DATE : 04JUN2009
FLIGHT : EI 122
AIRLINE : AER LINGUS
A/C: AIRBUS A330-200
REG: EI- EAV
NAME : St Ronan
SEAT : 2A
CLASS: PREMIER / BUSINESS CLASS
Photo © Alastair T. Gardiner - WorldAirImages
Photo © Ronald J Stella
On return from my US adventure I decided to treat myself to a little luxury. EI were offering upgrades to Premier for 500EUR one way, I decided to buy-up, knowing that this one journey would also give me enough tier points to become ‘Gold elite’ with the EI FFP, “gold circle”. Although the programme is pretty primitive by most standards, EI conveniently serves the MAN-ORK route non-stop, by far my most travelled route so membership of this programme makes sense for me.
EI are handled by Swissport at ORD. There was no queue at the dedicated Premier/Gold Circle/Web check-In desks and I was quickly seen to. As seat 2A had already been assigned to me the boarding card was quickly printed, but the agent insisted that my carry-on was overweight and that it had to be checked-in. Fortunately, after checking, she was able to check my bag through to ORK. With that completed I was told where to find the lounge and wished a pleasant flight.
Lounge & Boarding
The lounge is poorly signposted, there is a door with a tiny sign on it. I had gone past it before I realised. The lounge is operated by a third party and is shared with TK and MX, among others. There is a decent selection of snacks, but no Currys, Soups or Sandwiches like one might fins in an LX or LH lounge. The drinks selection is good and there is free Wi-Fi. The inbound DUB flight must bring some Irish newspapers with it for the lounge, as they appeared a few minutes after my arrival.
The only really poor aspect of the lounge were the toilets. While there was nothing physicially wrong with them, being bright spacious, clean and well equipped they were a bit on the messy side, with papers strewn about. More frequent checking would probably iron this problem out.
Shortly after general boarding had commenced the Lounge staff advised each of us, in person, that DUB was now boarding – we should make our way to the gate, which was pretty close. By the time I had arrived at the gate boarding was well underway, with only a short queue of passengers remaining to board.
I was met at the door by two friendly, smiling crew and directed to my seat. The cabin was a bit chaotic as the SNN and DUB flights had been combined into a single service, ensuring that every seat in the house was taken and slowing the process a little bit. As I was making myself comfortable the crew introduced themselves and brought pre-take off drinks. The choice was OJ or Champagne, prior to push-back there was time for refills and newspapers to be handed out, Irish Independent, Irish Times and the FT, IIRC, I think the Irish Examiner was available too. Prior to take-off the usual safety demo was played and service wear collected.
On-board, IFE & Food
The seats EI use in Premier are manufactured by Recaro and although they offer a flat sleeping surface, they do not lie-flat, parallel to the floor, but they are comfortable, both as a seat and a bed. The seat controls are excellent, there are two control pads, one easily accessible one with pre-set options, like bed, seat, take-off, etc underneath the armrest is another pad with allows almost infinite adjustment for the back-rest, leg-rest, seat angle, lumbar support and massage.
My only criticism of the seats is that they are a bit high in relation to the windows, I felt like I was sitting on the seat as opposed to sitting in it. The sleeping surface can be increased in width by lowering the armrest, but even in the fully upright position the armrest is still slightly below the level of the armrest on the console, which is a bit odd when using the seat as a bed.
Prior to service commencing the crew came round with a L’occtane amenity kit, which featured the usual lotions, potions, toothbrushes, razors, etc. The amenity kits were followed by a selection of warm finger-food and a bar service. Service was from a lovely silver platter with crisp white linen, very nice!
For the main meal service I choose the fillet steak, which was truly delicious. The portion was generous and the meal was served piping hot. The steak itself was both moist and tender, neither was it overcooked. Perfect!
Again there was several rounds of wine, etc my Waterford crystal goblet was constantly being topped-up. A very large portion of apple crumble, served with cream or warm custard finished off a very nice meal (there was also a cheese/fruit plate, as an alternative). Washed down with a grad cup of Irish tea!
After the meal service the cabin lights were dimmed, I surfed trough the AVOD selection, which was comprehensive. Despite the lie-flat seat, sleep eluded me, but I was made to feel very welcome in the galley where the Senior cabin crew offered me juices and suggested Peppermint tea to settle my tummy after the heavy meal!
Just over an hour out of DUB the breakfast service began, which consisted of a continental breakfast with warm pastries.
I think the breakfast service was just right, given the relatively short flight-time and that dinner was only completed a few hours before.
Arrival into DUB was about 50 minutes ahead of schedule, to one of the B gates where we were quickly docked and had arrived into the baggage hall in a matter of minutes. The crew bid us all good-day and fond farewell as we disembarked.
Overall I feel the EI Premier offering is certainly as good as, and probably better than other J class products out of Ireland. The cabins are modern and well maintained, the IFE offers a wide selection of TV’s, new-release and classic movies, music, games and flight-maps. The crews are thoughtful and provide attentive service without being ‘in your face’. The service wear and meal service has a very Irish feel to it, which I enjoyed. Passengers expecting fancy culinary works of art will be disappointed, but those who value good, fuss-free, traditional Irish fare will be delighted – as was I.
As always, all questions, comments, etc are more than welcome.