I sat down in the Chocolate Lounge
to get my bearings after security and to take pictures. One of the staff asked if I was ready to order and I said I was waiting for someone. I hate that they hog one of the best views in the house and make you order something if you want to sit there!
Anyway I got a few things from the Loop and other shops around both terminals (you can easily transit the secure areas of both T1 and T2
after clearing security in either). I purchased a new “Titanic Irish Whiskey” commemorating the centenary of the ship’s sinking at the Loop for my uncle. The cashier stamped my boarding pass with “DUTY FREE, The Loop, Dublin Airport” and initialled it.
I browsed around some more and decided to go back to T1. The monitors show the gate numbers for US-bound flights as “USPC”, meaning US preclearance.
There was nothing much of interest here shops-wise so I returned to T2
as it was approaching the 11:35 preclearance deadline. I passed both the Aer Lingus and Etihad Airways lounges on the way. There was an overspill of a few EI
A320s parked at Pier B which is technically Terminal 1. I think maybe Etihad and Emirates should be banished from Terminal 2 and keep the Aer Lingus birds together insofar as possible. It would cut down on walking for EI
passengers from a customer service standpoint. All US carriers also use T2
as it houses the US Customs and Border Protection preclearance facility.
Entrance to the US CBP preclearance facility which is downstairs from the main non-US bound boarding gates. I think a similarly sized Irish flag next to the US one would look well
No photography is allowed once you get off the escalator as you are now in the preclearance area. I got my passport, boarding pass and Customs Declaration Form ready and got in the queue. There were two separate queues – one for US citizens and one for non-US citizens. I would be using my US passport and luckily the line for this one was shorter.
The immigration officer didn’t even look up as I got to the desk. He looked at my passport and customs form then looked at me and asked “what’s in there?” as he pointed to my plastic duty free bag. I told him it was whiskey and he asked how old I was. I felt like telling him “ahh, you have my passport – work it out for yourself”. Lucky for me, I’m 21. If I wasn’t, he would’ve confiscated it. He threw me a dirty look and handed back my passport and boarding pass then looked at the next person and waved her on without saying so much as a goodbye. I was slightly p***ed off with this. Could he not just be pleasant like his SNN
Once you finish the immigration check, bags are security screened for a second time and shoes must be removed. You are then allowed into the gate area. There are monitors here showing the status of all US-bound flights and their respective gate numbers. I then found out that my flight would be boarding from Gate 405.
At this point, you cannot return to the departure lounge or other gates as you have already gone through the US preclearance and are in a “sterile” zone. There are one or two small shops selling newspapers, sweets, hot food, coffee etc. but not much else.
An Emirates Boeing 777-300ER arriving from Dubai as flight EK161
I could tell it was going to be a packed flight as the area around Gate 405 was extremely crowded. At 12:05 an announcement came that boarding would be delayed by 15 minutes as the aircraft was still being serviced. Then, at exactly 12:20 boarding commenced with Business Class, Gold Circle and special assistance passengers boarding first, followed by rows from back to front. I boarded at about 12:35.
We had to ascend one level to align with the aircraft door which was docked at an airbridge.
Thursday, 24th May 2012
Tail No. EI
Departure Terminal & Gate
Terminal 2, Gate 405
Departure Taxi Route
, F3, Link 4, M1, M2, B5
Weather at Departure
Mostly clear, light haze, winds SE
Arrival Terminal & Gate
International Terminal 5, Gate M5
Arrival Taxi Route
, S, K, K3, F, B, Int’l Taxiline
Weather at Arrival
Hazy sunshine, gusty southerly winds
Actual Flight Time
7 hours, 53 minutes
Shortly after boarding we heard from Captain Malachy O’Curry who gave detailed information about the flight. He expected a fast, smooth Atlantic crossing with an estimated flight time of 7 hours and 25 minutes. He said unusually light headwinds would cut an hour off the scheduled time of 8 hours, 25 minutes. We would be flying along 66th Parallel for the most part.
This would be my first Aer Lingus flight across the pond since 2008.
Pushback was at 13:04 and the posh, well-spoken Cabin Manager, Geraldine Brennan welcomed us aboard. The engines were started and safety video was played and we were soon on our way to Runway 10. There was no delay apart from an inbound Aer Lingus Regional ATR 72 that landed before we entered the runway.
Takeoff was at 13:22. It was smooth, powerful and relatively quiet. After takeoff we turned left and headed northwest away from Dublin.
Leaving DUB behind us
At 14:00 IST
the first officer came on and gave us more details on our flight – we would be flying at an altitude of 38,000 feet for the most part at a groundspeed of about 430 knots. The bar service in the cabin began around this time. Soft drinks are free, alcoholic beverages are not. I opted for a Sprite; it came with spiced nuts of some sort which were nice.
The dinner service started then. The options were chicken or beef (surprise surprise). I got the beef which was served with pasta and salad. Dessert consisted of an oat cookie. I would describe it as “normal” for an Aer Lingus Economy class meal.
