Photo Credit: Jamie Clarke/AviationSource

Tiresome Pre-Clearance at Dublin But Great Flight: Onboard United Airlines’ Boeing 767-400ER in Economy

DUBLIN & WASHINGTON – As part of event attendance for AviationSource News in the United States, I took a trip on United Airlines’ Boeing 767-400 aircraft as one of my legs for the journey.

This leg of the journey was from Dublin (DUB) to Washington Dulles (IAD).

United serves this route on a daily basis as flight UA127 and is primarily flown using their Boeing 767-400 aircraft, but they have been seen to use the smaller Boeing 767-300 on the route as well as larger Boeing 777’s.

United’s Boeing 767-400 aircraft feature a configuration of 39 business class lie-flat seats, 70 economy plus seats, and 133 standard economy seats.

Of course, as part of this, I also experienced Dublin’s U.S. Pre-Clearance facility, which certainly was interesting, to say the least! – Continue reading for my full experience of this.

Flight Details


  • Flight Number: UA127 / Callsign UAL127
  • Departure Airport: Dublin Airport (DUB)
  • Arrival Airport: Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Aircraft Registration: N66051, 22 years old at the time of flying.
  • Aircraft Type: Boeing 767-424ER

Dublin Arrival & Check-In


I arrived in Dublin on a connecting flight that was operated by Aer Lingus; however, due to an issue with check-in, I did have to leave the flight connections and head to the United check-in desk in Dublin.

The process was easy-enough with clear signage; however, I did have a hiccup with the automated check-in system, so I had to head to a desk, but I luckily avoided the queues as the helpful staff at Dublin bypassed that for me.

Dublin Security & U.S. Pre-Clearance


Due to having to leave flight connections, I was subject to another security check at Dublin airport in their normal facility prior to heading to the U.S. Pre-Clearance section. Thankfully the queues moved pretty quickly, and the security staff was highly efficient at keeping everyone moving at a good pace, meaning the queues did not grow overly long.

Following the normal Dublin Airport security check, I headed to the U.S. Pre-Clearance area, which was well-signed; however, the walk between the two security areas was fairly lengthy.

Upon entering the U.S. Pre-Clearance area, I was greeted with very large queues because at the time of my flight was also prime time for most of Dublin’s other U.S. flights from Delta, American, United, and Aer Lingus.

At the end of the queue was a second security check that is carried out by U.S. officials and, of course, the usual passport check that you would get when entering the U.S., with one section being for non-U.S. citizens and another section for U.S. citizens. It was simple to follow, but due to the number of people, it was chaotic.

Despite the lengthy queues, it turned out that at the other end of the journey, once I arrived in the U.S., I was not subject to further checks and could immediately go straight to baggage collection and the exit.

Dublin’s U.S. Terminal


After completing the U.S. Pre-Clearance, I headed into the main departure terminal for U.S. travelers; this part of Dublin’s terminal was horrendously busy with people standing in the corridors due to very limited seating that certainly can’t cater for the number of flights and passengers at that time of day heading to the U.S. 

Not only this but there is not much choice for shops in this section of the terminal; there is the usual W H Smith as well as an Irish Souvenir shop and a bar/small restaurant. There is also a lounge at the very far end of the terminal building.

Boarding & Seat


The boarding process went relatively smoothly, like most airlines, where the passengers are split up into groups so that the boarding queue doesn’t become too lengthy.

It is worth noting that there were stairs that we needed to go up to the main part of the jetway bridge to the aircraft, as the U.S. section of the terminal is on the ground floor.

My seat for this service is 25A, which is a standard economy class seat; however, for economy class, its fairly spacious on this aircraft as United’s Boeing 767-400 aircraft are in a 2-3-2 layout for all economy classes and a staggered 2-2-2 layout for business class.

This particular seat also has two windows.

As this aircraft had been retrofitted with United’s Polaris cabin, the seats looked fairly new, clean, and overall comfortable with ample amount of leg room as well as a decent recline pitch too. 

United’s IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) system was also of a good standard, with plenty of choices of movies, TV shows, games, podcasts, and music playlists to choose from.

Not only this, but you get the usual flight map as well as being able to listen to the Air Traffic Control speak to your pilots, which I thought was a nice touch.

In-Flight Service


For this flight, United initially provided a small snack straight after departure, which consisted of a drink of choice (water, soft drinks, tea, coffee, beer, and wine) as well as some mini pesto breadsticks.

Following the snack was the main meal service, where on this flight, United offered three choices of either a Green Thai Chicken Curry, Yellow Vegetable Thai Curry, or Lasagne. I opted for the Lasagne, which comes with a small side salad and a bread roll.

Then about one hour and a half before our arrival in Washington, United then served a hot turkey and cheese sandwich with another complimentary drink, again the choices of drink were the same as previous, and the sandwich had a decent taste, considering I don’t like turkey, I ate it, which says a lot.

Overall, the ride across the Atlantic was mostly bumpy, with the fasten seat belt sign coming on and off more times than I can remember. However, given the Atlantic has primary jetstreams that run across the majority of it, turbulence was to be expected.

Arrival Into Dulles


After a 7-hour and 13-minute flight, the arrival into Dulles was seamless; after pulling onto stand C19, we were deboarded pretty quickly, and because I was already processed into the U.S. at Dublin, there were no further checks that needed to be done.

To get from most of the aircraft gates to your luggage collection or the main exit, you do have a little bit of a walk as well as a train shuttle service at Dulles, however, working travelators made the walking journey a little easier and the trains are very frequent and speedy, so it didn’t take long to get to baggage claim/main exit.

Conclusion


All-in-all, the journey was reasonable and of a very good standard; however, the queues at Dublin’s U.S. Pre-Clearance area were tiresome given the time of day and how busy it was, but I certainly cannot fault the staff; they did their best to keep everyone moving at a decent pace.

United’s economy class offering on their Boeing 767-400 aircraft was certainly better than I expected, and I would certainly fly with them again.

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