Aer Lingus Starts Selling A321LR Shorthaul Business Class

Filed Under: Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus will soon be taking delivery of their first Airbus A321LR, which will represent an exciting new phase for the airline. Aer Lingus has eight of these planes on order, and intends to use them to expand transatlantic service, and also to get rid of their leased 757s.

Aer Lingus’ A321LR plans

Aer Lingus will begin flying the A321LR to Hartford as of July 1, 2019, and to Montreal as of August 8, 2019.

These planes will feature a total of 186 seats, including 16 fully flat business class seats and 170 economy seats.

Aer Lingus bringing back short-haul business class

An interesting side effect of this new plane is that Aer Lingus will also be introducing business class on some short-haul flights. The airline axed intra-Europe business class in 2002, so for the past 15+ years has only offered economy on these flights.

The airline will do this by simply flying A321LRs on some short routes. Most flights from the US to Ireland arrive in the early morning, and most flights from Ireland to the US leave in the afternoon, so most A321LRs would be on the ground in Dublin for 6-8 hours, or even more.

So Aer Lingus is going to better utilize these planes by flying them to some key cities. However, Aer Lingus is taking a different approach than most airlines when it comes to business class:

  • In Europe most airlines offer an economy seat with a blocked middle and better food and drinks in business class
  • Aer Lingus will offer a fully flat business class seat, but won’t offer a dedicated food and drink program; rather all the food and drinks from economy will simply be free in business class

Aer Lingus’ fully flat business class

Anyway, many of us have been wondering what the pricing will look like for Aer Lingus’ intra-Europe business class, and it looks like we now know.

How Aer Lingus will price intra-Europe business class

Some Dublin to Paris flights now show as being operated by an A321LR as of October 27, 2019.

If you book a business class ticket from the US to Paris you’ll see that you’re automatically given the option of selecting one of the business class seats on the Dublin to Paris flight at no additional cost.

What’s interesting is if you’re just booking a Dublin to Paris ticket. As of now they’re not actually adding a business class search feature for short-haul flights. This might just be because they haven’t fully rolled out the functionality, or it could be because so few flights will offer it, and they want to manage expectations.

So you’ll still only see the economy option.

Then you can select the type of fare you want — Saver, Plus, or Advantage. Saver fares don’t offer free seat assignments, Plus fares allow you to assign standard seats for free, and Advantage fares allow you to assign any seats for free, including business class seats.

When you get to the seat selection page will you have the option of “upgrading” to business class if you bought a Saver or Plus fare. Pricing for a premium seat is 16.99EUR for a Choice Seat (towards the front of the plane with speedy boarding), 15.99EUR for an Exit Seat, and 74.99EUR for a Premium Seat, which is their business class seating. This is the same whether you’re on a Saver or Plus fare.

That pricing is much more attractive than I was expecting. Sure, business class doesn’t make that huge of a difference on a fairly short flight, but that seems like a reasonable cost to pay for all the extra space, as well as free food and drinks.

Bottom line

Aer Lingus is taking a different strategy to selling intra-Europe business class than other airlines. Instead of selling it as a different class of service, they’re essentially offering it as an upsell option during the seat selection process.

I’ll be curious to see if this is their permanent strategy, given that they won’t have business class on that many short-haul flights, or if this is just something they’re doing until they have more planes with business class.

Would you pay 74.99EUR to upgrade a Dublin to Paris flight to a flat bed?

(Tip of the hat to The Flight Detective)

  1. Lucky, it’s not business class, you get the seat but not business class service – it is still economy, at least that’s how it’s worked the last few years.

    Their A330s go to Faro and Malaga at the weekend, you can pay €74.99 for the seat but then food and drink is extra and service is no different to economy. I did this myself in September.

    Now, that may change if you’ve booked a business class fare with a connection, time will tell.

  2. For Paris I wouldn’t, but if you start looking at slightly longer destinations, say 3 hours (Southern Italy, Eastern Europe, Balkans, Greece) then it starts to look interesting. Why get a flat bed if there’s no time for a nap 😉

  3. “Saver and Plus fares don’t come with advance seat assignments for free”, Plus fares DO have seat assignment included – it written right there on the picture in your article. So it’s unclear from the article if you can select a free Premuim Seat or not with a Plus fare.
    “When you get to the seat selection page will you have the option of “upgrading” to business class if you bought a Saver or Advantage fare”
    Do you mean ‘you will have the option’ as this currently reads as a question. And I think you meant to say ‘Saver or Plus’ as you’ve already said Advantage fares included a Premuim Seat for free.

  4. Alex I dont see EI putting these planes on Athens which is 4 not 3 hours as the risk of a delayed return to DUB would be too great for a late afternoon / evening flight to the USA.

    I see them putting them on routes with a close to 2 hours flight times (so close to 5 hours for a return trip before being cleaned etc prior to the flight to the USA) so it will be short hops such as the likes of London, Paris and Berlin where EI would be able to offer J on the entire route to the US with the benefit of pre clearance as well it would be very appealing. And if they used them from LGW to DUB I’d seriously consider them as it’s quicker for me to get to LGW than LHR

  5. Isn’t the point of this to encourage transatlantic passengers to transfer through DUB? If you buy a business class ticket, you want the benefits for the connection also. I’m open to correction, but DUB and SNN are the only airports in Europe with pre-clearance. Gicen the current situation in most US international airports, this is a HUGE score for EI!

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