrived we were still nervous but I think we can relax now.”
“Why weren’t they this organised last weekend? All they had to do was look out the window and count the planes to realise how many people were flying,” she added.
At Terminal 2 David Hennebry from Wicklow was flying to London. “I’m punctual so I didn’t arrive too early. It seems okay here today,” he said.
He later reported that it only took 25 minutes to get through security.
“It was all very civilised,” he said.
This weekend is expected to be the busiest travel period experienced by the airport since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted in March 2020.
The DAA said it was doing everything possible to reduce queuing times and delays at the airport after 1,000 passengers missed flights due to massive queues last Sunday.
Urgent staff recruitment for passenger check-in and security clearance is underway. Passengers have been urged to allow sufficient time given the large numbers heading to the airport over the June bank holiday weekend, with the facility expected to reach 95pc of pre-pandemic flight operations.
"We advise that you allow 2.5 hours before a short-haul flight, and 3.5 hours before a long-haul flight," a DAA spokesperson advised. "If you are checking in a bag, please allow up to an hour of additional time.
"Airline check-in desk and bag-drop opening times vary, so please contact your airline to confirm and plan your journey accordingly."
DAA said security clearance times will be constantly updated on their website and app.
"Security in Terminal 1 is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while security in Terminal 2 opens at 4am so people flying from Terminal 2 should factor this in."
Aer Lingus is advising passengers who are taking early morning flights that they can drop bags at Express Bag-Drop kiosks the evening before their flight.
It said customers departing between 5:30am and 8:00am can check-in at one of the Express Bag-Drop kiosks and drop bags the evening before their flight between 4pm and 7:45pm.