When departing Ireland this year we met a surprising number of people who had missed their flight the day before due to not allowing themselves enough time to clear all the security points and US Preclearance. Please allow yourself at least 3 hours to depart Ireland from Dublin Airport to the US.
Unlike many international airports with many multiple terminals, the Dublin airport has two, aptly named Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Terminal 2, which opened in 2010, serves Aer Lingus, US carriers Delta, US Air, American Airlines, and United as well as Eitad and Emirates. All other airlines will arrive in Terminal 1.
The following tips are specific to Terminal 2, though I imagine Terminal 1 is much the same.
Dublin Airport Arrival Tips
If you’re arriving from the US (which is the only experience I have had), it’s likely you have flown over night and are tired as sleeping well on planes is something mastered by very few people.
After deplaning, everyone rushes toward customs, anxious to begin their vacation. But that rushing is likely to result in a a wait in the slowly snaking customs line. I recommend taking a few minutes to ‘reset’ after your flight.
Freshen Up As you walk the long corridors toward customs, you’ll pass a few restrooms. Continue past the first one as it is likely to be busiest. But stop at the next one. Spend a few minutes to freshen up; change clothes, brush your teeth, touch up your makeup… Do a bit to re-create your morning routine as this will help your body adjust to the time difference and beat jet lag.
Clear Customs Feeling more human, make your way on to customs, where you will likely have a bit of a wait, though the line moves quickly. If you happen to be from an EU country you’ll barely have any wait at all. As you wait, you may be tempted to dig out your cell phones. Don’t bother- phones and cameras are not allowed in the customs area and , if you are seen with them, you will be asked to put them away. If you appear to have taken a photo with your phone it will be checked and, most likely, deleted. Have your passport ready to be stamped. The agent will ask about your stay – where you will be , how long you will be in the country. Just answer the questions and you’ll be on your way.
Baggage Claim After clearing customs is the baggage hall. If you had a wait in customs it’s likely you’ll be able to grab your waiting bag and exit the secure area to the Arrivals Hall.
Tip: If you plan to pick up a Dublin Pass, you’ll find the Dublin Discover Ireland Centre at both terminals. Purchase in advance and it will be waiting for you!
Pick Up Your Rental Car If you are renting a car, you’ll find the rental companies across the skybridge of Terminal 2 (Hertz, Budget, Avis, Europcar). If your rental company isn’t there it can be found in Terminal 1, on the lower level (Thrifty, Enterprise, Dan Dooley, Sixt). Your car rental agents are very helpful and can tell you the best way to get out of the airport and on your journey. Take notes if you need to – there is nothing worse than beginning your Ireland vacation by getting lost! (Save that experience for the picturesque countryside.) Rental car pickup is off site, so find the agency’s shuttle to be taken to your vehicle.
Bus and Taxi Transport Bus and taxi transportation can be found at the lower level of both terminals, just follow the signs. If you are taking a coach into Dublin, splurge on the Aircoach. Clean and roomy, it costs only a few euro more and offers more drop-off points. (Aircoach transfer to Dublin is included with The Dublin Pass.)
Enjoy your Ireland vacation!
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If your flight leaves early the next morning return your car the night before and stay at an airport hotel with shuttle service.
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Dublin Airport Departure Tips
Dublin is a fickle airport to depart. I’ve had times when we have breezed right through to VAT turn in, picked up a couple last minute gifts, wandered through the tax free shop, and made it through security in minimal time. But most times I’ve had to queue to drop off my VAT and the security lines have included 45 minute waits. So, err on the side of caution when flying out of Dublin airport and allow yourself 3 hours, at the least.
