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 – which is located on the west coast of Ireland. 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 that they may miss flights. In reality, this pre-clearance prodecure 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.
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 a great 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. It has better views of the runway and a similarly generous spread of food and drinks.
Passengers arriving in Dublin on overnight transatlantic flights can avail themselves of the Aer Lingus Revival Lounge, a small arrivals lounge 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 5.
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 a great sleep. They recline 180 degrees – fully-flat - and come with soft blankets and a large pillow. Solo travellers will prefer seats on the A side as these are solo seats with maximum privacy but note that they alternate from seats being closer to the aisle or closer to 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. Take note that some seats are more exposed to the aisle than others, which means light sleepers may want to choose one that has its table on the aisle’s side. The seat map shows the seats that have the 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. When the seats fully recline to bed mode, this can be particularly restrictive. In any case, avoid the last row due to 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 what 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.
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. A small plate of appetisers accompanies the first drink while guests select what they want from the three-course menu. By serving this starter with the drink, the service is a bit faster giving people more time to rest on the oft-short overnight sectors to Ireland.
Irish linen table cloths and napkins soon follow. Three choices are available, which are usually beef, salmon, and chicken with pasta (the pasta dish can also be served without a meat for vegetarians).
The airline’s shamrock logo makes an appearance on the plates, glasses and silverware as another reminder of its Irish roots. Dessert is either a sweet cake or plate of Irish cheese accompanied by coffee or tea. Prior to landing, a hot Irish breakfast or an afternoon tea with scones is served depending on the time of day. 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 to have more time for rest inflight is appreciated – especially for a short flight that is 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, 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 not always proactively offered so be sure to ask when thirsty. A bottle of water is provisioned 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 there is something we missed.
Aer Lingus may not have the most elaborate product, but its flight attendants are starkly proud of their Irish roots. As the country’s flag carrier, they often make recommendations for what to do in Ireland or conversation about passengers’ final destinations.
Large screens for the entertainment system come loaded with a wide arrange of content from first-rate movies to documentaries and sitcoms. World music, including several notable Irish performers, is also on offer. 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. 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.
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 certain seats.
A large number of passengers travelling on the airline’s long-haul flights are connecting to European destinations. Until 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 and comps one drink and 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 when compared with other airlines that use a similar seat setup on intra-European Business Class as they tend to have better catering and more attentive service.
Similar to other IAG airlines, Aer Lingus is committing to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Even sooner, by 2025, the airline plans to achieve a 10% reduction in CO2 per passenger kilometre. Other sustainability efforts include re-use and recycling efforts as well as the ability for passengers to pay a fee and offset their own carbon emissions.
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 also support Make A Difference Day, where staff volunteered one day’s annual leave to help their local community.
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 up with the Irish Girl Guides to create the brand new Aviation Badge.The airline is also taking steps to encourage a greater number of women to apply for roles that have traditionally been male-dominated via the Aer Lingus Future Pilot Programme, the Aer Lingus Apprenticeship Scheme as well as 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 paertner of 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.