Lost baggage problems, knowing when to turn up to Dublin Airport and what passengers can do when flights were cancelled were raised by Louth TD Ruairí Ó Murchú when airport and airline chiefs came before the Oireachtas Transport Committee last week.
Senior officials from Aer Lingus, Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) and baggage handling firms were quizzed by the Sinn Féin deputy about issues affecting passengers as they try to get away for the summer.
Lost baggage, and the length of time it is taking for handlers and airlines to get it back to passengers, was a main theme of the meeting, which lasted three hours.
Deputy Ó Murchú said he had seen himself the ‘stacks of suitcases’ piled up at the airport.
Darren Moloney, MD of Sky Handling Partners admitted there were hundreds of bags still waiting to get back to their owners, but a new ‘landside’ unit had been opened so passengers could come to the airport themselves to claim their baggage.
Deputy Ó Murchú said that while he accepted some of the current lost luggage problems at Dublin Airport are being caused by issues at other airports, particularly in Britain and Holland, ‘people are being greatly impacted’. He said he noted a ‘large increase’ in the numbers of people who are not checking in luggage for flights but are taking them on board themselves.
Chief Operations Officer at Aer Lingus, Peter O’Neill, told Deputy Ó Murchú the airline currently has 1200 open lost luggage files.
The Dundalk TD also asked about cancelled flights and how people are being accommodated when this happens. Mr O’Neill said efforts are made to book people onto the next available flight, but admitted that, with peak summer season, this can be ‘quite limited’.
Deputy Ó Murchú received confirmation that there are no plans to limit access to Dublin Airport, unlike other airports around Europe this summer.
He also secured an assurance from the Transport Committee that the issue of foreign driving licences that can be used on national roads in the State, but not at the airport, and which is limiting the numbers of people who can apply for jobs as drivers and baggage handlers, will be looked at by the committee in the coming weeks.
Deputy Ó Murchú asked about the current advice for people about when to turn up for flights from the airport. Lynne Embleton, CEO of Aer Lingus, said there are issues, particularly on morning flights, where passengers whose flights are leaving in minutes are behind those in the security queue whose flights are not departing for hours.
Vincent Harrison from the DAA said the airport had a responsibility to give out ‘one size fits all’ advice to passengers and if airlines wanted to issue ‘bespoke advice’ to their customers, they could do that.