Here’s Why You Should Consider Connecting In Dublin On Your Next Europe Trip

About a week ago, the UK’s Telegraph ran a piece, Is Dublin Airport Eating Heathrow’s Lunch?

The answer is clearly no, because London remains an important world business destination, even if it’s an abominable connecting airport. And Heathrow remains terribly even transferring British Airways-to-British Airways… last year my Dusseldorf – London – San Francisco connection involved two buses and a train as I arrived at a terminal 1 bus gate, then had to bus to terminal 5, and we departed out of a T5 satellite concourse.

If you’re going to connect in Europe, Dublin is a really good place to do it.

If you are starting or ending your trip anywhere west or north of London, it’s a no brainer not to fly all the way to London (or beyond) and backtrack.

Plus flying Westbound (through terminal 2) you get US immigration pre-clearance. If you’re a US citizen with Global Entry you don’t care. But for non-US citizens this is huge, short immigration queues and then arrive in the U.S. as though getting off a domestic flight.

What’s more, Dublin has some of the most flights to North America of any European airport.

The big four — London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam — have the most flights by far. There’s a big dropoff. But Dublin is right there in the next tier, with more flights than Zurich or Munich.

A premium cabin flyer won’t want to fly to far beyond Dublin — better to take a longer portion of the journey in a flat bed before transferring to an intra-European flight that resembles US domestic coach plus food.

Flights from, say, New York JFK or Boston to Dublin are short, almost too short to sleep flying Eastbound. Yet Aer Lingus is putting in fully flat beds in business class. They offer inflight internet as well.

Furthermore, Boston – Dublin is less than 3000 miles which means that you can redeem just 12,500 British Airways points each way for an economy ticket or 25,000 points for business class. And Aer Lingus fuel surcharges are de minimis. You can redeem United miles on Aer Lingus as well.

And Dublin is a more attractive originating point for a ticket than London, since you don’t pay the UK’s exorbitant air passenger duty.

Dublin won’t replace Heathrow. But if you don’t need to go through Heathrow, why would you want to? Have a Guinness or an Irish coffee on your layover instead.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Or maybe you should consider connecting in Dublin for the chance at experiencing some of its great culture and history.

    Just a thought.

  2. Interesting article. As a Dallasite who has had (and will have) some trips to London, I always get hosed on AA award redemptions because of the huge UK passenger fee going westbound.This may be a better option.

  3. We also almost always find flights are cheaper into Dublin than into the UK, because of the airport taxes. We will buy a flight from the US-Dublin and then a cheap aer lingus flight between dublin and the UK, and it is still cheaper than a US-UK flight (we travel often into Newcastle, so mileage may vary into LHR or LGW)

  4. Gary – do you know if they will upgrade all flights to the US to flat beds in biz? Looking to book something to Italy next year and decent premium award options from SFO are in high demand, so Aer Lingus flat bed would be welcome addition for that longish flight.

  5. Like I previously said, maybe consider connecting thru Dublin for the opportunity to explore it’s culture and history?!

    By not posting that thought, you are proving that your blog is only about earning money for yourself thru your links…and that any true conversation about travelling is not important.

    How sad to only consider Dublin for what it can earn for yourself rather than about the city’s great contribution to society.

  6. Travel via Dublin/Shannon(specific times for Shannon) makes huge sense for US travelers. I always travel BACK through either port as it ensures pre-clear status. As far as upgrades? my next round of flights for personal travel are already upgraded (departure / return) are in september. It’s worth the effort if not for pre-clear alone. you have more options although, DUB’s airport sort of sucks for lounges,

  7. Excellent advice! Some points to note is that:

    1. award space is not opened at the same time for “domestic” at the same time than international.
    2. Connections to many places are not as convenient as from the other major hubs.

  8. @icicle what in the world are you talking about? This post is about best places to connect, and the existence of immigration preclearance is great advice. I didn’t realize there were more flights to North America from Dublin than from Munich. And there’s not even a referral link earning Gary any money from this post. So WTF?

