The airport trumpets the fact that you can clear U.S. customs when flying to America, which seems great on the face of it, until you actually experience the Dublin customs layout.
Customs in New York is infinitely preferable. You collect your bag from the carousel and walk out handing your custom form to the official who decides whether he/she wants to inspect your baggage.
The bad experience in Dublin on New Year’s Day started with very few security lanes open for the first security clearance after checking in.
I suppose we have all learned to expect that, but you’d think a major international airport like Dublin would know that the volume of traffic on New Year’s Day, a huge travel day, would necessitate many more security checkpoints than what was available.
Once through security the fun really started. I was wondering why at check-in the clerk said to go immediately to U.S. immigration and customs even though I had left two hours or so to board the flight.
When you step into U.S. customs you're forced to go through the very same inspection you just went through on the initial security check – shoes off, laptops out of bags, etc.
I asked the operator why this was so, given we had just passed through the exact same operation 10 minutes earlier. “That was European Union security; this is U.S.,” he responded as he checked my passport for the third time in less than half an hour.
It is incredibly off-putting to have to go through the same stress-filled rigmarole which you just went through because the U.S. and EU clearly don't trust each other to conduct proper screening.
I know there will be many who will say there can never be be enough security, but the fact is that what is happening in Dublin is complete overkill and authorities don't seem to give a blind bit of attention to it.
But wait – there’s more.
Clearing U.S. immigration itself is now different. It is mostly self-serve and you have to scan your passport in a machine before you approach the agent.
There were many passengers, especially older ones, in obvious difficulty with this complicated and user-adverse system.
The entire experience sounds like something created by Soviet central planning: to make the user experience as difficult and inhuman as possible.
Finally, 80 minutes after first presenting at the ticket counter at Dublin, I was through the security checks with a seven hour flight ahead, and already drained and stressed.
So when Dublin Airport trumpets its U.S. immigration and customs clearance as a major advance for entering the U.S., be careful what you wish for.
Be prepared to endure major hassle and inconvenience.
Someone with an eye on passenger sanity and travel experience really needs to look at it.
Much maligned JFK treats you better than Dublin does.
And I'm not holding my breath that Dublin will improve.