Aer Lingus’ New Transatlantic Fares Don’t Include Blankets & Headphones

Filed Under: Aer Lingus

Transatlantic airfare is as cheap as it has ever been, which is largely thanks to the amount of ultra low cost carrier expansion we’ve seen the past several years. Both Norwegian and WOW Air have been offering $99 one-way transatlantic fares. These airlines are as no frills as they get, and while the base fares are cheap, you end up paying for just about everything, from carry-ons to checked bags to seat assignments to food.

While I don’t think the legacy airlines will cut service quite to their level, they are nonetheless trying to compete with those carriers in their own ways. Over the coming months and years I think it’s inevitable that we’ll see the “big three” US carriers introduce “basic economy” fares on transatlantic flights, where those wanting to book the cheapest fares won’t be able to take carry-ons, receive free seat assignments, etc.

Aer Lingus has historically offered pretty low transatlantic fares, though it looks like they’re taking them to the next level. Today Aer Lingus began selling transatlantic Saver Fares, which offer lower fares for transatlantic travel. Previously Aer Lingus offered these fares on short-haul flights, though this is the first time they’re being offered on transatlantic flights.

For now the Aer Lingus Saver Fares are available exclusively for travel to/from Dublin, meaning that it would be available if booking New York to Dublin, but not if booking New York to Paris via Dublin, for example. Aer Lingus’ Saver Fares are $40 cheaper in each direction than their Smart Fares.

So, what makes Saver Fares different than Smart Fares? Saver Fares don’t include:

  • A free checked bag
  • Advance seat selection for free
  • Free headphones and blankets

Here’s a video explaining the difference between the types of fares (though it really isn’t that complicated):

The fare difference seems to be $40 each way between Saver Fares and Smart Fares, regardless of which North American gateway you travel to.

If you do plan on checking a bag, it’s a no brainer to book a Smart Fare, because Aer Lingus charges 45-60USD each way for a checked bag on their US flights (the last column has pricing in USD). On top of that you’d pay 25USD to select a seat in each direction.

The part that’s interesting to me is that they’re not offering free headphones and blankets on these Saver Fares. While Norwegian and WOW Air have offered bundled fares where you can buy add-ons, for US airlines the basic economy experience is the same once you’re on the plane.

The logistics of not getting headphones and blankets is actually pretty straightforward. On the crew’s manifest it shows what fare each person booked, so after takeoff they’ll come and distribute pillows and blankets only to eligible passengers. That still seems like a departure from the system used by most traditional airlines, which have those things waiting at your seats on boarding.

(Tip of the hat to Wandering Aramean)

  1. I understand the idea of making customers pay for seat assignments and checked luggage, this is nothing new.

    However, I am really surprised by the decision to remove headphones and blankets from passengers who book the saver fare. This costs almost nothing to the airline, and is not something passengers would pay a premium for anyway. It will certainly slow down the distribution of blankets and headphones and will look quite awkward… A very cheap move.

  2. Lucky, when are you planning on releasing the article on the best first class products that you mentioned you were working on following your la premiere flight

  3. Look on the bright side Lucky. Once you’ve flown all the First and Business class products you can then move onto these cheap airlines. Call it job security.

  4. 1) I don’t care for Economy headphones that the airline give out as they are usually terrible. I bring my own.

    2) This sounds really hard to enforce. Not sure the crew is going to check everyone’s fare class to see if they get a free blanket or headphones.

  5. Lucky, have they reduced the lowest economy fare by $40 or have they increased the Smart fare by $40 charging you extra for what used to be free?

  6. I don’t understand why this is considered cheap. AA has been doing this since the 90’s and they are still considered as a full “service” airlines.

  7. For what it’s worth, the Saver fare is actually cheaper than the equivalent fare a day ago. The new ‘Smart’ fare is directly equivalent to the old ‘Low’ fare and includes exactly the same stuff. So this isn’t like how United introduced Basic Economy, these are new cheaper price points that were not available before.

  8. Last time I flew Aer Lingus (in may, day time flight) they just dropped a bag full of blankets near the middle lavatory and it was a free for all first come first serve. It was clear they didn’t have enough for everyone, and I wondered if it was meant to be that way or if the ground crew didnt drop off enough by accident. Previously they had a blanket and pillow at every seat, though that was a red eye.

    I’ve never used blankets or pillows on transatlantic economy to be honest, so its not much of a loss. Would still purchase the smart fare so I can check a bag and select my seat. I usually pay extra for the exit row any way.

  9. Blankets and headphones don’t “cost almost nothing.” Blankets particularly are washed and then repackaged after each use, and headphones similarly have headphone covers replaced, or just replaced entirely and then repackaged again. There’s probably a cost of $5-10 for both each trip.

    Sure, it’s not huge, but then these fares have been cut back as well.

  10. The headphones thing is actually concerning because Aer Lingus’s A330’s have a type of headphone jack that won’t accept your typical 3.5mm headphones, so you have to use theirs or have a special adapter.

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