Adventures in Ireland: IAD-LHR-SNN

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Last weekend was very exciting. One of the trips I’d booked on the mistake deal had finally arrived, and I was traveling with a friend who had always wanted to go to Ireland. I even took a full day off work so we would have 4 days during the holiday weekend!

I met Shawna at the airport, and by the time I’d figured out that United Airlines kiosks no longer let you change your frequent flyer number (I was switching to US Airways while I still could) there wasn’t time to show her the Lufthansa Senator Lounge in the other terminal. So instead we went to the United Club closest to our gate.

Dulles United Club Renovation

And since I’m moving away from United and having United lounge access, I couldn’t even get excited about the long overdue renovations that I’d probably not get to see. So we retraced our steps back to the other lounge in Terminal C, now only having about 15 minutes to chill. It was while we snacking on cheese and crackers that I realized I had no idea if they served complimentary meals in economy on transatlantic flights.

The giddiness about the trip was apparently wiping away some of my travel knowledge, and it had been years since I’d flown United economy to Europe. I did a quick search on my phone and saw lots of articles from 2008, indicating United had moved to buy on board. That didn’t feel right, I felt like I would have heard more about it in recent years, but we were somewhat in a hurry so I reconciled myself to paying for food.

Boarding in Zone 2 as a Star Gold wasn’t much worse than arriving mid-boarding for Zone 1 as a 1K. At least in Zone 2 I could be at the front on the line. We’d booked the aisle and window seats for us hoping that no one would wind up in the middle, and it payed off! A quick look at the United app once we’d boarded showed the middle seat free.

And once in flight, I quickly found out meal service was free. I picked the beef ravioli, not bad. I also chose the sparkling wine (which requires a drink coupon or $7.99), which being a Cava, was better than expected! (not quite like the airline food pictures you normally see me post, is it! 🙂 )

United IAD-LHR Beef Ravioli

Unfortunately I wasn’t as lucky with sleep as I was with food and seating. My travel pillow didn’t fit United seats as well as it did US Airways, so only managed an hour or two of sleep. And was awake again in time for the contintenal breakfast. A decent croissant and some melon.

United IAD-LHR Continental Breakfast

I couldn’t believe our luck when we landed in the same Heathrow Terminal as our connecting flight! This would save us up to an hour of painful transfer. I’d hoped this also meant we’d avoid security and immigration, but turns out you still have to fill out a landing form and go through the whole process. Turns out UK security doesn’t like butterfly laptop bags.

We finally exited into the shopping area and I realized in my excitement prior to the trip, I didn’t  do my homework about available lounges. Or Aer Lingus.

I’d just assumed it was part of Star Alliance since it was a United codeshare. Which I shouldn’t have. So I was surprised not to see it listed on the Star Alliance lounge list of partners. I did see signs that there was an Aer Lingus lounge by our gate, and since our gate was a 30 minute walk, perhaps we should just spend the next 2 1/2 hours there.

I didn’t realize that we would have to go through security and immigration again. And I’d forgotten they’re not kidding at Heathrow when they estimate the times to your gate. It was a long long walk through empty halls.

LHR Terminal 1 to Gate 82


Even the signage suggested our gate area might be a barren wasteland.

LHR Terminal 1 Gates 80 84 sign

But eventually we found the lounge at the end of Gate 84. I presented my boarding pass and was told they didn’t accept Star Alliance.

Aer Lingus Gold Circle Club

Ack. Feeling bad for my friend who I’d semi-promised a shower, we made our way back to a halfway point – a little oasis with an Emerald Gateway restaurant.

LHR Terminal 1 Emerald Gateway

And ordered food while I tried to figure it out. Nothing like a $4 cup of tea and $6 croissant…

Ham & Cheese Croissant and Tea at Emerald Gateway

I wasn’t sure if arriving Star Alliance Golds had access to the lounge if they weren’t departing on a Star Alliance carrier (though it was a United codeshare). And trying meant going all the way back through security and immigration.

I also wasn’t sure from the forums I’d quickly pulled up if my BA emerald status would get me access to the Aer Lingus lounge, particularly since I wasn’t flying with my BA number. So we decided to just hang out at the restaurant for awhile and kill time and try to freshen up in the nearby restroom. Fortunately for the photo albums we weren’t looking quite as ragged as we felt.

Shawna Keri Heathrow Layover at Emerald Gateway

I won’t say much about the Aer Lingus flight except there was no boarding by zone, and thus a crazy stampede, it had very little leg room, but it was very short and I was able to nap almost the entire hour. And then we were in Ireland!

Aer Lingus LHR-SNN

After a pleasant exhortation by the passport control officer not to get into too much trouble, we headed to the Avis counter to pick up the rental car!!

Next up: Bunratty Castle & Folk Park


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