Traveling: Dublin Pre-Clearance

Over the holidays, I was fortunate enough to travel to Paris.  As I was being a bit budget conscious, I decided to go via Aer Lingus vs. the direct Boston to Paris Air France flight.   I would absolutely do this again – price point notwithstanding.  The connection in Dublin is super easy on the way over.  Most of the people on our flight were not connecting to Europe.  So, there were no lines at security checkpoint and the airport was not very crowded.  Upon arriving in Paris in the early afternoon, CDG was not insane (most of the big international arrivals & departures are early or late in the day).  We were the only ones on our Super Shuttle ($25 one way, per person). With only midday traffic, we were at our apartment in the Marais within 30 mins.

On the return, we did have an early flight out of CDG.  We noticed that the gate check in time for our BOS flight was 2 hours before our departure time…which struck me as weird.  Dublin is much smaller than Schiphol or any of the huge other airports.  At some of the larger airports, you will be advised to get to your gate 90 mins+ because it will take you that long to walk to the other end of the airport.

Apparently, the US now has a giant presence at various airports & border crossings around the world.  I’ve heard it’s because certain US entry points are very congested so they are trying to ease the “traffic” by having people go through Customs & Immigration before they arrive on US soil.  Regardless of the reason, I actually loved it.

Basically, you fill out your customs form, declare your chocolates,  & get your US entry stamp in Dublin.  The perks of this are:

1. They have pens at the tables where you fill out the customs declarations. There’s nothing worse than scrambling for a pen when they pass the forms out on the plane.

2. There’s relatively no line in Dublin – at least not like the ones when you arrive in the US because 4 other international flights arrived at pretty much the same time.

3. Even if there is/was a line, I’d still prefer to stand in a line when I am somewhat awake vs. queuing  up after a long, tiring flight.  It’s a bit grim standing in line for hour when you really just want to get home – or have to go to the bathroom.

The process is super easy:
1. Follow the signs to the US Pre-Clearance.
2. Fill out the form with the conveniently provided pens.
3. Go up to the first desk & they will stamp your form.
4. Go to the second desk where they ask you a bunch of questions about where you were, what you did, & what you’re bringing home.
5.  Identify your luggage on the screen they show you.
6. Go on your way to the final security clearance before you get your gate.  AND – you can bring bottles of water through this checkpoint.  We literally stood 10 feet from the checkpoint, trying to down our liter bottles of water.  Of course, as soon as we were finishing up, the guy told us we could’ve brought them on. Timing is everything, I guess!

Once you get through the final checkpoint, you’ll be at the gate.  The gate has a full service restaurant & take away items for picnics on the plane.  

In theory, it’s super easy.  However, we had a lost bag so that actually wasn’t what happened to us.  We had to sit in a pen by ourselves while they “located” the bag.  As the bag did not turn up & we were getting close to departure, we were forced through customs.  Then, we were brought to the back room with some dubious looking backpacker.  I am not going to lie – I was little scared.  Ultimately, we were told that our bag was still sitting at CDG & it would come on the next flight to Boston.  We were released & dispatched to our gate…not sure what happened to our new backpacker friend.  They took his passport from him & he looked really bummed out…

We made it home in one piece with 2 bags.  The best part – upon arrival in Boston, all we did is walk to the baggage carousel, pick up our bags, & hit the silver line.  We were off the plane & on our way home within 30 mins.  Hooray!

The only down side – if you are a duty free shopper, once you pass through pre-clearance, you can’t buy anything.  You’re on US soil so no perfume, Toblerones, brown liquor, or cigarettes for you – either in a shop or during the flight.  Just remember to pick those up in the center shopping arcade in the Dublin airport.  Otherwise, I highly recommend a Dublin connection!