While Irish passengers can use the service to skip long queues at Malaga Airport, Brits must watch on because the UK is no longer in the European Union (EU). Like in most airports, there are two queues at Malaga – one sealed off with black tape and signposted with a Union Flag and the other enclosed with green tape and shows an Irish tricolour and EU flag labelled for “EU citizens”.
Brits have faced larger queues recently in their lane and many tourists have vented their anger online, reports Dublin Live.
One visitor returning from Spain tweeted: “The express bus lane (green tape) with the automated turnstiles is for Irish EU citizens. The Disneyland queue (black tape) with the police toll booths is for non-EU citizens.”
Another British passenger claimed Irish citizens were getting “preferential treatment” while others reported “two-hour queues for non-EU passengers”.
A third Twitter user said: “Sitting in Malaga Airport to return. What a joke! A huge queue for UK passengers stretching all the way back to duty free exit…whilst the lane for EU empty.”
“Preferential treatment for the one flight to Ireland. Travellers beware,” another added.
More than 3,000 passengers missed their flights at Madrid Airport over the Easter break.
Since Brexit, British tourists are only allowed to stay in the Schengen area (a free movement area without border controls that includes 26 countries including Spain but excluding Ireland) for 90 out of 180 days and must get their passports stamped when they leave or could face being refused entry on another visit.
Meanwhile Irish citizens benefit from EU-wide passenger rights for travel into, out of, or within the EU by air, rail, bus/coach or ship.
But it’s feared the chaotic scenes at airports might repeat themselves in the summer.
President of Airlines Association (ALA) in Spain, Javier Gandara, said: “There have already been problems at the airports over Easter and we need to avoid this happening in peak season.
“It will be the first summer when passports for travellers to the UK have to be checked and the first when air traffic is likely to be normal, now that the British government has lifted all the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic.”
Airports in the UK have also experienced problems recently, largely due to staff shortages.
A tourist who queued at Manchester hub last month branded it the “worst airport in Europe”.
And photographs taken at Birmingham Airport show the queue snake through the terminal, reportedly even stretching down the escalators into the check-in area.