Top tips for international departures from Dublin to America

Travel Ireland

“Oh my God, they are getting us back for Ellis Island.”

When the woman standing behind me at the Dublin International Airport said this outloud, I smirked. Husband and I were in the United States Customs Pre-Clearance line along with hundreds of others including the funny lady behind us. We had already been through security, removing belts, jackets and liquids. Now we were waiting to go through customs before boarding our plane from Ireland back to the U.S.. It made some sense at first – we wouldn’t have to wait in a long customs line in New York, and be held up catching our connecting flight home to Minnesota.

But the woman’s funny quip might have been half true. I have never been required to clear customs in the country I was departing, and while organized, the lines were long and tedious. After waiting for about an hour, we made our way through customs and thought we were home free. Then we hit the next line.

Even though we had already been through security, the hundreds of us that had just cleared customs had to de-robe once again and go through a second round of security – laptops out, shoes off, liquids in the bin. At this point people got downright angry. We were two hours into the process since arriving at the airport, and many couples had to cut ahead of others because they were on the verge of missing their flights.

With this experience under my belt, I offer some first-account advice if you are flying from Dublin to the United States:

  1. Get plenty of sleep the night before because it’s going to be a long day
  2. Get to the airport 2.5-3 hours in advance of your departure time
  3. Reduce the “unload” – don’t wear a jacket or belt but do wear slip-on shoes
  4. Keep your liquids and technology within easy reach
  5. Go in with the expectation that you will wait a long time
  6. If you are handicapped or cannot stand for a long period of time, get wheelchair assistance as soon as you get to the airpot

And to the authorities at the Dublin International Airport who’s Irish ancestors most likely had similar experiences at Ellis Island … I’m really, really sorry about that.