Aer Lingus recently refreshed its transatlantic business class product with a new lie-flat bed and a reinvented onboard menu. I had the chance to sample it last week from Dublin to Boston and am pleased to report that I had a tremendous flight.
Aer Lingus Business Class Service
If you’ve read a regular reader of my blog, you know that I love Ireland and the Irish People. I sense a deep kinship between Ireland and America and for all the 125 countries I have visited, Ireland is always one of my favorite countries to return to. In that sense, my expectations were already high for the Irish national carrier, which flies to six U.S. cities with 100% lie-flat beds in the A330 business class cabin. It wasn’t because of the seat, though, it was because of the service – if I can generalize, Irish people treat you like a friend from the moment they meet you.
This is the service I wanted, and this was the service I received. FAs were polite but friendly, polished but not stiff. They smiled, they were detail oriented (properly laying down the table settings or offering the bottle for inspection before pouring wine), and they were beautiful – every last wrinkle of beauty formed through years of hearty laughs.
I start with service, because this is the Aer Lingus distinctive. The food was good, but not remarkable. The seat was nice, but hardly extraordinary. The IFE was decent, but I’ve seen better. But there was something special about the service on this flight, this my first longhaul journey with Aer Lingus (and hopefully my first of many).
From the purser, to the team working business class, to even the captain, who stopped by to say hello, everyone made me feel welcome; not like a casual acquaintance, not like a member of royalty, not like a movie star, but like an old friend, a deeper level of respect and service that seemed wholly void of any pretense. Put another way, this is the essence of good service and approached a first class level.
I get the sense that Aer Lingus employees are deeply proud of their airline and love their jobs – this becomes evident in their interaction with each other and with their passengers. I’ve flown business class on dozens of carriers and for the most part, particularly when flying with European or North American carriers, business class is not really special, it is just a nicer seat and nicer food. This felt special, and I consider service Aer Lingus’ best selling point.
Aer Lingus Business Class Seat
I’ve written about the Aer Lingus business class seat before, but got some first-hand photos on my flight. I booked my flight in April, prior to the British Airways Avios devaluation, for 25,000 points and immediately assigned myself Seat 3K, a “throne” seat.
The layout of the cabin is in a staggered 1-2-1, 1-2-2 configuration and the prime seats are 3K and 5K, which offer ample space on either side of the seat.
I was transiting through Dublin and when I checked in and received my boarding pass, I was dismayed to see my seat had been switched to 2G, the worst business class seat on the plane. Not only would I lose my throne seat, I’d be immediately adjacent to the galley and not have a window to look out. The agents were apologetic, but unable to explain why the seat had changed. The cabin was booked full so there was way to change back. Bummer, but it was still a lie-flat seat and let this be a lesson to you – this could have happened months ago: I failed to keep checking on my seat assignment once it was assigned in April.
Here is the seat I would have received:
You can see there is ample storage including a pouch for headphones just below the monitor and room on the sides and under the seat for storage of smaller items. The seat is comfortable in all positions and Aer Lingus offers a great blanket and pillow. The controls are very touchy – easily activated by even a slight brush of the elbow, but just be aware of that – it was not terribly annoying.
Some complain the seat, also used by Delta, Austrian, and Brussels Airlines among others, is a bit claustrophobic in the sleep position, but I did not find it that way – not that I find anything all that claustrophobic. Mood lighting and a reading light are available on the console and the tray table is hidden to the left or right of the seat and must be pulled out and then pivoted over the seat. In-seat power, with USB port, is available:
I chose not to sleep on this flight – I worked instead and watched a movie – but I have no doubt I would have slept on this flight had I tried.
Economy Class, in case you are interested:
Aer Lingus Business Class Food
Aer Lingus has reimagined its business class menu to give passengers a better taste of Ireland. Ingredients are locally sourced and sustained from the meat and fish to the vegetables and condiments like jam and butter. Irish tea and coffee (and of course Irish Coffee with Irish Whiskey) is available as well. Wines were from Spain, France, and Italy and the the champagne, which I did not try, was from France. Here’s a look at the menu:
Prior to takeoff, pre-departure beverages were offered in glasses: either orange juice, water, or champagne. For the time being, I have given up drinking alcohol on any flight because it is fattening and because drinking exclusively water (in large quantities) and coffee/tea seems to totally diffuse jetlag for me.
After takeoff instead of the usual nuts with the initial beverage service that most airlines offer in business class, three canapés were offered: olives, mozzarella balls, and some sort of fish-based crudité.
