Dublin Airport's VIP terminal: Inside the 'Platinum Services' used by airport A-listers like Taylor Swift
Pól Ó Conghaile checks in to put Dublin Airport's 'Platinum Services' to the test...
Taylor Swift has used it. So has Ed Sheeran. And U2, countless times.
The Irish rugby and soccer teams regularly pass through, as does anyone who uses a private jet... think Beyoncé or Bruce Springsteen. And the Pope.
Oh, and I reckon Michael D. Higgins uses the Presidential Suite.
Welcome to Dublin Airport's Platinum Services. This tiny VIP terminal has seen more A-list action than most buildings in Ireland, yet despite being just steps from Terminal 1's Arrivals Hall, how many passengers even know it exists?
When Dublin Airport invited me to trial it with my family on a recent trip, I didn't need to be asked twice. Here's how we got on.
11.45am: The arrival
"Ah Pól, come on in!"
It's a surreal welcome to an airport. After pressing a buzzer to raise the traffic barrier near T1's Arrivals Hall, I'm greeted like an old friend. It feels more like a five-star hotel arrival than the red-eye rush hours I'm used to.
Pulling into a small parking area, two Platinum Services 'officers' in grey, three-piece suits come out to meet us. Brendan Murphy and Dave Mullally unload our luggage, take the keys, and park our car literally 30 paces from the front door.
Clearly, this is not your typical terminal. We step into an exclusive spread of suites and a private security screening area where celebs, executives - and anyone else prepared to pay up to €225 for the privilege - can arrive and depart 24/7, unencumbered by worldly concerns such as security queues and baggage carousels.
It's travel, Jim. But not as we know it.
12.00pm: Suite talk
You can use Premium Services for speed, zipping through its fast-track check-in, dedicated security lane and chauffeur-driven ride to the airplane. But you can also kick back, enjoying the facilities for up to 2.5 hours per booking.
That's our plan. Inside, Brendan and David show us to a private suite - one of seven in the terminal - where we lose little time in relaxing into svelte seats and leather couch, turn on a large flatscren TV and hit up the snacks and drinks.
"Would you like a glass of wine? Or champagne?" Brendan asks.
The suite feels plush, if a bit corporate - there are no lifestyle magazines, for example, just copies of riveting reads like Business Plus and UCD Connect. A Samsung tablet and EVOline wireless charger sit on its desk.
There's a Nespresso machine, a selection of wines, and beers in the cooler. We note real leaf Java Republic teas, and my wife, who is coeliac, nods approvingly at the range of gluten-free snacks.
Complementary food includes decent nods to Irish ingredients - the airport's own 'Nect-Air' honey, for example, Happy Pear hummus, and Goatsbridge smoked trout.
Sam (8) finds Sky Sports within jig time, rolls an aquamarine velvet seat around and watches the early kick-off. Tayto and cookies are to hand.
"I like this," the Little Emperor says.
12.30pm: Check in
"Have you your airplane seats booked?" Brendan asks.
"We have,” I say. “But we wouldn’t say no to Business Class.”
I’m joking, but he narrows his brows.
“Would you like me to ask for an upgrade? There’s no harm in asking,” he says. “They’re very full, so it’s unlikely, but sure we’ll give it a go”.
"Can we travel in the cockpit?" I ask.
"Would the kids like to see the cockpit?" he replies, quick as a whip.
I dispense with the Dad jokes. He takes our passports and flight details, and less than half-an-hour later, returns with our boarding cards.
Sadly, Business Class is full... but hey, he tried.
I like the service. Brendan and David's interactions feel easygoing and unforced, natural rather than deferential, but clearly the team knows when to draw the line between personable and professional. It reminds me of Aer Lingus, at its best.
While we wait, David takes me on a quick tour of the suites, meeting rooms and surprising pops of art for sale through a partnership with Gormley's Fine Art.... including work by Graham Knuttel and Andy Warhol.
When I get back, our bags have magically been checked in.
1.10pm: Security checks
Our flight is at 1.50pm, and we get a 10 minute pre-call to allow us freshen up, use the bathroom (and chug another Nespresso) before leaving.
The security screening is busy with... nobody but us. Housed in its own little room, we're through in a matter of minutes, crossing a busy airside corridor towards the airport's fleet of BMW 7 Series cars (they call them 'limousines').
David and Brendan pull on hi-vis vests and drive us around the apron, straight to the boarding gate. Sam and I note that the car's seat-backs have been pre-warmed. We could get very used to this.
"I love when we get honeymooners,” Brendan says, as we wave goodbye and board the plane. "You can really give it everything, offer them champagne and all."
Returning to Dublin
Our flight arrives back into Dublin on a stinker of an evening. There is sideways rain, early darkness, and depression feels general all over Ireland.
When we disembark, two Platinum Services officers are waiting with our name on a placard. They whisk us down a service staircase, into the black BMWs and across to the VIP terminal... and its Presidential Suite.
"So this is how Miggledy travels," I muse, settling into the welcoming arms of a sofa beneath an €80,000 Andy Warhol portrait of Ingrid Bergman. There are cupcakes on the table, fresh tea and coffee, and spanking showers and bathrooms.
At up to €225pp, each-way, Platinum Services is clearly a splurge. But it strikes me that it would make a peachy gift, honeymoon present, or treat for a special occasion. It's also a lot cheaper than business class flights (which can run into the thousands).
Meanwhile, officer Glenn Burke processes our passports and retrieves our bags from the carousel. He even gets an unexpected test - I've lost our luggage receipt, so he has to identify everything using only our tired descriptions ('one is big and black... the other is small and red'). He passes with flying colours.
"Are the bags at reception?" I ask him.
"They're already in the car," he replies, handing me the keys.
Platinum Services costs €225pp, including VAT, each-way.
Prices dip once you bundle passengers, however. Two people cost €360 in total, for example, while a family bundle (two adults and two children under 12) costs €420.
Group rates are available (five people or more) from €165pp.
NB: Pól was a guest of Dublin Airport. T&Cs and extra charges may apply. Parking costs extra at €30 per day. For more, call 01 814-4895 or see dublinairport.com.
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