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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)

  • Nigel the Pensioner says:

    You guessed it, it’s not just east coast bankers and west coast entertainment lawyers that wont fly aer lingus on the hop flight. Add anyone who wishes for a modicum of comfort, not to mention reliability of actually leaving Dublin – in my experience of course.
    That aside, the implication here is that catering in aer lingus business class (?globally) is the same as in economy, but free. Is that the case??

    • Kier says:

      My experience of Aer Lingus leaving Dublin has been pretty good. Aer Lingus long haul business class has its own menu, it isnt the same as the economy

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      I’d need one hell of an incentive given all the options from East or West Coast to break up my flight in Dublin rather than go direct if my bank or attorney’s office is paying.

      • David says:

        Maybe to London, but I presume AL also fly to less polluted parts of the UK?

        • MD says:

          Oh, you mean like Scunthorpe? Manchester? Liverpool? Leeds? Oh not, wait, those are all more polluted than London:

          https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/health-43964341

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          Aside from London they fly to Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Newquay, Aberdeen, and Isle of Man. A fair few of these can be reached from New York (Banker) or LA (Attorney) but yes, the Entertainment Lawyer who needs to be in Newquay is going to struggle to get their direct.

          I was thinking of the places that these planes are likely to fly, like Paris, Frankfurt, and yes, London. Stop overs add a lot of time which people who fly regularly typically value over money that comes from their employer. Especially given the US to Europe is overnight I’d rather stay asleep then make a connection relatively near my destination.

        • David says:

          Can you really get to any of Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Newquay, Aberdeen, and Isle of Man direct from LA?

        • Glenn P says:

          There is already an LAX service from Manchester, plus VS starting on the route from May 2019

  • Nick says:

    I’m not sure I would want to fly Aer Lingus Business Class anyway having just read today’s posting on http://www.turningleftforless.com Michelle had an a very disappointing experience and describes the business class flight as “cheap but not cheerful” and “probably the worst flight I have had”

    • Bonglim says:

      Sounds like a shocker. I had flown Aer Lingus recently as a last minute change after a BA flight, and had an all round better experience. i was not in an old plane though. Interestingly I side with the reporter on the whole photo thing. I think that an airline worker (cabin crew) has no expectation of privacy, therefore there is no restrictions on taking photos which may accidentally include a member of cabin crew. It might be in their own terms and conditions. There could be restrictions on taking a photo of other passengers as they have an expectation of privacy.

      • Shoestring says:

        Sounds like the reviewer was a big part of the problem tbh

        • Kipto says:

          I agree Harry.

        • The Original Nick says:

          I agree with Harry too. I’ve flown AI Business class a few times from Dublin to East Coast and had no problems at all with the airline or the cabin crew. Spent a night in Dublin the night before and drank copious amounts of lovely Guinness.

        • TT says:

          A very big +1

        • Cat says:

          Just out of curiosity, what do you think she did wrong?

        • Shoestring says:

          She got off on the wrong foot in the plane, didn’t put it right with a smile as most of us do in that situation, then compounded the error several ways eg in the plane and also by (restrospectively) deliberately finding fault with the pre-flight service (lounge).

          So I was left thinking she was not objective.

          Eg – she moaned about drinks on board – she could have had as many drinks as she wanted – but cabin crews go easy in that regard to allow people to sleep – all she had to do was ask.

      • Anna says:

        There are actually no privacy laws as such in the UK, not sure how it works for airlines though!

        • John says:

          What about the privacy laws in Ireland, since this flight did not touch a UK airport nor was it a UK aircraft?

        • Anna says:

          Very much as here as far as I can gather, though it might also depend on whose airspace you’re in at the time. I imagine it would be extremely difficult to pursue, though there might be a breach of some specific airline regulation.

    • Polly says:

      Michelle was unlucky to have had one of those old QR planes. We flew J on them years ago with the QR program. Uncomfortable but did the job back and forth to the Mid East for us. Short flights.
      Presume EI plan to refit those older planes nowmwith the newer J cabin?
      She should ask for compo avios tho, as it was an uncomfortable overnight flight.

      • Andrew says:

        Sounds like the crew were particularly bad and crew do contribute to the overall experience, along with seat and food. No wine offered with the main course? Very lazy and disinterested crew it seems – makes BA crew seem attentive! That review has certainly put me off booking anything with them.

