Aer Lingus A320 Economy (short haul)Create Topic


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    PatJordan
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    DUB -MAN-DUB (Economy )

    Booking and check in

    http://www.aerlingus.com is an easy site to navigate and selecting a flight for my preferred date and time for my trip to Manchester was no trouble. Three fare types are available: Fully flexible, Lowest and Plus. The Plus fare includes one free checked bag, seat selection and earns Gold Circle points. Plus fares (on UK routes) used to cost 20euro more than the Low fare, however this has increased to a 25euro premium, and in summer dates is 30euro. I assume the extra cost is due to increased baggage charges.

    During the booking process, I chose the “Lowest Fare” as I had no luggage whatever. This means that seat selection is an additional cost. As I prefer row1,I didn’t mind paying 10euro each way to guarantee my preferred seats (1D on both flights).

    As my flight was within 30 days of booking, I took advantage of the advance check in option and printed my boarding passes (for outbound and return flights) within minutes of booking: a very useful facility, and one which many Aer Lingus’ competitors fail to offer.

    I arrived at Dublin Airport Terminal 2 @ 11.30 for my 2pm flight. Having hand baggage only, I went directly to security. One of the benefits of Gold Circle membership is the use of the Fast track security lane. Security staff are very pleasant, and at the same time very thorough. I was airside within a few minutes, and had a browse around a couple of shops before going to the lounge.

    Lounge (Dublin)

    The new Gold Circle Lounge in Dublin T2 is a large two storey area with large windows giving good views of the apron

    Lounge staff are very welcoming, and this warm attitude extends to the ladies who restock supplies and clear tables.

    There is a water feature which extends over two floors, and is impressive.Upstairs is a quiet area and has shower suites, which is a vast improvement on the previous lounge in T1.

    At mid-day, the lounge was quiet, with a mix of leisure and business passengers.

    I was interested to see a couple of pictures showing the new EI lounge in Heathrow T2, due to open on 9th July next. From the artist’s impressions the lounge is much bigger, brighter thanks to large windows. Having spent many years traversing the series of metal tubes that is T1, I look forward to the new facilities.

    Newspapers and magazines are available as well as internet access for those wishing to work.

    Short Haul flights are not called from the lounge, but there are several flight information screens. My flight was due to depart from gate 413 which is a short walk from the lounge.

    The food on offer consisted of:

    • Fresh fruit
    • Breads, scones, pastries
    • Yogurts
    • Cheese, crackers
    • Biscuits,
    • Savoury nibbles
    • Soup

    An interesting touch was a list of ingredients alongside the vat of (vegetable) soup, and a note that each bowl contained 120 calories.I sampled a bowl of soup and found it very pleasant.

    There is enough food on offer to make up a quite adequate light lunch.

    Full marks to Aer Lingus for providing high quality china and cutlery in the lounge.

    A full range of soft & alcoholic drinks is available along with decent orange juice and coffee.

    I chose a glass of Spanish Tempranillo, and settled down to read my book.

    The flight information screens advised “go to gate”shortly after 1.30pm, and I made my way to Gate 413, where boarding was well underway.

    On boarding the A320, passengers were warmly welcomed by the cabin crew. As there was a very light load, it didn’t take long for everyone to be seated and cabin baggage stowed. The aircraft was immaculate with grey carpets and navy leather seats.

    The Captain introduced himself, gave details of flight times, routing and wished us a pleasant flight. Cabin crew then gave a safety demonstration. We pushed back a few minutes early, and were airborne after a short taxi. Cruising altitude (20,000) feet was soon reached, and cabin crew then began inflight service.

    Aer Lingus recently introduced an improved range of food and drink, developed in conjunction with Irish celebrity chef Clodagh McKenna. On this particular flight, I didn’t have anything, but past experience has been very good indeed.

    We landed in Manchester on schedule and were on stand shortly after. Passengers are bussed to the terminal, which takes only a few minutes.

