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Aer Lingus to launch FULLY FLAT business class seats on European routes

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No, it’s not April 1st.  Aer Lingus has announced plans to bring back Business Class on some of its key short-haul routes.  And it will be doing it with FULLY FLAT seats.

And here’s the thing – this is actually a remarkably sensible thing to do.

Aer Lingus has 14 A321LR aircraft on order, with the first arriving in June.  The LR bit in the name means ‘long range’, and this particular model has the longest range of any single aisle aircraft.  This means that it has the ability to fly directly to the US East Coast and beyond.  In a test flight, it managed to fly from the Seychelles to the Airbus factory in Toulouse – an 11 hour trip.

Aer Lingus will be using them to increase the number of US destinations it serves, with the smaller number of seats versus a two aisle plane giving it the ability to enter smaller markets.

Each of the Aer Lingus A321LR aircraft will have 16 fully flat Business Class seats along with 170 Economy Seats.  Aer Lingus does not have First Class or Premium Economy.

These planes need to be kept busy

Aer Lingus has two reasons to introduce Business Class on its European network.

The first reason – and the reason they are giving publicly – is that some customers won’t book an airline unless they are getting Business Class on all legs.  At the moment, connecting passengers in Dublin are moved to an Aer Lingus ‘all Economy’ short haul flight.  As well as 3×3 seating, they don’t even get free catering.  Your average East Coast banker or West Coast entertainment lawyer won’t go for that.

Secondly – which is not a stated reason but which I am sure is true – is that Aer Lingus simply needs to keep these expensive new aircraft busy.  The problem with running all of your long-haul flights to the US is that the aircraft tend to leave in the evening and land back in Dublin early in the morning.  By rostering the new A321LR planes for short-haul duties, they can be kept busy all day.

The timetable will not allow Aer Lingus to operate all of its A321LR aircraft into Europe.  The current plan is that eight of the new planes will also operate on short haul, primarily to major European business cities.

Don’t get too carried away though.  The catering will be the same as buy-on-board options in Economy, although Business Class passengers won’t have to pay.

Even before this launches, it is highly likely that the A321LR planes will be used on short-haul routes for a few weeks from June in order to train cabin crew.  I’ll let you know when these trips appear in the timetable in case you want to give it a try.

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Comments (59)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Mark says:

    I don’t really see the worth of a lie flat seat on a short European sector from Dublin. You won’t have time to get any meaningful sleep and surely that’s the whole point?

    • Shoestring says:

      They’re proper Business seats, for a start – as opposed to pseudo-Business seats on many European flights, take BA’s Club Europe seats as one of the worst examples

      • Evan says:

        Not really. BA are pretty much the same as all European carriers. The only major airline to run a US first type cabin as business is Turkish.

        • RIccatti says:

          The fact that BA/SAS/AF/KLM/SWISS downgraded to economy seats (and now sometimes without blocked middle!!) does not make it an agreeable “Business Class” option.

        • Dimitri says:

          Please do not spread the same old false story that Club Europe is the same as all other airlines. Well it’s not. Airlines like Swiss, Aegean etc have extra pitch for European business class and for some of us it makes a huge difference on a 3-4h flight.. It might not be flat seats but at least I don’t have to crash my legs like in BA. Even low cost Volotea had bigger pitch at the front seats than BA front row in club Europe!!

        • Evan says:

          @Dimitri – Lufty is the same pitch as BA. As are Austrian and Brussels. I’ll agree regarding AF and SWISS. Aegean may be larger but lets face it is of limited use (although I find them very pleasant). It does depend on height I agree – I’d rather sit in an emergency exit seat than any a320 business seat on Euro carriers apart from Turkish. I don’t really care about food and booze on a flight of this length I’d rather have the extra room.

      • Mark says:

        I agree entirely regarding BA Club Europe – a woeful product. I suppose it will come down to a trade off between length of flight, comfort and cost. Anything below 3 hours flight time and I would stick to economy unless the upgrade cost is marginal.

    • John says:

      It really is a lot more comfortable, especially when Dublin to some places in Europe can be 4+ hours, but agree not worth paying too much extra for. US airlines, TK, QR, QF have a nicer seat in their short-haul business cabins but the price premium over their economy flights is a lot higher than BA’s and European airlines’ premiums for Eurobusiness seats

      • Russ says:

        +1. QR also have an annoying habit of pricing their short-haul business class as First with First prices when the seats are still in business.

        • Lady London says:

          That’s a bit like British Airways seems to be doing : pricing their short-haul Economy class as Club with Club prices when the seats are still as good as in an Economy cabin.

    • Will says:

      I agree Mike.
      In the USA and Asia where domestic business is 2 x 2 narrow body aircraft with wider seats with more recline this is perfect for the job.

      Unfortunately in Europe business class now means an economy seat with lounge access and a free meal.

      It probably wouldn’t have been more profitable but I think if BA had gone 2 x 2 for business and operated a policy of bumping up status holders (or flex ticket holders etc) to business when economy is full I think it would have created a much better customer perception of the airline.

      They could even run 3 cabin classes if they wanted, “proper” business 2×2, premium eco 3×3 with complimentary food and bagggage then economy HBO with anything extra paid for.

      It’s clear from the LCC’s the demand for HBO is huge, BA need to find a way of getting some of that market without compromising the brand image, they’ve failed on the second part of that currently.

  • Lady London says:

    Business Class also gets you another piece of luggage, and possibly up to 32kg each piece rather than just 23kg, on a lot of airlines.

    Airline profits have rocketed sky high in the past 2 or 3 years. Passengers are now being made to pay literally £00’s for what we used to have included in every fare before. Specifically for BA, travelling Business Class avoids excess charges that weren’t there before. The British Airways charge for luggage has now reached £200 per piece of luggage longhaul and the real gobsmacker – £65 per piece shorthaul. Business gets luggage included. So these charges are not added just to get a piece of luggage – that you will more or less always need particularly longhaul – onto the plane with you now.

    HBO fares, as predicted, have been a “3 card lady” trick to achieve this. HBO fares were introduced at a slightly lower fare charge than a luggage-inclusive previous basic fare. Now the airlines have the process underway, of removing luggage from the fares most people can afford without status.

    So again, lounges and free food/alcohol is not the only benefit of status. Due to these wheezes by the airlines, luggage being included with status is worth far, far more than a few drinks. British Airways, the Lufthansa grouping, have now caught up with these too.

    • Lady London says:

      *these charges are not added –> now added correction

    • Shoestring says:

      Yeah but the difference between HBO & Economy Plus is only £16, so that’s the real cost of a piece of checked luggage (in Europe).

      And luckily Avios reward flights include 1 item of checked luggage.

      You’d have to be a bit of a harebrain to pay £65.

      • Lady london says:

        I do hope you are right Harry but my assessment on the first two items you mention is
        “That’s “for now” “.

        Give it another 18-24 months or so and watch the 3-card lady trick complete.

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