On Sunday 31st July this year I was travelling back to Manchester on a flight scheduled for 16:20. Having arrived in plenty of time, approximately 14:45, I was surprised to see the length of the queue for security checks.
As I neared the front, it became apparent that despite there being three flights scheduled to leave within a 1 hour 20 minute period, there was only one x-ray machine of the two available in operation. It appeared there were not sufficient staff to operate the two machines during this peak weekend period.
Given that the two Ryanair flights and the Flybe flight have a combined capacity of around 450 passengers, this resulted in a large queue forming quickly. The queue became longer and it became apparent that some people would miss their flights unless they moved to the front. At this point the situation quickly became chaotic with airport staff telling some people to move to the front of the queue only to be then moved back. Understandably customers, a lot of whom had small children, quickly became upset. Finally, after one hour in the queue I got through to departures where to my surprise, there were four staff plus three staff in the shops with very few customers to serve as they were all queuing outside.
I use the City of Derry airport regularly and have been impressed with the refurbishment of the departure lounges to include new shops and refreshment facilities.
However, I question the economic sense in having invested in these new shops only to have most of the potential customers stuck in a queue with very little time to do anything other than run for their flight once they make it through security. Management need only to provide the appropriate security staffing levels to avoid all the unnecessary stress and unpleasantness, for both customers and staff, and increase revenues for the airport shops.
Finally, while I’ve no doubt that all visitors to Derry for the upcoming City of Culture festivities will leave with very fond memories of the city and its people, I hope that the management of the airport can seriously address the issues I’ve raised or run the risk of leaving departing visitors with very negative memories.
I will be travelling through the airport again this weekend and I look forward with great trepidation as to what I might find this time.
(Name and address supplied)