When I say that I spent less than an hour -total- in Shannon Airport between my arrival and departure I am not exaggerating. In fact, my longest wait for anything in the airport was the queue for our rental car – and that was only about 10 minutes!
Now, to be fair, we did visit Ireland in the off-season (late October/ early November), but our flight in to Ireland was full. We deplaned easily and I did what I always do when we land in Ireland – I stopped in a restroom to refresh after the Atlantic crossing.
Arriving at Shannon Airport
We were in no rush, knowing there would be a wait at Customs. So you can imagine our surprise when we arrived at Customs, walked directly to the Customs agent, handed him our passports, got them stamped, and walked away. All in less than 2 minutes.
As we took a few steps into baggage claim, I could see our bags circling on the massive conveyor. We quickly loaded them onto a cart and were off to get our car. As we waited at the rental counter I sent out a quick tweet:
After a short wait at the rental car counter, we were off.
Now, our departure was not quite so relaxed. But that was totally my fault.
Departing Shannon Airport
I had it set in my mind that we needed to be at Shannon Airport around 9am or so for an 11am flight. I didn't bother checking before we went to sleep. So, when my Trip It app sent a notification the next morning that my flight was on time for a 9am departure, I may have panicked just a bit. It was nearly 7am and my girls were still in bed!
Thankfully we had done our packing the night before and had clothes laid out. We were out of our Limerick hotel room in record time…
As my husband drove, I sent a tweet to Shannon Airport. Dropping the car off at 7:30am, I received a reply:
#EasierFromShannon indeed! There was no wait to check in for our flight, no wait at the first security point, no wait to hurriedly handle our VAT, and hardly a wait at US security and US pre-clearance. Our flight had begun boarding, so we didn't even have a wait at the gate. From arrival at the airport to stepping foot on the plane was 27 minutes.
Now, I don't advise you to cut your departure quite so close- it is nerve wracking! But I do want to point out that it won't take you the 2-3 hours you need at Dublin Airport.
Shannon Airport Tips for Arrival and Departure
Tips for Your Arrival at Shannon Airport
Take a Minute to Freshen Up If you've flown in from the US, you're likely feeling a bit deflated. I always recommend stopping at a restroom to splash some water on your face, brush your teeth, maybe even change clothes. You'll feel less rumpled from your overnight flight and recreating a bit of your morning routine can help you fight jet lag.
Clear Customs Even in the high season this won't take too long as Shannon doesn't have the huge volume of flights that Dublin has. Have your passport and clearance card ready and you'll be on your way in just a few minutes.
Baggage Claim Just steps away from Customs. If you breezed through customs, you may have to wait a few minutes for your bags. Carts are nearby if you need them- and are free to use.
Car Rental All the car rental agents are in view as you exit baggage claim. If you have a short wait, leave one person to watch your baggage and pop into the Shannon Heritage Welcome Centre. You'll find loads of information here about activities in the Shannon region. Places like Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, King John's Castle, Craggaunowen, and Dunguaire Castle.
After you have your car, getting out of Shannon Airport on on your way to a wonderful Ireland vacation is easy. Study your map- or set your GPS- and hit the road! Have a magical holiday!
Tips for Departure from Shannon Airport
While we were able to rush through security and pre-clearance, I don't advise it. But you needn't plan 3 hours or waiting in lines, either. As we left the check-in counter, tickets in hand, the woman behind the Shannon Airport tweets, Laura Chawke, walked with us through the airport. We chatted about the ease of flying through Shannon – from the short (or non-existent) wait at Customs to the openness of the Arrivals Hall. As we made it through the security points, I couldn't help but gush at how smoothly everything was running. Laura told me that it runs just as smoothly in the summer. Because Shannon Airport doesn't receive the huge number of flights that Dublin Airport does, they can offer all the conveniences of flying through Dublin without the crush of a large airport.
Arriving for Your Departure Car rental returns are off site, so plan for 10-20 minutes to drop off your rental car, have it checked, and catch a ride to the airport. I always err on the side of being early, so I would advise arriving at the airport at least 1.5 hours in advance of your departure. Of course, you could tweet @shannonairport and inquire about wait times.
Checking In It's easy to navigate the Departures Hall. After a quick pre-check of your passports, you will check in for your flights and check your bags, lightening your load considerably.
Security Screening #1 From the departures hall, catch the elevators to the first floor level. Follow the signs to boarding card check and security screening and wait (not long) for 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. Jackets should be removed, but shoes can be left on.
You Have Now Entered the Shopping Area Fun fact: the Duty Free shop at Shannon Airport is the first, and oldest, Duty Free shop in the world. If you have a few minutes pick up some last minute gifts. Maybe some Knappogue Whiskey, Bunratty Mead, or wonderful woolens from Glen Aran Irish Markets. You will also find a small children's play area here.
Handle Your VAT VAT refund agencies are tucked back in the corner, opposite the Duty Free shop. 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. You may encounter a short wait during the busy season.
Another Security Screening Politically speaking, you are now on US soil, so US agents are doing the screening here. Follow all US protocol, with the exception of removing your shoes.
US Preclearance No waiting at Customs when you arrive in the US! You will be given a declaration form when you check in for your flight. 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.
Find Your Gate As Shannon isn't a large airport, this is done quite easily. You won't find much past pre-clearance – I think I recall a coffee shop- so be sure to handle all purchases before you ‘enter' the US.
Handy Links for Shannon Airport
Transportation to and from the airport