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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