  9. @icicle I’m writing here about best places to connect, the best places to visit would be a different post and subjective, those interested in visiting ireland don’t need me to tell them to visit

  10. For many people without Global Entry benefits, CBP PreClearance on a transit may be a bottleneck or come with another screening/bottleneck that can and should be avoided given some alternative of flying on a flight where you clear CBP in the US and don’t have to re-clear security twice outside of the US to get to the US.

    I would never now generally recommend that non-GE US citizens take a European Schengen-Ireland-ORD trip over a more typical Schengen-Schengen-ORD trip. Even for non-GE ESTA-using passengers, I would be hesitant to recommend transits via Ireland. For non-ESTA, non-US persons, DUB transits may be fine if you don’t need a visa for the UK/IRL CTA. Not very useful. Also LHR has more flights and is better positioned for re-routes in the even of irregular operations; of course this all gets messed up when the British government goes into hyper-paranoid mode more than the Republic of Ireland.

  11. It took several hours for the 1st post to appear…after others had been posted. Interesting.

    I’m not quite sure what happened.

    And yes, you are writing about best connecting cities.

    With all the “free” options to chose 12 hours, etc. between connections…it is possible to do a quick tour of a city. So yes, with all the connecting layover opportunities, one can consider a city’s culture and history as a bonus to chose that city as a connecting point.

    I.E. See Icelandic Air’s opportunity to connect through Iceland and spend a night there. That’d be awesome, right? Connect thru Iceland without a penalty.

    Don’t just chose Dublin because of the airport potential…leave 8 or so hours between connections, and go see the town!

  12. @icicle – a totally different topic, still, is transit tours. There’s a great one of Incheon, for instance, if you’ve got a day-long connection in Seoul.

    I get that you didn’t like the focus of the post. You would have focused elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean motives were somehow suspect in writing it, and the ones you suggested were unsupported by the facts.

  13. @ icicle

    you sir. are an idiot.

    Write your own blog.

    YOU are culturally inept, what great contribution to society, they arn’t the romans, they are the potato eaters.

  14. While Aer Lingus’ hard product up front isn’t anything to write home about (although as you noted, they will be upgrading it significantly over the next year or so), I find that the cabin crews are the friendliest of all the carriers making the trans-Atlantic crossing. And not just a polite sort of friendliness, but a genuine “we enjoy our job” sort of friendliness.

    Oddly, I’ve yet to experience pre-clearance at DUB, as I’ve always been on one of the “exception” flights, but it appears that US CBP finally has fixed the hours and capacity issues so that all Aer Lingus flights to the US are now using the pre-clearance facility.

  15. @flymor

    Isn’t your name missing the letter E?

    Not a sir, but a ma’am.

    I have a degree in history and French that states I am anything BUT an idiot.

    You commentary about the Irish is insulting, crude, and dismissive of ethnic differences.

    Learn about the Book of Kells. Much of our own American culture is deeply rooted in the Irish. Sad that you are ignorant of this.


    No, I understood your post and topic quite well. I “got” it. I just find it completely mundane.

    As for facts, you got yours from an UK newspaper. Where’s your research? Where’s your interview with Aer Lingus or with a rep from the Dublin airport? All I see are copying and pasting going on.

    I expect better from a world traveller. You see the world, but have you truly SEEN it??? How disappointing.

    I really don’t give a shit about airport lounges in my connections or what kind of seat is on the plane. I care about safety- getting there alive. If people care more about first class amenities rather than the destination, I feel sorry for you.

    I’ve lived in Europe. Take the connecting opportunities to do a little sightseeing, not drink Guinness in a lounge.

    P.S. LOVED how you worked in the sentence about United followed by a link.

  16. How will we know if a certain flight has the new Biz product? We had to cancel our Ireland trip this summer, but next summer should be able to make it happen.

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