One Airport Has A Creative Way Of Underreporting Security Line Wait Times

European airports have been a disaster this summer. The Dublin airport doesn’t want to be embarrassed by long security wait times. They argue they’re better than peers with creative measurement. The claim: that 99% of passengers make it through security in less than 30 minutes, and no one takes more than 45 minutes. That’s a lot of waiting, but much better than some other airports. How do they deliver this result?

  • The lines have been awful at times, stretching outside of the airport
  • Time spent in line outside the airport doesn’t count.

You’re not “in line” until you’re inside the airport. So any time spent waiting in line outside the airport doesn’t count. That’s just waiting in line to get into the line.

Put another way, it depends on what the definition of “line” is.

Passengers complain about interminable waits, yet the airport isn’t lying that everyone makes it through the security line within 45 minutes, because the rest of the time they’re waiting is time spent getting to the security line.

The airport – which has been engulfed in controversy over lengthy queues this summer – said security wait times only extend as far as the terminal building in T1 and from the top of the escalator at T2.

If queues extend beyond this, “this queue time is not captured”, the DAA said.

Does the line extent from the terminal door to the security checkpoint – or from the first person in line at the checkpoint to the last person in that same line?

Ultimately reporting security wait times matters so that passengers know how early they’re going to need to show up. The breaking out security wait time reporting, and wait time to get to the security line, and not reporting the latter provides passengers with misleading information which may cause them to miss flights.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Good info – my sister and her friends are flying in and out of DUB in a few weeks. Forwarded story to her and suggested (a) she not believe any wait line info the airline posted and (b) probably needs to get there 4 hours ahead of flight just to make sure. IMHO better to chill in a lounge or just have a beer and use the airport wifi than risk missing a flight if you run into 2-3 hour security lines.

  2. The obvious solution is to cut in line at the door; everything behind that isn’t part of the line and thus it doesn’t count as cutting.


  3. DUB info – If your sister and friends can still add FastTrack to their tickets, do it. There are two lines at Dublin – the line to the ticket counters and the line to security. FastTrack will let you cut the line at security. It’s included in business class tickets. Security seems to be searching everything they can to slow things down. FastTrack is slow, but it’s way better than the normal line.

    Flew out of DUB in mid-June when they were having trouble. Saw the queue setup, which stretches forever outside. Seems to mainly hit weekends and later in the day. We were flying midweek early, so no lines, but we were business on BA, with Oneworld status, so we’d avoid the lines anyway.

    However, we’ll be flying out of DUB on RyanAir on a Saturday morning in early September, so this will be a challenge. (RyanAir offers the only nonstop to our destination, and it’s way cheaper than any other airline plus 4-5 hours faster, so although I prefer to avoid them, in this case it’s necessary.) Already have FastTrack on our tickets – but can’t avoid bag check-in. RyanAir carry-on rules are so restrictive, we can’t get beneath them (10kg, super-small bags, and if you fail inspection, the charges are eye-watering), even using normal carry-on US bags we have for the rest of the trip. I can only hope that an early morning departure will mean the lines will not have formed yet, but still plan on a 5 AM check-in. Ugh.

  4. CM –

    Fast Track – same as Pre-Check for US citizens? If not, where do you get it?

  5. I’d be a lot less troubled by these Alternative Facts that they’re pushing except that some poor schmucks will doubtless take the numbers at face value and miss their flights as a result.

  6. @Karl – Not quite. More like a Skip The Line pass. Same screening, only faster.

    It’s often included as an option when buying tickets out of Dublin. It’s an add-on for Ryanair or Aer Lingus tickets. You can sometimes add it after your ticket purchase by going to Manage My Flight or the equivalent. At one time you could buy it directly from Dublin Airport, but they’ve discontinued that option for the time being.

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