Review: US pre-clearance in Dublin and the '51st and Green' airport lounge (2024)

This is my review of the “51st & Green” preclearance lounge at Dublin Airport as well as the overall US preclearance experience.

It is the second part of a series covering a trip from Dublin to New York to try out the Aer Lingus A321LR. Part 1 reviewed the Aer Lingus lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 2. What’s it like flying transatlantic on a single aisle aircraft, albeit with a flat bed? You’ll find out in the next part of this series ….

As a reminder, this trip was paid for in cash – a bargain (given there was no Saturday night stay) £1,300 return in Business Class for Dublin to New York Newark, plus the cost of an Avios connection from London.

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How does US preclearance work at Dublin Airport?

One clear advantage when flying to the US on Aer Lingus (or indeed any other airline) is that you clear customs and immigration in Dublin or Shannon and land at a domestic terminal in the US. This is especially useful if you’re flying into a very busy airport where this process can take hours on a bad day if you don’t have Global Entry. Rhys is currently working through the Global Entry approval process, and once it is complete we’ll cover it.

Once I got off the plane in Dublin I followed the signs to Connecting Flights and then the signs to US preclearance. It was quite a trot.

When I finally reached the preclearance area I was in for a shock. The queue was so long that it was actually running through multiple areas of the airport. You initially had to queue to be allowed down the escalators into the US security area. As a Business Class passenger I could sidetrack to a fast track security lane, but only when down the escalator. There is no premium line for US immigration.

It would be unfair to say that it was a shambles, given that most people would queue longer at US immigration in JFK. I was through in around 45 minutes. The issue was that only a fraction of the immigration desks were manned.

The delays were compounded because many people were at risk of missing flights. Every few minutes there would be a panic over a flight which was about to close and people would be plucked out of queue. This meant the queue stopped moving whilst these people were processed, and you could go five minutes without moving an inch.

Looking back at Anika’s 2017 review, it seems that there used to be a separate Business Class line at US immigration. It is time to bring that back.

That said, the immigration queue didn’t actually delay me. I had built in a three hour stopover in Dublin and, whilst I was expecting to have a little longer in the preclearance lounge, I made my flight and it left on time.

The ’51st & Green’ preclearance lounge at Dublin Airport

I ended up with around 30 minutes to spend in the “51st & Green” preclearance lounge (Ireland being seen as the green 51st state of America).

The preclearance lounge is located at the far end of the departure lounge, which was as far from my gate (401) as you could get. It is run by the airport, not Aer Lingus, and you can access it for cash if you are not flying in Business Class on any airline. It is notpart of Priority Pass. The walk-up price is €39 and you can find out more here.

The lounge was busy when I got there but quietened down a bit after a couple of flights were called. A couple of the pictures below are from our 2017 review because it never got empty enough to get large sweeping photographs.

The layout is interesting. With floor to ceiling windows on three sides, you will probably never see a brighter airport lounge. With so much light, it was sensibly left as one open space.

All of the seating fits around the circular feature in the middle of the space:

Review: US pre-clearance in Dublin and the '51st and Green' airport lounge (5)

There were further seats by the floor to ceiling windows.

Food and drink in the ’51st & Green’ lounge

Whilst some lounges would put the food front and centre, ’51st & Green’ chooses to put the small buffet area off in a corner to the left.

Back in 2017 you had to pay for hot meals in the lounge. This is no longer the case. Whilst not exceptional, the food selection was a step above the Aer Lingus lounge at Heathrow Terminal 2:

Whilst it looks like there is a lot of hot food below, it is actually just one dish – curry. One container contains chicken tikka masala, a second contains a vegetarian chickpea curry and two others contain rice and naan bread.

There is also a salad bar:

….. and a doughnut wall:

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As well as a couple of coffee machines, there is a staffed coffee bar a few feet away:

This is also where you can grab an alcoholic drink, although it was a bit early in the day for me to see what they had to offer. There were no newspapers or magazines of any kind.