      • Lady london says:

        I slept on that seat! Er… I didn’t sleep at all either on that seat it had so many gaps in it! Not sure which airline it was, but I well remember it as not worth having as a business class seat.

    • Alan says:

      Interesting, my folks took EI to the USA a couple of years ago and were raving about how good it was!

    • RIccatti says:

      Let me tell you, IBERIA business from the US is MUCH MUCH WORSE.

      I took NYC-MAD redemption for the low taxes (and taking the opportunity of 90,000 Avios promo). The food was abysmal, really really abysmal. “Burger” was a 5-6cm meat without ANY condiments (no cheese).

      Coffee machine — ALWAYS broken, from conversation with the crew, at all flights and never gets repaired so back to filter coffee.

      There was nothing edible for breakfast except packaged yoghurt. I do not understand how two pieces of bread constitute MAIN MEAL, even if put in middle of plate.

      And as usual: Iberia customer service is joke, Iberia handlers on ground in NYC have no clue (they work for handing company), Iberia on-board crew are not welcoming and artificial (even LATAM doing it better with non-Spanish speaking customer, and if you are Spanish speaker, you cant get rid of helping crew at LATAM!!, they always near you, chatting friendly).

      On top “BA Galleries Club” in JFK which Iberia uses is the place to be AVOIDED AT ALL COST. Seriously, I would (and I will) fly AA economy before I set foot in Iberia “Business”.

  • Gareth Morgan says:

    Seychelles to Toulouse in 11 hours? How slowly do they fly?

    • Peter K says:

      The passengers must have been peddling slowly.

    • Rob says:

      Slower than long haul aircraft.

      • Pilot says:

        Didn’t you make the point they were long haul aircraft?

        • Alex Sm says:

          Long-range short-haul aircraft they are!

        • Rob says:

          The engines are nowhere near as powerful as those on a two aisle long-haul plane. Max thrust on a A330 Trent 700 engine is 72,000lb vs 35,000lb for a typical short-haul engine (apparently).

        • will says:

          Is Seychelles to Toulouse in 11 hours really that slow? Seems ballpark what would be expected to me. They may even have built an emergency divert scenario into the flight plan in order to simulate the destination airport being out of action upon arrival.

          Narrow Body jets cruise only a small amount slower than widebodys typically, maybe 5-10% slower.

  • John says:

    The food’s usually worth paying for on short haul, doubt anyone in business class will object to getting it for free.

  • Catalan says:

    In the wider scheme of things this is nothing new in the IAG camp. Stablemates BA and Iberia already operate daily longhaul business class seats between London and Madrid on their B772 and A346 aircraft.

    • Hugh says:

      Thats great, I had not realised that, you have brightened up my day!

      We are booked on an A346 back from Madrid after a trip to Cuba we arranged with the 90,000 Iberia Offer. I had not bothered checking the details of our flight back to London, but just taken a look at the seat map and realised its a long haul plane! Very happy now!

    • Rob says:

      They do but not on this scale.

    • RIccatti says:

      2.5 hours LHR to MAD on long-haul plane is fun.

      Trans-Atlantic route on the same plane is torture, Iberia “service”/crew do not help. Plus the only airline which has non-functioning toilets/coffee machines/kitchen equipment on long-haul.

  • Myer says:

    Big WOW, who is really bothered to organise themselves to fly a long haul aircraft on a short haul route. Clearly they have to much time on their hands, train spotters comes to mind!

    • Shoestring says:

      I take it you’re not a regular Flyertalk reader then! 🙂

    • Russ says:

      @Myers, over here!!! I will organize all our flights just to get on wide bodied aircraft with a proper business class seat when ever I can. Next week I have to go to Madrid, and going via Frankfurt just to pick up the Latam flight from there and returning on it a few days later. I’ve also changed my schedule to include Sichuan Airlines PRG-ZUR fifth freedom flight. Even if I turn up at the gate and they’ve switched aircraft to something with a less than desirable business class offering (old BA 767’s come to mind) it’s not given I will get on it. This Aer Lingus news is really welcome and I hope other carriers will take note.

    • Lady London says:

      Welcome to Headforpoints @Myers.

  • Stuart says:

    In theory EI already offers lie flat on a couple of european routes with the A330 on DUB > FAO & AGP.
    Cannot wait to try the A321 around Europe also – cheers

  • Mikeact says:

    So, it seems like it’s only Mr & Mrs me that are prepared to give it a go late next Summer…..out to the West Coast and then we will head North by road and inland , way off the beaten track again.

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