So, normally there wouldn’t be much to talk about on the final morning of vacation, but this was a travel-first for me, so I figured I should share it. We had heard from several people that we needed to get to the airport at least 3 hours early, some even recommended 3 ½ hours. I have heard that so many times and in so many countries in the past, and of course I usually pay no attention to it. But this time, Tom had a friend that was recently in Ireland and she got to the airport 3 hours early (as directed) and she just barely had enough time to make it through security! I didn’t understand how this could be possible, but to err on the side of caution definitely seemed like the best choice here.
We turned in our rental car and then arrived at the airport 3 hours early. After checking-in and receiving our boarding passes we learn that there is a US Customs pre-clearance checkpoint. This explains why the extra time is needed. We went through the initial airport security screening and then travelers flying to the US are directed to a separate terminal where they then actually get cleared by US Customs agents. We had to fill out the silly blue form, answer questions about our travel, and even get our passports stamped as having arrived in the US, while still in Ireland. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen. Why does this happen in Ireland of all places? Why have I never seen this before? Why is our government sending Customs employees to Ireland to do a job that they can just as easily do at Dulles? It doesn’t make any sense if you ask me.
Anyway, we got through security in about an hour, which left us 2 more hours to kill. Oh wait, I forgot to mention….the special “US departure terminal” we were at had a very limited selection of places to get food and virtually nowhere to shop. It is not the ideal situation when you have leftover euros burning a hole in your pocket that you are itching to get rid of.
Since we had already cleared US Customs, our flight was essentially considered a domestic flight. I still don’t understand the logic of it all, but it was time to board our domestic flight to cross the Atlantic Ocean.