“We passed the purgatory at Dublin Airport with ease, but faced a much bigger security challenge”

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July 5, 2022

"We passed the purgatory at Dublin Airport with ease, but faced a much bigger security challenge"

There was a TV commercial in the 1990s for a passenger ferry and the slogan was something along the lines of, “Your vacation begins the moment you board.” It was accompanied by pictures of children eating chicken nuggets and jumping in ball pits while their glamorous parents (played by actors with faces undisturbed by the effects of having children of their own) clinked in wine glasses and laughed.

The pictures that appeared from Dublin Airport recently depicted a completely different scene. Instead of foreshadowing the beginning of your vacation, the airport now seems to act as a type of purgatory you must pass before your vacation can really begin. And much like purgatory, you can not guarantee that you will actually come out on the other side, so it is better to hope that the relatives you left behind pray for you.

Until now, I had always been proud to have arrived at the airport with as little time left as possible; all the time over seemed to me a waste of time. I knew that everything you ever needed to get through security was 30 minutes, absolutely max. You could trust Dublin Airport and it had never let me down.

With a sun holiday planned recently, we were set to be four of the 200,000 passengers who were expected to pass the airport that weekend. After hearing the first reports of long queues, my husband suggested that he go to the airport before the rest of us check in our bags and that I would accompany the children later. I still thought it was all an exaggerated storm in a teacup, and I listened to his suggestion while thinking, “We are really cut from different fabrics” (since I am a better quality, less worrying canvas).

Strangely enough, it was very difficult to find out what the best plan was, with conflicting advice on whether to arrive early or on time. And what was even “on time”? The available time frame for checking in a bag was some basic information that I personally found impossible to find.

Six days before our departure, the airline emailed with the subject line: “Important information for your upcoming trip” and I thought “Here it is, this is the plan”. The email began: “Traveling at this time is a new experience for everyone.” It continued that they expected long queues and that the best way to avoid these queues was to check in online. And that was it, that was the sum of the plan.

Three days before the flight, radio ads gave us our coveted concrete advice: arrive 2 hours before short-haul flights and wait an extra hour if you have bags to check in.

We really had bags to check in and this is how it went.

We were two adults, a one-year-old (in a stroller) and a two-and-three quarter (at the bottom of the stroller). We had a checked bag of 25 kg and a checked bag of 10 kg. As hand luggage, we had another suitcase of 10 kg, a backpack, a diaper bag and a backpack in toddler size for the toddler and all her toddler pieces, ie small intricate toys she ignored and an iPad she loved. (I myself have not carried a handbag for several years with my wallet and phone simply tucked in the diaper bag as a metaphor for the loss of my identity).

If you are flying with a baby, my advice to you is this: pack for the airport the same way you did for the maternity hospital – lots of snacks and everything in your arsenal to distract the pain from you. Medicate how you want. I even took custom affirmations to read aloud as we progressed. For example: “Every annoyance takes my holiday closer to me” or “Soon the aircraft's gin and tonic will be in my arms”. If you feel brave, try saying, “Dublin Airport knows what it's doing – it was built for this” out loud.

We arrived 3 hours before our flight at 15.00 (with pre-booked taxi), after already checking in online. We marked our bags for eight minutes, released them for two minutes and went through the security check for another 20 minutes. And that was us – finished and dusted within half an hour, and suddenly we realized that we had a much bigger challenge for us: to pass three hours at the airport with small children, knowing that it was just a prelude to entertaining them for another four hours on a flight.

I'll tell you the best way to spend two hours at the airport and before you know it, hear from me: Terminal One Lounge. It is € 25 per adult for two hours access to comfortable seating including high chairs, wifi, two alcoholic beverages each and unlimited with food, snacks, tea and coffee.

You do not spend extra money once you are there in a way that is almost impossible to avoid elsewhere at the airport. I had a friend who once accidentally arrived four hours early for her flight and was completely horrified by the price tag of 200 € that the airline offered her to hop on the previous flight, she chose to wait it out and save her money. She spent over 300 euros on food and makeup while she waited.

The four of us camped in the lounge for two hours, which cost € 6.25 per person per hour. My only complaint would be the lack of trays which is probably an attempt to prevent guests from stacking the food high. The plates are small – larger than a dish but definitely smaller than a side plate. But if they reckoned that there was a sense of shame about making several return trips to the trough, they backed the wrong horse when they let me in. They say the house always wins but with two bowls of soup, three sandwiches, a bowl of pasta, two coffees, three gin, a carrot cake, a bakewell cake, two bottles of fresh milk for the baby and many mini bowls of nuts and chips, I think we came to the top.

After relaxing, we boarded the plane and the wheels only started to loosen when halfway through the flight, that toddler (finally up the ghost) turned towards me and sincerely asked, “Can we get off at the next stop?”

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