If you want some privacy, or possibly just have excitable children, there are a couple of hidden nooks off the corridor which leads into the lounge. One is a quiet area with banquette style seating:

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…. and, tucked away near the loos, a slightly sad looking work area:

Conclusion – how was Dublin’s preclearance experience?

It’s difficult to review the lounge without comparing it to the chaotic scenes outside. For some reason, all US flights from Dublin leave from a very narrow corridor with departure gates on both sides. It is bedlam with minimal seating by most of the gates.

(The Dublin Airport website has a more polite spin on it: the lounge is “the perfect retreat away from the bustling terminal”.)

On this basis, even the worst airport lounge would be a marked improvement. “51st & Green” is better than this, offering a bright space with a good mix of seating. The food is also a step up on the Aer Lingus lounge at Heathrow.

And yet ….. the only people using this lounge for free are people flying to the US on Business Class tickets. There aren’t – unlike, say, the British Airways lounges at Heathrow – people in there who have paid £29 for an economy ticket or who have got in via a lounge club card.

On this basis I think ’51st & Green’ could raise its game, especially in terms of food. At the moment it is on a par with a higher end independent lounge, and doesn’t match up to the dedicated airline lounges at Heathrow.

In the next part of this series, I’ll take a look at the core reason for the trip – flying on a single aisle A321LR in Business Class to the US.

You can find out more about ’51st & Green’ on the Dublin Airport website here.

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How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (December 2022)

As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:

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The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two soa family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges inthe Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges. Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Review: US pre-clearance in Dublin and the '51st and Green' airport lounge (16)

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

Review: US pre-clearance in Dublin and the '51st and Green' airport lounge (17)

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes witha Priority Pass card loaded with four free visitstoany Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

Review: US pre-clearance in Dublin and the '51st and Green' airport lounge (18)

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.


Aer Lingus and AerClub

Review: US pre-clearance in Dublin and the '51st and Green' airport lounge (2024)


Is Dublin Airport lounge worth it? ›

Reviews (52)

Worth a DetourSolid lounge. Despite being open to almost everyone (all airlines and lounge programs), it was surprisingly uncrowded during very busy peak hours at the airport. Food and drink for breakfast was good.

How long does it take to get through US Preclearance at Dublin Airport? ›

How long does US Preclearance take at Dublin Airport? We advise that you allow 3.5 hours before a long-haul flight. If checking a bag, verify your airline's check-in & bag drop desk opening times, and if possible, allow up to one hour of additional time to check-in luggage.

Does Dublin Airport have US Preclearance? ›

The US Preclearance (USCBP) facility at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport is a purpose built facility that allows US bound passengers to undertake all US immigration, customs and agriculture inspections at Dublin Airport prior to departure.

Which lounge is best in Dublin Airport? ›

Located on the walkway between Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and the US Border Clearance area, The East Lounge is the most premium and newest lounge offerring available at Dublin Airport. This lounge has the potential to be one of the best airport-operated lounges in Europe with a few exceptions.

Is there a bar after preclearance in Dublin Airport? ›

Lounge & Shops after US Preclearance at Dublin Airport

For those flying business class, there is a complimentary lounge located after US Preclearance. Called 51st&Green, the lounge offers a spot to refuel and relax prior to your flight with WiFi, food and drink, luggage storage, and showers.

What lounge does American Airlines use in Dublin? ›

The 51st&Green Lounge is complimentary for Aer Lingus, American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines First and Business class passengers.

What happens at US Preclearance? ›

With Preclearance, travelers then bypass CBP and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspections upon U.S. arrival and proceed directly to their connecting flight or destination.

Can I take food through US Preclearance? ›

Yes. There are restrictions on food items that can be taken into the US, and this includes items that can be bought in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport prior to screening. You should declare all food items, carry them in hand luggage and present them for inspection at the US preclearance facility.

