Saturday, September 23, 2017
   
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Get There Early Warning to Beat Disruption

Leading airlines are continuing to advise travellers holding UK or Irish passports to get to their departure airport for their return flight home in plenty of time, especially at weekends, to cope with the present enhanced security checks on non-Schengen area travellers.

Indeed, some airlines like Ryanair, frustrated by the situation and months of industrial disruption throughout Europe, have now asked travellers to turn up three hours before their flight departure time.

As well as the increased security vetting of travellers from outside the Schengen area, thousands of flights have been delayed across Europe already this summer because border controls are understaffed, according to A4E, (Airlines for Europe - the organisation promoting the views of airlines and passengers across the EU).

Airports in Spain, France, Italy, Belgium and Portugal face immigration queues of up to four hours and delays have increased by 300 per cent, according to A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert. The delays have been caused because EU border controls are significantly understaffed to comply with tightened immigration checks and some passengers have missed their flights.

Reynaert said: "Queuing for up to four hours has been the top record these days; airports like Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Lisbon, Lyon, Paris-Orly, Milan or Brussels are producing shameful pictures of devastated passengers in front of immigration booths, in lines stretching hundreds of metres.

He added: "Member States need to take all necessary measures now to prevent such disruptions and deploy appropriate staff and resources in sufficient numbers to carry out the requested checks. A4E has stressed the disproportionate waiting times and disrupted flow of traffic at external borders with the European Commission and calls for a swift solution on behalf of European passengers and airlines."

Still on the issue of check-in times, American Airlines has issued a directive to its passengers using Dublin Airport. It says: "Owing to enhanced security checks at Dublin airport (DUB), American Airlines check-in counters will be closing 75 minutes before the flight departure time, to allow passengers to pass security checkpoints in enough time.

"This change has been made with immediate effect. We ask that all passengers plan ahead their journeys to ensure that they clear the check-in process in sufficient time."

Meanwhile, automatic border control gates, which allow people entering the country to use electronic passport machines, are set to be installed in Dublin Airport by the end of the year.

Some 20 new e-gates will be installed at Dublin Airport’s Terminal One and Terminal Two in the coming months following a pilot programme. The gates will use facial recognition technology and passport readers to carry out security checks on passengers. It is hoped the 20 new gates will allow immigration officials to carry out passport checks quicker, with only one immigration officer needed to monitor several gates.

Irish and other EU travellers over 18 with e-passports and Irish passport cards will be able to use the gates. The Department of Justice has said it will also consider extending the use of the gates to non-EU passport holders using registered traveller programmes “to allow for easier entry for regular visitors such as business travellers.”

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