Are you thinking of flying to Europe or Scandinavia? Most of you will want to go point-to-point and nonstop on the “usual suspect” airlines. But as part of our continuing series on secret hubs and secret flights, I’m talking about airports and airlines you might not think about using as connecting points to get to your final destination. Welcome to the Dublin Airport and Aer Lingus.
In essence, Ireland is not just a destination, but a super hub. Aer Lingus flies to more than 80 destinations across Europe and North America. From the U.S., the airline flies to and from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami—as well as Newark and New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington—even Hartford, Connecticut. From there, you get to connect to Europe—not just to the likely locales of London, Paris, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt, but nonstop service to Venice, Athens, Dubrovnik, and even out to the Canary Islands.
Here are some basic fare comparisons that might surprise you.
Flying from Los Angeles to London, the lowest airfare on British Airways is $860. But on Aer Lingus, with a stop in Ireland, it drops down to $613. Boston to Frankfurt? Lufthansa charges $794. Aer Lingus? $565. Chicago to Madrid? Iberia costs $893. Aer Lingus: $717.
The savings are also significant in Business Class. JFK to Barcelona? British Airways charges more than $3,800. Aer Lingus is just $2,500. How about Boston to Frankfurt? A Business Class ticket on Lufthansa is more than $4,000. But Aer Lingus weighs in at just a little more than $2,600.
U.S. Pre-Clearance Program
Perhaps the best part of connecting through Ireland is when you come home. It’s the U.S. Pre-clearance program at airports in Dublin and Shannon. Returning passengers clear U.S. Immigration and Customs in Ireland. So when your flight lands back in the U.S., there are no long customs lines. In fact, there are no lines at all! You simply leave the plane and go home. Or, if you’re connecting to another flight, your bags—and you—are already checked through to your final destination. Then you just go directly to your next flight. It’s a huge timesaver.
The key here is to be a contrarian, to think outside the box, and in particular—outside the route map and the airline you thought you knew.
To see more of Peter Greenberg’s segments from his television show The Travel Detective, check out: