Update: I finally had a chance to experience Aer Lingus new business class on the A330 in 2018. See here for my full review.
Aer Lingus unveiled their new business class product today, which they’ll begin offering on A330 flights starting in March 2015.
Aer Lingus’s new business class seat
They are going with the Thompson Vantage seat, which is virtually the same product that JetBlue has in their Mint Class on transcon flights. 90% of the seats will have direct aisle access (so only the window seats in the set of two seats won’t). The seats will of course be fully flat, with a bed that’s 6.5 feet long.
Given that a majority of Aer Lingus’ longhaul flights aren’t actually that long (Boston, Chicago, and New York to Dublin/Shannon aren’t that far), I’d say this is a phenomenal product.
Here’s a video of the new product:
Usually when airlines install a new business class product it leads to a net reduction in the number of seats, though unless I’m mistaken they’re actually increasing the number of business class seats. Presently they have four rows of angled flat business class in a 2-2-2 configuration, for a total of 24 seats.
Aer Lingus current business class
If I counted correctly, the new configuration consists of seven rows, alternating between four and five seats per row, for a total of 32 business class seats.
It seems Aer Lingus is also sprucing up other aspects of their product, including:
Business class on demand dining service:
With food offerings appropriate to the time of day, and an on-demand service, we’ll make sure that you never go hungry. And more importantly, that you eat when you want to eat. Our wines will be specially selected to complement our gourmet food offering, enhancing the taste and giving you a truly top restaurant experience.
When I flew them a couple of years back they didn’t have an on demand dining service, so this is a nice addition.
Complimentary Wi-Fi for business class passengers:
With complimentary Wi-Fi available in our Business Cabin it’s your office when you have work to do, or your chill out zone when you want to surf the Internet or simply recline to watch a latest release movie.
Not only does Aer Lingus have Wi-Fi on their A330s already, but it’s complimentary for business class passengers. It’s amazing how few airlines offer that.
Pre-flight dining for business class passengers:
On flights departing from New York JFK and Boston, we are pleased to announce the option to dine before you fly. Eat your fill before you fly, and then all you have to do is to sleep the night away in your comfy bed. You will arrive relaxed and ready to go with a full nights sleep.
This is extremely valuable for such a short transatlantic flight. Not only will it be possible to have dinner in the lounge before your flight, but Aer Lingus is sprucing up their lounge in Boston and opening a new one in New York, rather than using the current contract lounge.
Aer Lingus business class is an amazing use of British Airways Avios
Quite possibly the best part of this is that Aer Lingus business class is already an amazing use of miles. British Airways Executive Club has a distance based award chart, and flights to Aer Lingus’s destinations in the northeast including Boston, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Toronto are just 13,000 Avios in economy and 50,000 Avios in business on off-peak dates.
British Airways Executive Club partners with both American Express and Chase, so there are many ways to earn these points, including:
They also have a fairly lucrative co-branded card in the US, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card.
I expect award availability won’t change drastically even with the new product, since there’s not some massive capacity reduction.
This product looks really solid, between the seat itself, on demand dining, entertainment, complimentary Wi-Fi, and ground services.
Can’t wait to try it out! While they’ve said the product will start to be available in March 2015, they haven’t yet published a route or roll out schedule.