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The Irish Times has reported that as a result of the new aircraft Aer Lingus will be receiving next year the airline will offer a Business Class cabin on a few of its short-haul routes to Europe…but there’s a twist.
Aer Lingus last offered flyers a short-haul premium cabin in 2002 and from 3Q 2019 the Irish carrier will do so again.
Aer Lingus is set to take delivery of a number of Airbus A321 Longer-Range aircraft starting in June 2019 which the airline plans to operate between Ireland and the US.
These aircraft will be home to 16 lie-flat Business Class seats and 186 Economy Class seats and, according to Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh, the nature of the routes on which these aircraft will operate means that 15 of them will be arriving into Ireland before 5am every day.
That early arrival time would ordinarily mean a lot of time spent on the ground for the A321s (as they wait to fly back across the Atlantic) and time on the ground costs the airline money…so Aer Lingus plans to put them to further use.
Stephen Kavanagh has confirmed that, rather than sitting on the ground in Ireland, 8 of the A321s will continue on to popular short-haul routes giving transatlantic Business Class flyers comfortable connecting flights to destinations like London, Paris, Amsterdam and Barcelona….but there’s a small twist.
Per the Aer Lingus CEO:
All that will be on offer will be the space and the comfort. We are not going to be reintroducing bespoke catering. There will be catering but it will be the same as you buy on board, it will just be complimentary. We will keep the process relatively simple.
So Aer Lingus will offer a Business Class cabin on some of it short-haul routes but it won’t be offering a Business Class service….which is fair enough.
I value a comfortable seat a lot more than I value an airline meal and I suspect that I’m not alone – I doubt there will be all that many transatlantic Business Class flyers getting upset because their 1-2 hour connecting flight doesn’t offer a Business Class meal.
Lastly, Kavanagh confirmed that the A321 Business Class cabins will be available for sale to passengers flying only on the short-haul sectors if they haven’t been bought up by passengers connecting from/to the US.
Aer Lingus may not be about to offer a true Business Class product on these select short-haul routes but it will be offering one of the best Business Class seats within Europe.
With the exception of the Finnair A350 which operates on a few short-haul flights I can’t think of another European airline that offers lie-flat seats on a short-haul route so this is great news for Business Class flyers…and it will probably make Aer Lingus a lot more attractive to a significant number of passengers.
The A321 flights haven’t been loaded into the reservation systems yet as the aircraft are still months away from being delivered but I’ll be keeping a close eye on the fares when they come out – I’d quite like to try this new Business Class cabin out.