    I arrived at Manchester T1 just after 6.00pm for my 07.35pm flight and proceeded straight to security. There is a Fast track security lane, which I have used in the past. Scanning one’s boarding pass at the dedicated gate allows access, and it is a short walk to the screening area.

    I was one of a very few passengers there, and a very pleasant lady asked me the usual questions regarding security, and I was asked to wait a few moments whilst the passenger in front of me was dealt with. I was then waved through with a smile and directed to the bag collection point.

    This is one of the most pleasant security teams I have experienced in recent times, and I would love to see this ethos spread to other airports.

    There has been a substantial investment in Manchester T1, and this is reflected in a good range of shops and cafes. The area leading to the lounges has been tastefully revamped also.

    Lounge (Manchester)

    Formlly,Aer Lingus used the Escape lounge. They have now relocated to the Servisair Aspire Lounge (formerly known as “the Wilmslow”), directly across the hall. This was formerly used by Aer Lingus for many years, and I was curious to see how the refurbishment looked.

    First impressions were of a friendly receptionist, and alongside her desk was a good range of newspapers and magazines.

    The large windows remain, and make the lounge very bright and offer amazing views of the apron.

    The complimentary food includes:

    • Cheese, crackers
    • Crisps
    • Savoury nibbes
    • nuts
    • Biscuits
    • cakes
    • Fresh crusty bread rolls
    • Filled Rolls (tuna or cheese & coleslaw).
    • Soup (Cream of mushroom)

    The filled rolls didn’t appeal to me, but I enjoyed a bowl of soup with rolls.

    A full range of soft drinks is available along with decent coffee. Sadly all the soft drinks and mixers are now served from large plastic bottles. Whilst I understand the need to reduce their cost base, sparkling water soon loses its “fizz” once a bottle is opened. This leads to multiple bottles being opened to meet the need of discerning passengers. KLM have a good compromise in their Crown Room in Schipol: a soda fountain. As well as being an eye catching feature, it guarantees drinks with a real sparkle every time, and would be even more cost effective (and less wasteful) that large plastic bottles.

    All alcoholic drinks are complimentary and are served from the bar.

    There is a wide range of seating, a large quiet zone and a business centre with individual cubicles which are great for privacy.

    One of the types of seats is a row of loungers with footstools looking out onto the apron. I sat here briefly, but found the very low backrest uncomfortable. I relocated to a deep armchair and settled in very comfortably,

    There are many flight information screens throughout the lounge, and on seeing my
    Flight show “go to gate”, I made my way to gate 4.

    Aspire is a very attractive lounge, with a reasonable range of food and drink. I believe that the trend of using large plastic bottles of soft drinks is a backward step, and hope that lounge managers review this policy.

    One thing about Aspire lounge remains etched in my memory. The floor surrounding the bar & food area is off-white tiles, a large area of which was badly stained from dirty shoes. These marks remained in place for the duration of my visit. Surely a quick mop would have left the floor clean again. As a contrast, when in the EI lounge earlier that day, the smallest mark on the floor was removed almost immediately.

    Boarding

    As I approached gate 4, boarding had commenced. I joined the queue, and was on board within a few minutes.

    The Airbus 320 was immaculate and cabin crew were very welcoming.

    All Aer Lingus short haul aircraft are economy class and seats are configured 3-3. The seats are dark blue leather with adjustable headrests.

    Inflight

    The Captain gave a brief welcome and details of flight times, followed by a safety announcement from the cabin crew. We pushed back a few minutes early and were airborne quickly.

    My need for sleep overcame the need for sustenance, and I didn’t sample the in-flight service.

    Again, we landed on time and had a short taxi to the stand, with a short walk to passpost control.

    Conclusion

    A very impressive flight. Very good punctuality, welcoming, professional crew members.

    The Aspire Lounge in Manchester is a very nice area, but more care needs to be given to basic housekeeping here.

    Aer Lingus have struck a good match between a low cost carrier model and offering a consistently good level of service in my experience.

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