No frills new kids on the block have broken up the Transatlantic monopoly but pity about Dublin’s immigration lines

What has 460 people in line and only four overworked immigration inspectors? If you said US immigration at any major US airport you are wrong.

Try Dublin Airport on the cold morning of December 27th with five US flights arriving at the same time, around 8 a.m.

Pity the families in line with small children, or the elderly shuffling along what seemed an interminable line. Pity them, because no one else seemed to care. The EU passport passengers were through in a minute or two, the rest of us mostly US had to wait… and wait.

I’m sure for some on line it was their first time in Ireland and I am not blaming the immigration inspectors who were perfectly courteous. But, surely, as a first experience of Ireland, someone in tourism management should take a look and maybe decide that over an hour on line after a long Transatlantic flight makes very little economic or improving the Irish experience sense.

A basic failure such as lacking enough immigration inspectors while circling long lines in a dull and dreary building with no phone service allowed creates the wrong impression off the bat.

I was flying Norwegian Air, courtesy of a last-minute decision to come to Ireland between Christmas and New Year and they were about $400 cheaper than anyone else.

They are the new kids on the block and have broken up the Transatlantic monopoly held by a few airlines and in the process, have succeeded in slashing fares across all airlines.

It was certainly a different experience. For their New York hub, the low-cost jetliner operates out of Stewart Airport in Newburgh about two hours drive from Manhattan up to Orange County.

You catch the bus, very reasonably priced at $20, for the trip from the Port Authority building on 42nd and 8th.

Arriving at Stewart is like stepping out into the past. The airport is tiny compared to JFK or LaGuardia and has an old time feel that almost makes it attractive. On check-in Norwegian seemed to be catching people with extra heavy cabin baggage for higher fares, a point to remember.

The security line before reaching the departure area certainly helps the experience. On the night I flew there wasn’t one. Once I collected my boarding pass it was a five-minute wait before the friendly, yes friendly, inspectors allowed me through.

As a person who is almost phobic about being trapped on endless airport lines the Norwegian experience at Newburgh made the long drive there suddenly seem worthwhile.

As for the Norwegian flight itself, it was Ryanair, except on the Atlantic. There were a lot of families, a reality that you can save serious money by flying at Norwegian prices when you have more than one passenger flying.

The plane itself was small, one aisle, three seats on each side. There was no TV, no food unless you had paid in advance, no internet but also no annoying reclining seats in your face.

The captain proved very helpful giving a very thorough mapping of the route and informing us that we faced no turbulence until about an hour out of Dublin. I always feel forewarned is forearmed in such circumstances, and regularly find the silence from the cockpit of an explanatory voice when entering turbulence annoying.

On the night I flew it took only five hours to cross, enough time to figure out that flying is about getting from here to there and a good book can be just as helpful in passing the time as a movie on a tiny screen.

So, all well and an hour ahead of schedule when arriving in Dublin, but then the dreaded immigration line quickly destroyed any time-saving.

Would I fly Norwegian again? Probably not as I do not live in the city or North of it where the airport is based but it seems a genuine breakthrough on a route long controlled by a few key airlines.

Thanks to Norwegian I believe Transatlantic rates will continue to come down. There is a fallacy that budget airlines fly older planes but Norwegian’s fleet is among the youngest in the business.

If no frills is for you and cheap flights I’d definitely recommend the airline. There seemed no difference in the most important category to me, the amount of space per passenger, but if you prefer some pampering with films and food look elsewhere is my advice.

And please Dublin, do something about the immigration lines.

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