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Aer Lingus hasn’t offered a short-haul Business Class for over 15 years but, back in December, it confirmed that a few select short-haul routes would be operated by its new Airbus A321LR aircraft which offer a long-haul Business Class cabin.
These aircraft are expected to enter service at some point in the third quarter of this year and it now appears that they won’t be the only Aer Lingus aircraft to offer a short-haul Business Class product.
From 1 September 2019 Aer Lingus is introducing ‘AerSpace’ Business Class to its short-haul aircraft on numerous intra-Europe routes and, based on the description of the product we can expect, it looks as if this may be a further (if minor) alignment of Aer Lingus with a fellow IAG airline – British Airways.
Here’s how Aer Lingus describes AerSpace:
“[O]ur new premium short-haul travel experience, designed to give you more space to work and relax because the middle seat is always free. Put your baggage in your reserved overhead storage, then stretch out and enjoy complimentary food and drink as you fly. Plus with lounge access, priority boarding and Fast Track airport security, you’ll breeze through the airport. Arrive at your best with AerSpace.”
Under the heading of “what do I get with AerSpace?” this is what Aer Lingus says we can expect:
- Middle seat free
- Private overhead storage
- Complimentary food and drink from our Bia menu
- Lounge access
- Priority boarding
- Fast Track security
- Automatic standby for earlier flights
- Free changes and refunds
I’ve checked a number of routes which will be offering the AerSpace Business Class product and I see the same seat map each time….
….so it looks like AerSpace is going to be restricted to the front row of the aircraft. That’s just 4 seats.
Here’s how AerSpace fares compare to the other fare classes offered by Aer Lingus from a benefits point of view:
The first thing that leaps out from the details we’ve been given is the fact that there’s no mention of extra legroom and that makes the hard product sound very like what British Airways already offers as its Club Europe Business Class cabin.
Where AerSpace will differ from BA’s Club Europe is that it’s being restricted to just one row and it will only offer passengers the same food selection as passengers get in Economy Class….only it will be free in the premium cabin.
With the front row of the aircraft being the only row to offer AerSpace seating this doesn’t sound like a product I’ll be rushing to book.
The bulkhead dividing the aircraft from the front galley will make stretching out somewhat challenging and, having sat in a seat exactly like this on an easyJet flight earlier this year, I wouldn’t pay the premium Aer Lingus is charging just to have an empty seat next to me and some low-quality free food.
If you don’t get lounge access through your airline status (or through Priority Pass) and if you need to have the flexibility to change your booking without penalty I can see how AerSpace may be tempting….but even then the difference in cost between AerSpace and the ‘Advantage’ fare would have to be relatively small for it to be genuinely worth considering.
It will be interesting to see what the Tier Point earnings will be like for AerSpace fares when they’re credited to the British Airways Executive Club as, if they earn the same as current BA Club Europe fares, that could be a major reason why a flyer would choose AerSpace over a cheaper flexible fare.
It’s hard to get excited about a new Business Class product which is limited to a single row, doesn’t offer any noticeable extra legroom (over Economy Class) and doesn’t even offer improved catering so please forgive me if I’m being a little hard on Aer Lingus’ announcement.
I’m sure the new fare option will be useful for some but I can’t see this being a majorly important development for the majority of travelers reading this blog.