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I recently had the opportunity to fly Aer Lingus in business class from Dublin to Boston. Here are some insights from my experience before, during and after the flight that can help travelers looking at carriers for their next trans-Atlantic journey.
How to book Aer Lingus business class
Aer Lingus operates under the Avios loyalty program, which has a distance-based award chart. This means that some deals are better than others, and flights between Boston and Ireland are cheaper (since they are a shorter distance) than those between the West Coast and Ireland (Aer Lingus flies to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle/Tacoma). Award pricing is based upon each flight, not the total distance of your trajectory.
Avios points are a transfer partner from several credit card programs including American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Aer Lingus awards are available in peak and off-peak pricing. For this business class flight, it costs 50,000 Avios points between Dublin and Boston.
While it will cost more, you can also redeem Alaska and United miles to fly Aer Lingus. United charges 70,000 miles in each direction for business class. United’s website also shows Aer Lingus award availability.
Alaska charges between 60,000 and 280,000 miles in each direction for business class.
Getting my AerSpace legs
My journey began in Madrid, where I flew Aer Lingus’ new AerSpace product to Dublin. AerSpace is for Aer Lingus’ short-haul flights and essentially blocks the middle seat in the bulkhead row to give more space to passengers in row 1. They also get perks like lounge access, greater bag check allowance, and a free drink and snack from the buy-onboard menu. It’s a great complement to business class on Aer Lingus long-haul flights. My only annoyance with that flight was that the check-in queue was long (it took 45 minutes) and there was no dedicated line for elite members or premium cabin ticket holders.
Once in Dublin, the airport is easy to manage thanks to great signage. Unlike other European airline hubs, the airport is not so massive that long walks are required to get from one place to another (we’re looking at you London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle!). This relieves some of the tension of other connection experiences so that you can enjoy the shops and lounges on the way to your gate.
I was able to pre-clear U.S. immigration and customs within minutes so that I landed in Boston essentially as a domestic passenger. Flights from Ireland receive this benefit, giving Aer Lingus a huge advantage over its European rivals in time savings.
The airport operates its own business class lounge, which had some nice snacks and a tended bar. The best part of the lounge for me were the views of the runway and aircraft on approach. I almost didn’t want to leave the lounge!
Boarding was quick and efficient thanks to priority lines for business class and elite status passengers in Aer Lingus’ loyalty program. Soon, a tray with large glasses of sparkling wine, water and juice was being passed round as passengers got settled. My seat, 1A, had a large table to the side so I could easily work and eat at the same time.
Seats in business class are arranged in a 1-2-2 or 1-2-1 configuration, alternating by row. The seats recline 180 degrees and come with a leather amenity pouch with Voya toiletries. Seats on the A side are all solo seats allowing for maximum privacy. On the right side of the plane (or first officer’s side), odd-numbered rows with “throne” seats are also popular as they have a table on either side protecting them from the aisle. Some seats are more exposed to the aisle than others, which means light sleepers may want to choose one that has its table on the aisle’s side.
The movie screen facing my seat was large and featured lots of movies and television shows, but my usual go-to inflight entertainment is the moving map presentation. The headphones were comfortable albeit not necessarily noise-canceling. Still, they had great audio quality. I really appreciate that Aer Lingus offers free inflight wireless internet to business class passengers. It worked quite well, even over the ocean. I wish more airlines did this.
Before takeoff, a cart was rolled around offering everyone a bottle of water, the menu for the flight and an amenity kit. Pillows and blankets were distributed only after takeoff so they would not block the aisles and pathways in the event of an emergency.
This flight left Dublin quite late for a westbound trans-Atlantic departure (4:30 p.m.), and I was especially hungry. The lounge did offer several hot options like beef stroganoff and two soups, but I had decided to hold out for the in-flight service.
Onboard, there were plenty of choices, and I liked that there were several Irish touches like the cheese course and the beef dish. I also like that Aer Lingus uses its shamrock logo throughout the aircraft and on its materials. It is a nice reminder of Ireland, which is especially fun for connecting passengers who may not have spent much time in Ireland on their trip.
The in-flight service manager was working my aisle. She was no-nonsense and efficient, but still welcoming. On my flight over, the flight attendant made conversation with each person and took time to explain the wines.
Hot towels prefaced the meal, although they were mostly dry and not very hot — probably just needed a bit more hot water.
I like that small appetizers are served as an aperitif instead of the same boring nuts like most other airlines. Aer Lingus clearly invests a lot of time and attention into the meal presentation, which, while nothing elaborate, definitely hits the spot.
The starter included a side salad with goat cheese, which was tasty, and I liked the variety of bread that was offered. I ordered the fish cake (primarily because the spicy sauce it came with intrigued me). Typically, I travel with my own Sriracha sauce to add flavor to in-flight food, but my meal had plenty of kick on its own.
Dessert was served with coffee or tea, but I wanted to rest, so I resisted caffeine. I did say yes to the Irish cheese selection, which was wonderful, with a nice variety of flavors to round out the meal.
The rest of the flight
Usually, I avoid the first row due to almost guaranteed galley noise, but headphones and a white noise app on my phone tended to that problem easily. The pre-arrival meal was a traditional Irish afternoon tea with finger sandwiches and warm scones served with clotted cream and jam.
Lavatories were kept clean throughout the flight, and more Irish Voya products were stocked there. The fact that each seat had air nozzles was a rare treat for European airlines, which tend to keep their planes rather warm. Aer Lingus gives its guests the option to choose their own temperature, which I greatly appreciated.
We landed on time and parked at Boston’s international terminal. But, since we had already cleared customs and immigration for the United States in Dublin, we simply walked out of the airport like domestic passengers. Aer Lingus’ in-flight business class product is exceptional, but it’s the convenience factor when returning to the U.S. that really gives it an edge.
Photos courtesy of Aer Lingus and Ramsey Qubein.
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Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you 4 ways to quickly rack up miles for your next flight Why you should fly first class at least once, and how to afford it