Duty free shopping cannot be sold on precleared flights so there was no SkyShopping service. We were encouraged to look through the SkyShopping magazine now and to buy on the return journey, however.
The flight was mainly uneventful after that. You had the choice of about a dozen TV
shows and a dozen recent movies to watch on demand on the screen in front of you. In addition there were games to play, music videos and of course, the flight map which I was most interested in.
There was some moderate turbulence over Newfoundland, Canada but other than that, it was a smooth enough. A lot of American accents surrounded me. In fact, my seat mate was from Chicago and was in Dublin for a business meeting – it was his first time in Ireland. Aer Lingus competes with American Airlines on the Dublin-Chicago route – in the summer season at least.
About an hour before arrival at O’Hare, a scone with tea/coffee was served:
It was only alright. You could tell it had been frozen and thawed; it was far from fresh. Descent began at 14:12 CDT and the first officer advised us of this. With 30 minutes to go, the inflight entertainment system was shut off and all headsets that were in the seat pockets were collected by the crew. A promotional video for the Aer Lingus/UNICEF partnership was then played and we were invited to make a donation in the envelope in the seat pocket in front of us. The crew came around shortly afterwards and collected these.
The Chicago skyline making an appearance after crossing Lake Michigan
The autopilot was disengaged soon after and you’d know it from the swaying and powering up and down. The gear was lowered and straight away, Ms. Brennan advised us of our final approach into “O’Ha-ah International, Chicago” even before the ding.
We hit the ground at 14:48 on Runway 22L. Severe braking action meant I had to put my hands on the seat in front of me as my seatbelt wasn’t tightened hard enough. It looked like a windy day outside.
We were on-stand at Gate M5 at 14:57, 18 minutes ahead of schedule. Aer Lingus now uses Gate M5 at the international terminal as it is closest to the terminal’s sole domestic baggage reclaim.
An Iberia A340-600 arrives at Gate M4 moments after us as flight IB6275 from Barcelona via Madrid. It would later be towed to Terminal 3 for departure
We disembarked the aircraft into the departure lounge as this was now considered a domestic arrival due to being precleared in Dublin. Signs and uniformed Aer Lingus personnel guided all passengers from the gate, out of the departures area and downstairs to Baggage Carousel 10. This is the only carousel outside of the secure area and is used solely for Aer Lingus and Frontier Airlines “domestic” arrivals. This is where meeters and greeters met with passengers.
Had this been any other international flight, passengers would have gone downstairs straight after coming off the airbridge towards US CBP
, baggage reclaim and then customs.
I spent four days in Chicago visiting family and friends before heading off to Florida to begin my travels with one such friend. Trip reports to follow.
Taken from the top of the Navy Pier ferris wheel
Thanks for reading.
Previous Trip Reports
46. Aer Lingus EI125 SNN-ORD (Direct - Few Pics) (by AmricanShamrok May 9 2008 in Trip Reports)
47. Aer Lingus EI124 ORD-SNN (pics) (by AmricanShamrok May 30 2008 in Trip Reports)
48. & 49. Aer Lingus First: Avod To Chicago (ORD) [pics] (by AmricanShamrok Aug 25 2008 in Trip Reports)
50. & 51. Aer Lingus EI124 ORD-DUB-SNN [with Pics] (by AmricanShamrok Nov 21 2008 in Trip Reports)
52. & 53. A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics (by AmricanShamrok Aug 13 2009 in Trip Reports)
54. & 55. AF (& WX) ‹‹Voyageur›› ORD-CDG-SNN (lots Of Pics) (by AmricanShamrok Sep 11 2009 in Trip Reports)
56. & 57. Aer Lingus Domestic (SNN-DUB-SNN) On The A330+pics (by AmricanShamrok Feb 13 2010 in Trip Reports)
58. & 59. London Baby! (SNN-LGW-SNN) With Ryanair+pics (by AmricanShamrok Mar 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
60. & 61. US Customs In Shannon, Ireland + CO To ORD (pics!) (by AmricanShamrok Aug 19 2010 in Trip Reports)
62. & 63. Delay With Continental: ORD-EWR-SNN (With Pics!) (by AmricanShamrok Aug 29 2010 in Trip Reports)
64. & 65. DUB Terminal 2 Trial + KIR-DUB Return On FR (pics) (by AmricanShamrok Oct 15 2010 in Trip Reports)
66., 67., 68. & 69. ¡Hola Barcelona! Flying Irish With FR, EI, RE-pics (by AmricanShamrok Jun 21 2011 in Trip Reports)
70., 71., 72. & 73. From Shannon To Berlin...and Back To Kerry! (pics) (by AmricanShamrok Jan 29 2012 in Trip Reports)
74. & 75. London For A Half-day (feat. LGW & LHR - Pics!) (by AmricanShamrok Feb 7 2012 in Trip Reports)
76. & 77. Kingdom County to Windy City KIR-DUB-ORD w/EI-pics