Checking In The Terminal 2 Departure Hall is a crazy place. Look for your airline and have all your papers in order – tickets and passports. You’ll go through a pre-check before you can actually check in for your flight, so be ready to tell the screener all about your amazing vacation- where you went, what you did, who you traveled with. If you are traveling with very young children they will pass through this with you, but if your children are a bit older they will be interviewed separately (at 9 & 11 mine each had their own interview). Tip – have mom go first and dad bring up the rear, with the kids in between. A pre-screen sticker is added to your passport here- this is important later (keep reading)
Now you’re in line to check in to your flight. If luggage is being checked in under your children’s tickets be sure they know which bag is ‘theirs’- this, also, is important later. Thankfully your load lightens as your checked bags are taken here.
Security Screening #1 From the departures hall, catch the escalator or elevator to the Security Screening Departures level. Stand in line and wait your turn. Again, you’ll need your ticket and passport to enter the screening area. Liquids and computers need to be removed from your bags. I’ve been asked to remove my shoes here, but more recently, I been allowed to keep them on. Follow the lead of passengers in front of you or ask if you aren’t sure. With the new pre-screening at check in this line had very little wait, which was a relief after the nearly hour-long queue we had just escaped.
Ahhh, you can relax a bit… You’re in The Loop. VAT return and last minute shopping.
Handle your VAT It’s likely you’ll have at least two types of VAT refunds to turn in. Luckily, both can be handled in advance. VAT refunds that require a receipt should be filled out and placed into the envelope before you arrive at the airport. All you have to do with this is drop the envelope at the proper company. If you are using the Horizon Card, be sure your account is set up online before you arrive at the airport. There are two kiosks available and you will need to finalize your purchases and refund before you leave. There are times the lines for this are long. And if you get stuck behind someone who hasn’t set up an account, the wait can seem like forever. During busy times you will, thankfully, find FEXCO agents offering assistance to help the lines move along.
Last minute shopping Who isn’t tempted by airport shops? And you’ll find plenty here – all tax free. You will have to show proof of your flight and items may be put in a sealed, clear plastic bag which can not be opened until you are past all security points. But be sure to watch your time! If you’re flying to the US you still have a couple of security steps before you can get to your gate!
Declaration of Goods This automated step takes the place of the declaration form you used to have to fill out manually. Wait your turn, scan your passport, have your photo taken and answer the questions on the screen. This must be done for every person in your group and you may have to maneuver short people for their photo- or have someone else hit the ‘take photo’ button for them. The computer prints your declaration receipt.
And another security screening Politically speaking, you are now on US soil, so US agents are doing the screening here. Follow all US protocol.
US Preclearance No waiting at Customs when you arrive in the US! This line is long and slow moving. For those who missed the declaration kiosks, get a declaration form and fill it out. One form is good for an entire family and they are easy to complete- you just ‘declare’ what are are bringing back to the US. Fun story: My cousin, who was old enough to buy alcohol in Ireland, purchased a small bottle of Poitin for her dad. But, in the US, she is underage. The agents let me ‘declare’ the bottle of alcohol instead of making her turn it in.
Two lines are available here- one for those with handwritten forms, the other for those with computerized forms. As with the pre-screening at check in, you are interviewed and asked to verify your checked bag. Older kids will be interviewed separately- which is why they need to be able to identify ‘their’ checked bag. This almost caused a problem for us as my husband’s bag was checked in under my daughter’s name.
“She doesn’t know her own bag?” the customs agent practically yelled at me. I tried to calmly reply that it was her dad’s bag, that the agent had just added bags to each ticket as we checked in, and, for all that is good and holy, she’s only 9! Again, have one parent on either end of this process- just in case something like this happens.
Finally at your gate Once past US screening, the gates are directly ahead. You’ll find only a handful of coffee shops and stores here, so be sure to handle purchases before preclearance.
Boarding Your Flight One final thing… remember that sticker I mentioned in the pre-check at ticketing? If your passport doesn’t have that sticker on it you will be asked to step aside for one more round of questioning.
It made my girls a bit nervous to see me pulled aside; thankfully my husband was there to get them safely to the plane while I told yet another officer about our month in Ireland. But, hey, it was a good trip and I’m happy to talk about Ireland to anyone who will listen. 🙂
Handy Links for Dublin Airport
Transportation Options to and from the airport