Aer Lingus introducing AerSpace business class on UK and European routes

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After more than a decade without business class on its short-haul aircraft, Aer Lingus has decided to introduce AerSpace, a halfway house between what you get from British Airways Euro Traveller and Club Europe.  It will be available from 1st September 2019.

Don’t confuse AerSpace with the earlier announcement that Aer Lingus will be flying some of its new long haul A321LR aircraft on short haul routes.

The A321LR aircraft, arriving this summer, will feature 16 fully flat business class seats and will be flying some European routes to keep the aircraft busy during the day before an overnight trip to North America.  Dublin to Heathrow on a flat bed sounds good to me, but only a handful of daily flights will get this service.

Aer Lingus launches AerSpace

AerSpace is being added to the existing Aer Lingus short haul fleet which only has standard seating.  It is basically a copy of Vueling’s ‘Excellence’ product which was dropped last year.  This means that the key in-flight benefit is an empty middle seat in line with British Airways and most other European legacy carriers. It is unclear whether Aer Lingus will install a middle-seat table, like on BA.

Importantly, it appears that there will only be one row of AerSpace – the front row.  It will be capped at four seats per aircraft.  Air Lingus has not officially announced this but the booking system only lets you buy four seats and the seat map only shows the first row as having missing middle seats.

What other benefits do I get with AerSpace?

It’s not just about an empty middle seat – although it almost is!  As you would expect, AerSpace also comes with:

lounge access

fast track security

priority boarding

a free 20kg bag (you get two 32kg bags with BA’s Club Europe for comparison)

a dedicated overhead luggage bin

free flight changes and

a complimentary choice of snack and drink from the existing Aer Lingus buy-on-board menu

The food is the biggest difference between AerSpace and Club Europe, since British Airways has separate catering for Club Europe customers.

Not all routes will feature the product.  So far it has been confirmed for the following:

From Heathrow: Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Shannon

From Gatwick: Dublin, Knock

From London City, Birmingham and Manchester: Dublin

….. as well as a variety of European destinations out of Ireland – see the Aer Lingus website here for the list.

What miles and points will I earn with AerSpace?

In terms of frequent flyer miles, all we know so far is that – in Aer Lingus AerClub – AerSpace will earn 50 tier points per flight.  I imagine that, for Aer Lingus flights booked as a British Airways codeshare, it will earn 40 tier points in British Airways Executive Club.

Remember that you do NOT earn BA tier points if you credit an Aer Lingus flight booked under an Aer Lingus flight number to BA Executive Club, although you will earn Avios.  You can learn more about earning Avios from Aer Lingus in this HFP article.

It is not clear if AerSpace will be bookable with Avios.

Conclusion

My guess is that the introduction of the new AerSpace product is to offer a slightly more cohesive product when the A321LR aircraft arrive.  Given that passengers transferring to A321LR short haul services will get a flat bed seat, Aer Lingus needs to do something for those who end up transferring to standard short haul aircraft.

More importantly, AerSpace will allow Aer Lingus to offer business class ticketing from gate-to-gate. Since there is no business class offered on the current short haul aircraft, anyone on a business class ticket would be seated in economy on the connecting flight.  This is enough to put off some high yielding connecting passengers.  As Aer Lingus continues to grow its long-haul routes it will become increasingly reliant on passengers who are starting their flights outside Ireland and it makes sense to offer a more cohesive product for those willing to pay for it.

You can learn more about AerSpace on the Aer Lingus website here.

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Comments

  1. sounds very underwhelming . If only row one is allocated to AerSpace then you’re almost guaranteed a full row of economy passengers in row 2 bumping the back of your seat and zero possibility of moving row for some peace and quiet like you can have towards the back of a proper european business class “cabin”.

    • Erico1875 says:

      How awful! And the smell too. Maybe they could leave row 2 empty to separate from the riff raffle.

    • ChrisC says:

      Very few European airlines have a dedicated business class cabin on short haul and they vary the size by simply moving the curtain so it is very unlikely there would be any spare rows.

      I’ve been on BA where the ‘cabin’ is two rows long with the curtain behind row 2 and when it has been 7 rows long with no spare rows

      Which airlines were you thinking of?

      • riku2 says:

        I was thinking of British Airways and Finnair where there are often empty rows when I fly London-Helsinki. The nicest european business class flight I had was Rome-Helsinki in exit row 10 with an empty row behind and four empty rows in front.

  2. David S says:

    We have a long haul BA flight into Gatwick in CW connecting to Dublin on Aer Lingus to Dublin. (Same ticket). Since currently we are booked into economy since Aerspace is not currently offered, is there a chance they will be booked into row 1. Flight is not till December.

