Dan and I flew back to New York from Dublin International in February and visited a nice lounge before going through US Pre-Clearance and boarding our flight. Since US Pre-Clearance can be a bit confusing, here is a post on both our longe experience and US Pre-Clearance at Dublin International Airport.
ARRIVAL AND SEARCHING FOR THE LOUNGE T1
Our journey home because by checking in for our Aer Lingus flight in Terminal 2 and clearing Dublin International’s security. Once through, we began looking for the The Lounge T2, to which we have complimentary access through our Priority Pass card. We had some extra time to kill, and even though we needed to go though Pre-Clearance, we felt there was still time for a lounge (and we were right!). We located The Lounge T2 easily enough, between Dublin’s Security and US Pre-Clearance, but the Lounge T2 was closed (Covid!)! However, there was a sign for its sister lounge, The Lounge T1, in Terminal 1, so we followed them to see if we could possibly access The Lounge T1 without having to re-clear security. Luck for us, you can walk between Dublin’s Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 post-security and its a pretty quick walk. Upon reaching Terminal 1, The Lounge T1 is located on the second floor of the Terminal, above the security area.
ENTRANCE TO THE LOUNGE T1
After spinning for a few minutes looking for the entrance to The Lounge T1, we found it right in front of us, LOL. Checkin was easy on the ground – presenting our boarding passes and Priority Pass.
We took the escalator to the lounge level and simply walked in. No further checks. We went to the left on entry, which was the only side open in the morning. The left side is also home to the kitchen and bar area. The right side contains more seating and was open when we left around lunch time.
THE SPACE AT THE LOUNGE T1.
As mentioned, we went to the left on entry, as it was the only side open! The left side of the lounge is most importantly home to a kitchen and bar area. That area is where all food and drinks are served in the lounge. The lounge area is marked off by some bar seating.
On the other side of that bar seating, The Lounge T1has more chairs and bar seating, and a TV showing the news. The seating looked comfortable, but we did not leave the bar area. There were many electrical outlets in the lounge and the wifi was great and easy to access. Restrooms are located in lounge between the left and right sides.
THE FOOD AT THE LOUNGE T1.
We experienced The Lounge T1 for two meals, breakfast and lunch. Read about them both below, but I much preferred lunch. For both services, all food set set out and self-serve in the kitchen area. Fresh things were continuously brought out on our visit.
Our first meal in The Lounge T1 was breakfast. The breakfast selection was decent, but nothing to make a special trip for… On the wall opposite the proper buffet, the lounge sat out tangerines, sour cream and onion pretzels, crackers, and a selection of breakfast pastries. Everything was self service.
The cold buffet area was filled with containers of fresh fruit, cheese, cups of carrot cake (very good), cereal, and yogurt. Some of these things would remain out for lunch.
To my surprise, breakfast was switched out for lunch about halfway through our visit! Some things on the menu stayed, such as the olives, cheese, grapes, and carrot cake. However, hot soup was put out, as was a good looking beet salad, chickpea wraps, ham and cheese sandwiches, and the most delicious chicken and stuffing sandwiches! These chicken and stuffing sandwiches are basically chicken salad topped with bread stuffing on white bread. They were amazing. I think I had four. Definitely a fantastic lunch for a free lounge.
THE DRINKS AT THE LOUNGE T1
Drinks at The Lounge T1 were impressive. The buffet area is stocked with an espresso machine, complete with flavorings, juice and a variety of sodas. All of this is grab and go. Alcohol is only available behind the bar, and the waitstaff was happy to assist us, even during the breakfast hours. On offer were hard alcohol, red and white wine, bottled Bulmers cider, and canned Guinness. They even made me an Irish Coffee upon request! It was pretty good.
All in all, this was a solid lounge and I am glad that we visited. The food and drinks were very good quality. Leaving the lounge, we were ready to tackle US Pre-Clearance.
