Aer Lingus has been working to upgrade its Business Class product and add in touches of Irish hospitality. It seems to be working. From the meal ingredients to the locally manufactured tray linens, a flight with Aer Lingus will make you feel like you have actually sojourned on the Emerald Isle.
As a small airline, Aer Lingus’ Business Class only targets passengers travelling between North America and Europe. It has no other long-haul routes. As part of IAG (International Airlines Group), Aer Lingus can easily connect passengers onto its partner carriers including British Airways and Iberia - since they also belong to the same group.
Aer Lingus is not a member of an airline alliance. Instead, it partners with several airline frequent flier programs for reciprocal points earning and redemption. These include British Airways and United Air Lines. The carrier also has its own Aer Club loyalty program in which passengers can earn miles.
Aer Lingus operates long-haul flights from its main Dublin hub - with a handful of North American-bound flights from Shannon – located on Ireland's west coast. The Dublin terminal used for U.S.-bound flights can get quite congested at times, with more than a thousand passengers making their way through the check-in and security process at one time.
While there are dedicated lanes for Business Class passengers to check in and use security, lines can still be long. Arrive particularly early when departing Irish airports since U.S.-bound passengers must complete customs and border patrol formalities for the United States in Ireland. This is a cumbersome process because the lines can snarl around stanchions - with irate passengers worried they may miss flights. In reality, this pre-clearance procedure is a great perk of flying from or via Ireland, as when you land in the United States, you have already completed all the formalities. You simply walk off the plane like a domestic passenger.
Business Class passengers have a generous checked baggage allowance of up to three 23-kilogramme bags, plus one onboard bag of up to 10 kilogrammes and a small bag.
Other perks include standby for earlier flights (when available) and free changes on all Business Class fares.
Aer Lingus has its own lounge before this border patrol check. The duplex lounge offers a hot and cold buffet, an open bar and barista-style coffee. This is an excellent lounge for inbound, long-haul passengers. They can use the lounge before connecting to Europe (especially since there are showers), but it is best to clear U.S. immigration first if heading stateside. A third-party lounge named 51st&Green is available airside for all premium passengers of departing flights, including Aer Lingus Business Class, Aer Club Concierge and Platinum cardholders only. It has better views of the runway and a similarly generous spread of food and drinks with a barista bar, an entertainment area, showers, and office facilities.
Passengers arriving in Dublin on overnight transatlantic flights can avail themselves of the Aer Lingus Revival Lounge, a small arrivals lounge in Terminal 2, located in the baggage claim hall, after immigration. Business Class passengers are welcome to enjoy light refreshments or a shower before heading out.
In addition to the lounges at Dublin Airport, Aer Lingus also operates its own lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 2 and New York JFK Terminal 7 (previously located in Terminal 5 until March 2023).
Aer Lingus' long-haul fleet consists of the widebody Airbus A330 and narrowbody A321LR. Depending on the aircraft, the experience could be different. The A321s fly from smaller cities like Hartford in the USA or from Shannon in Ireland.
Seats on the A330 are arranged in a 1-2-2 or 1-2-1 staggered configuration depending upon the row, but either way, the lie-flat seats are ideal for great sleep. At 6.5 feet (195.6 centimetres) in length, they recline 180 degrees and come with a massage setting and storage space for laptops and shoes. Solo travellers will prefer seats on the A side as these are solo seats with maximum privacy but note that they alternate from seats closer to the aisle or the window. The latter option is the most private, as the side console serves as a barrier to the aisle. All seats on the A side, as well as the centre section, have direct aisle access.
The "throne" seats (3K and 5K) are the most popular for solo travellers as they have a table on either side, protecting them from the aisle and giving more space to work or dine. Please note that some seats are more exposed to the aisle than others, meaning light sleepers may want to choose one with its table on the aisle's side. The seat map shows the seats that have a seat closer to the aisle and which have a table between the seat and the aisle.
If you are in the handful of non-throne window seats on the H-K seat side (the right side of the plane), you may have to step over a seatmate to reach the aisle. This can be particularly restrictive when the seats fully recline to bed mode. In any case, avoid the last row due to the occasional noise from the galley.
A321 passengers have similar seating arrangements with the option for a solo throne seat or a pair of seats. The 1-1 and 2-2 alternating layout means the cabin has options for both solo business travellers and couples flying together. No matter the layout, all recline fully flat with decent storage space to the side or under the seat. With only 16 seats in the Business Class cabin, these narrowbody long-haul jets provide an intimate and exclusive Business Class experience, which some passengers prefer over larger aircraft.
Regardless of the aircraft flown, all Business Class passengers can access in-seat charging from a universal plug socket and USB-A outlet.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes images, videos, and seat maps for most airlines and aircraft. Search results also include details such as seat pitch, width and recline. This way, you can see the seat and cabin configuration of the flight in which you are interested before making your choice.
Aer Lingus excels in its onboard service designed to showcase Irish as well as international recipes. Business Class passengers are greeted with a glass of Champagne, juice or water swiftly followed by biscuit appetisers accompanying a second drink while guests select what they want from the three-course menu.
Irish linen tablecloth settings and napkins with the airline's famous shamrock logo pre-empt the meal service. Passengers have a choice of two starters plus three entrées, usually meat or chicken, a fish dish, and a vegetarian option. A seasonal salad accompanies all the main dishes.