  3. IslandDweller says:

    “It is unclear whether Aer Lingus will install a middle-seat table, like on BA.”
    Clarification. Like BA for now on some aircraft. New BA aircraft such as NEO series (and those going through refit with new seats) don’t have the middle seat table.

  4. They won’t install a table or even a cabin divider. The aircraft will be used on non AerSpace routes as well, so none of that messing.

  5. Charlieface says:

    What I can’t understand when airlines launch this kind of business-lite product is why they don’t argue more strongly for the lower rate APD. My armchair lawyer says this isn’t much extra legroom or comfort to justify classifying it in the higher rate.

    • Chris L says:

      The higher rate of APD applies to any class of travel other than ‘the lowest class of travel available on the plane” OR where the seat pitch is greater than 40 inches. In this case, the former would apply, regardless of the legroom, due to the empty middle seat. The 40 inch rule catches services which are all business class.

      • Charlieface says:

        But is it really a different class of travel? It’s the same seat, just they guarantee an empty middle. And what about Cityflyer or KLM Cityhopper, they have no empty middle?

        • Chris L says:

          If it costs more then it is considered a different class.

          • Charlieface says:

            Not true. E.g. just extra legroom seat is not charged at the higher rate.
            The legislation isn’t clear, it just says “lowest class of travel”
            Gov.uk guidance says this:

            The following on their own do not affect the class of travel, but may do so if they form part of a package of benefits:

            buying goods and services on board unless they add up to an upgrade
            paying extra to choose a seat, as long as it is not a better class of seat
            paying extra to sit next to an empty seat
            paying for an empty seat
            paying extra for a seat with extra legroom, as long as:
            the seat is not separated from the ordinary seats in any way
            there are no other benefits linked with the seat
            paying extra for benefits such as:
            pre-booking
            reduced check in times
            fast track through security
            priority boarding
            access to VIP lounges
            transport to or from the airport
            better baggage allowances

            The key here is “may do so” it seems HMRC aren’t sure either

          • I think the lack of a curtain and the lack of different food means it won’t apply, although if BA starts selling it as ‘Business Class’ on the codeshares then clearly HMRC will take that into account!

          • Shoestring says:

            I guess HBO and +1 checked luggage (ie on BA) both pay the same APD, as both are Economy

            so better baggage allowance is not a game changer on its own

          • Charlieface says:

            But that’s what I’m saying: why would airlines voluntarily call European Business Class as such? Vueling and others just call it Excellence/Premium/etc and I don’t think you pay higher APD on it

          • riku2 says:

            APD is only a tax in the UK and airlines don’t have to design their offering based on the tax in one country they fly to. Even when I fly BA I rarely pay APD since i’m not starting my trip in the UK and the connection at LHR is under 24h.
            Not sure why an Irish airline would have to design its cabins around the tax charged on flights from the UK .. I do think they’re an independent country now.

  6. Shoestring says:

    At least on this plane there won’t be Business numpties giving you a ‘look’ if you’re in Economy but use the forward loo.

    I usually manage to get Economy seats in the 7-10 or Exit range, so going to the forward loo makes more sense than tramping to the back, plus at the back there’s more of a queue.

    Had a few looks from passenger numpties but *never* a word or a look from cabin crew. I doubt even if it’s BA policy to ‘enforce the curtain’ as regards using the loo, however much Business passengers think it’s theirs in exclusivity.

    • Doug M says:

      Never took you as the sensitive type, the nasty Business types giving you the evil eye. Apart from the last row of business how do they even know? I’m pretty sure there’s no policy on the part of BA, and given the number of seats and toilets using the forward toilet makes prefect sense. However, if a queue formed that’s a bit crap for your masters up front to have unwashed masses from economy in close proximity.

      • Shoestring says:

        Never bothered me. I would listen to cabin crew but nowadays they don’t ask passengers to keep to ‘their’ loo, either over the loudspeaker or in person & I simply don’t believe that BA would enforce what is in effect a fairly silly rule when there aren’t enough loos to go round in the first place. I don’t recall exclusive use of the front loo being touted as an advantage of travelling Club 🙂

    • Larry says:

      Have you watched the Cure Your Enthusiasm episode covering this scenario (vice-versa!) ??

    • Crafty says:

      Cathay Pacific crew told me off for this, even though we were in PE and flying with a toddler. The business loos were 2 yards from our seats. The economy loos were right at the back of the plane.

  7. HAM76 says:

    Reminds me of when airberlin introduced business class for its European flights. They did charge a business class price, even when their offer was subpar.

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