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Aer Lingus has been growing its transatlantic route network over the past few years and, with Dublin and Shannon being good launching points to the rest of Europe, the airline can be quite a good option for travelers looking to get to Europe from the US (or to the US from Europe).
Now, in what appears to be an attempt to compete with the low-cost carriers that fly across the Atlantic (especially Norwegian), Aer Lingus has introduced what it’s calling a “saver fare”.
Aer Lingus Saver Fare – What Is It?
Per Aer Lingus:
Saver is the perfect option for those looking to travel light on direct flights between Ireland and North America. This fare includes one piece of 10kg (22lb) cabin baggage, in-flight entertainment and an on-board meal. You have the option of choosing from a range of extras – a checked bag, seat selection, blanket, headphones.
Essentially this appear to be a transatlantic “hand baggage only” fare with the option to buy a couple of potentially useful things and a couple of things that you don’t see for sale on most (any?) other transatlantic airlines – does anyone else sell headphones or blankets on transatlantic routes?
The new Aer Lingus Saver Fares is only bookable on direct routes between Ireland and North America so you can’t make use of them if you’re connecting through Ireland from another destination.
These fares are available to purchase right away for travel starting on or after 1 October 2017.
How Do The Saver Fares Compare?
Aer Lingus has said that its Saver Fare is available “from just €169 each way as part of a return trip” so I thought I’d see what I could find.
Dublin – Boston
One of the cheaper Saver Fares I could find on this route was for €357.39 in November….
…and when I checked what Norwegian was offering on its Dublin – Boston route…..
…the prices were considerably cheaper.
The best available fare I could see was as low as €172.29.
It’s very important to note that in this case this isn’t strictly a like-for-like comparison as Aer Lingus flys into Boston Logan airport (they city’s main airport) while Norwegian flys into Providence which is actually in Rhode island….about 70 miles from the center of Boston.
Shannon – New York
On this route the best roundtrip Aer Lingus Saver Fares appear to be in the region of €338….
…..while, for the same route and month, the best roundtrip fares Norwegian is offering cost around €180:
Once again it’s important to note that while Aer Lingus flys into JFK Norwegian will fly you into New York-Newburgh-Stewart airport which is approximately 90 minutes drive from the centre of Manhattan (according to Google Maps).
There are two reasons why doing direct comparisons here are hard:
- Norwegian doesn’t fly into the same cities as Aer Lingus…although it flys into airports in the same region
- Norwegian has a promotion on right now which may be skewing fares in its favor.
Nevertheless, travelers looking to book the lowest possible fares probably won’t be scared off by having to fly into a regional airport rather than one of the major ones (easyJet and Ryanair did this for years in Europe without facing much of a backlash) and, even if there is a Norwegian fare promotion on right now, the price differences are so large that I’m reasonably confident that Norwegian will still be cheaper after the promotion is finished.
It’s good to see travelers getting yet more low-cost options across the Atlantic but I suspect Aer Lingus will have to do a bit more if its aim is to fend of the challenge from Norwegian.
Both airlines offer the same hand baggage allowance, both offer a meal onboard and both offer Economy Class seats with approximately the same seat width and legroom…so the only real differential will be the price.
Norwegian does low-cost travel pretty well – it’s what it’s known for after all – so if Aer Lingus is to appeal to travelers that currently default to Norwegian and it’s low-cost fares (which is presumably the point of Aer Lingus introducing the Saver Fares) it will have to make sure it’s prices are more in line with what Norwegian is offering….right now I’m not sure that’s what they are.