4 seems fine , there’s plenty of time , it’s not a short flight . Would expect 5 crew on the short haul to London though .
Actually 5 required to delivery the multi step TA service, while the EUro run is an easier service. With buy on board only perhaps 75% of pax are dealt with, 1 interaction then clear in the cabin later on. With a “full service” every pax onboard gets drinks, tidy up, meal, hot drink, clear in, snack delivery (and 2nd drink).
Just look at the ratios for the EI fleet;
317/8 crew = 39.6
275/8 crew = 34
174/4 crew = 43.5
212/4 crew = 42.4
184/4 crew = 46 seats per crew on A321LR.
Straight away the LR has the lowest staff ratio in the fleet.
And that’s not even taking into account the increased chance of turbulence interrupting service (FL360 vs FL390), the problems of using carts on a single aisle aircraft with the 3 toilets for 168 ppl co-located with the galley to serve those same 168 ppl. Keep in mind if/when the flight crew need to leave the cockpit the service in J class stops completely. As 2 crew are required to allow a flight crew member to leave the cockpit and keep the galley ‘protected’.
“I’ll top up your Chablis once the captain has had a chance to spend a penny”
As for breaks, well EI crew are entitled to a ‘break’ of 1 hour westbound/45 mins eastbound. (1 hour of an 8-10 hour day) This is an internal IR Agreement. The service won’t stop when 1/4 of the crew are on break (meaning sitting in a takeoff seat in front of J Class8) but the slow pace of delivery with 4 crew in total may make these timings unworkable.
EASA reqs are a different thing than internal agreements. EG. In the delay situation the lack of Class 1 or 2 rest area prevents extension of maximum flight duty period under EASA refs. (Which has gotten EI out of trouble a few times every year on the A330)
EI reworked their J Class a few years ago to get to a place where the entire J class service is complete in under 3 hours from takeoff, 16 seats with 1 1/2 staff will roll back that system unless they reduce the complexity of the service. Which then turns the A321LR into a lower level of service.
Workarounds from EI of changing the J Class service, reducing the service on the LR or offering cash incentives to crew, are just cheap tricks to squeeze the efficiency more and more. In my opinion at the expense of the customer. Will the 30% cost savings from this “ultra modern cost effective new aircraft” be passed on to the passengers? Hell No!
EI will charge the same for an A321 as they do on the A330, even with a lower service service level.