Appetizer choices were either a mozzarella salad with pesto or salmon tartar. I am not a fan of undercooked fish, but I will say the salmon tartar served with alfalfa sprouts resembling Aer Lingus’ trademark shamrock was more photogenic than my mozzarella salad. Still, mine was delicious. It was served with choice of bread and a green salad with artichokes, cherry tomatoes, onions, and peppers.
I wish I could have tired all entrées – I had a tough time deciding between the salmon lasagna, cider chicken, or beef filet, but ultimately made a decision based upon diet. My current diet calls for 180g of protein each day and I had eaten virtually no protein over the last two days. I figured the beef would be the best choice, though the salmon lasagna sounded especially interesting. I asked a FA for a recommendation and she said beef was best, so I went with that.
As expected, it arrived well-done. I could sense the quality of the meat was good and it actually still tasted fine, but I looked over at my seatmate who had ordered the salmon lasagna, served with cooked tomatoes and broccoli, and wish I had ordered that. My beef was served with peas and potatoes.
Dessert was a choice of Irish cheese or something called a “Raspberry Fool” with shortbread cookies. I could have had both, but the sweet dessert was more than filling, and incredibly delicious. Rich, creamy, and a perfect combination with the shortbread biscuits. Coffee and tea were offered as well and I had a cup of coffee.
Meal service was not rushed, but did not drag out. Service was done by cart and FAs would always enter the cabin from the front galley in unison. The meal was very satisfactory overall and I was well sated and ready for four hours of work upon conclusion of the meal service.
Prior to landing, an afternoon tea service was offered. Tea or coffee with warmed scones, butter, jam, and a “power salad” of seeds, carrots, couscous, and spinach was offered. I chose a scone with cinnamon and raisins that was so delicious I flagged down the FA for a second one. I missed the clotted cream like BA has, but it was an ideal snack after a filling meal just a few hours earlier.
Aer Lingus Business Class In-Flight Entertainment
With Aer Lingus’ cabin refresh came a new IFE system that offers movies, games, TV, and a particularly in-depth music library. Noise cancelling headphones are provided, though during takeoff and landed FAs advised that they were not permitted (business class passengers are also given disposable economy class headphones that can be used during these times).
I watched a movie called Woman in Gold starring and Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds that tells the true story of a Jewish woman named Maria Altman trying to reclaim artwork that was stolen from her family by the Nazis in Vienna. It brought me to tears – highly recommend. There were dozens of other movies to choose from and I thought the IFE selection was more than adequate.
Aer Lingus Business Class Free Wi-Fi Internet
Aer Lingus offers Wi-Fi onboard its A330 aircraft and gives complimentary access to business class passengers. First off, I love this policy – in an era in which many carriers still treat wireless internet like AOL treated internet 15 years ago, offering complimentary Wi-Fi to business class passengers is a trend that I hope many carriers will one day follow. Each business class passenger receives a card with a unique login code.
Open up your browser, enter the required catchpa, then log-in with the username and password provided on the card. The card is valid for one device at at time, but I had no trouble switching between my mobile phone and laptop.
Speeds are acceptable – not fast, but fast enough. My wife wanted to talk to me about something and I did try to call her, but Skype was either blocked or the connection was not sufficient.
Mobile phone access is permitted onboard as well, with a network provided by T-Mobile (who also provides the internet service). I received an immediate roaming warning on my phone and did not attempt to make any calls while onboard, nor did anyone else. Some people have very strong opinions on the allowance of cell phone use onboard airplanes, with most being vehemently opposed, but I am in favor – it would have been great in an emergency and no one abused it by speaking loudly or obnoxiously.
Aer Lingus Business Class Amenity Kit
The Aer Lingus business class amenity kit will be reviewed in a separate post, but here is a look at its contents and just note it contains a toothbrush, toothpaste, ear plugs, hand lotion, lip balm, socks, hand cleanser, and a tissues.
I was very pleased with the Aer Lingus business class product. Despite having high expectations from the outset, Aer Lingus exceeded them and I credit that to the amazing crew that served this flight. The flight time went far too quickly, taking just under six hours thanks to a non-existent headwind (I can only imagine how quick an overnight from Boston to Dublin is with a strong tailwind…) and I look forward to flying AerLingus again. If you are traveling solo, be sure to reserve 3K or 5K and check often to make sure your seat assignment is holding confirmed. With great service, high-quality food, a nice seat, and nice IFE, Aer Lingus offers a compelling transatlantic business class choice.