Aer Lingus adopts Avios and launches 3 new US routes for ‘no tax’ Avios redemptions!

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There are two important pieces of Aer Lingus news today which may have an impact on how you use Avios points going forward.

This follows the acquisition of Aer Lingus by IAG, the parent company of British Airways.

Gold Circle Club to be replaced by Aer Club with Avios as its currency

According to this report in the Irish Independent, the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Club loyalty scheme is to be closed.  Its replacement will be Aer Club.

Whilst the article does not mention Avios points specifically, it is quite clear from this line:

“it is expected to provide more redemption opportunities with IAG’s other airlines and partners through a new common currency”

what will happen.

Aer Lingus 350

Based on how the Iberia scheme currently works, we can take a guess at a few things:

You will be able to transfer Avios points into Aer Club and use them to book all Aer Lingus flights, both long haul and short haul.  We can be 95% certain of this.

Availability will presumably show online which will be a first!  This will save time consuming phone calls to BA to check availability.

On the downside, it will make Aer Lingus availability more transparent and thus harder to book for those of us ‘in the know’.

Will business class availability be better than the current ‘two seats per flight’ offered to partners?  No idea.

Will fuel surcharges be added to Aer Lingus long haul flights?  If the Iberia model is followed, the answer will be a) yes, if booked via a BA account and b) no, if you move your Avios to Aer Club and book via an Aer Club account.  IAG could add surcharges regardless but I’m not sure if they want to alienate Aer Lingus customers so soon after buying the airline.

If you currently have any Gold Circle Club points, these will be converted into Avios and you will be able to merge them with your existing collection.  If you have any Aer Lingus flights booked, it may be more lucrative to take Gold Circle Club points and wait for the Avios conversion rather than take the pitiful number of Avios offered for crediting to British Airways Executive Club.

If you have status with Aer Lingus, this should be valid across the oneworld alliance and thus get you lounge access with British Airways and the other 18 oneworld airlines.

I will share more details as they are announced.

Three new long haul routes for low tax Avios redemptions

In the short term, this is the more exciting news.

Aer Lingus announced yesterday that it is launching flights to Hartford (Connecticut), Los Angeles and Newark.

Los Angeles with launch first, on 4th May, with five services per week using an Airbus A330.  Hartford and Newark will follow in September.

I understand that two brand new A330 aircraft which were originally designated for Iberia will instead now be delivered to Aer Lingus.  Hartford will use a (leased?) Boeing 757-200 which is unlikely to feature the new generation lie-flat seats in business class.

Hartford is situated midway between Boston and New York.  Whilst Hartford sounds like an odd choice, the city has been offering a very substantial bounty to any European airline willing to open up a route and Aer Lingus has taken the bait.

Los Angeles is an interesting choice, because Ethiopian (a Star Alliance member) is already flying it from Dublin using ‘fifth freedom’ flying rights – and using a brand new Boeing 787.

These routes should be available for redemption bookings using Avios very soon, if not already.  Cash tickets for Los Angeles and Newark went on sale yesterday.  Hartford opens for booking on 3rd November.

As Aer Lingus is a partner airline, all redemptions are priced at ‘peak day’ rates and you cannot use a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher.

This means that Newark and Hartford will be 120,000 Avios per person in Business Class, return,  and 40,000 Avios in Economy.  Los Angeles will be 150,000 Avios in Business Class and 50,000 Avios in Economy.

In terms of taxes, you should expect to pay around £75 return in Business Class and a little less in Economy.  This makes Economy an excellent deal given the modest number of Avios required. 

With Business Class, the choice is not as clear cut.  By flying British Airways on an off-peak day, you would require fewer Avios.  New York, for example, is 100,000 Avioss off-peak so you would save 20,000 points over the Aer Lingus price.  You also save the cost of flying to Dublin to start your trip.  Between them, these two factors offset part of the £425 tax saving you get with Aer Lingus.

In terms of availability, Aer Lingus generally opens up two business class seats and four or more economy seats per long haul flight.

More information can be found on the Aer Lingus website here.

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What Nick got for 37,500 Avios + £52 on Aer Lingus business class to Boston
British Airways launches New York to Gatwick - wide open for Avios redemptions
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  1. Great news, but on what planet is £75 “no tax”!?

  2. Hartford will be operated by one of the EI 757s. There are leased from Air Contractors (who have recently renamed but I can’t recall their new name). Fully EI branded in and outside. The seats are not too bad. The one world business class wiki on the BA FT thread (it’s in the dashboard) has full details. Believe they are leased for three or four years.

  3. Frankie says:

    I don’t ‘get’ Hartford at all. Must be some bounty. Aer Lingus have withdrawn their DUB to LAX route in the past as it didn’t work out. I’m not sure how Hartford can work from Dublin.

    • WINDSOR LOCKS — State officials and Aer Lingus announced Wednesday that trans-Atlantic flights from Bradley International Airport to Dublin will begin in September, with a state guarantee to cover possible airline losses in the first two years of service.

      Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, officials from the Connecticut Airport Authority and Aer Lingus Executive Vice President for North America Jack Foley made the announcement between the Delta Air Lines and Air Canada ticket counters at Bradley Wednesday afternoon.

      “As an Irish American, I’m happy to say this day has come,” Malloy said Wednesday afternoon at a press conference. “There were moments we weren’t sure this day would arrive.”

      The announcement came after a year in which Malloy lobbied the Irish government, chatted up Aer Lingus officials on his way to the Paris Air Show, enlisted corporations and, ultimately, offered a $4.5 million guarantee against losses in each of the first two years, plus $5 million in other inducements, the Connecticut Mirror reported on its website.

