Airport worker warns of “madness that will inevitably ensue” in lead-up to Easter
A "ridiculous amount" of random bag checks could be to blame for delays.
A Dublin Airport worker has warned of potential "madness" over the next week in the lead-up to Easter.
In recent times, passengers have experienced lengthy queues for security screenings, causing many people to miss their flights.
The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has said it is working “extremely hard” to get things back to normal, citing staff shortages as the main reason for delays.
The staff member, who works in the airport search unit, told Her that while a lack of staff is a contributing factor to the delays, it isn't the number one reason.
The real culprit is a new requirement for staff to perform a higher amount of random bag checks.
An increase in checks from roughly 10% to around 25% was decided after a recent audit and it has really " tipped things over the edge" as a consequence.
"No matter how well prepared the passengers are with removing liquids and laptops etc, they have a one in four chance of their bag being stopped," the staff member explains.
"The reject lanes are constantly full with swab test after swab test after swab test.
"Normally there are two bag searchers per lane but lately there could be three or four and we're still unable to keep up with the amount of random tests.
"I don't know what the solution is to the ridiculous amount of swab tests," he added.
Some staff say they have dealt with verbal abuse and been pushed and spat at by angry passengers.
"The majority of passengers are grand about things," says the airport worker.
"Then you have those who are understandably frustrated at the delays and potentially missing their flight even after arriving hours beforehand. But obviously the spitting incident is disgusting and completely unacceptable.
"DAA are, and have been, offering financial incentives for staff to work overtime. But who wants to get up at 2am to get verbally abused or even spat at?"
The worker added that most passengers "understand that it's not staff on the floor that are causing the delays".
He says many staff members who agreed to extra hours to help with the mayhem have not received their extra pay – leading some to even walk out.
"Many staff had been working overtime as part of the incentive scheme, with some working up to 50 extra hours over the month of March. Some have been left short hundreds of euro which has led to a lot of disgruntled staff.
"A handful of the new staff, after seeing their payslips yesterday morning, didn't bother coming to work in the afternoon.
"As you can imagine, this latest in a long line of pay issues has left a sour taste in the mouth and many of those who would have previously worked overtime, are now reluctant to do so again."
On Wednesday, the DAA published a five-point plan to combat the long waits at security. The plan includes hiring more staff, workers from Cork airport being reassigned to Dublin temporarily, office-based staff helping at security, and asking former screeners or staff on career breaks to return short-term.
"Those steps may help but I don't think that it will make a massive difference," the security team member says. "In fairness, the office staff coming in does make a bit of a difference. They help the passengers load their belongings into trays which frees up trained officers to open up another machine, bag search etc.
"But asking the former screeners to come back, that's just laughable. I haven't heard of any that have taken this offer up."
According to him, things look like they aren't going to be fixed any time soon and he expects "madness will inevitably ensue with the Easter holidays".
The DAA continues to advise passengers to arrive three-and-a-half hours before their departure time at minimum.
Feature image via Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie
*Worker has not been named to protect anonymity