ALL week, news reports have been highlighting the crisis at Dublin Airport, where more than 1,000 people missed flights last Sunday.
Around Clare there is little sympathy for an airport which is seen as having pursued a fairly aggressive policy of targeting the traffic of its smaller competitors.
Many people are saying they won’t fly from the capital again, happy to holiday from whatever destinations Shannon has available at the time.
To test the ease of using Shannon, the Clare Champion simulated the experience of a passenger catching a flight scheduled for departure to the UK at 3.15pm on Wednesday afternoon.
The first step involved driving to Shannon and after leaving Ennis at 1.19pm, we turned off the engine in Shannon 21 minutes later.
While people who only fly from Shannon might not fully appreciate it, the fact of not hitting any red lights in the miles up to the airport and effectively having no congestion to deal with is certainly a bonus that not every airport can offer.
Finding a place to leave the car was simple with plentiful spaces available almost immediately inside the entry to the car park.
This was also very close to the terminal building and walking there from the car took almost exactly one minute.
The good news wasn’t over, as there was quite literally no queue at all to check in a bag with Ryanair. All in all, it took 25 minutes from turning the key in the ignition in Ennis to having one’s bag checked in at Shannon.
At 2:06pm the Clare Champion went to security and getting through took eight minutes, meaning that in less than an hour we had travelled from Ennis to Shannon, parked, negotiated dropping off a bag, taken a few minutes to relax and passed security.
While certain times of day would certainly be busier, getting through all the steps in such a time frame would not be unusual at Shannon and would be completely impossible at many other airports.
Several people who the Champion spoke to at the airport stressed how much more convenient Shannon is.
Moira Cunningham had come from Mallow to drop off her daughter and grandchildren who were flying back to their home in America. Moira herself flies transatlantic regularly and it is always from Shannon.
“It’s the best airport in the world. We fly every year to America, it’s fantastic here.”
She says it is puzzling more people don’t see the advantages of Shannon and fly from there.
Nick Vicari was flying back to Newark having holidayed in Ireland for the first time.
He wasn’t aware of the issues at Dublin, but found Shannon very user friendly.
“When we came in, we were the only flight arriving. It was very quick to get through security, there was no line for the rental car, it was all very seamless.”
On the holiday he had visited the Cliffs of Moher, the Dingle peninsula, spent a few days in Bantry and he said he’d like to come again.
“Oh sure, yes, it’s a very nice place, we enjoyed our stay.”
A student at UL, Nesta Nyamakazl was on his way to France to take up a summer job. He said he had almost booked a flight from Dublin, but was very glad he hadn’t done so.
“Oh yeah. It was paper thin what I’d do, either take the direct flight to Nice that was only from Dublin or take the indirect flight for Marseille, and have a day to look around there.
“I’m glad now I didn’t go from Dublin. I know one lad who was supposed to go to Canada from Dublin, he arrived five hours early and still missed his flight.”
Margaret Liddy was flying to Manchester, before going on to visit family in Leeds.
“We’d never go from anywhere else, and we’ve been over and back and over and back, they’re brilliant in Shannon.”
Two sisters from North Clare said that they wouldn’t fly from Dublin in the future given the issues there, but were very happy with Shannon.
“We found it very easy today, no queues, nothing, it’s delightful to be going from Shannon,” said one.