Is there duty-free after US Preclearance? ›

Unfortunately, duty free goods including cigarettes and alcohol can't be sold on board flights which pre-clear U.S. customs and immigration. Please review the U.S. CBP pre-clearance prohibited and restricted Items before arriving at the airport.

How long does it take to go through customs at Dublin Airport? ›

US Preclearance at Dublin Airport can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours. But in most cases, you are looking at a 20-40 minutes wait time.

How long does it take to get through security at Dublin Airport? ›

Dublin Airport Security Overview

We advise that you allow 2 hours before a short-haul flight, and 3 hours before a long-haul flight.

Is it worth paying for the lounge? ›

A lounge can offer the perfect hideaway from the hectic nature of the airport. It's much quieter, and most lounges have comfortable, spacious seating — and plenty of it. You can also use the Wi-Fi and power outlets, so you're all charged up before boarding the plane.

Is Aer Lingus lounge worth it? ›

Reviews (13)

SatisfactoryThe lounge is fine, new and bright. The showers are fine too but have an odd timed function which is very annoying. The food is really disgusting and not even remotely healthy. Not even any fruit!

Which terminal is better in Dublin? ›

Airlines at Dublin Airport. Dublin Airport has two terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Most flights out of Terminal 1 are shorter flights, while long-haul flights tend to originate out of Terminal 2. Passengers heading to the U.S can actually go through U.S. customs and border control at Dublin Airport.

Who needs preclearance Ireland? ›

You will only need to apply for pre-clearance permission if you want to apply for residency in Ireland under the 'de facto partner of an Irish citizen' scheme. You also have the option of applying for residency as the family member of a Union citizen under Directive 2004/38/EC.

Does Aer Lingus participate in TSA PreCheck? ›

Most budget airlines like Frontier, Allegiant, Spirit, and Sun Country all participate in TSA PreCheck. Notable airlines that don't participate in TSA PreCheck include Aer Lingus, China Southern, China Eastern, and EgyptAir.

Is fast track at Dublin Airport worth it? ›

What is Dublin Airport Fast-Track? Dublin Airport's Fast Track lane helps you get through Security quicker, by avoiding any longer queue times through main Security. If you're tight on time or just prefer more time to relax on airside, Fast-Track is a good option. How much does Dublin Airport's Fast-Track cost?

What is preclearance at Dublin Airport? ›

US Preclearance in Ireland allows US-bound passengers to clear all US entry controls (immigration, customs and agriculture) prior to departure, such that on arrival there they have the same status as passengers arriving from a US domestic airport and thus face no further entry controls.

What terminal does American use in Dublin? ›

Terminal 2 is the hub for Emirates, Etihad and transatlantic flights by American Airlines, US Airways, United Airlines, Delta, Air Canada and Aer Lingus (Ireland's national airline, whose UK and continental flights are also based in T2). Dublin Airport is 10km from the city.

Can I use United lounge if flying American Airlines? ›

Same-day boarding pass requirement

That means you can't use a United Club when you're flying with American. For starters, you'll need a same-day boarding pass on United or a Star Alliance partner airline to gain entry to a United Club.

Is it worth paying for airport lounge? ›

A lounge can offer the perfect hideaway from the hectic nature of the airport. It's much quieter, and most lounges have comfortable, spacious seating — and plenty of it. You can also use the Wi-Fi and power outlets, so you're all charged up before boarding the plane.

Is everything free in airport lounges? ›

Lounges are often filled with complimentary amenities such as premium food and snacks, fully stocked bars, modern shower facilities, fast WiFi, plentiful power outlets and secure business centers.

Is there a 2 drink limit in Dublin Airport lounge? ›

Please note that this lounge has a limit of 2 alcoholic drinks per person. This Dublin Airport t1 lounge offers shower facilities. Priority Pass cardholders are accepted at this lounge subject to availability. Pre-booking this lounge in advance is advised to ensure lounge access on your travel date.

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