I had to go back stateside for some meetings and the timing of Aer Lingus worked out exceptionally well. Since there aren’t many Aer Lingus business class (Premier Class) trip reports, I thought I’d post this report.
Last year I flew just shy of 300,000 miles on SkyTeam member airlines accumulated through OnePass. While I am loyal to Continental, this was an excellent opportunity to experience Aer Lingus’ business class product.
Date: 20 Jan 2009
J Load Factor: 12/24 = 50%
Departure: 10:30 (scheduled) / 10:40 (actual)
have 2 check-in counters for Premier Class in Dublin, but only one was staffed. There were 3 people in line in front of me and check-in was very smooth and done within 5 minutes. I was initially assigned seat 2C, but I like the center section and switched to 2D
Premier check-in counter at DUB
Dublin was unusually very light in the morning, so I didn’t even bother with the Business Fast Track security. My bet was a good one, there was only 1 other person in front of me in the security line. I went to the Aer Lingus’ Gold Circle/Premier lounge, which is located in the B concourse (much more convenient for US departures than the Anna Livia). A lot has been correctly written in this forum about their lounge previously, so I won’t comment much. I would add that my biggest complaint is simply the lack of complimentary Wi-Fi access.
Lounge at DUB
At about 9:30, an entire hour before departure, the agent called boarding in the lounge. This was partially due to the fact that today’s flight was being pre-cleared by US immigration and thus the lines can be quite long. Boarding started at 9:50 with pre-boarding for the elderly and passengers with children. General boarding commenced at 10:10, with no pre-boarding for Premier passengers. Boarding was done via door 2L.
The line to board was total chaos, which is a shame because Aer Lingus have 4 gate agents and really no organization; it’s very much a fist come, first serve basis. There were two flight attendants at the door entrance to direct passengers and once on board things were much better.
The crew are extremely friendly and I didn’t even have my bag down before a flight attendant asked to take my coat. Champagne, orange juice or water followed. Just before the doors closed, a flight attendant distributed today’s menu and the L’Occitaine amenity kit (nice surprise).
The seat pocket had the safety card, inflight magazine (Cara), inflight entertainment guide, duty free catalogue, and head phones. Magazines (USA Today, Financial Times, Irish Times, Irish Independent, and the International Herald Tribune) were all offered on a magazine rack above the bulkhead on 1C, 1D/F and 1H, as were a limited number of magazines.
Drinks started 40 minutes after take-off, accompanied by warm canapés, including samosa, spring roll and shrimp roll. I ordered a Bloody Mary and the flight attendant simply gave me a glass with ice and lemon, can of tomato juice and vodka. Apparently they don’t mix it for you and don’t have stirrers, because when I asked for one I was given a spoon. Not a major deal, but they are the little things that make a difference. About 10 minutes afterwards, another flight attendant came around with second offerings on the canapés, followed by hot towels and a second round of drinks.
Gravlax; Slices of gravlax salmon garnished with red onion, cucumber and mustard mayonnaise; or
Parma ham with melon, slices of classic Italian Parma ham served with ripe honeydew melon
Selection of breads
Salad bowl, a selection of mixed leaf lettuce with a vinaigrette dressing
Filet steak with peppercorn butter sauce, served with potato gratin, broccoli and vegetable ratatouille; or
Chicken Mascarpone, grilled chicken filet served with spinach, on a bed of spaghetti in a creamy mascarpone sauce; or
Grilled swordfish, with coriander and lemon butter sauce, served with egg noodles, asparagus and forest mushrooms; or
Risotto, served with roast bell peppers and mixed beans in Arrabbiata sauce
Warm Bread and Butter Pudding; or
Dark Chocolate and Raspberry tart; or
Afternoon tea prior to arrival
Fresh finger sandwiches
Selection of warm scones
Tea or coffee
After more than an hour from takeoff, lunch started and I was starving by this point. Premier has three flight attendants for 24 passengers; 1 galley flight attendant and two aisle flight attendants. Given the light load on today’s flight, the service was exceptionally personal and smooth. Service is completed forward-back.
Lunch started shortly afterwards with the salad and appetizer served on the tray. Three types of bread were offered and drinks topped up. The parma ham and melon were an excellent choice and very tasty.
Appetizer and salad
I chose the chicken and while the portion size was good, it was very dry.
Flight attendants came around twice to top up drinks.
Lunch was finished and they offered dessert. I chose the fruit plate with cheese. Coffee and tea were offered twice during the dessert service and the crew also distributed bottled water. While picking up the dessert, they individually asked passengers if they were interested in any duty free items.
After the service, flight attendants distributed personal movie players to those interested. In addition to the PTVs, Aer Lingus offers these pre-programmed players to Premier passengers. They come loaded with 8 movies. While it’s not the best, at least it is AVOD and avoids the continuous loop programming of the standard entertainment selections on the PTV.
About 1h outside of New York, the arrival service began. The snack is small but the warm scones are the best! Since we pre-cleared in Dublin, arrival was smooth and I was curbside in less than 5 minutes.
Overall, the Aer Lingus product is very good. The crew are extremely helpful, very nice and attentive - but not obtrusively so. What's lacking is the seat. I understand that 2 of the A330-200s have lie-flat seats, but the ones I flew on are not competitive against Continental, American or Delta.