As an affordable luxury travel blogger, I am constantly on the prowl for luxury and quality for less. Through the years competition for the business class flier has really heated up among the major and new discount carriers. Last year I was up in the air quite a bit flying business class on Air France, Royal Air Maroc, Iberia Air, Egypt Air, Qatar Airways, SriLankan Airlines, Thai Air, Cathay Pacific Airways and Aer Lingus. Phew! That was a lot of flying!! My experience on Aer Lingus was so surprisingly enjoyable and affordable, I had to write a blog about it to share with my readers.
My ten day trip to Venice, Italy started in New Orleans with a JetBlue direct flight to New York(JFK). After my priority check in with Aer Lingus, I happily made my way to the private, brand new, ultra-modern, business class Revival Lounge for a light meal and a glass of wine. A buffet with several main course selections was offered, as well as, a variety of wine, beers and non-alcoholic drinks. The lounge is well-designed with separate areas to relax, eat or work all created to give the traveler a stress-free Aer Lingus flight experience. My first impression was quite positive.
Still being a little reserved about what the actual flight would be like due to my son's bad experience over ten years ago with this airlines, I boared the plane with a tad amount of trepidation. On his first European trip his seat was broken, the food was bad and served slightly cold plus, he almost missed his connection to Paris because of a lengthy takeoff delay.
I minute I entered the big "green"plane I was pleasantly surprised. I was greeted by name, the interior was new and attractive. I was shown my window seat, the friendly, steward put my carryon in the luggage bin for me and hung my coat in the plane's closet. Once seated, I was offered a glass of champagne which I obliged.
While sipping champagne and listening to the melodious Irish music playing, I noticed all of the trendy tech features of my seat area. Aer Lingus in its promo material describes their business class seats as," a hi-tech lounge/bed/office/dining room." Lots of seat storage areas for your laptop, phone, tablet and bag allows you to have all of these items within your reach during the flight so you don't have to retrieved from the overhead bins.
Also provided was a built in power and charge ports with universal sockets and a USB power outlet enabling you to stay fully charged during the flight. The seat had multiple reclining functions to include a massage capability! Quite an upgrade from the "old " Aer Lingus. One of the business class' most trendy features is its free inflight wifi which enables you to take call, send emails and texts or Skype while flying. How cool is that!!
Once we took off I experimented with the touch screen to adjust the route map and select the type of music I wanted to enjoy. I decided on Irish music to further get me in an Irish state of mind. Being a music major, I love all types of music and this gave me an opportunity to listen to the sounds from the bonney Green Isle. Sounds that were haunting, lovely and upbeat filled my ears from the noise canceling earphones while traversing the Atlantic.
Within an hour of takeoff we were served our dinner meal on contemporary Wedgewood china and a white tablecloth, very nice. After reading the menu, I selected a traditional Irish breaded, beef dish with a boiled, spiced potato and cooked down greens. A fresh salad, delicious roll and red wine completed this course. I was too full from eating in the lounge and asked the steward to save my "cheese plate" dessert selection until later in the flight. Something he readily honored.
Completely satisfied and relaxed, I was ready to get some sleep. The next test was how the seat performed as a bed and would I really be able get some shuteye. The seat converts into a 6.5 foot, fully "lie flat bed." Accordingly, the steward brought the passengers quilted comforters to accompany the seat pillow. No scratchy blankets on Air Lingus! The cabin lights were dimmed and asleep I went.
An hour before landing the lights were softly turned back on and a light breakfast was served. I opted for my stored cheese plate with fruit which was just perfect because I routinely eat some type of cheese for breakfast at home. The standard, morning dish served was an appealing, Canadian bacon sandwich. I choose a hot cup of tea for my beverage and it was definitely hot not lukewarm which I have endured on many other flights.
The landing was smooth and I was refreshed and ready to seize the day. I easily made my flight connection to Venice. The expansive Dublin airport is modern and well-laid out making your transit there quite pleasant. Super duty free shopping, good eating options and attractive architecture with interesting artwork throughout make the Dublin airport a nice place to spend a few hours.
My return flight experience was even BETTER than the one inbound. The most WONDERFUL feature was the Pre-Clearance Customs and Immigration service, the only one of its kind offered in Europe, provided in the Dublin airport for all returning US citizens. Yes, you go through US Customs and Immigration in Dublin!!!! It takes about 15 minutes to go through a fast track, security clearance and that's it.
No more waiting in line once you return home to declare your purchases and clear customs. This service is truly heavenly when you are returning via New York(JFK). Likewise, my bags were checked all the way through to New Orleans. This time-saving, convenient feature, I believe, is a real game changer for Aer Lingus, something most US travelers are unaware exists. In the future I will be looking to fly with this airlines because of the forward-thinking service.
After zooming through Customs, business class passengers congregate in the recently opened 51st and Green Lounge where seasonal Irish cuisine, freshly brewed gourmet coffee and other beverages are offered before boarding the flight home. Work areas with charging outlets and entertainment sections with TV's complete with multiple of sports channels are available for work or diversion. Luxury shower rooms with towels and toiletry kits can be utilized by the traveler who wants to freshen up. You can even get your clothing pressed while showering!
The friendly, efficient service was identical to want I received on my outbound flight. Amenity kits complete with VOYA products, socks and eye masks where distributed along with the complimentary glass of champagne that I declined and opted for orange juice. After being in Venice for 10 days and enjoying many glasses of delicious Italian wine, I had no desire for alcohol. The meal consisted of a canapes appetizer, the main course of a light shrimp dish with a fresh salad. Shortly before landing a light snack was provided. Another great business class flight on the all-new Aer Lingus Airbus 330-300.
Last, I want to share info on the all-important price point feature of flying Aer Lingus. It has always been known for its well-priced fares and that hasn't changed. Even with its new look and high quality services, the fares are highly competitive. For my roundtrip ticket from New York to Dublin I cost me $2,475. Very few air carriers can beat that price. Fares do go up and down during the year but Aer Lingus's website shows you what days are the cheapest to fly. I also has several different types of business class tickets. One which lets your change your flight days free of charge and even get a full refund if you decide not to travel and the others that don't offer this benefit but allow for priority boarding, several no charge baggage allowance and seat selection.
For wonderful hospitality, delicious Irish cuisine, a great price and the, "best shot of sleep in the sky," fly Aer Lingus, business class to Europe. I bet you'll be as impressed, satisfied and pleasantly surprised as I was!
Enjoy this short video highlighting the Aer Lingus business class experience.