This was a real conversation Sharon had with the immigration agent when we visited Dublin last year. My questioning was asked how long we were staying, which was about 8 hours before flying to London.
Traveling on points and miles opens up options you never had before. This includes scheduling in stops at places just to visit for a little while, or just for lunch. We do have a short list of places that we’ll go out of our way, a little bit, just for a meal.
I knew the answer was yes, because we did just that while on our way to London last year. We had a stop in Dublin and the original flight plan only had us there for 1 hour before boarding our flight to London. Knowing from past experiences that our hotel in London was not likely to have our room ready before check in time, I figured we’d rather spend time in Dublin than sit in a hotel in London.
So I scheduled our connecting flight so we had approximately 8 hours in Dublin. Looking at websites, it seemed that even if we were just connecting in Ireland, we’d still have to go through immigration. Since we’d have to do that anyway, why not stay in the country for a while. It was a bit interesting to tell the immigration officer we would be there for 8 hours, mainly for lunch (and yes, we really did).
Before our trip I found a place where we could leave our luggage at the airport for a small fee. After checking our bags we hopped into a taxi to get into town and asked to be dropped off at the Westin Dublin. It was the hotel we stayed in the last time we visited and it was a landmark we knew, so it was easy to find from everyplace we wanted to go from there. So what else do you do on a short layover in Dublin? Well, there was the obvious…
But no, that’s not what we did (although we certainly could have). I don’t know what you would do, but for us, our itinerary was:
Pick up some souvenirs at a touristy shop in Temple Bar
End up at a shopping mall (long story for another time)
Head back to the Westin for a taxi back to the airport
Check in and spend time at the Aer Lingus lounge before your flight to London
This was most surely something we did just because we could. By no means did we get to see much of Dublin at all, nor had we planned to. Between the 2 taxi rides and the charge to store luggage, it was not a cheap excursion, either. However, we had specific places we wanted to go and for that reason it was worth it to us. Now that I’ve done it, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it as a way to see a new city. But if you’re stuck at the airport anyway for a long connection, I’d say it’s certainly possible. Just follow the hints mentioned in the Points With A Crew article I linked above.
As long as you give yourself enough time, know the rules, and pack accordingly, you should have no problems leaving the airport during a layover to enjoy time in a (potentially) new city.