Aer Lingus launched its new route to San Francisco last week. This will be followed by the new Dublin to Toronto route on April 21st.
The San Francisco service is operating five times a week, departing Dublin at 12.20pm and arriving in San Francisco at 3.20pm.
What is attractive about Aer Lingus is:
they are a British Airways partner, so you can book them using Avios (as long as those Avios sit at ba.com and not avios.com)
they charge very low taxes and charges. It is difficult to calculate these in advance, but a long-haul Business Class generally comes in at around £75 per person.
My ‘Avios Redemption University’ article on Aer Lingus, which lists all of their long-haul routes, is here.
The most annoying thing about Aer Lingus is that you cannot book their redemptions online. You need to call British Airways Executive Club to do it. Flights will cost the same in Avios points as a British Airways service, ie 100,000 in Club World / 50,000 in Economy to San Francisco and 80,000 / 40,000 to Toronto, return.
It is also not possible to accurately check availability online. The Qantas frequent flyer scheme website appears to be relatively close to showing the seats BA can book. However, the Qantas site has a habit of showing 9 business class seats available, when in reality there tends to be just two. There is NO online service which can exactly match what the British Airways call centre will offer you.
You need to remember that there are only 24 business class seats per plane, so expect availability to be hard to find. In any event, Aer Lingus does not release more than two business class seats on a flight.
Interestingly, these two new routes represent a genuine addition to the Aer Lingus network. They are not cutting other routes in order to offer these services. The company has leased three Boeing 757’s, previously used by Finnair, for the shorter routes. This is unlikely to offer state-of-the-art comfort or space, but you can’t have it all! San Francisco is operated by an A330 which was freed up from New York and Boston runs.
As far as seating goes, business class currently features the sloping Aer Lingus seat:
It has announced plans to install fully flat seats. Some US press coverage I saw quotes the Aer Lingus CEO as saying that the San Francisco route will be the first to get the new seat at the end of 2014.
These new Aer Lingus flights start from Dublin. You would need to book a separate ticket to Ireland if you don’t want to pay long-haul Air Passenger Duty to the UK Government. If you do this, though, remember that Aer Lingus is not liable to you if you miss your connection.
Don’t forget that Aer Lingus flights clear US customs and immigration in Dublin! When you land, you are treated like a domestic passenger and can walk straight out of the airport without any delay. That may be worth the inconvenience of the ‘angled lie-flat seat’ ….