The Best Irish Airports

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The Best Irish Airports

When flying in and out of Ireland you have several options, each with their own pros and cons. Knowing what is available at the airport will help you to start your trip off on the right foot and perks like border preclearance or extra support for parents can help you make the most of your time on the ground.

Shannon Airport

Shannon was Ireland’s first transatlantic international airport is still considered a gateway between Europe and the Americas. There are direct flights to and from the U.S. and Canada as well as Europe, and the number of connections is always growing. It is the ideal entry point for visitors looking to explore the West coast of Ireland, with taxis, rental car companies and bus lines at the ready. Long and short term parking can be pre-booked online.

Located between Limerick and Ennis, Shannon Airport has been a pioneer in many ways. The world’s first duty free shop opened here in 1947, little more than a souvenir kiosk, and the idea was quickly copied around the world. In 1951 they expanded on the idea with the world’s first duty free liquor store.

You’ll find Shannon is one of the few European airports to provide free wifi throughout all areas. A variety of restaurants and shops will keep you entertained while you wait for your flight, or you can visit the Rineanna Lounge for €25 and spend 3 hours relaxing with complimentary refreshments, using one of the dedicated work stations in the business centre or even taking a shower to freshen up.

Shannon Airport was the first airport outside of the Americas to offer U.S. preclearance. This allows passengers that are bound for the United States to complete all immigration, customs and agricultural inspections before boarding so when you arrive you are treated as domestic arrivals, able to grab your bag and go. (Note that Aer Lingus chooses not to use this service.)

Taking the bus to and from the airport tends to be the cheapest and most convenient way of getting to Shannon. Buses offer comfortable, reclining chairs, leg room and even wifi! There are regular services running between large Irish towns and Shannon that will get you right at the airport’s footsteps.

Dublin Airport

Located just north of the city of Dublin on the East coast this is by far the busiest airport in Ireland. With 2 terminals being used by 34 different airlines, 75% of all the country’s air traffic comes through here bringing hundreds of flights daily from all over the world. Dublin Airport can handle 30 million passengers per year and flies to over 180 destinations in 40 countries, making it the place to be if you want lots of options. Dublin Airport’s main operators are the Irish airlines, with Aer Lingus being the largest, Ryanair for budget and shorthaul flights, and Ireland’s domestic airline Aer Arann.

Dozens of stores are available for onsite shopping as well as a variety of restaurants and bars, both Irish and international. One special perk for parents is the Stork Exchange, which not only rents baby safety seats and equipment but will bring them to you and make sure they are properly installed in your car.

You will find a VIP lounge in each of the two terminals. Access is included with frequent fliers and first class tickets, or you can buy a 3 hour pass for €19.95 and enjoy free refreshments, newspapers and magazines, a business centre and free wifi.

Dublin Airport is the only European airport besides Shannon to offer preclearance for U.S. passengers, a service which allows faster progress on arrival. However, the regular lounges are not accessible after completing preclearance, so the newest VIP lounge, 51st and Green, was created just for those passengers. Access is included with business class or you can pay at the door with a price of €39 per person.

On arrival in Dublin Airport you can choose from many car rental companies or buy a bus ticket. Buses are extremely convenient and there are over a thousand buses that access the airport daily, which can take you to all parts of Ireland.

Cork Airport

The newest of the three, Cork Airport is a rising star with a state of the art new terminal designed for ease of access and award winning customer service. Located on the Southern coast it is currently the 2nd largest airport in Ireland and offers more connection choices than any other airport in the country except Dublin.

Cork Airport allows access to more than 50 destinations with new flights being added regularly and sees more than two million passengers per year. Most of their business is through UK and European airlines, providing direct flights across Europe. Getting to the Americas and Asia will require a connecting flight, at least for now.

There are half a dozen restaurants and bars but only a few shops. Instead of extensive browsing options they have a unique online shopping system called the Loop with over 5,000 items. Once purchased your items will be stored at the airport and ready for pickup when you arrive.

Another testament to their technological advances and customer friendly approach, Cork Airport recently added a flight radar scanning feature on its mobile app, the first of its kind. Passengers can click on a flight number and see live updates on exactly where the plane is at that moment.

The Jack Lynch Executive Lounge is available for frequent fliers for a yearly fee, or pay at the door, €20-25 for 3 hours. Here you can relax with a snack and a beverage, read the newspaper or use the complimentary wifi while you wait to depart.

If you are arriving to explore the Irish countryside taxis, car rentals and buses are readily available, and long term parking can be pre-booked if you are flying somewhere else.

Are you ready to book your next trip?