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    Anonymous
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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) cost an additional 25euro over the Lowest fare: this was the option I chose.

    This route is operated jointly by Aer Lingus Regional and Aer Lingus. Their flights can be distinguished by flight numbers: Aer Lingus Regional use four digits, whereas all Aer Lingus flights have three digits.

    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 @ 8.00am for my 10.05am flight. On entering T2, one’s eyes are drawn to massive advertisements for Ryanair, and their offerings aimed at business travelers. Full marks to Ryanair for using T2 (the home of Aer Lingus) to reach out to Aer Lingus passengers.

    Having hand baggage only, I went directly to security. One of my favourite 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 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, where shower suites are located.

    Newspapers and magazines are available as well as internet access for those wishing to work. There are numerous power points for charging mobile devices.

    Short Haul flights are not called from the lounge, but there are several flight information screens. My flight was due to depart from gate 335 which is a short walk from the lounge. This gate is midway between T2 & T1, and to those unfamiliar with it’s location, is easy to pass by. However, the lounge staff were quick to point out the quirkiness of the location, and where to look for what is colloquially known as “the secret escalator!

    The food on offer consisted of:

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

    Aer Lingus now display allergen information beside all food products.

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

    A full range of soft & alcoholic drinks is available along with fruit juices, tea and coffee.

    The flight information screens advised “go to gate”shortly after 9.30am, and I made my way to the gate, where boarding was well underway. Passengers board a coach which took us to the aircraft, which was parked some distance from the terminal buildings. It took little time to load the 51 passengers travelling on the flight. Angie greeted passengers and guided all to their seats.

    Aer Lingus Regional operate a fleet of ATR72 aircraft.This particular example was immaculate. The seats are configured 2-2, and upholstered in navy leather. At first glance, they appear very thin but are well padded and quite comfortable for a short flight. The seats are non-reclining, but this is not an issue, and there is a generous seat pitch, so there is never the problem of a seatback being too close to one’s face.

    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 had a packet of mini cheddar biscuits with a glass of beer to wash them down. Not bad value for 6.50euro.

    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 then waved through with a smile and directed to the bag collection point. I was airside within a couple of minutes.

    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 has always been a pleasant area to relax while awaiting one’s flight.

    I was greeted by a very friendly receptionist, and alongside her desk was a selection of magazines, with barely a handful of newspapers.

    The lounge has large windows which combined with skylights, make the area very bright and provide great views of the apron.

    The complimentary food includes:

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

    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 is both cost effective and kinder to the environment than disposing of several large plastic bottles.

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

    The filled rolls didn’t appeal to me, but I enjoyed a bowl of soup without rolls: there were none available at that time. The lounge was quite busy during my visit, and the number of staff on duty (despite their best efforts) struggled to clear tables, replenish food, serve drinks, and meet incoming guests.

    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 quite comfortably, to read and sip a glass of merlot.

    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. However, it is unacceptable that there were too few staff to provide the necessary service, and that hardly any newspapers were available. I have found that Servisairs’ product falls below the standards set by No 1 Traveller lounges.

    Boarding

    As I approached gate 4, boarding had commenced. I joined the queue, and was on board within a few minutes. Boarding was by steps at both front and back, and was completed swiftly.

    The Airbus 320 was immaculate as always, 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.

    I had selected 1A, and was pleased to note that the overhead bins were clearly marked for Row 1 only, and there was space for my jacket & small bag. Because Row 1 is treated as exit rows in that no items can be on the floor during landing and take off, this is an important detail.

    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.

    I took advantage of the in-flight menu and had a toasted cheese & ham sandwich with a beer. With such a short flight it is to the cabin crew’s credit that the entire aircraft is served, but it does mean less time to munch the (very hot) sandwich. Good value too at 9.50euro.

    We landed on time and had a short taxi to the stand, which was the furthest away from passport control. No doubt the walk went some way to counteract the sambo and beer!

    Conclusion

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

    Aer Lingus have struck a good match between a low cost carrier model and offering a consistently good level of service in my experience. Given the high numbers on board, it seems that the travelling public agree.

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