AER Lingus is to investigate claims that its security systems are being breached by passengers boarding aircraft without being asked to show any form of identification.

Last week . . . as security procedures were tightened at Dublin airport following a damaging report by inspectors who managed to carry illegal weapons undetected through the airport's security checks . . . at least two passengers boarded Aer Lingus flights without showing identification. One was on a flight from Dublin to London; a second man was travelling from Heathrow to Dublin. Both used the 'Fast Pass' electronic check-in system in the respective airports.

Fast Pass issues boarding passes to intending passengers provided they can quote a reference number issued online when tickets are booked over the internet. Although the Fast Pass system can read passports, passengers who can quote their reference number are not required to show any ID in order to obtain their boarding pass. Aer Rianta last week confirmed that passengers entering the security check area in Dublin airport are only required to show boarding cards to officials. Passports are not checked by security personnel. "It's the airline's responsibility to ensure you are who you say you are, " said an Aer Rianta spokesperson. "The contract to fly is between the passenger and the airline, so it's up to them to make sure they know who they're letting on their planes."

According to Aer Lingus, it is company practice to check identification at the departure gates, but anecdotal evidence from frequent commuters to the UK suggests that the checks aren't always carried out. The two passengers who contacted The Sunday Tribune last week said that Aer Lingus ground staff at the departure gates at Dublin and Heathrow didn't ask passengers to show ID. "I queued for half an hour to get through security." said one.

"They went to the trouble of checking my shoes and everything, and then they let me on a plane without having the slightest idea who I was. I could have bought my ticket under any name and nobody would have been any the wiser."

An Aer Lingus spokesman confirmed that the company would investigate the claims that passenger IDs were not being checked at departure gates. "Our staff are obliged to ask passengers for photo ID, " he said, "but not everyone does everything 100% of the time. But they are supposed to.

That directive is there. If it's not happening, then we have to investigate it."

Meanwhile, enhanced security measures were continuing to cause chaos at Dublin airport yesterday, with passengers hoping to travel abroad for the bank holiday weekend experiencing lengthy delays.

The Dublin Airport Authority urged travellers to check in at least 90 minutes before their flights and to be prepared to queue for long periods in order to clear the security checks.