GETTING THROUGH US PRE-CLEARANCE AT DUBLIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
As you may know, Dublin’s airport has its own United States Immigration and Customs Pre-Clearance, meaning that travelers to the US from Dublin (and Shannon Airport) will clear both US Immigration and Customs before leaving Ireland, and will enter the US as though traveling on a domestic flight. How cool!
If you are flying to the US from Dublin, checkin and bag check is standard. Once that is taken care of, you go through Dublin’s security as usual. Once you have cleared Dublin’s security and are in the Terminal, this is when you will begin to see signs for US Pre-Clearance a/k/a US – CBP (US Customs & Border Patrol). Follow them. And side note, US Pre-Clearance is in Terminal 2 only.
US Pre-Clearance opens up at a specific time before your flight (based on flight departure time and the number of other flights leaving for the US around that time), with the particular opening time listed on those airport signs providing departure and gate information (for us, it opened 1.5 hours before our flight). For example, rather than “Newark, Gate XXX, Departure at 1:15,” the sign will read “Newark, Gate XXX, Pre-Clearance opens at 11:45.” And on that note – you often do not receive gate information until clearing US Pre-Clearance. So just follows the signs (which are everywhere) for US Pre-Clearance. All of the US gates are after US Pre-Clearance anyway and very close together. Here is a sample – before it says go to US-CBP, it will say US-CBP opens at X time.
Once Pre-Clearance is open for your flight, its up to the traveler to decide when to go through. I would leave at least an hour for this process, more if you are nervous about missing your flight. Dan and I went through about an hour before our flight was scheduled to depart. There are minimal services after US Pre-Clearance, so do your shopping, eating, and drinking before going though.
When you reach US Pre-Clearance, you will first line up to go through a second security check (NO liquids not sealed in duty free bags or fruits, etc. that you cannot bring into the US are allowed – its like you are entering the US). Next, flyers will line up for Customs, like you would in the US, and when you get to the desk, give your Passport to the Customs Officer and declare anything necessary. We have Global Entry, so we bypassed the line and used the Global Entry Kiosks (just like int he US!) and then gave our slip of paper to a Customs Officer working the desk. We took about 15 minutes from security to clearing Customs. If you don’t have Global Entry this will take a bit longer. We disclosed our extra bottle of whisky to the Customs agent, and she did not charge us for it. Once though Customs, you are clear!
After clearing US Customs, flyers are released into the few gates of flights heading to the US. These gates are close together, so no worries searching for your gate. Signs disclosing the gate information are easy to find, and you can honestly see all of the gates. In this Post-US Pre-Clearance gate area (hello tongue twister), there is one small shop selling Irish souvenirs, including whisky, Ireland t-shirts, magnets, etc., and a few Guinness branded products. It’s a good “last stop” in Ireland if you forgot anything or need a gift, but not for much more. There is also, as of February 2022, exactly 1 bar/food stall, selling draught Guinness (!!), draught Carlsberg, a few bottles of beer and wine, coffee, sodas/juices, and sandwiches and chips. Prices were airport-reasonable. Of course, I helped myself to one last Guinness pre-departure! Credit cards accepted.
I would note that this entire process is quite well run and there are signs everywhere. You really should have no problem navigating US Pre-Clearance at Dublin. We checked-in, cleared Dublin security, hung out in a longe for about 1.5 hours, and then still had time to clear US Pre-Clearance and have a Guinness before boarding. That being said, we flew on a random Tuesday in February. I would arrive to the airport 3 hours before your flight to ensure you have enough time.
There are no Priority Pass lounges after US Pre-Clearance. That being said, there is one lounge, 51st and Green, into which passengers can buy entrance for 30 euro per person. We have never visited this lounge, but I would love to one day. Per the website, there are showers and alcoholic drinks are limited to 2 per person. I believe there is also a First or Business Class run by Aer Lingus.
STEAL OUR LOUNGE
Lounge T1 Dublin International: Terminal 1, Corballis, Dublin Airport, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Open 5:30 – 17:00.
51st & Green Lounge: Open during hours of US bound flights. 30 euro per person, free to business class passengers on all US bound flights.