      The financial inducements to Aer Lingus could reach $14 million: up to $9 million in loss protection from the Department of Economic and Community Development and $5 million from the airport authority, including $3.8 million in marketing over three years and about $1.2 million in waivers of various fees over two years, The Mirror reported.

      “We think it’s a wise investment,” Malloy said, according to The Mirror.

      Flights are expected to begin late September 2016, but marketing will begin sooner, Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon said. Included in the $5 million incentive bundle from the state are waived terminal rental and landing fees.

    • Apparently Hartford is a Company Town – but insurance rather than cars or movies.

      There’s supposedly heavy traffic between London, Dublin IFSC and Zurich which currently often has to go through US immigration in NY etc, then transfer to a domestic service.

      Companies will pay a premium to avoid this (so subsidies are a bonus).

      LAX fell victim to Celtic Tiger fatigue, but there’s been a lot of corporate/tourism industry pressure for resumption, and I imagine it was an informal condition of government approval of takeover.

      The Ethiopian service gets very little non-Irish connection traffic because of poor timing. IAG will be using Dublin and Madrid as alternatives to LHR3, and will push a lot of UK/Euro business through to connect with the new routes, including LAX.

      W Walsh said in Dublin yesterday that he was still interested in buying LHR slots at the right price, and presumably some of Eddie Stobart’s connections from GB to Dublin will be enhanced.

      If the Ryanair interline agreement gets signed, people will also be flying from hotspots like Erfurt to Dublin, and then to the US, in fairly large numbers.

      EI will have 12 US routes next year with a minimum of 3 more in 2017 per govt agreement. Hope existing brilliant US pre-clear can cope with numbers.

      Walsh was asked if IAG would fly long-haul east from Dublin, and said potentially China and Australia in future. Perhaps an extra runway for Dublin will get go ahead before next year’s election?

      Would be interesting if George Osborne pushes through LHR3 only to find previous cheerleaders at BA no longer care that much (although I imagine new capacity would be filled by Delta etc).

      • Harry and John, these are great news reports from us ex UE folks, who also love Dublin! Not exactly a hardship transfer at that. Far nicer a day I. dub, than transferring vis LHR,Terminals. Were do you both get this up to date info… Really good updates. And Bradley is also a great USA access point.

  4. Presumably EI will adopt peak/off-peak to remain competitive and soften the devaluation for their members. Sounds like it will be announced next month but with a notice period (months?). However the integrated basis for redeeming avios might update sooner. Of course I’m speculating but there may be a period where the best option is to redeem from IB to get off peak pricing and low fuel surcharges.

    • DUB-BOS would return to being a standout at 31250 off peak J e/w.

    • Yes, I would imagine it will work similarly to Iberia, where they adopt their own redemption table and you’re likely to be better off transferring Avios into the Aer Club scheme and booking from there rather than through BA directly.

      Question is how soon can we sign up, and will there be any restrictions on transfers such as there are for Iberia (must be 90 days old and have to have earnt some Avios before transfers are allowed).

  5. Henry C says:

    You mentioned that Aer Club status will be valid across oneworld- does this mean they are actually (re)joining oneworld? Or is there some kind of silly arrangement like the hacky experience of earning avios through flymaybe?

    • IAG said pre-purchase that they fully intend EI to rejoin Oneworld, as well as joining the Atlantic Joint Business with AA/AY/BA/IB, but we won’t know when it will happen until IAG or Oneworld make the announcement.

  6. Please stop referencing ‘tax’ when the majority of the cash component is carrier imposed and not a tax.

    The Aer Lingus options are NOT ‘no tax’ but no carrier surcharge, they certainly include the proper taxes and airport surcharges.

    • Aeronaut says:

      I have to say that referring to the whole bundle of extra charges as ‘tax’ really grates with me too – of course the airlines will be quite content if consumers go away with the idea that these ‘taxes’ are all inevitable and imposed from above, so in that sense HfP is just aiding and abetting the airlines…

      • Regarding the “Tax” issue, we all know that BA are taking the “Michael” but how else to best term these additional costs?

        • How about surcharges?

          • Kier, have just done a dummy booking- LHR-CDG rtn:
            Per adult
            Air Passenger Duty – United Kingdom GBP13.00
            Passenger Service Charge – United Kingdom GBP30.10
            Passenger Service Charge (International) – France GBP9.20
            Solidarity Tax For France And French Overseas GBP0.80
            Total government, authority and airport charges* GBP53.10
            More information
            British Airways fees and carrier charges Per adult
            Fuel surcharge GBP3.20
            Fuel surcharge GBP9.40
            Total British Airways fees and carrier charges GBP12.60
            More information
            Total taxes, fees and carrier charges per person GBP65.70

            Maybe “Fees” would be suit best?? 🙂 .

          • Correction:
            Maybe “Fees” would suit best??

          • BA have removed the surcharge from shorthaul.
            On long haul the carrier imposed charge is typically more than half the total cash component.

        • Carrier imposed surcharge.

        • Co-payment? Or does that sound too American

    • Article headlines need to be short enough for Twitter 🙂

  7. IAG have confirmed that EI will be joining One World

  8. I have Aerlingus flights booked for December with points to go to my BA Executive Club account, how can I change them to go into my Gold Circle account?

  9. Seems fitting that they would introduce direct flights to Gilmore Girls country just a few days after the announcement that Netflix is producing a limited revival…

  10. More low mile / low “tax” routes to the US is good news for a lot of people. Could be particularly interesting for those with the 2 for 1 voucher from the Lloyds Premier card which only works on economy bookings.

  11. I wonder if we will see another top up A330 order from IAG?

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