Dessert is either a sweet cake or a plate of Irish or European cheeses with biscuits accompanied by coffee or tea. Before landing, passengers are offered an afternoon tea of finger sandwiches and a dessert, or chicken katsu, courgette, halloumi katsu sliders, and a sweet treat with tea or coffee, depending on the route.
On Eastbound flights to Europe, passengers have the option of an express tray, allowing for more time to sleep. Healthy breakfast options are available along with the airline's favourite bacon roll, and travellers from the West Coast also have the option of a delicious quiche Lorraine. There is also a basket of snacks and bottled water in the galley.
Economy-style carts accompany part of the service, which helps to make for a swift delivery but is not the most elegant presentation. No trays are used, which makes the experience more like First Class during the main meal service.
At the New York JFK lounge, the option to dine on the ground for more time for rest inflight is appreciated – especially for a short flight under six hours.
Special meals are available for pre-order, which can be made online or via phone, including vegetarian, low-calorie or Kosher meals. There is no "dine-on-demand" service, but there is an option to have an express meal served all at once after takeoff to maximise sleeping time.
Before takeoff, a tray of water or sparkling wine gets the flight off to a good start, and after takeoff, more beverages from the bar are available via the cart. This includes Jean Pernet Tradition Brut NV Champagne or JM Gobillard et Fils Tradition Brut, two white wines, two red wines, port, and several international beers. A list of spirits and liqueurs is available with mixers plus juice, soft drinks, coffee and tea. Refills are available but only sometimes proactively offered, so be sure to ask when thirsty. A bottle of water is provided at each seat.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on which Champagne is served in Business Class and First Class on many airlines. We do our best to keep track of any changes but feel free to let us know if we missed something.
Aer Lingus may not have the most elaborate product, but its flight attendants are starkly proud of their Irish roots and are attentive and friendly. As the country's flag carrier, they often recommend what to do in Ireland or conversations about passengers' final destinations.
Large 16-inch (40.6 centimetres) H.D. touch screens for the entertainment system come loaded with a wide range of content, from over 120 hours of first-rate movies, documentaries and sitcoms. There are over 1,000 music albums, including several notable Irish performers, podcasts, interactive gaming, and tailored learning courses. The Aer Lingus Play App can be downloaded on Android and iOS for a personalised playlist. Noise-reducing headsets are available, but they are not the best quality.
An impressive 3-D moving map display is available, as is inflight wireless internet, which is complimentary for Business Class, with secure connections available around 20 minutes after takeoff until around 20 minutes before landing. All other passengers must pay to use the signal, with prices varying based on the bandwidth.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi.
All Business Class seats come with soft quilted blankets and a large pillow. The lavatories are rather basic but do have hand lotion. VOYA-branded amenity kits are available in Business Class. These, too, are nothing special with simple items like lip balm, socks, a dental kit and eyeshades. Families travelling with infants can request a bassinet on long-haul flights to use at specific seats.
A large number of passengers travelling on the airline's long-haul flights are connecting to European destinations. Only recently, short-haul flights did not offer Business Class, which was disappointing for paying premium cabin passengers. Aer Lingus' new AerSpace product, which blocks the middle seat next to you on the front row and comes with a complimentary drink, sandwich or snack during the flight, is a significant upgrade for those connecting from or to a flat-bed seat.
Unfortunately, the experience still lags behind the competition. The tight space is still limiting, with barely any recline. In addition, requests for a refill (without paying a fee) are often denied on these short sectors. This puts Aer Lingus at a disadvantage compared to other airlines that use a similar seat setup on intra-European Business Class as they tend to have better catering and more attentive service.
That said, select short-haul routes – currently only available between Dublin and London Heathrow – are serviced with the latest Airbus A321neo aircraft, offering an exclusive cabin and fully lie-flat seats.
Similar to other IAG airlines, Aer Lingus is committing to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. By 2025, the airline plans to achieve a 10% reduction in CO2 per passenger kilometre. Other sustainability efforts include re-use and recycling efforts and the ability for passengers to pay a fee and offset their own carbon emissions.
The airline's eight Airbus A321neo LR aircraft offer a 20 per cent fuel saving on transatlantic flights compared to the predecessor, with six Airbus A321XLR aircraft on order that will provide even greater fuel efficiency.
Aer Lingus and its passengers support UNICEF's emergency fund with Change for Good, the in-flight collection of unwanted notes and coins on all transatlantic flights. Aer Lingus and its employees are also in their ninth year supporting Make A Difference Day, where staff volunteer one day's annual leave to help their local community. Aer Lingus also supports the Special Olympics Ireland as the official team airline.
In an effort to engage girls from a young age with all things aviation and build interest in a future career in the airline industry, Aer Lingus has partnered with the Irish Girl Guides to create the brand-new Aviation Badge. The airline is also taking steps to encourage more women to apply for traditionally male-dominated roles via the Aer Lingus Future Pilot Programme, the Aer Lingus Apprenticeship Scheme, and opportunities in airline operations.
The airline set up Proud Flies as part of its diversity and inclusion strategy to build an inclusive, open LGBT+ community where employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work. Aer Lingus has also been a partner of the Dublin Pride Festival.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on CO2 emissions for each flight. Our quality algorithms also give a higher score to flights operated by the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft.
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